Reducing Email Clutter

By Allison Scudder • April 26, 2023

Recently on ASAE Collaborate, I came across a thread discussing the common issue of “sending too many emails.”  With so many committees and groups working hard to create value for their members, it can be challenging to determine the level of importance for every message. So, how can nonprofits communicate effectively without overwhelming their members’ inboxes? 

During our latest webinar, Association Marketing: Expert Strategies to Help Meet Your Goals, we discussed how the details are in the data. It is no different when it comes to the data available on your email marketing platform. Since Apple launched Mail Privacy Protection, open rates are no longer a reliable source of data. Instead, you should focus on metrics such as click-through rates, conversion rates, and unsubscribe rates to understand how your members are engaging with your emails. Depending on your email marketing service, there may be reporting features built in that have adjusted for this. If you do not have that option, Hubspot has shared their formula: Adjusted Open Rate = Unique reliable opens/(unique delivered – unique reliable opens).  

Another way to reduce the number of emails your members receive is through list segmentation. By creating lists based on topics of interest, location, and responsiveness, your team can ensure that your members will be receiving the information that is the most relevant to them. Not every message is relevant to every membership group. According to the 2022 Association Benchmarking Report, 36% of respondents name “customizing for member segments” as the biggest challenge they face. However, the adoption of this practice has increased across the board in recent years. 

You can also consider reducing the total number of emails sent by introducing an eNewsletter or an AI Newsletter. These newsletters can streamline all the important work your committees are doing in a format that best suits your members and advertisers. Summarize your content into short, actionable summaries that redirect members to take action on a different page or to read more on a blog post. AI Newsletters are different than a typical eNewsletter because they adapt to your members’ interests. The more they interact with the newsletter, the better it understands what each individual member wants to read.  

In the long term, breaking down department silos is the key to addressing the overcommunication issue. When departments and committees work in tandem and managing in all directions, it is easier to reach the strategic goals set by the board of directors. Setting up regular feedback loops ensures that the top priority needs are being communicated to the membership. However, it is important to remember that being more vocal does not mean you are communicating better. Be thoughtful, intentional, and explain what you need to be successful in your position. 

Ultimately, the best communication plan is the one that creates the best outcomes for your association. All the data you need to know about how your members interact with your emails is at your fingertips. While all initiatives that your committees are doing are important to supporting your mission, it may not be applicable to every member. Analyze your data, segment your member lists, and streamline how to deliver your content should put your association on the corrective path from overcommunication.  

There is still time to complete the 2023 Association Benchmarking Survey! Completion of this survey will provide you with your Association Best Practices Score and will offer an integrated set of strategy suggestions to help your association reach its goals in 2023 and beyond.  Participants who complete the survey will be entered for a chance to win one of 50 $100 Amazon gift cards when the survey closes.  Take they survey today!

About The Author

Allison Scudder is a senior corporate marketing specialist at Naylor Association Solutions. Reach her at [email protected].