Thanks to all who joined the session co-presented by myself and Lucas Turpin on December 9 at the Extension Annual Conference. We were both pleased to see the turnout and today’s post is a look back at some of the big questions that arose. Here it goes!


Brief note: I chose not to include names of those who asked questions. If you see your own question here and hoped to hear even more detail or wish to share about the use case that led to your question, please comment at the bottom of the post! Thank you.


Q: I cover 6 counties in southern and western Oregon … I would love to have help with my email distribution list. With Endura, would I be able to send emails by county? I do that by hand right now.

A: Indeed, providing effective tools to manage email delivery is a big driver of the work in CRM development! A major focus is on transitioning folks away from overly manual processes, many of which can be retooled and improved with just a little thoughtful attention.

To explain a bit further, Endura is the current project code name for the distinct set of tools being developed inside the Salesforce CRM to bring high-impact efficiency tools to the work that we do in Extension. I gave it this name as a way to capture the perseverance and endurance we need to reach our goals.


Q: Will the Salesforce CRM work with Ideal-Logic?

A: Yes, that work is upcoming, but the plan is to use what’s called an “API” to allow the two types of software to connect and talk to each other behind the scenes. This connectivity allows the information from Ideal-Logic to be read and acted upon by the CRM. An example being an event or course registration is fully completed, and a set of customized messages can be sent, by email or SMS text message, to the registrant.


Q: Does CRM include text messaging feature?

A: Yes, Salesforce is capable of text messaging. The ideal scenario is to let an individual tell us their preferred communication channel. We can then queue our message to send out to our audiences and it may be a text message to some, email to others, depending on their personalized settings.


Q: For programs that have newsletters, but limited staff time to produce a newsletter, will Salesforce allow the production of one newsletter that targets a segmented portion of a contact list, customizing the newsletter to feature the content relevant to that segment?

A: I love the spirit of this question and yes, very robust and interesting “dynamic content”—just to introduce the buzz word for it at this time—is available as a feature of any message being sent out from Salesforce. The reality is that we’re just not quite there yet, but it is only a matter of time. The system can be made to query your contact list, immediately recognize specific attributes of individuals in that list, then right as the message is going out it will include or exclude content in the message based on those attributes. If two stories are in a newsletter and one is about cats while the other is about dogs, if we have a way of knowing who is a cat person, then they will only see the story about the feline.


Q: I think there is definitely potential here, we just need to be careful about the relationships behind the data. For example, if a fledgling relationship with a tribal member is entered in the system, and accessible to everyone, and someone else uses this “tribal member” contact because it is in the system, this could do damage. Just saying we should discuss this more around protocols. Trust in relationships is so important.

A: The engagement during the session on this topic was great! An ongoing emphasis on trust in our relationships is, of course, so very important. 100% of the thought process and planning around CRM development proceeds with this top of mind. I would share that the mere existence of an individual’s contact info in the CRM will not “entitle” just anyone in OES to use the contact info or reach out to that individual. Each program will be responsible for describing a justification—record of a specific workshop, direct engagement, etc.—to include that contact in an upcoming outreach effort.

The reality of this is that in regard to contact information itself, yes certainly that is data that would have been introduced to the CRM by a particular Extension program, no doubt. However, we know that the individual who’s contact information it is is a person who’s out there engaging with Extension in a variety of ways and we do that person a service by knowing who they are, what their distinct needs are, and the totality of ways in which many programs may be serving them.


Q: What is your project timeline goal? Will you be supporting individual programs at a time?

A: The complete breakdown of project timeline is forthcoming and I’ll be glad to share that with everyone in a future blog post. The primary work will be toward rolling out tools that empower and benefit everyone across the organization. ECTU team will play a role in providing training sessions and generally providing the support needed to encourage users to adopt CRM practices. Individual engagements with programs will happen and for some there will be little customization required, then there will be those for whom a deeper engagement on custom-tailored solutions will be warranted.


Q: Interested in knowing what my colleagues think of this, but would Salesforce allow us to connect across programs, a way to facilitate breaking down the silos.

A:  Absolutely. The goal is to get all of our programs and counties into the same system, then we can begin to see how individuals engagement looks across programs, counties, topics, etc. The Salesforce CRM comes with tools that do allow colleagues from various parts of Extension to communicate or collaborate together in the same space.


Q: Knowing that Salesforce is heavy on the developer end, how will the linkages be made between our current programs. As I understand [Outdoor School Program] has made significant investment in Salesforce FTE to develop this solution.

A: It is true that the Outdoor School Program encountered a situation for which they required a specific and targeted solution and using Salesforce to respond to that requirement made sense. Intensely customized work was done for them. For other programs, the mix of Salesforce tools they require may look very different. For the overall CRM strategy, the plan is to use my development time to roll out tools that provide powerful and efficient solutions that are broadly helpful for all those who choose to use them. This tool set will enable linkages between programs to better manage their relationships with constituents, some of whom cross boundaries between various programs, leading to improved experiences for them.


Q: And to be clear, you aren’t asking programs who are working with other CRMs like 4-H online, Open Campus HubSpot, PACE HubSpot, etc. to move to Salesforce, correct?

A: We cannot effectively support the organization and the customer if our engagement data is spread across multiple data silos. Once we are ready to offer a platform that represents an improvement from software a group is currently utilizing, then we will rely on strong collaborations to engage with you and help steward a migration to new tools.

With all of our customer data consolidated, the OSU Salesforce CRM will be the base on top of which to create high-impact tools and resources to help Extension employees and volunteers get work done. We will be able to take data from registration systems such as 4-H online and Ideal-Logic and make it actionable. Marketing and communicating to relevant audiences will be easier to do. Customers wishing to sign up for our newsletters and other messaging will be able to do so without aid or effort from employees.

