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Email advocacy campaigns can be very successful, but the key is to run a well-targeted campaign and to manage outreach via a central website.
When targeting your campaign, make sure to observe the guidelines of regular letter writing. However, with email, it's particularly easy to forget the following: (1) write to specific individuals, not offices or organizations (2) When writing to elected officials, a letter should come from a constituent or it likely won’t even be read (3) mailing addresses and sometimes phone numbers (i.e. to officials) should still be included (4) and of course, personalized emails are preferred to form letters. While paper letters, calls, and personal visits still hold more sway pound for pound, emails of substance, under ideal circumstances, can succeed in conveying a message to your target.
So what about the back of the coin: using email as outreach for the campaign? The potential benefits are massive - easy transmission, rapid-response, and the potential to reach thousands. The pitfalls are equally large. Emails soliciting participation in a campaign can circulate for months or even years after they’ve been sent. They cannot be recalled or updated.
Emails that link back to websites are infinitely more useful and more trusted. Another huge benefit to a website is the increasingly preferred option of hosting an e-petition. Sites like thepetitionsite.com, a tool hosted by Care2, make this option readily accessible.