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.

As a land grant university, we ensure our content is research-based and grounded in scientific principles. To fulfill our mission effectively, we need to ensure that the methods we use to deliver that content are as well. In this post, we’ll talk about a couple different methods of website research. We’ll also give some ideas for experiments you can do to research the effectiveness of your own web content.

As a team that works with websites professionally, we draw on existing academic and private research from many fields. These include computer science, psychology, marketing/advertising/media studies, library science, etc. We also use publicly-available datasets, such as search term data from Google, to make decisions.

To ensure that we are applying this research and data effectively in our specific context, we also conduct our own research. These are the main methods we use.

Page experiments (A/B and multivariate testing)

This is when you set up a system on the website that delivers one version of a page (version A) to half of the visitors and another version (version B) to the other half, which is why it’s commonly called “A/B testing”. (You can do this with more than two versions as well, in which case it is called “multivariate” testing.) Analytics are recorded separately for each version, so after some time you can check to see which performed better. Then you just start delivering that version to all visitors.

For example, let’s say you were setting up a page that included a button link to download a publication that says “Download the publication.” However, as you are working it occurs to you that more people might click on it if it said “Download the free publication.” To test this, you could set up an A/B test on the page where each version is shown to half the visitors. Then after a week or so you can check and see which version has a higher percentage of visitors that click the button.

A/B and multivariate testing are available through Google Analytics, which runs the analytics on the Extension website. If you are interested in potentially trying out a page experiment, contact the Extension Communications Web Team.

User testing

This method involves recruiting one or more participants, who receive a list of tasks that you watch them complete (or try to complete). 

For example, let’s say you work with a program that is putting on an event. Attendees are required to download, print, and fill out a couple of forms in order to register, which you are worried will be confusing to people. Before you announce the event, you could perform user testing with a few of your program participants to make sure people are able to figure it out. You could meet with them over Zoom, have them share their screen, and ask them to find the forms they need for the event while you watch. If they get confused or lost anywhere, you could then update your content to help others avoid that pitfall.

The following are some ideas for other kinds of user tests that you might consider doing for your own content.

Cloze test for comprehension

Use this test when you have written a piece of content and want to ensure that it is understandable to your target audience, particularly if that audience is so specific that automatic readability tests (such as Hemingway App) may need to be verified (such as English language learners or young kids).

Procedure:

  1. Choose a piece of content (or a sample of text from a piece of content) to test and remove every fifth word, replacing each with a blank space to fill in.
  2. Recruit participants
  3. Ask each participant to fill in each blank space with the word they think was removed.
  4. If participants can get about 60% of words right or above, the text can usually be considered readable for the audience. Otherwise, the text probably needs to be reworked.

Highlighter test for reader impressions

Use this test when you have written content and want to test how effective it is at its intended purpose. This tests involves asking participants to identify sections of text that they consider to be effective in whatever way you specify (e.g. “clear/understandable”, “inspires confidence”) as well as sections that are not effective in that way (e.g. “confusing”, “makes you feel less confident”).

Procedure

  1. Print out the content and get two different colors of highlighter
  2. Recruit participants and ask each to read the printed out content. Have them mark words or phrases they find confusing in one color and words or phrases they find especially clear in the other.

Learn more about the highlighter test from GOV.UK

Tree testing

Use this test when you have a set of links or categories that you are using (or plan to use) as navigation and want to ensure that they are understandable to your target audience.

Procedure:

  1. Create a list of your links/categories, including any nested links/categories.
  2. Identify several (~3-4) important or representative pieces of content that are (or will be) contained in one of the links/categories.
  3. Recruit participants, who will be tested one at a time (we recommend doing several rounds with 2-3 participants rather than one big round with many participants).
  4. For each participant, for each piece of content you identified, ask them which link/category in the list they would expect to find the content. Record their answer.
  5. If several participants fail to identify the correct category/link for a piece of content, then probably either that content needs to be moved or you need to rethink the wording and/or organization of your links/categories.

Read more about tree testing from Optimal Workshop

Card sorting

Use this test when you have a lot of content that needs to be sorted into categories, but you haven’t come up with those categories yet or are having trouble doing so.

Procedure:

  1. For each piece of content that needs to be sorted, create a “card.” The “low-tech” version of this is just the title of the content on a sticky note, but there are also a number of services (such as OptimalSort) that can allow you to do this digitally.
  2. Recruit participants, who can be tested one at a time or in groups
  3. Ask participants to group the cards into categories that make sense to them and, optionally, name the groups.
  4. When you have developed a set of categories, use tree testing (above) to double check that your final list still makes sense to your users.