Additionally, our upcoming work with OSU’s Office of Information Security (OIS) will ensure the data stored in the system is in alignment with the federal, state and university policies, reducing our risk for storing custom data. We have all seen data breaches on the news, and we are working hard to ensure OSU Extension doesn’t make the evening news… at least, not for that reason. Data can be very powerful, but with great power, comes great responsibility.


Presentation slide deck

Access our slide deck for the presentation here.

If you have any other or new questions, reach out to me to schedule a chat. I’m here to help. Thanks again to all of you who attended our session. We enjoyed showing you this information!


Posted in CRM.

The “virtual” Extension Annual Conference takes place next week. Your colleagues at Extension Communications (EC), Professional and Continuing Education (PACE), and Extension Computing Technology Unit (ECTU) have some great sessions planned along with Virtual “Tabling” events where you can get your questions answered and learn about the services that EC, PACE, and ECTU have to offer. See the conference schedule for complete listing of keynote talks, sessions, and other events taking place over the week.


Sessions events presented by members of  EC, PACE, and ECTU are listed below.

We hope to see you next week.


Day 1

Monday, Dec. 7th


Virtual Program Delivery with Live Streamed Video

Victor Villegas, Alan Dennis

Deliver programming to your growing audiences remotely with live video streaming. Come see how easy it is to start streaming, including an overview of the equipment and platforms you can use to broadcast your live event, what types of events are best suited for streaming, how to engage with your audience during your session, and other best practices.



Going The Distance – Considerations for Pivoting to Online Learning

Katie Klump

Migrating your course to an online or distance model is a lot of work. Learn more about steps you can take to ensure the transition is a successful one.



Virtual “Tabling”—Tech Help Desk

Wayne Jardine, Lucas Turpin, and Victor Villegas

Pop in to our Tech Help Desk Zoom Room, which will be manned by Wayne Jardine, Lucas

Turpin, and Victor Villegas, to ask all of your tech questions!

Virtual “Tabling”—Extension Communications

Extension Communications

Pop in to our Web Content and Marketing “Table” Zoom Room, which will be manned by Extension Communications, to ask all of your related questions!


Day 2

Tuesday, Dec. 8th


From How to Wow: Audience Engagement in a Virtual World

Alice Phillips, Siew Sun Wong, Jennifer Oppenlander, Alan Dennis, Stephen Ward, Victor Villegas

Is Zoom fatigue preventing you from making the most of your virtual meetings? Join us to learn how to increase the productivity and effectiveness of your next online meeting. We will work through eXtension’s Innovation Skill Building Experience Workbook, which will provide you with tangible steps and materials that spark ideas and increase innovation. We will also participate in virtual brain breaks which you can take back with you and use in your own meetings.


Day 3

Wednesday, Dec. 9th


The Future is Now: Come Witness your Ability to Perform Digital Communication using CRM Practices

Lucas Turpin, Mark Kindred

Preparations have been underway to institute efficiency-building CRM practices all across Extension. Join us to hear about where we are and what the future of digital communications looks like when powered by a CRM software platform.


Day 4

Thursday, Dec. 10th


Content Writing for the Extension Website: A deep dive into best practices and techniques

Michele Scheib, Janet Donnelly, Weston Miller, Tamara Hill-Tanquist, Amerie Lommen, Bryan Mayjor, Ariel Ginsburg, Jim Sloan

Learn best practices for planning, writing and presenting content on the OSU Extension website. Get tips and see great examples of web articles and county, program, and topic pages. Explore why these examples are working well and discover ways you can improve your content. This session is for anyone who wants to produce web content that engages and informs your audience.

Digital Measures for Office Managers – Access the Data at your Fingertips!

Linda Brewer, Lucas Turpin

This is a chance for Administrative Office Managers to learn how Digital Measures can ease your work load by providing data for decision making. Ask your questions and tell us what is not working for you. We welcome your suggestions for reports. Log on and follow along as we demonstrate how to run basic reports.



DIY Video Recording and Production

Alan Dennis, Victor Villegas

With people increasingly turning to video content, now is a great time to develop your video production skills. Learn how to record your own videos while working with Extension Communications for editing and publication.

This session will cover: Recording equipment to produce quality content; Production planning (scripting, planning your shots, thinking visually, location scouting, etc.); Recording in different environments (indoor, outdoor, low light, inclement weather, etc.).



Virtual “Tabling”—Tech Help Desk

Wayne Jardine, Lucas Turpin, and Victor Villegas

Pop in to our Tech Help Desk Zoom Room, which will be manned by Wayne Jardine, Lucas

Turpin, and Victor Villegas, to ask all of your tech questions!

Virtual “Tabling”—Extension Communications

Extension Communications

Pop in to our Web Content and Marketing “Table” Zoom Room, which will be manned by Extension Communications, to ask all of your related questions!


Introducing a way to begin familiarizing with the basics in the CRM Extension will use to organize contact lists and outreach efforts.

Today,  I’d like to tell you about online learning tools Salesforce provides for free. You can begin climbing the CRM learning curve (which is a short one) today using their Trailhead e-learning platform.

The process to get started has two parts. Keep reading to explore both parts.

STEP 1: Create your own Trailhead account

Anyone who is just now getting started with Salesforce’s “Trailhead” e-learning platform must go through a couple steps. I’ve included info for the first step below. If you have fully completed the sign up process, you may skip ahead to the next step!

What is Trailhead? Trailhead is a learning experience platform—a library of educational content that you can access whenever you like. You can choose from various topics to learn new skills at your own pace.

I am glad to present an opportunity for you to begin learning how to use Salesforce and its related tools. The Salesforce CRM is a large platform. The modules I plan to introduce you to are a reasonable starting point.

Soon as you arrive to the Trailhead website sign up page, you’ll be asked “How do you want to sign up?” As you see in the image below, select Email (circled below).

