Association Communications Benchmarking Series

Increasing Readership Engagement: eNewsletter Briefings

By Rachel Walker • November 29, 2018

In our fast-paced, digital world, our attention spans are waning. So is our free time away from screens. Business professionals face more work demands than ever leading to a juggling match between work priorities and association membership involvement. With little free time, members no longer feel like they have as much time in their schedules to fully engage in reading a magazine. According to the 2018 Association Communications Benchmarking Study, one of the top reasons for declining reader engagement with association publications revolves around members’ full schedules. More explicitly, 67 percent of those surveyed implied they are too busy to read association publications. Furthermore, 4 in 5 associations explain that at least half of their communications go unread.

Despite these odds, readership engagement for association publications can still increase. One of the most important communication vehicles that boost readership engagement is the eNewsletter. Member eNewsletters rank in the top five individual communication channels with 69 percent of respondents considering them an extremely valuable way to communicate with members. Clearly, eNewsletters remain a significant tactic for sustaining reader engagement.

Association eNewsletters can be a way to cater to members’ busy schedules and declining attention spans.

Business professionals face more work demands than ever leading to a juggling match between work priorities and association membership engagement.

The Benefits of eNewsletter Briefings

With members’ having little time to read the newest association articles, why not offer summaries for each article in existing eNewsletters? By using this strategy, members can read succinct, yet detailed briefings of each article with the option to click a link to read the full article. This allows members to quickly find out which articles pique their interest, leading them to click on specific article links to read in full. Instead of using a single line to introduce eNewsletter articles and hoping that members will want to read more, summaries within the newsletter engage readers immediately.

Many news outlets such as The New York Times and CNN already use this strategy by publishing daily briefings that summarize their top stories with an option to view the full story on their website. Readers can find these briefings directly on their website, their smartphone news apps or their inbox through an email subscription. This detailed briefing strategy can easily transfer to associations.

Putting Briefings to Use

Right now, many digital newsletters for associations include the first sentence or hook  to get members to read feature stories and news without giving too much of the article away and losing a click-through. Unfortunately, hooks no longer work as a means to entice readers with little free time or patience to read an article from start to finish. Cater to association members’ desires to retain as much information in as few words possible with helpful briefings of longer articles.

Including summaries might feel like extra work, but if your association’s goal is to increase readership of your newsletter, you’ll need to put in some extra effort to change the status quo. Once associations can gauge readership engagement through click-through, open and forwarding rates for the eNewsletter summary format, you can begin adding even more briefing strategies to maintain member engagement.

For instance, your association can introduce a special highlights newsletter that showcases the most-read article briefings of the month or year. A re-hashing of top articles attracts renewed interest in those topics because people are naturally curious about what’s considered or deemed popular. This interest can increase newsletter click-through rates and interest for past articles, revealing evergreen topics in which members remain interested.

Although this special newsletter has the potential of taking the spotlight away from traditional eNewsletters, this might be exactly what members want to stay updated about association news and feature articles without losing precious time.

Use Social Media

To fully grasp members’ attention, associations can promote these briefs on more platforms than just email. Social media platforms provide interactive, visually pleasing and most importantly, succinct messages that can entice members to engage in article briefings. Additionally, social media allows members to effortlessly navigate to an association’s website for more information.

The 2018 Benchmarking Study reveals an 8 percent increase in value for association blogs compared to past years. More explicitly, 36 percent of associations rate blogs as a valuable or extremely valuable communication channel. Consequently, including links to association blogs in eNewsletters can aid in engaging members into alternative sources for association updates and news. Furthermore, blogs usually promote interactivity through a comment section, which can increase the level of communication between an association and its members.

Other platforms that associations can link to their eNewsletters include community forums and publication websites as well as Instagram, Twitter and Facebook. All social media platforms can use the briefing format to promote the newest articles. A simple tweet or post that includes a summary and a link to a full article can exponentially increase traffic for publication websites and individual articles of interest.

Although going digital has diminished our attention spans, associations can persevere and take advantage of this trend. With briefings and an increased use of social media and communication vehicles, associations can easily improve reader engagement and make members feel like their associations understand and support their shorter attention spans and busy lifestyles.

About The Author

Rachel Walker is a content strategy intern at Naylor Association Solutions. She is majoring in English with minors in mass communication studies and educational studies, and plans to graduate in May 2019.