Read more about card sorting from Usability.gov

Content questions test

Use this test when you have written content and want to ensure that its title and/or short description gives readers an accurate idea of what it includes.

Procedure:

  1. Select one or more pieces of content to test and collect its title and short description
  2. Recruit participants
  3. Give each participant a copy of the content’s title and short description. Ask them to come up with three questions they would expect to be answered by the content based on the title and short description.

Web updates

Help text has been added to all content fields, explaining the function and purpose of each field and best practices for filling them out. Please contact the Extension Communications web team with any questions.

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

10:15:-10:45am

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.

 

11:00:-11:30am

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.

 

11:30-2:00pm

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

8:30-9:30am

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

2:00-3:00pm

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

8:30-9:30am

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.

 

9:45-10:45

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.).

 

10:45-1:00pm

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!

 

The Extension website launched in the summer of 2018. At that time, hundreds of faculty and staff needed to learn how to migrate and manage content in the new system. This meant learning the different content types and responsibilities of their designated groups.

Educational content would now be driven by and managed by program areas (via content teams). And, based on topics of expertise, not county locations.

Content teams, made up of subject matter experts, became the core of content coordination. These working groups needed to decide how best to function together. Not always an easy task. Web content priorities often fell through the cracks of busy schedules.

A shift occurred in 2020. Thanks for this goes to the program leaders. They recognized the need for allotted time in one person’s role to support faculty working on the website.

In most cases, these people also serve as a content team leader. The exception is Ag, where a bridge person helps all the 34 content team leaders, although some of their teams are self-sufficient.

These 10 designated people serve as a single point of contact — the liaison between the content team(s) and the program area leader and the Extension web and content strategy team. What does this look like and who are these amazing people?

 

  • Adriene Koett-Cronn works on content strategy for Sea Grant. She makes sure their publications, faculty and events get represented on Extension’s site. She brings good innovations to this role and is a joy to work alongside.

 

  • Amanda Bielenberg-Hayes works with Open Campus to help the counties, where they have a presence, share information about their program. She also is gearing up to coordinate how their program could fit within the Extension site. She brings attention to detail and effusive gratitude to her liaison role.

 

  • Candi Bothum, Jaime Guillén and Trisha Applebee work with the 4-H statewide program area and their local programs across the state to coordinate communication. They also help with consistency in structure, design and program resources. This trio stepped into a big role and navigate it with good intentions and a willingness to listen and learn.

 

  • Jessica Green works with the Ag Extension program teams to show how the Extension website can meet their needs on topic or project pages. She is always willing to fill the gaps from adding images to answering questions to researching new information on request. Her friendly nature helps others to understand and use the tools available.

 

  • Kristen Moore works with the cross-program youth education content team. She thinks through their topic categories and the process to get resources from across Extension on to the site. Her experience with the website structure and the ability to see the big picture is useful to facilitate a way forward for this new and ambitious team.

 

  • LeAnn Locher works with the Master Gardener program statewide, their local programs and the Horticulture content team. She helps to coordinate consistency in messaging, design, content updates and outreach strategies. Her strong communication skills, equity perspective and easy-going nature enhance the work of this dedicated team.

 

  • Teresa Crowley works with the Family and Community Health program area across all their programs. She has been essential in translating needs and setting up content on the site from the very beginning. She brings her wit and experience to know the best route forward, and she candidly persists when requests press in from all sides.

 

  • Shannon Murray works with Forestry and Natural Resources Extension to arrange web training and keep a pulse on content and program pages. She aptly stepped into the role recently to carry on their organized approach to content management in meeting the needs of all their team members.

 

As a season for giving thanks, let us recognize each of their ongoing efforts and contributions. They help to meet a need, come up with new solutions and further the process of Extension’s content strategy. Thank you for all you do!

Shooting video can be intimidating.

The thought of creating our own videos (and being front and center in virtual meetings) can trigger a wave of unease.

Which makes sense.

Trying something new can make us feel vulnerable and out of our comfort zone. So, it can feel safer to not try and justify it with reasons like, well, I don’t have fancy equipment so what’s the point?

However dear reader – I believe in you!

Below are a few simple tweaks you can implement to boost, nay, skyrocket the overall look and feel of your video with just your smartphone as well as your webcam footage. Right now. For free.