Example of one of the screens seen when signing up for Trailhead

Please proceed through that Sign Up process using the following version of your email address:

[first name].[last name]

So, for example, for my own account I would use

Once you are all signed in and able to access the Trailhead learning modules, proceed to the next step to find out about custom Trailmixes to check out!

STEP 2: Start your first ‘Trailmixes’

So, in terms of training material, we can move onward to some “Trailmixes” for you to check out.

What is a Trailmix? Trailmixes are custom learning paths you create from your favorite trails, modules, projects, and superbadges. Share them to guide your fellow Trailblazers!


1. CRM – Just getting started

Part of what is needed is to simply familiarize with what it’s like to simply do work in Salesforce interfaces. Try out the learning modules in this Trailmix for glimpses of what we can expect to find once we log in to Salesforce.

Explanation: when we mention “CRM” we are referring to a specific set of features and capabilities. It is actually separate and different from the Marketing Cloud suite of outreach options. The CRM and Marketing Cloud have distinct ways in which they provide functionality to meet specific needs your team may have.



2. CRM – Building reports

One of the powerful features of the CRM is the ability to build reports that reflect activity during a given time period or reveal a list of info that tells your team where they should take action.

Explanation: here we see the ability to build and share reports that put detailed information in the hands of those who need it.



3. OES outreach – the Marketing Cloud

“Marketing Cloud,” a powerful stand-alone package, is a suite of products that empower the work you would want to do for promoting the program, upcoming events, and other parts of your communication strategy. It excels at “journeys” which are automated routines for delivering digital messages (typically email, but not limited to email).

Explanation: for needs around outreach and marketing efforts, we will rely on Marketing Cloud. It’ll become a place from which, for example, to send out enewsletter blasts (among many other things).



I welcome any questions that may come up as you begin with these.

Posted in CRM.

This week I will ask you to participate with me in an interactive blog post. In the comments at the bottom, please add your own insights and/or questions about our topic today. Your input is so invaluable to me and our Navigator team and just hope you are aware we appreciate that you would get involved!

Progress has been made and plans continue to take shape to roll out CRM capabilities for more programs across Extension to enjoy. My team looks forward to supporting teams across the enterprise as the benefits based on CRM usage become more clear and more critical for all of us.

Even as we see that future arriving soon, though, I am receiving questions about our data. In fact, for many years each program has viewed data—in this case, we’re talking about contact and engagement info about our constituents—as something each of them have collected, each of them have curated and taken care of on their own. There are those of us who regard this information as “my data.”

That is to be expected and is understandable. However, with the upcoming use of CRM practices and a CRM software platform, we are entering a new realm. Our new normal (aren’t there a lot of new normals lately?) calls on us to accept a new standard: Extension’s constituent data is… our data!

Collectively, using our shared data…

  • we gain insight into the size and makeup of our constituent audience. When the data is aggregated, we can see who enjoys using our Extension website, what overall topics does our audience engage with, and what types of direct engagements do they prefer.
  • we see opportunities arise to note an individual’s volunteerism for a program unrelated to your own program, yet because they volunteered over there you recognize them as someone who may step up to help with volunteer needs that your program has currently.
  • we monitor and notify program leaders when a group of individuals are perhaps emailed too many times with separate email communications from disparate Extension programs. We’ll collaborate to understand what options are available to throttle up or down the level of email delivery while ensuring those folks do receive the important info they need.

But….. (there’s always a “but” right?)….. Our data will be safe and secure. The database will securely store the bits and bytes of information that make up our data. Plus, our data will be protected in other ways.

My team is intent on ensuring private information remains private. Additionally, what will not happen is that suddenly all contact records will become available to everyone at any time—no, thank you.

The driving force for system design work in Navigator will be that anyone with an authentic business need to access data will be given reasonable level of access to the data required to do their work and not more. We’re aware that the biggest impact of sharing contact info across Extension occurs in those cases where some type of outreach initiative is underway and our constituents begin to see emails or text messages arrive on their devices. That is a point of contact that we hold dear and will treat accordingly.

My own ongoing effort will be to consider how constituents are directly impacted by the work we do and produce tools that only operate with appropriate protections in place, and provide the level of transparency needed for everyone involved to have a snapshot of how our data is used.

Now comes the interactive part

In the comments, please take a moment to share with me, and the Navigator team, any questions you have around our shared data for Extension CRM efforts.

Likewise, if you have an idea how your program might make reasonable and responsible use of shared data to promote awesome things going on in Extension, please speak up? I would love to hear your stories—a story of what you’ve done before… or a story of what is possible!

Thank you. We cannot do this without you.

Posted in CRM.

For some of you working in Extension programs across Oregon, caring for and managing social media engagement with constituents is merely a part-time gig. Not that you have a big choice about it—that’s just sort of how it works out given everything on our plates, right?

This can mean that finding the right tool with the right mix of features can make all the difference for whether “part-time” looks like mere minutes each day vs perhaps spending far more—gobs of valuable time spent logging in and out of various social accounts, hunting for insights about what’s taken place in the past few days, then anguishing over what to post or which comments deserve more attention.

We can talk about a better way to keep the investment of your time to a reasonable level.

A focus on game-changing features

A comparison of features in basic and pro versions of Social Studio software
A table of all features in Basic or Pro plan of Salesforce’s Social Studio

It only takes a few minutes to search the web and find free options for some of the management features you’d want in place for well-run social media management. And sure, that can be a nice starting point.

Frankly, the tool we find inside the Salesforce CRM, called Social Studio, is not free for us. However, we sure know the “you get what you pay for” adage and it applies here (plus, bear in mind many programs will see vast majority of Salesforce licensing paid by central Extension, pending a review of your project requirements).

To the right, there is a table showing all the Basic and Pro plan features found in Social Studio.

I picked out my own favorites, highlighting them in green. As compared to free services elsewhere, it’s on account of these highlighted options that Social Studio really shines.

