Hey City, Take My E-Mail!

Go shopping online, and you’ll be greeted with pleas to enter your e-mail:

“Give us your e-mail and get 10% off!” “See our new collection first!” About to leave the page? Don’t go… “Free Shipping!”

A little annoying? Yes. Highly effectively? Absolutely.

In this example, retailers want to sell you more stuff. But at it’s core, the idea of collecting an e-mail address is about staying in touch. It’s a opportunity for someone to express their interest, and for the other party to do their duty by communicating back.

This idea is something that our own city websites could a lot better job at.

Contrast the retail website experience to that of one when visiting your city’s website.

No e-mail pop-ups, and no clear ways to stay in touch.

Of the 10 largest retailers, 7 have pop-up e-mail forms. 9 of the 10 have either a pop-up or an e-mail box on the homepage.

Of the 10 largest cities, 0 have pop-up e-mail forms. 1 of the 10 has a somewhat clear e-mail collection box on their homepage (good job, Dallas).

If a city’s job is to stay in as close communication with their residents as possible, shouldn’t they use every tool possible to achieve this?

Right now, cities are still spending significant money (and trees) on direct mail as a way to get in touch with residents. Meanwhile, e-mail has proven over and over to be an incredibly effective — more effective than old school mail — and low cost way to stay in touch and drive action.

Apparel sales are fine, but let’s urge cities now to use this proven methodology to drive neighborhood involvement — volunteer meetups, community forums, and overall greater civic communication.

A sight I’d welcome