Scroll down to learn how!

Showing vs. Telling

Telling you tips and techniques about how to make your video more visually appealing seems disingenuous in a text-only format. So, I created this 12-minute video discussing all of these concepts, which you can view right now.

However, we all learn differently and prefer to consume information in our own way.

So, I collected all of the information from that video as well as other concepts and ideas and put them on the Virtual Extension employee site to give you an even more robust guide. You’ll learn:

  • Top 8 things to avoid in your videos, such as unflattering lighting.
  • 15 phone and webcam tips – many of them free!
  • How to frame your shots like a pro, with many examples to see.

Hopefully, the video in this post and the comprehensive guide is helpful.

The biggest tip I hope you take away is – just go for it!

It can be easy to procrastinate and come up with excuses about not having the right gear, but see if you can challenge that inner voice and just go out and try.

You will learn 100x faster and better to see for yourself what works and what doesn’t. Then try it again.

It’s those small little changes that lead to big improvements.

Make mistakes. Learn. Improve. Repeat. I know you can do it!


About the Author

greg-aronoff-portraitjpgGreg Aronoff is part of OSU’s Professional and Continuing Education (PACE). Greg and his team help provide guidance and strategy on marketing and multimedia projects in addition to producing videos, webpages, newsletters, articles, fliers, and more!

If you would like to learn more about PACE and work with their Multimedia and Marketing Team, simply fill out this intake form.

Watch our Success in Collaboration webinar

With the start of the pandemic, teams from PACE, Extension Communications and ECTU came together to align our expertise and services in support of Extension’s response. Since then we’ve worked together on a number of programs and initiatives with partners throughout Extension, resulting in greater reach, engagement, impact and efficiency. Watch the webinar recording to learn about recent successes and lessons learned, and continue to explore what’s possible when we all work together!

A step-by-step guide for creating landing page for an event utilizing Page Sections

Audience:  Content or program team members

Recently I was tasked with creating a page listing keynote talks for an upcoming keynote series for Elevate Extension. While working on this I thought it might be helpful to share my approach to this request with a step-by-step tutorial. This tutorial includes productivity tips and best practices that you may find useful for other projects you might be involved with down the road. 

The request was to create a page listing all of the keynote speakers for the event. Each keynote needs to include the following information:

  • title of talk
  • speaker’s county or region
  • name of speaker
  • headshot photo
  • abstract
  • speaker’s biography
  • link to download the presentation slide deck (from Box)

Planning

This page will contain a lot of content for seven keynote talks, so some planning is in order. I like to start by quickly sketching out a few rough ideas with all of the elements. Since the page will be quite long, I decided to use a Tabbed section to cut down on the length of the page. The first tab will display the keynote title, speaker and headshot photo, another tab for the biography, and another tab with a link to the presentation.

Now that we know how we want the page structured the next step is to locate all of the resources for the page.

Gathering resources

I like to pull together all of the resources I’ll need before creating the page. To help me stay organized, I created a folder for each talk that includes the headshot photo, keynote abstract, biography, etc. I want to use online resources for the presentation tab’s content. These need to be created before we can link to them to the page.

Creating online resources for the presentations

The presentations will be linked to from Box. We’ll want to include a thumbnail image to display as the teaser image. The simplest way to create a thumbnail is to use PowerPoint’s Export… function. 

  1. Open the presentation in PowerPoint
  2. From the File menu select Export …
  3. Choose either PNG or JPG for the File format then select the Save Current Slide Only option. Save file to the folder created for each keynote

  4. Instead of linking to the actual PowerPoint file, we suggest converting it to a PDF and then linking to the PDF instead of the PowerPoint file. PDF file sizes are generally much smaller and you don’t need PowerPoint in order to view the presentation
  5. From the File menu Save As … and choose PDF as the file format
  6. Repeat the above steps for each presentation
  7. Upload the PDFs to a Box folder. 
  8. Create a shared link for each PDF. See our webguide for detailed  instructions. 
  9. Copy all the shared links to a text file noting which presentation each link is for. We’ll use them in the next step.

From your Group Dashboard, create an online resource for each presentation.

Building the event page

  1. From your group dashboard,  click the Add Subpage button

  2. In  the Page Sections area, Add Text

  3. Enter Session title and county/region
  4. Add Tabbed section

  5. Enter a Tab title for first tab (Name of speaker)
  6. Add Two-column section

  7. Add Image to Left Column Content

  8. Upload a new image or existing image.

  9. Add Text to Right Column Content
  10. Copy and paste abstract text (session description) from Word

This completes the first tab.