Broad Listening/Social Listening

Among the full feature list, I took care to highlight any of the myriad features having to do with Broad (or Social) Listening. This truly is the big ticket item in Social Studio from which you’ll see big benefits.

As a for-instance, one of the use cases I’ve managed to hear about is the re-posting or re-tweeting of Extension program posts by the central Extension Service’s social media team over in Extension Communications. Think of it this way: if your program’s Facebook audience is, let’s say, 100 people, while the Extension’s Facebook audience numbers 1,000, their action of re-posting one of your program’s posts increases your potential audience by a factor of 10. It can add up! So, that is a valuable service they are providing—how would they pull that off as efficiently as possible?

Enter Broad Listening in Social Studio.

After logging in to the platform, there’s an “Engage” tab. Click that and you arrive at a wide page with all your social listening efforts organized in one easy-to-use place.

A sample screen from Salesforce‘s Social Studio management platform

In our example use case, our intrepid social media manager has set one column so it’s entirely dedicated to every “@” mention, hashtag, or web address mention for all of the Extension programs’ existing social media presences—and I do mean all of them.

Social Studio provides access to post or page content for Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, YouTube, LinkedIn, news aggregators, blogs, reviews sites, forums, and on n’ on. At a glance, our central Extension team member (just to stick to our hypothetical use case) is able to review all the past day’s or week’s activity, deciding in minutes which ones to re-post on their main social media channels.

Plus, any one “post” can instantly be published to as many of your social media channels you want all at once. The ol’ write-once-and-publish-everywhere trick. Plus, leverage the ability to schedule the post to publish later in the day, or perhaps next week; the choice is yours. If you’re working at 8:00 a.m. and you know your audience is more likely to engage with your social media content around 5:00 p.m., you can set a publishing time of your choosing. Plus, don’t forget that the analytics data in Social Studio is able to inform you when your audience is most likely to engage with your content!

Content Calendar

The content calendar feature can be really valuable and it gets an honorary mention here as well.

This content calendar pertains to social media posts that one can plan and create ahead of time. This can be a real time saver. Feel free to reach out to me for more details, if you would like to learn more?

Full review of features

As I mentioned before, the full array of features is provided in the embedded features table. Certainly, the first thing to appreciate is the sheer volume of cool things you can do with the platform.

Admittedly, the struggle here can be finding ways to appreciate how any of these features directly help you in a day-to-day sort of way! I encourage you to scan the list; see which of these fit with your vision for stepping up your social media management game.

And if you want or need some assistance with evaluating how meaningful any of the features can be for your work, read on to learn more about requesting a personalized demo session for your program or county.

Would you like to see how the Outdoor School Program managed it?

Some of you may have already come across the social media efforts of our own OSU Outdoor School Program, with their facebook page, and twitter profile.

In February, the Outdoor School team chose Social Studio as the way to listen to conversations swirling around social media channels having to do with outdoor education, STEAM/STEM education topics, the challenges faced by outdoor school and camp providers throughout the state, and much more.

As March and the COVID-19 response hit, the unlimited number of users afforded to them by their license allowed for the quick addition of new team members to leap into the role of accessing Social Studio and beginning to create content in the platform. This rapid response allowed them to nimbly react to the changing needs of their social media communications.

You would be able to reach out to Rita Bauer or anyone you know in the Outdoor School Program for more on how this tool helped them manage and track their social media efforts.

Or reach out to me to schedule a brief demo. I’m here to help.



Extension website updates.

  • Now added is a “Call to Action” field on articles. You may enter a link that appears at the end of an article, encouraging readers to further explore the website. For example, they might link to a related program, newsletter, or project. If they don’t enter one, a link to the topic page(s) the article is tagged with appears instead.
  • Do you have ideas or other feedback? Submit a support ticket to let us know! We thank you for your input.

As we acknowledge all that’s happening in our country and world right now, and react as best we can to our new circumstances across all of Oregon, it is easy to grasp how being able to provide helpful, insightful news to our constituents means more now than ever. Communication is key!

In my role at Extension, I am constantly striving to incorporate the guiding criteria of our Navigator digital engagement effort. In the case of newsletters, it’s easy to focus on these:

As progress is made on the Navigator initiative, it’s nice to get a little refresher on collections of resources that are available for us to access any time. Many times right here in the Navigator blog.

Email newsletters — aka enewsletters

The resources I bring to you today are those that help us with those wide-distribution digital communications we rely on from time to time. These “bulk” email sends can drive traffic to website pages, spur enrollments in workshops and courses, and transform our understanding of our target audiences.

I am talking about enewsletters.

We recognize the importance newsletters have played in our Extension work for decades. In our journey toward a digital future—which our response to the COVID-19 pandemic may have greatly accelerated—we begin to assess the benefits of newsletters delivered to our constituents in email form.

As the future emerges (swiftly, as it now seems), a new normal will begin to establish itself for enewsletters based around these principles:

  • Always consider your audience
  • What information does our audience truly need? Are we talking about one, large audience… or a collection of distinct audience segments?
  • Keep all writing inside the enewsletters short and to the point
  • Focus on providing a link—we refer to it as the “call to action” (CTA)—which leads to a web page or similar online destination
  • The CTAs are important—because people clicking on each one reveals what is of greatest value to them
  • Measure measure measure—rate at which people open the emails, click-through rate, conversions, etc.
  • After measuring, react and improve
  • Discontinued use of PDF format newsletters—in this format, we simply lose out on all the opportunities to measure the results!

Head off to learn even more

The goal of this post is to provide links to information you can use to transform your team’s use of enewsletters.

We start it off with Ann Marie Murphy’s contribution on email newsletter practices that can help educate, convey information to, and build trust and community with industry-specific, program-specific and general audiences.

