Marketing & Communications

5 Steps You Should Take Today to Improve Your Email Marketing

By • April 22, 2016

When was the last time you took a close look at how your email marketing campaigns were performing?

Chances are that your association emails members daily, but it has probably been a while since your association took a careful look at who you’re emailing, why and with what information.

Email can be a very cost-effective tool if it’s given the attention it deserves. Use these five quick tips as a diagnostic tool for your association’s email marketing program. How does your program measure up?


Email people who actually want to receive your emails. RealLilTweetables

Set up an email calendar. RealLilTweetables

Focus your emails on just one topic per email. RealLilTweetables

Tell recipients what to do and where to go after opening your email. RealLilTweetables

Use your email marketing funds wisely. RealLilTweetables

  1. Only email people who actually want to receive your emails. Besides ensuring that you’re emailing people who have voluntarily signed up to receive your emails (as outlined by the CAN-SPAM Act in the United States and CASL in Canada), pay attention to the demographics of your email list. It’s important to know your audience based on career stage, gender, title, company, employment status, membership level, skill set, specialty or any other characteristic that is going to have an effect on whether or not recipients respond to the information in your email. For example, you wouldn’t email an undergraduate the same career resources that you’d send to a 25-year veteran of your industry. Look at your member demographics and tailor the tone of each email to fit those demographics. Segment your lists. Send separate emails to each list. Targeting your messages will make your offering more attractive and your conversion rates higher.
  1. Set up an email calendar. Your members don’t mind receiving email – according to MarketingSherpa, 91 percent of U.S. adults like to receive promotional emails from organizations they do business with – but have a plan. Even if you have a LOT of information about your association’s events, programs, educational events, conferences and webinars to share, find out how often your members want to receive email and stick to that schedule.

Ferdinand Libunao of the American Society for Healthcare Human Resources Administrators and a contributor to a recent Association Adviser webinar said that after a few surveys and focus groups, ASHHRA members made it clear they would like to receive email no more than three times per week. So ASHHRA honors that request and carefully plans its communications so that they reach out to members with everything they want to convey in three emails or fewer. An email calendar will prevent you from sending overlapping emails to the same audiences and will help your staff better visualize and organize your communications.

  1. email-frequencyFocus your emails on just one topic per email. Email can only hold the attention of readers for so long. With few exceptions, stuffing an email with too much info will turn readers off. People skim email. They want to check it quickly while they are in line at the supermarket, waiting in the carpool line or out for lunch. Think of a single email like your resume – it has to be very concise, be easy to follow and clearly display your most important information because you have the recipient’s attention for a very brief moment. Using webinars as an example topic, ASHHRA found that registrations for webinars increase when they send a stand-alone/dedicated email about a single webinar. If there are multiple webinars coming up, ASHHRA will combine notices about each webinar into one email to keep email frequency to a minimum (as discussed above), but the topic is still simply “webinars.”
  1. Tell recipients what to do and where to go after opening your email. Send an email with the next step in mind. Know what you want your recipients to do after opening your email, and make it easy for them to do so. Want them to register for an event? Include a link to a registration page, and/or contact information for the event coordinator so members who prefer to make plans offline can do so. Want your members to come to the event? Give them the physical or online address (URL). Has someone completed the action you wanted them to complete? Send them another email thanking them for taking action and tell them where to go next. At Association Adviser, once someone subscribes to our newsletter, we send them an automated email that thanks them for signing up and includes links to the most popular sections of our website and to popular videos on our online TV channel. We want subscribers to know that Association Adviser is more than just a newsletter, so we are intentional about directing them to more of our resources beyond the newsletter. Telling your email recipients where to go will greatly boost your conversion rates.
  1. Consider the funds you have available for email marketing and use them wisely. Email marketing is one of the most economical forms of online communication, but it still has a cost. Some email service providers charge a flat monthly or annual fee, and some charge by the number of emails sent. Whatever your pricing plan, know how much money you are spending on email, and compare it to the return you are getting in terms of conversions. Is email helping you meet your goals for a price you can afford? Remember to factor in staff time and energy, too. If email is not performing as efficiently as you can afford, go back to your lists, your email service provider and your staff’s knowledge, and work on one or all of those to improve your email return on investment.

What email marketing tips would you add to this list?

Find more in-depth information about email marketing improvement in our recorded webinar and slides (March 2016), available for free download.

About The Author

Kelly Clark is the manager for online marketing with Naylor Association Solutions.