We know you’re not meaning to overwhelm your members with email. It just comes with the territory of being a small staff association leader. You may find that you have a lot to say, or that your email open rates are pretty low so you must repeat yourself often, or perhaps you’re not the only one sending the email and your members are receiving messages from you AND a couple staff members.
The unfortunate risk you’re running is that you’re turning off members altogether, or at the minimum your emails are being relocated to a spam folder.
So how do you overhaul an admittedly overwhelming email strategy and get it down to a point where your members know to open your email because there’s important information inside and not to immediately discard it?
Instead of several small emails, write one big one. Separate your topics into bolded headers so that members may scan the article and find out the information they need. It may sound counter-intuitive to make emails easier to glaze over, but ultimately I’ll be more effective in the long run. Also be sure you’re coordinating with your staff so nobody is left out an efforts aren’t duplicated. Newsletters are another great tool for effective email messaging, but again the subjects have to be well organized and relevant.
Does that email really need to go to all your members, or just a particular committee? A recap of an event or a follow-up with speaker materials is great, but are non-attendees really interested? Use your AMS to split up email list servs and make sure information is going to the right people and ONLY the right people. Remember that it’s not a huge leap between ignoring one irrelevant email and ignoring everything that came from your association.
Sometimes messages would be best delivered with a different medium or even just left alone entirely. You have to remember that while it’s your job and a major part of your life both personally and professionally, your association might not feature as highly on some of your members’ priorities. Can your message wait until a meeting rolls around? Is it as important for your members to know as it is for you to know? And honestly (and this is one of the toughest questions) is it really interesting to your members?
There seem to be dozens of ways to communicate these days. Perhaps another one besides email is more appropriate for this message. Email is convenient, but would a phone call be more effective? Perhaps something even less direct is the ticket like a post on a message board or social media discussion. Sure, your members are always checking their email, but that’s not their only source of information. What may fall flat (even go unread) in email messaging may thrive somewhere else. Really consider the medium before you push “send!”
Email messaging is only one way to engage with your members. There are many others, and some get better results! Of course it all depends on your members themselves. For a complete guide on how to asses your membership to get optimal engagement and ways to pump up member involvement, download our free Small Staff Guide to Association Member Engagement.