Back in March, Michele Scheib shared with us about the “plain language” approach to anything you write. Plain language conveys meaning in short, spare sentences and simple words.

Then over to a recorded webinar presented by our own Rich Collins, from PACE, who led us on a journey through the steps of creating high quality enewsletters. I was able to join in as a co-presenter to share a vision of the possible future state of enewsletters as we look ahead to 2021 and beyond.


CTAs, CTRs, CMS, oh my! Let’s talk newsletters!
Thursday, May 21
Presenters: Rich Collins (PACE), Mark Kindred (ECTU)Do you write or send a newsletter? Would you like to take it to the next level or even just tweak what you’re already doing? Tune in for some compelling newsletter examples and best practices to help elevate your content and increase your audience engagement!

View the video recording of the presentation


There was the post about how having email delivery occur inside a sophisticated tool like the Salesforce CRM can provide substantial benefits for those needing to keep tabs on progress.

And I will wrap up with a couple posts that are related to each other, exploring ideas how to add new subscribers to enewsletter email lists over time.


About the Navigator digital engagement team. In the coming months, many of you will hear from me as I produce a long-term CRM strategy for OSU Extension. I look forward to talking with you and ensuring the CRM plans are in alignment with the business needs of your unit and the long-term vision of the university. The Navigator team is looking forward to talking with you about how digital engagement is aligned with your work and can provide new benefits.

In late February, I posted Aiming to increase newsletter subscribers? We have a plan for that!

In response, Vicki Campbell, from Washington County Extension commented:

Isn’t this the same information collected when someone fills out “Add me to your mailing list”, like on our web page and newsletters? I have never called it RFI but it does add the customer to our newsletter database. If not the same, how is this different?
Vicki Campbell
Washington County Extension

This is a great question and I want to expand on how we can expect an RFI (request for info) form to assist us in our Extension work where a newsletter opt-in (or subscription) may not.

(You’ll recall how in my last post I wrote about what an RFI form is for, but you can click here for a quick review)

It is important to begin by highlighting all the positive qualities of our Extension newsletters. The wide array of newsletters through which we currently serve our respective audiences are an important facet of a program’s or office’s outreach to constituents.

As a means by which to thoughtfully consider all the varied pieces of information and insight—there’s a lot, right?—you and your team can put out into the virtual world, the newsletter format allows you to curate them into a meaningful package. Nothing beats the convenience, low cost (do you recall the costs of printing and then distributing a paper version? What an ordeal!), and reliability of putting out precisely the info that your team considers the most important to provide.

A standard newsletter can (and will) continue to serve our Extension work in this way.

Yet we are also able to envision a future using other means—RFI forms being one—to begin collecting personal contact information of our constituent, then allowing us to follow up with big outreach efforts.

RFI—request for info—forms and our bright future

The main thing to consider is just as soon as we, using our shiny, new Navigator digital tools (more arriving each month!), begin to enable the collection and use of more-and-more specific personal information, then it follows how much more responsive we are able to be.

The goal is to offer constituents precisely what they really want to learn about.

The part of this discussion having to do with overall collection of information is multifaceted and nuanced, so in fact we won’t be able to cover all of it here. For the sake of beginning to talk about the future of our digital outreach, though, we will focus on RFI forms as one of the tools in our toolkit to collect increasingly detailed bits of a person’s information.

For the Navigator initiative, the shift expected of us is to consistently consider the deliverables of our respective programs from the point of view of each of our constituents, considering their needs and interests, above and beyond our perspective of what programmatic content we consider important at that time.

The important work of Extension… and getting even better!

This means our thoughtful consideration of what is/isn’t important information will remain a priority and also we will gain new ways—new tools, new techniques—to match up the breadth of what we can offer with the specific ways an individual can be served at any one point in time.

This is the personalized digital experience for which we have been planning.

Comparison: RFI forms and newsletter opt-ins

At long last… the answer to Vicki’s question about how these two techniques do differ allows us to review the unique strengths of each approach.

It’s worth reminding ourselves that each of these are valid techniques and they are useful for us to meet distinct goals we have in mind as we select between them.

As we explore this, some considerations revolve around the benefits we at Extension stand to receive (which does remain a priority), while others have considerably more to do with the user experience that constituents have as they interact with us virtually. We will evaluate our efforts as “successful” soon as we begin to hear from people how much fun they had navigating through their experience with us!


RFI (request for info) form Opt-in (subscribe) to newsletters
  • using an open text input field, RFIs are an opportunity for the person to speak up about what helpful info they need
  • which can (optionally) lead to a direct engagement with Extension faculty and/or staff
  • provides the means by which to rapidly deliver value to our constituents
  • the submitted info (data) is collected into one system
  • it’s designed to be aware which web page the person is on at the time
    • for example, a person who is actively reading the “2020 Bee School” page when they decide to click the RFI form tells us a bit about their interests… without them having to ever actually type that in
    • this personalized info—person “a” was viewing info from the Bee School—is saved into our system
  • in appropriate cases (events, e.g.) it’s also aware which county’s content the person is viewing at the time
    • upon providing their personal info, we know the county in which they themselves reside
    • then we compare—perhaps that person resides in the same county, perhaps not (maybe the next one over)
    • we gain the ability to intelligently match our promotion efforts for upcoming events to people who have shown interest in events for that county—regardless which county they live in
  • a slowly-evolving concept we can consider is responding to a portion of these inquiries with automated responses (where that’s both applicable and helpful)
  • performing a review of the analytics data is simple and easy as it lives all in one system
  • people can opt out at any time
  • collects just a person’s minimal contact info
  • the next touch point for the person depends on when the next issue goes out
  • Extension faculty and programs are able to curate the info going out to constituents—but is it the info they need most?
  • subscribes a person to one, specific, targeted facet of a program’s outreach efforts, but constrains us to communicate with that person in only that one manner (channel)
  • currently pushes the actual data to varied, disconnected resources from which one Extension office/program can’t acquire value from that of another office/program
  • currently pushes responsibility of performance analytics out to each individual office/program
  • people can opt out at any time


About the Navigator digital engagement team. For months now, many of you have heard from me as I produce a long-term CRM strategy for OSU Extension and non-credit learning. I look forward to talking with you and ensuring the CRM plans are in alignment with the business needs of your unit and the long-term vision of the university. The Navigator team is looking forward to talking with you about how digital engagement is aligned with your work and can provide new benefits.


