I’m sure you are aware of financial problems that PASS is experiencing now. PASS (a.k.a. pass.org), the organization that runs PASS Summit, sqlsaturday.com, and virtual and local user group (a.k.a. UG) websites might not have enough money to weather the 2020 storm. If PASS revenue would not magically go up, it will have to shatter its doors which will put a hard stop to your volunteering UG investment. This blog post is not about Fear Urgency and Doubt (a.k.a. FUD), but rather about creating a UG continuity plan (read: insurance policy). I’m going to try to provide you with enough information to create an alternative path for your user group, so your UG doesn’t have to start from scratch. This blog post is going to explain in great details on how to retain your UG “client base”, UG member email addresses.
If you are user group leader, you should be concerned about the potential PASS shutdown. From my 1 year old analysis, about 60% of the North American user groups are solely relying on PASS for their user group platform (website + member contacts) hosting. While replacing a PASS DNN-based web site is a more simple task (explained here – https://datasteve.com/2020/09/08/preparing-a-user-group-continuity-plan-for-a-possible-pass-shutdown-part-1—web-platform/), getting all the member email addresses is a bit more complicated. UG member email addresses is a core UG value and defines relevance and access to sponsors, so member retention is a big deal.
If PASS is going to disappear, all your UG content could disappear. You need a new platform and migration plan fast. Despite the fact that all the hard work of collecting those email addresses is done by the UG and PASS.org is just hosting it, PASS is making it virtually impossible to export those email addresses and take those to a new hosting partner. PASS has no export feature and adding an insult to an injury, all the email addresses are masked (Fig #1).
As you can see from the screenshot above, exporting email addresses is not an option. So what can you do? You can choose a new Email Marketing System (a.k.a. EMS) and send an email to all UG members asking them to opt-in into a separate list. Let’s talk about how do it.
I’m going to show to accomplish that goal using Mailerlite, but you can use any other freemium platform.
- Create a new email address for the UG
- Sign up for a free mailerlite account (Fig #2)
2. Create a sign up form for your mailing list (Fig #3)
3. Design your sign up form (Fig #4)
4. Capture the Share URL (Fig #5)
5. Send an opt-in email including the link to your URL (Fig #6)
6. Repeat the email after few weeks to all existing subscribers and include a raffle prize to see a better conversion rate