Next we’ll add the Biography tab 

  1. Add Tab
  2. Enter Tab title (Biography)
  3. Add Text
  4. Copy and paste biography text from Word

Now add the Presentation tab 

  1. Add Tab 
  2. Enter Tab title (Presentation)
  3. Add Featured content
  4. Select Featured content
  5. Locate and select the Online resource previously created for the first speaker, then click the Finish button to add resource
  6. Save page 
  7. Review page to confirm that the layout for the first speaker looks like the screenshot below

Now that the first keynote has been added, we will use this as a template for the other keynotes. 

Adding the additional keynotes

    1. From the edit screen click Collapse all page sections

    2. Add text and enter the next speakers session title

    3. Click the three vertical dots in the Tabbed section row, then select Duplicate

    4. Replace titles, text, featured content, and photo for each tab
    5. Collapse all page sections again
    6. Repeat steps 1-5 for each speaker
    7. Save

Teaser settings

  1. Add a Thumbnail image and short description (~150 characters). The thumbnail and summary/description are displayed in search results and used when sharing the page with social media. 
  2. Save

Changing the order of the keynotes

    1. From the edit screen, click Collapse all page sections

    2. Click and drag the arrow controls symbol up or down to change the order. Do this for both the Text and Tabbed section
    3. Save

Final result



Key takeaways

  • The time spent planning and organizing all of the resources before creating the page will save a lot of time and frustration
  • Using the Duplicate feature assures consistency and is a time saver
  • Online resources linking to PDF files instead of PowerPoint, Excel, or Word are more accessible, and have smaller file sizes resulting in faster download times.

Refer to the Navigator Blog and the Extension Website User Guide for more ideas, tips and best practices. 

 


Website updates

Page section duplication

Most page sections can now be Duplicated by clicking the three vertical dots and selecting Duplicate.

What do you do when your newsletter audience almost triples from 30,000 subscribers to 80,000? This was the fortunate dilemma we faced at Professional and Continuing Education in May of this year with the popularity of our online Master Gardener Vegetable Gardening class. But let me back up and discuss where we were, what happened and where we are now.

PACE has long had a gardening newsletter, primarily as a promotional venue, and it has always had an engaged readership. We had a little over 30,000 subscribers and strong numbers in terms of engagement. Our open rates hovered around 13% (3,500 people) and our click-through rates (the number of people who click on something in the email after opening it) was usually around 25%, or close to 1,000 people.

We also knew, through analytics provided by our content management system HubSpot, that 75% of our audience actually read our newsletter, meaning they spent more than 2 minutes engaging with it. These are strong numbers, but we always thought the newsletter could do more. It was a great way to let people know about our upcoming gardening classes, but we weren’t providing much benefit beyond that.

Then COVID-19 happened. When we were all leaving our offices and beginning to quarantine at home, Gail Langellotto decided to make PACE’s Master Gardener Vegetable Gardening class free temporarily so people stuck at home could enjoy the spring weather and get out in the garden. It struck a chord. Between March and June over 40,000 people enrolled in the course and we added 50,000 people to our gardening newsletter list.

At this same time, the PACE marketing team was beginning to work more closely with others in Extension Communications and the Extension Computing Technology Unit, now in a virtual setting. Capitalizing on these new relationships and the rising popularity of our gardening classes, we forged a small team to work together on a revitalized version of the gardening newsletter. We soon realized that we could do more than promote upcoming classes, especially with the added expertise of Extension Communications folks.

We decided to revise the newsletter to focus more on providing benefit and resources to our audience to help them garden. We would utilize existing resources such as monthly gardening calendars, Extension publications and upcoming news articles. We would also continue advertising upcoming PACE gardening and agriculture focused courses to let people know about professional development opportunities they could pursue.

We also made use of a new email template in HubSpot that PACE had as part of our website redesign. This template was much more clean and engaging. Plus, using some of HubSpot’s new tools, it is easily customizable month-to-month when we have different pieces of content coming in and out.

Even though we added 50,000 people to our newsletter list who may be relatively new to gardening, our engagement metrics have gone up. Our open rates have been consistently between 20-30% (16,000 – 24,000 people) and our click-through rates have mostly been in the 17% range (4,000 people). We have also increased the frequency in order to stay more engaged with this new audience, moving from once a month to every other week. We have plans to move to weekly, if possible.

