Email and Email Services
The University of West Florida utilizes email to spread the word about University initiatives to both internal and external audiences. Email lists can be powerful tools but can often be complex and difficult to manage. The resources available for authorized University administrators aid all brand ambassadors in spreading a consistent message, being a part of the institutional UWF conversation and ultimately bolstering the UWF brand.
Determining Your Needs
Before deciding whether to use the standard email services provided by the University or if a third party vendor is needed, please consider exactly what your current and future needs may be. Some items to consider:
- Do you need to add images and can you add alternative text for accessibility?
- Do you need custom formatting or templates?
- Does your office have someone that is knowledgeable in HTML and CSS for custom formatting?
- Do you need to maintain a contact list?
- Does the recipient need the ability to opt in or opt out?
- Can you maintain an email list manually?
- Does the contact list or lists include UWF email address, external email addresses (@gmail.com, @yahoo.com, etc) or both?
- Cost or budget for email marketing.
- Do you need tracking capabilities (how many people opened the email, interacted with it, clicked links, etc), and if so, how robust does that tracking need to be?
University Email (Gmail)
Every UWF employee is provided with an @uwf.edu Gmail address and departments can request accounts through the ITS Helpdesk. This is a free service and can handle most basic emailing functions very well.
The University offers the Message Composer service to authorized users to set up automated communications for specific campus groups and audiences. For more information please visit the Message Composer Confluence page.
Contact lists can be maintained by going to contacts.google.com, creating contacts and setting a label to function as a “group.” The name of the label can then be typed into the “To:” field in Gmail and all contacts with that label will populate the field. This can be used for both UWF and non-UWF email addresses. However, this does not have an “opt-out” function, and any users that would no longer like to receive emails will need to reply back, request to be removed and will have to be removed from the list manually.
Contact lists can also be maintained at groups.google.com. It is important to note that under our domain policies, only UWF email addresses can be placed in these groups.
Images/ Custom Formatting/ Accessibility
If emails need to be styled or customized outside of the normal Gmail settings, we highly recommend the Free HTML Editor for Gmail™ Chrome extension. This allows for highly customizable emails and templates, but the workflow is manual, and knowledge of HTML and CSS is extremely helpful to achieve the desired results. This extension does have a WYSIWYG (what you see is what you get) editor, but occasionally the code needs to be fixed or adjusted. As Gmail does not natively allow for alternative text, this extension is required to make fully accessible emails if images are being used.
Limited tracking capabilities are available through Gmail, by way of link tagging and using Google Analytics. To discuss and setup link tracking from emails, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Third Party Email Services (Constant Contact, GroupMail, MailChimp, etc)
Paid services such as those listed above generally offer pre-made, adjustable templates, more robust WYSIWYG editors, greatly improved tracking capabilities and more easily manageable and in some cases, automated contact lists that allow for recipients to unsubscribe through a few clicks. Many instances will also allow for exporting of emails so they can be sent directly through the University Gmail system. Accessibility features are also increasingly being built into these platforms, however we highly recommend asking a company representative about that directly.
The biggest drawback for third party services is cost, which is often a monthly or yearly fee. These prices can vary by large amounts and often depend on the features required or the size of contact lists.