Posted in CRM.

Add a new “RFI” form to web pages

RFI stands for a Request For Information. A RFI form is a simple way for an organization to give constituents a chance to ask questions or otherwise reach out to us to learn more about an event, topic, etc. Soon as someone reaches a spot in our website where they’re interested in something but need to learn more about it, a button click pops open a simple web form (see the example later in this post).

It’s here they enter their personal information and that is saved into our system. That activity is accompanied by an automated email notice that arrives to the right person in Extension. For example, users can provide their name and email address and the process will add them as a new subscriber to one of your newsletters.

How is this useful?

A web form allows us to collect and manage information from constituents easily and efficiently. The forms are embedded right into relevant places on your website, which makes it easy for your audience to provide their information.

As soon as somone completes the RFI form, their information is stored until it’s ready for analysis.

Meanwhile, in the same step we are able to offer a chance to subscribe to some type of digital communications, such as newsletters. This can become a crucial tool for you to obtain new audience members eager to hear what you have to say.

What we’re poised to learn about our audiences

We can use the Extension website as a quick case study for how to employ RFI forms, however the premise works similarly on other websites.

When a visitor to this Oregon Master Beekeeper Program page stops and takes the time to fill out our RFI form on this specific page, we consider it an opportunity to infer some small bits of information about this person.

In the actual, real-life implementation of this premise, we would in fact engage directly with the right people inside each program to actually be very thoughtful about what inferences we’d plan to make about any one visit to any one particular page—for example, an analysis of the content of the page will support being able to draw certain conclusions or not.

For example, if the page content includes info on bee colony health, but does not have any info at all on honey production, we would want to consider if the visitor’s interest in this page revolves around bee colonies due to the ability to produce honey or, rather, in terms of bees as pollinators.

Clearly, we want to consider our options very carefully when forming these types of conclusions.


AND… What about a page that has a specific call to action?

Well, I am so glad you asked! 🙂  Let’s look at a page that’s aimed at cultivating interest in a specific thing—like an event.

To the right, you see a page I navigated to from the Events tab on the Master Beekeeper program page. If a normal website visitor made their way to this page, we can begin to make inferences about them at another level of specificity and accuracy.

We know the ultimate goal of this event’s organizers is to have viewers click on the “Register” button, but what about anyone who is feeling interested in the event while still not being quite ready to register? What can we do for that person?

The answer would be to provide an RFI form—simply a second button which would allow them to ask any question about the event for which they don’t already have an available answer.

After submitting this RFI form, the inferences we can make about their interests are far more specific. We know they want to attend an event. And not just any event, but this particular event with this event’s specific content. Arguably, there’s a lot to work with in this use case.

The impact on newsletter subscriptions

The question, then, is how does this help to build up our list of subscribers? The exact details of the plan continue to be sorted out, but the goal is to begin to understand how the inferences we were just talking about can help us point people to digital communication options—newsletters being one of those options—that are of significant interest to them.

Soon as the data lands in our database from the successful processing of an RFI form, we know for certain we want to send that person an email with a simple “thank you” message, because we want to provide an immediate reward to them for taking the time to fill that thing out. It’s important to do this.

In addition to our “thanks” message, there’s room in the body of that same email to appeal to them with a subscription (opt in) opportunity to newsletters. Thus, taking into account the opt-in opportunities that already exist, then adding in all of those people who submit RFI forms, we can see that as a pathway to adding more contacts to our lists.

Example of an RFI form

Check out this straightforward example of an effective web form.

It is true that the form can be designed to ask additional questions, however we know from numerous usability studies that the shorter a web form is the more likely our average website visitors will actually stop and fill them out.

Our #1 goal will be to increase our ability to engage with our target audiences, which means that simply garnering their direct email address—thus facilitating being able to digitally communicate with them—is our top priority.


An RFI web form will help you add new contacts to your contact lists, track topics in which people are interested, follow up with constituents, enhance users’ experience, and provide Oregonians with the information and expertise for which they are searching.

A web forms should be straightforward, simple, and visually appealing. And it should communicate to the viewer exactly what they can expect to receive in exchange for their valuable time they will spend filling it out. This is how you will ensure a professional, user-friendly experience on your website.

A successful RFI form will lead to an increase in your number of contacts and engagements. So, why not get started working with the Navigator team to help you grow and expand your network today?


About the Navigator digital engagement team. For months now, many of you have heard from me as I produce a long-term CRM strategy for OSU Extension and non-credit learning. I look forward to talking with you and ensuring the CRM plans are in alignment with the business needs of your unit and the long-term vision of the university. The Navigator team is looking forward to talking with you about how digital engagement is aligned with your work and can provide new benefits.

Extension website updates.

  • People in county and program groups can tag or untag themselves from events entered through other groups. Go to the event page and go to the “Modify tags” tab at the top of the page.
  • All users can now tag themselves with languages they speak and have it shown on their profile. The language options are fairly limited right now initially, but you can submit a support ticket to get other ones added.
Posted in CRM.

Let’s ask ourselves: How do people find information about my Extension program? How do they find ways to participate?  Plus the critical follow up: How much do people like the interactions they have with my team?

Doing Extension work well is based on the answers to these fundamental questions. The answers inform how we plan any of our outreach and communication efforts.

