For background on the Madison Identity System, please refer to JMU Policy 1502. Any further questions can be directed to the office of University Marketing and Branding at (540) 568–3712.

Email Marketing policy

  • All emails to addresses (JMU students, faculty/staff) can be sent using the "Bulk email" system provided by IT.  A special arrangement can be made with Advancement Business Applications if an email campaign to internal audiences would prefer to be sent via iModules.
  • All emails to audiences without addresses (Alumni, donors, prospective students, accepted students, parents of accepted students, parents of current students, friends of the University, community members, members of advisory boards) should use the iModules system unless another arrangement has been made with University Marketing and Branding.

Reasoning behind the policy

  • Sending to non addresses through the bulk email system can be delayed, and possibly marked as spam, which degrades JMU's email reputation score.  If the email reputation score is lowered, JMU emails will be more likely to be marked as spam.
  • The iModules system is GDPR compliant and the processes in place can prevent JMU from being liable in privacy lawsuits.
  • If all JMU emails are sent through the same system, the email calendar can prevent redundant communication, such as two separate offices sending an invite to the same event, or two separate offices sending different gift solicitations to the same audience on the same day.
  • If all JMU emails are sent through the same system, the email calendar can prevent conflicting communication, such as a gift solicitation being sent on the same day to the same audience as an announcement of a big capital expenditure project.
  • There should be one system where constituents can unsubscribe.  If multiple systems are used, constituents have to unsubscribe from multiple systems, leading to frustration and possible marking of JMU emails as SPAM, hurting JMU's ESP's reputation and leading algorithms to mark JMU emails automatically as SPAM.  Most importantly, if a recipient continues to receive email from JMU after unsubscribing, it opens JMU up to legal exposure due to recent SPAM laws.  Having multiple email systems increases this legal risk.
  • Emails sent through the official process are tested for accessibility issues, which can also prevent ADA lawsuits.
  • Email analytics reports are available through the iModules system, including powerful reports such as "most effective time of day to send", and "what content categories are my constituents most interested in?"
  • Engagement and communication is measured across all JMU channels, and if multiple systems are used, this measurement is more difficult or impossible.
  • All email templates sent through iModules are tested on all major email clients, including dark mode, ensuring quality.

Email Content policy

  • All emails sent through iModules will:
    • use the content blocks approved by University Marketing and Communications, provided in existing templates, and in the "complex items" menu, unless otherwise arranged through 
    • use styling of fonts, colors, and graphics that are in accordance with the official JMU Identity Guide

Reasoning behind the policy

  • With over 16 million emails sent per year (as of 9/9/2021), the iModules system is a major source of information for alumni, faculty, staff, current students, and the community.  The content and branding of JMU emails need to be consistent in its experience and accessibility in order to be an effective communication channel for such large audiences.
  • All official visual components undergo visual and functional testing on all major desktop and mobile email clients.  Any non-official visual component will not undergo these tests, and may not appear or perform as expected on every major email client.
  • With limited resources, JMU can adequately support only a limited amount of user interface components.

Benefits of adhering to the email content policy

  • A consistent experience with a small number of interface components across all emails allows readers to more quickly learn how to engage and consume JMU emails.  Conversely, if there are a large number of interfaces, readers experience more cognitive load as they learn each one, resulting in decreased performance.
  • Consistent colors, fonts, and graphics across all emails contribute to a stronger brand, which results in increased performance.  Conversely, when emails have conflicting brand markers, the visitor experiences more cognitive load, resulting in decreased performance.

Email Scheduling and Release policy

  • Emails should be scheduled to release at least 1 business day prior to the release date.
  • If any email is to be sent on the same day it is scheduled, a special arrangement would need to be made with Digital Marketing.
  • If Digital Marketing has any concerns over an email being released on a certain day or time, the appropriate department will be contacted to resolve the matter.

Reasoning behind the policy

  • Emails undergo a quality control checklist by Digital Marketing every morning, and it takes time to do the checklist for each email being released.  Sending emails the same day as release will not guarantee that Digital Marketing will be able to perform the quality checklist.
  • Many departments send email every day, often without knowledge of other emails being sent on the same day.  Digital Marketing may find that two or more emails may not be appropriate for sending at the same time or on the same day.

Email Category policy

  • "Email Categories" in iModules must be approved by the Director of Digital Marketing before added to the iModules system.  Email categories must be unique enough to distinguish between general areas, but not too specific as to cause frustration with constituents as they try to unsubscribe.  There also shouldn't be too few categories, because constituents may only want to hear about certain things.
  • For example
    • If there were one category called "General Information", and all emails were sent through that category regardless of whether it was a message from the President, or a gift solicitation, or an event announcement, if a constituent unsubscribed from that category when they received a gift solicitation, they would not receive any other messages from JMU.  
    • If every email we sent were from a different category (think "Thursday, May 31, 2018 emails"), then it would be pointless to even have categories because unsubscribing from a category would never prevent the person from receiving emails from that category.
    • So there is a "happy medium", one where email categories are not too broad, nor too specific.
    • Following email marketing best practices, it is better to err on the side of being too broad.  More on that in the "Benefits of adhering to the email policy" section below.

Reasoning behind the policy

  • The current "unsubscribe" process for iModules is less than ideal, leading people to think they are unsubscribing from all JMU emails when in fact they are only unsubscribing from a particular category.  The more categories the system has, the more categories people have to unsubscribe from individually in order to not receive communication from JMU.  There is a "unsubscribe from all JMU communication" option but people do not understand what that means, and there is no way to change that functionality in iModules as it stands.

Benefits of adhering to the email policy

  • When constituents want to unsubscribe from JMU emails, yet they continue to receive emails from JMU they are sometimes angry that they continue to receive emails even though they unsubscribed. This is something we want to avoid when possible.
  • When constituents are frustrated with JMU communications (by continuing to receive emails after they thought they unusbscribed) they may possibly mark an email as spam, which hurts JMU email reputation in our ESP, which can cause our other emails to directly go to the SPAM folder, even for people who want to receive JMU emails.
  • For the frustrated people above who don't mark JMU emails as spam, they will just start ignoring or deleting all JMU emails, which dilutes our email analytics over time.  Email marketing best practices require having up to date recipient lists with reasonably active recipients.  If we don't allow people a reasonable way to self-select, we give ourselves the extra burden of purging our lists, or even worse, to do nothing, and let our analytics degrade over time.

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