Association Answers

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Protech’s Guide to Email Marketing for Associations

Looking for some tips to email marketing for associations? Look no further.
Looking for some tips to email marketing for associations? Look no further.

There’s one easy trick to drafting an email campaign to engage members. You’re not going to love it.

Here’s where email marketing for associations usually starts: Blunders. Mistakes. Oversights. Miscalculations. Whatever you want to call it, learning your lessons early will turn you into an email marketing pro, engaging more members and finding new members in the process.

Don’t Be Afraid

Whether an association is reaching out to current members or prospects, the goal remains the same: Make them remember you’re there.

If your association is stepping up its email marketing game (aside from the regular newsletter), revitalizing an old strategy or trying to breathe life into your next engagement effort, the first step is easy. Stop thinking about it and just do it.

We’ll circle back to the importance of data and analytics later, but you won’t know how to measure success without your first campaign. This will serve as a baseline to measure your future outcomes, and it probably won’t be your best effort ever. But simply getting started and learning hard lessons about email marketing for associations will leave you better off in the long run.

  • Start with members: Before reaching out to prospective members, try a campaign aimed at current members. They’re more likely to be forgiving, and you’ll see a low unsubscribe rate. After a few practice emails to members, you’ll have a better sense of what language works and what doesn’t.
Don't be afraid to ask your AMS vendor about email campaigns. Protech recently emailed clients prior to help them navigate the new world under GDPR.
Don’t be afraid to ask your AMS vendor about email marketing for associations. Protech recently emailed clients prior to help them navigate the new world under GDPR.
  • Start light: Don’t be too aggressive in your next campaign. Going over the top in an effort to sell members a professional development lesson or to register for your annual conference won’t come across well if you haven’t reached out in a while. Instead, try telling them how they could benefit from some of the free perks that come with membership. And be sure to kick off with a friendly tone and see where it takes you.
  • Check your work: If you had typos, broken links or an unpolished design, try something different on your next go-round. Test emails before you send them, and have a coworker review the content to see if it’s really engaging.

Turn to Member Prospects

Once you’ve nailed the basics with existing customers, you can confidently seek out new members through email marketing. Remember: The goal is to remind people in the industry that you’re there and that you can help. An overbearing email selling the benefits of the association too hard isn’t going to get you anywhere.

These initial emails to prospective members might not do well in the engagement department. That’s OK. Use these tips to refine and improve your email efforts over time.

  • Try multiple tests using different language: Feel like an email is coming off too strong? On your next email in the campaign, try sending two versions: a softer version and a more direct one. If one works better than the other, incorporate it into your future strategy.
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  • Clean up your marketing lists: Uninterested parties will help do this for you — by unsubscribing. A couple emails in, it’s worth reviewing your marketing lists to clean up and update old email accounts, or check for typos in your contact records. An email could be bouncing because you have the wrong address.
  • Review the stats: First, find an email marketing solution that easily integrates into your Association Management Software. And vice versa. After that, make sure it’s a solution with solid data reporting tools to find out how an email did. Check the open rate to determine whether you need to change your subject line and preheader. Check the click map to find out what your most popular content is, and create more similar pieces in the future. How many mobile opens are you’re seeing? Make sure to go back and see whether your email is formatted correctly for mobile devices.

Next steps?

Before you get moving on your next email campaign, review these tips to start off on the right foot. Remember, it’s OK to make mistakes a time or two — it’s all part of email marketing for associations. And be sure to find an AMS vendor that can easily incorporate top-of-the-line email marketing integrations.

Check out the Protech Marketplace to see which email marketing solutions we’d recommend, as well as an array of other value-added business solutions. And be sure to follow Protech on LinkedIn for weekly updates.