Having a larger team working remotely on the newsletter has also been a great opportunity to improve processes and make use of more planning and reporting. To that end, we’ve been using AirTable for our content calendar. This allows everyone on the team to view the different components of the newsletter ahead of time and contribute their own edits, thoughts and ideas. It also allows us to see all the upcoming newsletter drafts at a glance at our monthly check-ins.

We have a fantastic team working on this newsletter, and it’s been great to see it evolve so much this year. The pandemic has been and continues to be a devastating part of 2020, but it’s nice to see more people getting interested in gardening. And it’s great to be able to provide that audience with the excellent content Extension has to offer.

Sign up if you would like to receive the gardening newsletter and get seasonal and relevant information in your inbox each month!

Author: Rich Collins

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]@oregonstate.edu

So, for example, for my own account I would use mark.kindred@oregonstate.edu.

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.

Link: https://trailhead.salesforce.com/users/mark-kindred/trailmixes/intro-to-salesforce-for-osu-extension

 

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.

Link: https://trailhead.salesforce.com/users/mark-kindred/trailmixes/reports-for-extension

 

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).

Link: https://trailhead.salesforce.com/users/mark-kindred/trailmixes/marketing-cloud-for-osu-extension

 

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

Posted in CRM.

OSU Extension has programs for Oregonians at every stage of life, from young children participating in 4-H Cloverbuds to seniors taking Walk with Ease or Better Bones and Balance classes. With this diversity of programming, it is no surprise that people of all ages visit and utilize the Extension website.

It is difficult to make generalizations about people’s web use based on their age, since it is often influenced by factors such as socioeconomic status, education, location, etc. that vary tremendously within one age group. Despite stereotypes, a teenager growing up in a rural area without regular internet access will probably be less “tech savvy” than a retired person who spent much of their career as a software engineer in a big city. However, because it’s our mission to serve all Oregonians, it is useful to look at analytics for visitors in different age groups to ensure that the website is serving them all effectively and determine if there are particular topics or methods of content delivery that are more effective for certain groups.

In this post, we will take a high-level look at this information. All analytics data provided is for the period January 1, 2020 to October 15, 2020. Note that Google Analytics is able to determine age data for about 36% of visitors to the site.

Under 18

For legal reasons, Google Analytics does not provide data about users that it determines to be under the age of 18.

Check out these articles on creating web content for children and teens:

Ages 18-24

A significant segment of this age group on the Extension website is made up of college/university students, as evidenced by the relatively high popularity of “academic” content used as citations or references in papers, such as items in the Botany Basics collection, as well as the fact that this group has the highest percentage of visitors from Corvallis.

Ages 18-24 user data

This is the age group that is reported to visit the Extension website the least, making up 11.6% of users for which we have age data. (Note, though, that this age group contains the shortest range and therefore the lowest number of individuals who could visit.) It also has the highest bounce rate (71.65%) and lowest average pages per session (1.44). This means that they are the most likely to visit a single page on the site and leave before visiting any others. They are also the group least likely to use the site search feature.

However, this group also spends more time on average on individual pages (2 minutes 51 seconds) than any other age group. This suggests that they are interested in the content on the site and are spending time to read it through. They are the group who least often leaves feedback on content (“Was this page helpful?”), but from the data we have their responses are almost always positive.

Contrary to what you may guess, visitors in this age group are more likely than visitors in any other to be using a desktop computer rather than a mobile device (this may be related to the number of students doing school work). However, for all age groups, a majority of users do use mobile devices. Even though this is the group most likely to be using a desktop, only 46.7% do.

Additionally, all groups of visitors are most likely to find the Extension website through an internet search through Google or another search engine. However, the 18-24 age group is the least likely to find the site through other methods (links on other sites, social media posts, etc.).

In terms of the content visited, this age group represents the widest diversity of interest. For the most part, a large majority of visitors to the Extension website are interested in gardening, food preservation, and (particularly over the last couple months) emergency preparedness topics. However, visitors in the 18-24 age group are the ones who most often visit content about other topics, including Sheep and Goats, Beef Cattle, Fish and Aquatic Life, Field Crops, and Business Management.