To reach answers to the questions, everyone on your team must understand the essence of the experiences your constituents have.

Journey mapping is an exercise we use to shed light on that.

Shine a bright light on any areas where your constituents’ feedback says they have a less-than-perfectly-delightful experience… and your team can make a plan to turn that around!

What is a Constituent Journey Map?

A journey map is a type of diagram. It’s a visual representation of an experience as viewed from the direct perspective of one constituent (or constituent group) with whom your Extension program interacts. The important piece is that everything in the diagram is meant to capture the experience of your constituents themselves. This is not about your program team’s perspective.

While journey maps come in many different forms, commonly it is represented as a timeline of all the touchpoints between a constituent and your program—i.e. what they see from outreach efforts, materials they read, places they go, and people with whom they talk. This timeline contains information about all channels your constituents use to interact with you.

A user journey map template. Image: NNGroup

What are the parts of a journey map?

A journey map facilitates analysis of a journey in elements like:

  • Persona – what are the characteristics of an average program participant or constituent
  • Stages — does the journey proceed through distinct phases of interaction?
  • Incremental steps — such as those that help complete a specific process
  • Touchpoints — how does the person come in contact with your program?
  • Technology used (if any)
  • Amount of effort — is the constituent passively receiving info or filling out a form (or other task), e.g.

What design problems do journey maps help us solve?

Primarily, the goal is to visualize how a constituent interacts with our services and allows program design to occur in a way that takes a constituent’s point of view into account. The approach leads to:

  • Improved services to a specific audience
  • Helping discover ways to align audience’s experience with your program’s strategic priorities
  • Exploring potential problems that may have arisen in surveys or feedback
  • Planning for a transition or change in direction

This fosters a constituent-centric approach to designing our efforts, which ultimately leads to a better experience for them.

Example of a completed constituent journey map

The seven steps to create a journey map

1. Choose scope

The scope of the constituent journey map can vary from the high level showing complete, end-to-end experience to a more detailed map focusing on one particular engagement—for example, registering for a workshop.

2. Create a persona

Who is your constituent? In constituent-centered design and communication planning, personas are profiles of fictional characters created to represent the different types of Oregonians that have similar service needs. A persona should be created based on information you have about your audience(s). Having solid information about an audience will help prevent making false assumptions.

Tips for creating a persona:

  • Collaborate with team members who interact directly with this audience
  • Look for commonalities and patterns among various individuals
  • You may create multiple personas to represent different groups
  • Base your persona characteristics on data you have collected

3. Define the constituent’s expectations

It is important to define what expectations the people in the specified audience may have about the interactions described in the journey map. For example, one scenario may be a person using a Google search to find information pertaining to a workshop. Here, the expectation may be that the workshop’s title will appear in the search results and the link will proceed to a page full of detailed information on the webpage.

Meaning that in some cases, the expectation is fairly simple and straightforward. In other cases, more complexity is involved. The key is to be on the lookout for where things get more complicated. This can lead you to the source of frustration—one of the pain points mentioned below—some will feel when they’re trying to complete a task.

4. List all the touchpoints

Touchpoints are actions taken by the constituent and also interactions they have with your program. It is important to identify all main touchpoints to establish as much empathy as possible for how, where, and when your constituents add to the perception they have of your program and how it communicates out into the world.

5. Take constituent intention into account

What motivates your constituents to engage with your program, to view online content, or to sign up for newsletters? Another way to look at this is to ask what specific problems are people hoping to solve when they decide to reach out to you online? Different segments of your audience will have different reasons for engaging.

Let’s use an average e-commerce website as an example. There is a difference between a shopper who is just browsing through many options and one who wants to arrive to the website to accomplish a specific purchase. The design choices on how to display information or options—such as a “buy now” button—would take the differences into account.

For each journey map, it’s vital to understand:

  • Motivation – why are they trying to do it?
  • Channels – where are interactions taking place
  • Actions – the actual behaviors and steps taken by people
  • Pain points – what challenges arise as people are trying to complete tasks

6. Create a first draft of your journey map

Mark Kindred will work with you, guiding the process of filling in the components of your team’s journey map. Or simply start building your own map. Try to account for all the timeline elements that you can related to your program. This can be a fun exercise, and the idea is the results will have a positive effect on all the various types of communications you have with your audiences.

7. Perform an assessment and refine the map

It is important to point out that journey maps should result in truthful narratives (or as close as you can get).

You should plan to use information from the Extension website’s content analytics dashboard as evidence that your journey map resembles real use cases. Gather and analyze information about your audiences on a regular basis. For example, participant feedback (do you send out online surveys?) is something that can be used to improve your team’s understanding of their experiences.

Your journey map assessment yields:

  • Where are the opportunities to combine separate steps to produce a streamlined experience?
  • Which steps represent pain points people experience and how might those be changed to improve the experience?
  • Which steps require exerting the most effort and how might you reduce the effort?
  • Where do people encounter a “moment of truth” type of event that makes or breaks their experience or leads to different outcomes (perhaps different than intended)?


The most critical thing to remember is that the goal here is to create a journey map that helps everyone share the same vision for your program.

You may start collecting the parts of the map today and share them with your team or colleagues who are familiar with the audience you’re serving. Let them weigh in and make it more and more accurate.

Make it possible for everyone on your team to examine the entire experience from the constituents’ point of view then leverage the information while designing various aspects of your program.


About the Navigator digital engagement team. In the coming months, many of you will hear from me as I produce a long-term CRM strategy for OSU Extension. I look forward to talking with you and ensuring the CRM plans are in alignment with the business needs of your unit and the long-term vision of the university. The Navigator team is looking forward to talking with you about how digital engagement is aligned with your work and can provide new benefits.

Extension website updates.

