One of our new association partners recently reached out to us for advice on how to fold her legacy email list into her new Novi AMS list in MailChimp. Her organization has been collecting email addresses for a number of years through a contact form where "anyone on the planet can sign up to receive [their] e-newsletter." She asked if she should merge all of those records into her Novi AMS list and whether this would conflict with the sync that Novi provides for group members.
Our sync functionality is designed to have a single system of record that can automatically segment your membership into meaningful subsections. With those subsections identified, your organization can have much more authentic conversations, delivering the right content to the right members.
In our opinion, this is one of the keys to member engagement. Your message has to be relevant to each member. If you know someone is allergic to milk, you probably don't want to tell him all about the amazing ice cream flavors you have (just saying).
The only way to preserve this grouping functionality is to add contacts to your email lists by adding them to Novi as member records first. If contacts are manually added on the MailChimp or Constant Contact side, then Novi will not be able to control that record in the future. This could quickly become a problem if Sally Smith is a prospect today but joins your organization tomorrow. You'll be stuck managing her group memberships by hand.
Email deliverability is something else to consider when working with large "catch all" lists. It may sound contradictory, but sending mass mailings can actually decrease the number of people who actually receive the message. Email messages that are left unread, deleted quickly, or marked as spam can & will be held against you by email providers like Gmail and Outlook.
If you're the type of person who wants to dig even deeper, you can start with this 30-page guide to email deliverability or perhaps do a quick Google search. If you don't have that kind of time, then just trust me... email delivery is very important. And the key to getting your messages delivered is to send messages that have a high likelihood of engagement.
Pruning Your Email List
Migrating to Novi AMS might be the perfect opportunity to prune your legacy email list. Perhaps you could do a little Excel work to find the people on legacy list who are not on your new master Novi AMS list. Once you have those contacts isolated, you could send them a "Hey do you still want to hear from us?" email. The people who respond clearly want to receive your message and could be added to your Novi database as simple contacts. They might also be great targets for your membership director.
The Decision is Yours
Remember, records can be added as prospects or basic contacts within Novi. There is no requirement that only your "members" be added to your database.
Taking the time to add your active contacts to Novi and to think about how you want to segment your groups can go a long way towards making sure that the right message gets to the right people.
Ultimately, MailChimp or Constant contact will allow users to add email records directly onto a list, so the power rests in your hands. But remember the old adage, with great power comes great responsibility.