Takeaways:

  • To encourage visitors who get to the page from a search engine to visit more than one page on the site, be sure to include a “call to action” or other links on your articles and other content.
  • Be sure that your content includes information about author(s) and date published, etc. so that students (or other researchers) can create a citation for it.
  • Look for opportunities to create and promote content targeted at people in this age group who aren’t college or university students.
  • Consider targeting this age group when promoting content or programming that is new or uncommon in Extension.
  • Look for ways to promote relevant content to this age group beyond relying on them finding it through an internet search.

Ages 25-34

Visitors in this age group are the most common on the site, making up 23.19%, nearly a quarter, of all visitors for which we have age data. They are “middle of the road” for most statistics, including bounce rate, pages per session, and time on page, as well as for the devices they use and the ways they find the Extension website.

In terms of content interests, analytics suggests that visitors ages 25-44 are more interested in livestock-related content than other age groups, particularly beef cattle, sheep, and goats.

Takeaways:

  • Although this age group represents the largest group of website visitors, they are commonly thought to be underrepresented in “in-person” Extension programming. Think about ways you can utilize the web to increase participation from this group.

Ages 35-54

Google Analytics splits this into two groups, 35-44 and 45-54, but the statistics for these groups on the Extension website are so similar that it is easier to talk about them together.

This age group shows a significant drop in visitor numbers from the previous group. Numbers pick up again somewhat for visitors 55 and over.

Extension visitors by age

It may surprise you to learn that it is actually this age group that is the most likely out of all visitors to be using a mobile device. Over 70% of visitors in the 35-44 age group use a mobile phone or tablet to visit the Extension website.

Additionally, the 45-54 age group is the one most likely to find the Extension website through social media (12.7%). Facebook is the most common platform people arrive from.

In addition to the interest in livestock topics mentioned above, this age group shows a relatively high interest in crop production topics, particularly Field Crops, Hazelnuts and Nut Crops, and Tree Fruit.

Takeaways:

  • Think about reasons why visitors might drop off in this age group. Do we have programming appropriate for people who may be busy with family and/or career obligations? If so is it well represented online?
  • Don’t assume that only young people are visiting the site on a mobile device.
  • Make sure your social media strategy isn’t targeted solely at young people.

Ages 55-64

This is the second most common age group for visitors to the Extension website. Most statistics for this group are somewhere in the middle of the stats for the previous age group and the next.

One notable fact is that visitors in the 55 and over age group are much more likely than other age groups to leave feedback on content. The vast majority of all feedback is positive, but this group leaves negative feedback most often (55-64 ~7% negative and 65+ ~13% negative).

The 55+ age group also, perhaps unsurprisingly, represents visitors who have a relatively high interest in healthy aging and physical activity topics.

Takeaways:

  • When looking at feedback on content, keep in mind that certain groups of visitors may be more likely to leave feedback than others.
  • If you are making content targeted at older adults, look at examples like Better Bones and Balance or Walk with Ease as examples of effective web content for that audience.

Ages 65+

This age group is only the third largest group of visitors on the Extension website, but they spend the most time in a session visiting the site and tend to view the most pages. However, they spend the least amount of time on individual pages on average (2 minutes and 8 seconds). This behavior may indicate that this group has a harder time finding what they need on the site and so end up visiting many pages pretty quickly while they look. This idea is further supported by the fact that this group utilizes the site search feature much more than any other age group.

Contrary to what you might expect, this age group is not particularly likely to be using a desktop computer (in fact, slightly less than the 18-24 age group). The 65+ group is the one that most often uses tablets to access the website (~17% of visitors in this group use one). This age group is also the one most likely to find the Extension website from a link on another site.

Takeaways:

  • Make sure content is written to be easy to scan and read, so people can easily tell if what they need is on the page.
  • Tag your content with relevant keywords and topics so that visitors can find it through the site’s search feature.
  • Don’t assume that older adults are always using a desktop setup to access web content. In particular, don’t assume that they are using technology that can easily download/view PDFs or other documents.

Website updates

Impact statements convey messages used for far more than supervisor evaluations – though that’s one of the important roles of impact statements. The better they are written, the better your supervisor can assess your accomplishments. But they also provide fodder for speeches by President Alexander, and Anita Azarenko, interim vice provost for the Division of Extension and Engagement, uses them for reports and briefing documents and to communicate with elected officials and stakeholders about Extension’s impact in Oregon and beyond. Regional directors and local liaisons turn to impact statements to present Extension’s successes, and Extension Communications uses impact statements to put Extension in a positive light through impact stories, news stories, press releases and more.

