Learn about the various ways you can use CiviCRM to communicate with contacts.



Learning points

Initial configuration should be done by a systems administrator.

This session covers:

  1. How to use of Groups for newsletter subscriptions, and self-serve subscription management. Impact of using search results instead of groups, or groups named for internal purposes.
  2. How to construct the parts of a personalized mass email and send it.
  3. How to send an SMS message.
  4. How to schedule reminder emails.
  5. How to save email sent from Outlook and gmail into CiviCRM.

Session plan

This session aims to take 60 minutes.  It includes some front of the class demonstrations (that can be carried out using the CiviCRM that was used to run the training course). Since this session is about sending live email, it is probably worth 1) ensuring that live email can be sent from the environment that you are using, and 2) reinforcing the fact with students' that live email will be sent.

Overview (5)

Outline the three big parts of CiviCRM that we'll be looking at during this session.  We'll start with CiviMail and with a bit of luck we'll have time to cover Scheduled reminders and SMS.

Mention that there are also other parts of CiviCRM where email gets sent (e.g. confirmation receipts, Send Email action on a Contact Dashboard, the Send Email action on a Search Results page) but they are simple and we won't be talking much about them.

Email system configuration

Mass mailing / CiviMail

Mass or bulk emailing is also known by other terms, like sending newsletters or sending a mail blast, etc.  It makes sense to split this in two into

  1. mailing list management (covered in some exercises) and
  2. creating and sending newsletters

Mailing list management (5)

There are two key points to get across here

1) Groups are the main tool for mailing list management.  These can be smart groups (e.g. meet up attendees)

Ask the class for examples of smart groups that would make sense as mailing lists. Make sure the final list contains

Show them the manage groups page where you can create and edit groups: /civicrm/group

Show them that some but not all groups are mailing lists (so if you are wondering why your group is not showing up, it is probably because it is not a mailing list).

2) CiviCRM allows people to control their own subscription to groups

Show people the following page: /civicrm/mailing/subscribe and how this relates to /civicrm/group

Explain difference between unsubscribe (removed from group) and opt out. Indicate that people who have opted out have their On hold status set true as though the email is invalid.

Explain options for unsubscribe

Creating newsletters (15)

Demonstrate how to create a mailing by walking through the CiviMail wizard on and creating a mailing to the people that have registered to attend this training and to the trainers.

A few key points to make sure that you get across

Make sure that you include in the email:

Tokens and checksums

Talk about out of the box tokens and the fact that you can create custom tokens.

Explain what checksums are and get people to think about when they would be useful.  Make sure the final list includes:

Discuss downsides of using checksums, and ask group about possible problems. Make sure they come up with problem of forwarded email leading to privacy breach and overwriting of data.

Discuss with the group how useful this feature is in terms of being to keep contact data up to date.

Once your email is complete, send the mail.  Have people open the email and click on the links so that you can show them tracking info.

Scheduled reminders (5)

Scheduled reminders are very useful.  Can be based on events, memberships, activities, a date field for a contact.

Get people to come up with times at which you might want to use scheduled reminders.

Make sure that the final list includes:

Individual emails into and out of CiviCRM (5)

Show the other simple way that email can be sent from CiviCRM. Explain the difference between that and CiviMail (no tracking, only a few contacts).

Auto-filing email conversations in CiviCRM with bcc.

Communication exercises (10)

Get people to carry out the scheduled reminders exercises.

SMS (5)

Sending an SMS is similar to sending an email apart from two things (get the class to think about what these might be):

To work with SMS, you need an SMS provider.  CiviCRM currently supports clickatell.