Email communication to your members is a double-edged sword. Complaints that inboxes are out-of-control and eating up time in the day are balanced by member surveys that indicate email is still the best way to inform members of news and programs. What can association professionals do to make sure emails are being read?
1. Plan to succeed
Email communications should be just one part of your overall communications plan alongside social media, listserv mentions, and publications. Taking the time to put all of these strategies into a comprehensive plan and calendar will increase your members’ interest in the messaging. If you don’t have a consolidated plan then members might be receiving a policy update, request for a foundation donation and news about conference registration all on the same day. Your messages have enough competition from outside sources!
Don’t forget to leverage your member database to deliver individually targeted messages as much as possible. No need to continue to remind a member about the conference early-bird deadline when they have already registered to attend.
2. Subject line is key
A relevant subject line is the gatekeeper to the rest of your message. It’s worth spending a little extra time on these few choice words. There are 269 billion emails* sent every day and your member is receiving his or her share of them. Does the subject line clearly identify your association as the sender? Consider taking advantage of subject line tools and testing available through your email service provider to fine tune this crucial first impression.
3. Make it actionable
Is your email simply conveying information or do you want a member to take action? Maybe that update would be better suited for an e-newsletter or a section on your website. If the need is more immediate, make sure the call to action is clearly communicated and the link to register or respond is easily identifiable and functioning correctly.
4. Make it device friendly
The email you just designed with a full-column graphic might look amazing on your 17 inch monitor, but how well is your message coming across when it is being read on an Apple Watch. Be mindful of the myriad of devices and screen sizes that will be displaying your message. Try conducting a test in your office by having co-workers bring in all of their technology so you can evaluate the differences.
5. Utilize your toolbox
Use the analytical tools you have from your email service provider to find out what is or is not being read. The first number to check is the delivery rate. Follow up with members who have invalid email addresses. Keep an eye on open and click through rates. Keeping your content relevant will help those numbers trend up, but if you are seeing decreasing rates then it is time to rethink your strategy. What individual links are receiving the most clicks? Now you know the type of content your members want. Take it one step further and look at the click map. Do interactions fall off half way down the page? Maybe it is time for a redesign. Who are the members with the most opens? That group of power users might make up a good focus group. In the hustle of getting the next communication ready to go, it is easy to forget about the data, expertise and analytics you have on hand to make improvements and increase readership of member emails.
*The Radicati Group, Inc., Email Statistics Report 2017-2021