Drive Membership Growth for your Association: A Guide to Email Marketing

If we’ve learned anything from 2020, it’s that email marketing is alive and well. According to a study by Mailchimp, email clickthrough rates have skyrocketed since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Email marketing saw a major revitalization in 2020, and this growth is projected to continue through 2022. Associations are prime candidates for capitalizing on this massive growth.

Here, shows you how to craft the perfect email marketing campaign for your association by going over the best practices for email marketing.

What Is Email Marketing?

Overview of Email Marketing for Associations

As the most direct, efficient, and effective way of reaching your target audience, email marketing has been around for a long time. This direct digital marketing approach involves sending carefully curated emails to specific audiences with specific engagement goals in mind.

Perhaps your email marketing campaign consists of keeping in touch with existing members to keep them coming back. Or maybe the goal of your campaign is to convert promising prospects into loyal members.

No matter the end, email marketing can be an effective means; so long as you use this powerful tool properly.

How Do Newsletters Support These Efforts?

What is newsletter marketing? How does it work? Most importantly, how can it help you find new members and keep your members coming back?

To answer this question, let’s look back to the Mailchimp study we cited earlier. According to the study, “subscribers overwhelmingly seem to prefer frequent campaigns, especially those sent a week apart.”

Email newsletters are essentially weekly reminders to your email subscribers that your association is present. With email newsletters, you can inform your audience of the latest updates, news, and your association’s digest.

The goal of newsletter marketing is to keep your association fresh in the minds of your subscribers. If the initial subscription to your email list is the hook, a well-crafted newsletter is the line that keeps you connected to your members.

When you establish a good rapport with your member base via email marketing, their engagement with your association will increase.

Are Email Newsletters Dead?

The evidence says no, email newsletters are alive and well.

Getting Started With Association Email Marketing

Now that you know the importance of email marketing, it’s time to go over how you can implement this incredible tool into your digital marketing arsenal.

Remember, You’re a Guest in Their Inbox

While you want to make your presence known in your subscribers’ inbox, it’s also important to remember that you’re a guest there. According to a study from Marketing Charts, the leading cause of unsubscribes is sending too many emails.

The same study found that the sweet spot for email frequency is 1-2 per week. This allows you to stay relevant in the mind of the subscriber without flooding their inbox with emails.

While there are many opportunities for success with email marketing, there are just as many pitfalls that can cost you members. Here are a few ways you can maintain your audience’s interest while avoiding the mistakes that will lead them to unsubscribe.

Get Permission:

The first step of any great email marketing campaign is to get permission from your audience. This can take the form of a newsletter signup form on your website, subscription ask after a purchase, and so on. As long as you get your subscribers’ permission, you’re off to a great start.

Follow Through with Great Content:

After you have your subscribers, it’s time to start delivering quality content to them. The best way to make your audience feel valued is to offer personalized content.

Instead of having the greeting read: “Dear member”, make the emails address your subscribers by name. The Business to Business Community found that personalized greetings generate six times more engagement with members.

Additionally, emails with personalized subject lines are 26% more likely to be opened by recipients. The best way to get your foot in the door is to make a genuine outreach to your members.

The type of content you produce in your email marketing depends on the type of association you’re running. Make sure that your content is engaging, and calls your audience to act in some way.

It’s also important to practice market segmentation with your email marketing content. Show the right content to the right people for the best results.

Know When to Pitch a Membership:

Lastly, it’s important to know the right timing to pitch your association to potential members. While it’s tempting to jump the gun and release your promotional material as soon as you gain subscribers, understand that most potential members will need to be “warmed up”.

According to Copper’s Sales Tactics Blog, you should wait until you have already established a relationship with your audience. This is why market segmentation is so important.

When you’re sending an email campaign, prioritize your existing members over potential members. It sounds counterintuitive, but people tend to reject an outright hard sale.  Show them what they could have as a member, and allow them to make the decision to join for themselves. Flooding the inbox of new leads with membership pitches might overwhelm them, and cause them to unsubscribe.

Difference Between a Good and Bad Email Newsletter

Email newsletters can be flawless breadwinners or they can fail spectacularly. The difference between the perfect email newsletter and a complete dud are surprisingly minor ones.

The first, as we’ve discussed before, is frequency. The best newsletters strike a perfect balance between staying relevant to your audience and overloading them with emails. The best email newsletters send 1 to 2 emails per week to their subscribers.

Next, you need to nail the timing of your emails. There are three windows of opportunity per day to send an email. These are between 8:00 AM to 10:00 AM, 1:00 PM to 4:00 PM, and finally 6:00 PM.

Data from Campaign Monitor finds that most people check their email inbox during these times. Take advantage of this and schedule your emails to send at these times.  It helps to test a few days and times out over a few weeks to gather data about your specific audience.  Even within the same industry, your specific niche may have totally different email habits than another niche – intel on CTRs and other metrics will help you optimize your emailing.

Include Information About Your Events

People join your association to be a part of something – not just to read your content.  Highlighting your events, including conferences, speakers, volunteer opportunities and the like, incentivizes on-the-fence members to join.  Show them that current members are making friends and memories by describing past events in your email marketing campaign!

Analytics and Segmentation

Data is very important for running a successful email marketing campaign. You need to keep tabs on what works, what doesn’t, and who is engaging with your emails.

Keeping an eye on the data also helps your market segmentation efforts. Take advantage of your data to see how many people make up each of your market segments. This will help you allocate the proper amount of time and resources to each segment.

You can also use the analytics from your email marketing to see how effective your strategy is overall, and where you can make improvements

Wrapping Up Email Marketing for Associations

In review, email marketing is a strong tool for driving growth and membership in associations, but only if used correctly. As long as you appear authentic, don’t overload your audience, and provide quality content, email marketing is a great way to nurture those who are already members, and give just the right push to those who are on the fence about joining.

Now it’s up to you to make your email marketing strategy work for your association. Follow this guide while implementing your plan, and it’s guaranteed to succeed.

Boost membership engagement and increase revenue.

Cultivating relevancy through content.

Read more from the Pushing Send Blog!

Don’t Treat All Prospects the Same: Tips for Targeted Recruitment
Don’t Treat All Prospects the Same: Tips for Targeted Recruitment

Not all prospective members are at the same level of engagement. Some are just learning about your association; others are aware of what you do and are involved with some aspect of your programming. Others are right on the cusp of becoming members. You want to tailor...

How to Add More Punch to Your Member-Get-a-Member Program
How to Add More Punch to Your Member-Get-a-Member Program

Personal recommendations still carry the most weight when it comes to convincing people to make a purchase or try an activity. Online presence and reviews matter, but referrals are an association’s strongest tool in attracting new members. The first step to maximizing...