The impact statements you enter into Digital Measures can have an effect on promotion and tenure. They are a way for supervisors to get an idea about how your efforts have contributed to Extension’s mission.

In other words, impact statements have a wide reach and are necessary for letting our stakeholders, legislators, partners, current and future customers know the important things Extension accomplishes. They are posted online on the Our Impact webpage, available for anyone to peruse.

Although many of you know about the site, you may wonder how to find stories so that you can better let your fellow Oregonians know about them. There are more than 165 impact stories on the site now. You can find stories that relate to your region by using the “view our impacts in Oregon counties.”

Once you’re familiar with how to find impact stories, you can share them with the public in a variety of ways, most notably: on your social media accounts, in presentations and newsletters, on posters and grant applications and in written and verbal communications with elected officials.

Writing useful impact statements

Impact statements are straightforward, concise reports of your program efforts and impact. Good ones like the one below conveys three things:

  • Problem or issue
  • Efforts or activities to solve it
  • Impact or change it brought

Screenshot of this impact story: https://ourimpact.oregonstate.edu/story/osu-helps-cattle-ranchers-environmentalists-save-sage-grouse

Here, the problem encompasses the management conflict between sage-grouse and cattle grazing.

The action statement is Extension’s efforts to avoid listing the sage-grouse under the Endangered Species List with an information campaign to landowners, which would result in improvements to rangelands to make them more friendly to sage-grouse.

The impact or change was a historic agreement to protect sage-grouse habitat. Along with that are statistics to back it up.

The idea is to get your impact across without dumping all of your information into your statement. Be short. Think of it as an elevator speech. You want the reader to get the idea of your impact in a few paragraphs. If you feel it must be longer, continue to write in a straight-forward manner and keep it as concise as possible. If you need some coaching, contact Kym Pokorny or Chris Branam on the Extension Communications news team. Always keep in mind (from the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences Communications and Marketing, Virginia Tech):

An impact statement

  • Briefly summarizes, in lay terms, the difference your teaching/learning, research/discovery, and extension and outreach/engagement efforts have made.
  • States accomplishment and creates strong support for programs.
  • Answers the questions… “So what?” and “Who cares?”
  • Conveys accomplishments in simple language free of technical jargon.
  • Is submitted by faculty for three to five efforts each year.

Who cares?

  • Helps us reflect on and improve our work.
  • Demonstrates the difference we make in people’s lives, communities and the environment.
  • Improves visibility of programs (local, state, national).
  • Generates support.
  • Is a repository of results for speeches and other communication.
  • Helps us focus on issues, initiatives, and program themes.
  • Builds greater understanding of our programs by the public.
  • Illustrates our accountability.

Don’t use jargon. Write as if you are talking to a family member or friend who knows nothing about your topic. You want them to come away thinking, “So that’s what Extension does.” Don’t be vague. Use active verbs. Rather than “She was plowing the wheat field” write “She plowed the wheat field.”

Headlines, subheads, photos and captions grab attention so should be clear and engaging. An example of some good headlines includes:

  • OSU research hooks students on marine science
  • Urban cosmetologists raise money for Hopkins Demonstration Forest
  • 4-H youth sew Stockings for Soldiers
  • Wildfire danger in northeast Oregon ignites action to improve forest health

Be memorable. Be punchy. Be concise. Note all verbs are active. You want it to be informative; it is the gateway to the reader and we want them to open the door.

Impact statements are all about communicating to the public, much of which aren’t familiar with Extension or Extension’s reach throughout the state and beyond, so don’t be humble.

It’s recommended that you start thinking of impact at the beginning of your project. Will you determine impact through interviews? Surveys? Measurable impact? Don’t worry if you don’t have numbers to use for measuring impact. Describing what you have accomplished or think you will accomplish works, too. If your project is ongoing, you should update your impact statement yearly as you gather more information.

Remember, impact statements are just a three-pronged report: problem, what you did to change it, what the change or impact was. It can be written in three paragraphs, but it’s okay if you go over. Just don’t put all the details in. Keep it as short as you can. Along with headlines and photos, conciseness in conveying your message is one of the most important aspects of writing an impact statement. You want to answer “So what?” Your statement should draw people in so that Extension is known throughout the state for the important work we do.

Website updates

We are excited to announce a new feature for the Extension website’s county landing pages later this month. Impact stories related to your county will be featured in the news and impact section. The stories originate from The Statewides: Our Impact website.