  • The Extension web team is aware of recent incidents of website pages that may load more slowly than normal and is investigating the issue to get it resolved. An important point is slow load times seem to be isolated to Extension employees who are logged in to the website content management system at the time. The web team does not expect average visitors to be impacted by this issue. If you have any questions, please contact us via the support form.
  • Information about Content Teams and Web Groups has been updated on the Content Teams/Web Groups page. Please review the information for a content team or group with which you are involved for accuracy.
Posted in CRM.

What I thought would be fun is to walk through a few actual screens people see when using the Salesforce CRM.

If you’ve never logged in to Salesforce (or any CRM) and have wondered what it is like to experience that work flow, this will be a brief window into the way this powerful software works.

There is too much to fit in just one post! But it’s worth it to try to reveal some of its features.

And not just any screens… What I will cover today is a few steps in the process of sending emails to Extension partners or constituents from directly inside the CRM and, furthermore, explain why that’s a good idea.

Let’s get started.

For a recap of posts related to Constituent Relationship Management (CRM) …

  1. What exactly is a CRM… and why should I care?
  2. Steps to build CRM capabilities for an Extension program, and how long will it take?
  3. How collaboration across Extension leads to effective use of a CRM

How it all begins…

The benefit of operating in a CRM is it provides the ability to make data-informed decisions. Check out the way this dashboard fills the screen with targeted details about an ongoing set of outreach efforts—emails, text messages, and the like.

With dynamic feedback in front of you, showing how your audience is responding to recent outreach efforts, you can step up the pace of new messages. Or perhaps the better choice may be to switch gears and reach out to folks by phone because their email response rate shows up as lower than everyone else’s.

The CRM provides the info you need to make the best choice on process and timing. Now, let’s review varying levels of email delivery.

A-B-C basics: let the CRM deliver your message

From Salesforce, sending a single email is handled on a screen that, once you take a look, bears a resemblance to any webmail software. You’ll feel right at home crafting all the parts of the message, just Salesforce does the work when you click the Send button.

Options for customizing the email message mean you have added flexibility here. It enables you to communicate with your constituents in ways that align with your team’s plans for providing support.

For instance, the email can be sent from you or from the organization and you can modify this aspect on-the-fly (right before you send). An example: if the person receiving your email chooses to reply, you may need that reply to go to a group mailbox—as it is reviewed by the team, there’s a greater chance of reacting to it right away—so in that case, send out from the team’s group address.

Not only can you customize, but the message is saved as an “event” right in the CRM. Read on to find out more about message tracking.

Step it up! Smart tools for bulk email delivery

We already know there are times when a critical message needs to be sent out to a wider audience. Think of advertising the opening of registration for a new workshop. Or an advisory committee meeting has a new start time and all committee members need to be notified right away.

In the below screen shot, we see a sample Salesforce screen showing a list that has been filtered to reveal five people set to receive your next message. The purpose of this Pending Approvals screen is to restrict the actual delivery of messages until details are fully approved by the right person on your team.

Using a special set of features in the CRM, not only can you quickly send all five people an artfully designed template-based email — a process that from this screen requires exactly two clicks — but, in fact, you can also choose to pause for a moment and add personalized comments of your own.

NOTE: we will cover email templates in more detail in a future post

So, you decide to add a personalized message to one recipient. You would use a screen like the one below. On the left side of the screen, a text box for Introduction above, and an open text box for Conclusion below it, permit personalized comments to appear at the very top and, optionally, bottom of your beautiful, HTML-format message.

Not every email can be handled in this way, but for parts of your communication plan that are incredibly repetitive, this technique can add a lot of efficiency. It’s time I am sure you would like to gain back!

Message tracking — measure the results, improve as we go

Of critical importance to us as the total number of messages we are expected to send and receive shows signs of increasing dramatically, is appropriate analytics we can use to better predict how our outreach efforts will perform.

For example, your team just used the CRM to send a message out to a large group. So far so good.

The first draft was a wall of text, a step-by-step guide instructing each recipient how to carefully negotiate a sign-up process. Your team waits to see if every recipient follows through on the steps. Do they open the email? Will they read it all thoroughly?

Or… you suddenly recall another team member’s brainstorm of placing a visually appealing photo at the top of the message. Nothing compares to a photo of OSU Extension faculty immersed in an engagement with smiling young people, who are excitedly learning about forest ecosystems. So, you wonder, would that have been a better way to engage with this audience?

Thankfully, you have the CRM dashboards you can turn to for answers to these important questions! Check out the sample screen above, offering up an Email Performance report.

This is another reason we use the CRM. Through the power of advanced analytics gathering, it collects up vital details of key performance indicators such as email open ratesclick rates — i.e how many times did the “Read more” button in that third paragraph receive a click — as well as the dreaded unsubscribe rates, which we all agree should never happen, because Extension info is just too fun and interesting!

NOTE: enhancing email message relevance as a means by which to prevent people from unsubscribing from emails is a critically important process. It is based on processes to which we can all contribute. More on this at a later time.

Conclusion and (a little) more to think about

If you are reading this far, I thank you for catching up on the power the CRM brings to managing message delivery and analytics data gathering.

Some related (and intriguing) features we haven’t yet talked about include:

  • The CRM can send SMS text messages. too
  • Pulling up one of your contacts in the CRM displays a history of messages you sent them via the CRM
  • Microsoft Outlook plugins are available to bring some CRM capabilities right into standard emails
  • Instead of manual delivery every time, certain messages can go out automatically, using customization options within the CRM

If you would like to hear more about any of these features, please reach out to me any time for discussion. I’m here to assist.


About the Navigator digital engagement team. In the coming months, many of you will hear from me as I produce a long-term CRM strategy for OSU Extension. I look forward to talking with you and ensuring the CRM plans are in alignment with the business needs of your unit and the long-term vision of the university. The Navigator team is looking forward to talking with you about how digital engagement is aligned with your work and can provide new benefits.
Posted in CRM.