Reduce overhead while keeping members engaged: 4 practical tips to send emails to association members

Send targeted emails to your members

As a communications manager your job is not commercial revenue generation, rather it is to send emails to association members to keep them informed, remind them about renewals, notify them about upcoming events, etc. This creates some friction with traditional email marketing providers where functionality is all about lead generation and sales.

Envoke, a broadcast email provider, is specialized to help non-commercial organizations distribute content effectively. In this article our customer experience manager shares four tips that communication professionals can use to send emails to association members. The key is to look beyond trivial functionality such as how an email editor works and spend more time on structuring subscription management: Correct list segmentation and list management practices will allow you to send the right emails to the right audience and in turn foster a great experience for your members of your association while reducing internal overhead.

Before you send emails to association members you need to group them correctly

One of the goals of a successful association email strategy is engaged members. One way to achieve this is to send relevant and personalized emails to every member. In order to do this you need to group or segment your membership list.

Think about categorizing your contacts as a way to send them emails later. Which of the members should receive different content? Create a category for each group. For example:

  • Active members
  • Past members
  • Staff
  • Stakeholders
  • Volunteers

The more categories the better. Even if you don’t use them right away (maybe you don’t have enough content for each group yet) it’s good to think ahead so whenever you have something to tell a certain group of members you already have them segmented. The examples above ensure you can send relevant information. 

What about personalized content? When you send emails to association members you can take advantage of using dynamic content and merge fields to deliver emails that speak to your audience. Read our related article for more: How to personalize emails? 3 high impact tips to increase engagement and reduce unsubscribes

Allow your members to update their email preferences and manage expectations

An email communications plan shouldn’t just address how to send emails to association members and what content to send. It should also allow your contacts to manage their profile and subscription preferences self-serve to reduce admin overhead. A good preferences management page (also called the “unsubscribe page”) does more than just to allow contacts to unsubscribe. It sets expectations and allows your contacts to update their profile, language preference and the page itself is branded so it looks like it’s part of your website rather than part of a third party provider. (Branding actually helps reduce unsubscribes). Read more: Email subscription management and email preferences page best practices and options

As for subscription options: most organizations have optional subscriptions but when you send emails to association members you will often need to send mandatory content that is delivered even to contacts who are otherwise unsubscribed from optional messages. This ensures that mission critical messages reach inboxes consistently. For example, when you send renewal reminders you want to ensure that those emails are delivered so you don’t have to manually reach out to members one by one, which is a very time consuming process. The ability to send mandatory emails is a unique feature that the Envoke email platform offers.

Marketing, informational and mandatory emails to send to association members

Newsletters and renewal notices are the two most common types of emails associations send. Give your members some variety and send other emails too! Here are a few different types of emails you should consider sending to your members:

  • Event invitations
  • News / informational messages
  • Renewal notices
  • Internal memos or notes
  • New member welcome emails
  • Holiday messages
  • Surveys and polls
  • Updates from the director(s)
  • Member guidelines
  • Registration updates
  • Practice opportunities

Don’t forget to resend emails to non openers!

On average, over half the recipients of any email blast won’t open your email. They could be off that day, in a long meeting, dealing with family issues or your email got lost in busy inboxes. They’re still interested but unless you resend your email to this group of non-openers they won’t have a chance to read your content. Resending emails to non openers is simple and effective, yet very few organizations use it regularly as part of their email engagement playbook. Read more: Send win back emails and resend emails to non openers.

Keep your contact list at your email provider in sync with your in-house database

When you work with an email marketing software you will end up with two databases. Your internal “master database” and the one with the email platform. You need to ensure that emails you send include the most up to date list of your members from your internal database and you may want to keep track of preferences changes in your database that your members update in the email platoform. 

How exactly to keep membership data in sync? There are three common scenarios to do this:

Manually export / import list each time before you send an email blast.

The reason to do this is almost always due to the lack of IT resources to create an automated integration. Often the necessary APIs (connections that allow multiple apps to talk to each other) are provided but there is no one to do the coding to make them work.

In this case you’ll be importing data frequently to your email provider. Find a provider that

  • automatically de-dupes all contacts on import so you don’t have to worry about duplicate records
  • merges existing records without erasing and data or making mess of your database
  • retains subscription preferences so you don’t accidentally resubscribe contacts who had unsubscribed
  • doesn’t force you to double opt-in or otherwise have your contacts confirm their preferences each time you import a list

Establish a one-way integration from your database to the email platform

A one-way integration ensures that whenever you send emails you always have the most up to date list handy. The integration takes new and updated contacts from your database and adds or merges them with contacts in your email provider’s account. This is typically done using contact APIs that your developers implement based on your business logic. Since you manage email related details (subscriptions, consent and other preferences) in your email platform you don’t need to sync these back to your internal database.

Two-way integration

To close the loop you can also keep subscription and consent details up to date in your internal database by taking that information from the email database. This is commonly done using a technology called web hooks that, just like the APIs, your developers need to implement.

Using Excel or Google Sheets?

What if you don’t have an internal database and manage your membership list in Excel or Google Sheets? The solution is simple in that case: ditch the Excel sheet immediately and manage it all directly from the email software.

Why not just send emails to association members from our CRM?

Why bother with syncing databases – why not just send emails directly from the CRM system, outlook or the built-in email module of your internal list management system? It turns out that using a mass email communications platform alongside your CRM:

  • saves lots of time (streamlined email creation and better editor)
  • also saves money (greatly reduced overhead)
  • provides a better experience for your contacts (nicer emails, and self-serve preference management)
  • gives you compliance out of the box (permissions management is at the core of email platforms)
  • helps with business decisions (better reports)

Read this article for more information: Why not send emails directly from your CRM?

An email platform that helps you send emails to association members

Most email platforms, such as MailChimp or Constant Contact, are for marketers to generate commercial revenue. As an association, your goal is effective communication with members, staff and the public.

Envoke: a broadcast email software checks all the boxes to manage an effective email communication program and provide a great email experience for your members. Envoke’s focus is on compliance, data security and enabling users to send mandatory, non-commercial emails in addition to informational and marketing messages.

Check testimonials and sign up for a free trial to experience first hand how Envoke can help you with your association’s email strategy.

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