Before you can start to promote anything at your association or chamber — whether it be membership, a new benefit, a career center, an online learning program, etc. — you have to build an audience first.
Sometimes, like when it comes to general membership, that audience is simply non-members in your industry or community. But often, you’ll want to build a tight-knit audience of people who you KNOW what to hear about that particular initiative. (Being targeted is always more effective.)
One way to go, is to build an email list. How do you go about that?
Make it easy to opt-in (and opt-out)
In order to join your audience, or list, people will have to sign up somewhere! Make it easy for people to opt-in by:
- Making the sign-up form visible all throughout your website, and continuing to promote it in newsletters, meetings, etc.
- Only asking them to provide a few pieces of info (their email address is all you really NEED...first name, last name, and organization are pretty typical, too)
- Giving people a reason to sign up. Anywhere you’re promoting the list, be sure to succinctly explain the benefit of hearing from you about this particular topic.
Why did we mention opt-ing out? First of all, you legally have to make it easy for people to opt-out from your list, typically through an unsubscribe or “set your preferences” link — but honestly, you also WANT to let people come and go as they please.
You can’t be everything to everyone, and allowing people to dictate what they hear about from you will only make each audience stronger.
Building an audience takes time...and patience. You have to continually put the opportunity to join in front of people, and continually be in touch with that audience.
Being consistent with when you contact your audience — and what you’ll contact them about — builds trust and engagement. Remember the reason you gave people to sign up? As long as you’re living up to that promise, contacting them on a regular basis, and NOT contacting them about other things they didn’t sign up for, your audience will learn to rely on hearing from you about topics that are important to them.
If the audience only exists to your benefit, you’re doing it wrong. Always, always, always provide something of value to your audience in an email or other promotional message, whether that’s a discount or simply a link to a related resource.
Ultimately, yes, your goal with these audiences is to sell a membership, job post bundle, LMS course, etc. But providing value right back to them positions you as a partner, rather than an organization they have a transactional relationship with.
Building audiences and lists is the first step to strategic email marketing. For more tips on how to use email to your advantage, download our guide!