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A successful email campaign is one that results in opens, clicks, and further engagement with your audience. You don’t want your beautifully crafted emails to sit in recipients’ inboxes unread.

When sending email campaigns to members of a community group, trade association, or other organization with members, you will encounter a different set of advantages and challenges than if you were sending emails to customers or leads.

That’s because you already know that your recipients are invested in your group and its mission. Why else would they be a member? Knowing that your members care about your work and goals helps you plan what to include in emails you send to them.

On the other hand, members might get too accustomed to receiving emails from you. While it’s not a bad thing for members to know that your association cares enough to reach out, they can fall prey to email marketing fatigue and start to tune your messages out. You have to make sure that each email you send is valuable to members.

Are you ready to revamp your email campaigns to boost member engagement? In this post, we’ll be sharing 7 strategies for community groups, trade associations, and other organizations with paid members, that want to better engage their audience using email.

1. Enlist personalization

Seasoned email marketers won’t be surprised to hear that personalization is key for engagement. We know that addressing a recipient by their name vastly increases their chances of opening the email.

But a name in a subject line isn’t the only way to personalize a members-only email campaign — not when you have an entire membership CRM of information to pull from.

To show your members that you deeply value their place in your community, make specific references to their time as a member in your emails. You can nod to:

  • Membership level
  • Events attended
  • Merchandise purchased
  • Upcoming birthday
  • Local events
  • Membership renewal deadline

The more member information you store in your membership database, the easier these emails will be to create. You can’t reference information you don’t have.

Need some inspiration for creative, personalized emails? Check out these eight examples from brands like Sephora and Adidas.

2. Pay careful attention to timing

One of the major contributions to email marketing fatigue is volume. If you send too many emails, no matter how engaging they are, you’ll notice your open, click, and response rates decline.

Combatting volume-induced email marketing fatigue doesn’t require you to stop sending emails. Instead, it requires more careful attention to timing.

Luckily, when sending email campaigns to participants in a membership program, you’ve got your choice of appropriate times to choose from, such as:

  • During a membership drive
  • When individual memberships are up for renewal
  • Leading up to an event, conference, or important capital campaign
  • When your association is being recognized with an award
  • Around their birthday or holidays
  • At the beginning of tax season, for nonprofit memberships

Email campaigns sent to members around these times won’t seem strange! In fact, because your members might expect to see emails from you during these times, they will be more receptive to opening and engaging with them.

3. Offer incentives via email

Why do we get so excited about unwrapping presents? It’s because we know there’s something amazing, picked out just for us, waiting inside where we can’t see it.

You can capture that same sense of excitement by offering special incentives for members in your emails. Your members are sure to anticipate your emails if they know that they could lead to:

  • Discounts on online purchases
  • Free, limited-run, branded gifts
  • Early registration to popular events
  • Invitations to special events
  • Customized recommendations

Who wouldn’t look forward to those emails?

Plus, offering unique discount codes to different segments of your membership base or at different times of the day can give you valuable insights into the most popular incentives, the recipients that take advantage of them, and the best time to send emails.

The right membership software makes it possible for you to automatically apply the appropriate benefits to members when they log on to their online profile.

4. Share relevant news

You know that you need to keep your association in the front of your members’ minds, which requires you to send regular emails. But what if you can’t think of anything to say? You can’t just send an email that says, “Remember us?”

Instead, send relevant news articles about topics that your members are interested in.

You don’t even have to guess at the topics that your members would like to see! You know that they’re interested in your association and your cause, so tailor the news you share with those preferences in mind.

For example, a professional association of software developers might share a news story about a newly discovered software vulnerability that might affect products that its members are likely using.

Sending relevant, interesting news articles doesn’t just engage your members because it reminds them that your association exists — these kinds of emails also establish your association as an authoritative source of information.

If your members know that you stay on top of contemporary news and updates in your field, they’ll be more likely to take other messages seriously. Building up this kind of authority pays off when you ask for members to renew or make a donation.

5. Design emails so that they’re on brand and easy to read

Which would you rather read?

  • Three paragraphs of black, 12-point font.
  • Three bullet points under a full-color image and a 24-point header.

Visually interesting emails are always sure to encourage more engagement than text-heavy emails. Humans are visual!

However, if you load up your emails with tons of high-resolution images, videos, and interactive elements, you can waste too much time with a design that’s likely to distract recipients from the point you’re trying to make.

Plus, too many multimedia elements can slow load times, increasing the number of recipients who give up instead of waiting.

To ensure you strike the right balance, check out this comprehensive guide to email design, complete with a checklist you can use when putting together your next campaign.

There are a few elements of great email design that apply specifically to email campaigns sent to your members:

  • Branding: Reinforce where the email is coming from by using the logo, name, and colors of your association.
  • Personalization: You have the information to personalize your emails with your members’ names and other personal information, so use it!
  • Calls to action: Whether you’re asking for membership renewal, a donation, a reply, or an RSVP, make sure your members know what action you want them to take.

Great email design isn’t easy, but it’s one of the most effective tools you have to encourage your members to not only open but read and engage with your messages.

6. Integrate your social media

Chances are good your association has a profile on at least one social media platform. Social media is one of the most engaging communication channels out there, if you use it well.

With the best email marketing platforms, you have the opportunity to integrate your social media accounts with your email campaigns. You’ve got plenty of integration opportunities to choose from:

  • Link to your profiles in your email’s header and footer.
  • Include a “follow” button in your email’s header, footer, or body.
  • Embed a particular post in your email’s body.
  • Share a social media poll for your members to respond to.
  • Promote a hashtag for your followers to use.
  • Ask members to share a post or article on their own pages.

The best social media integration strategies are the ones that make it easy for participants. You’re asking your members to go out of their way, so make the process as simple as possible.

Take a popular example: an advocacy campaign. If you’re encouraging participation in a social media advocacy campaign, write a message that members can simply copy and paste into their own profiles, and give them easy “follow” buttons to follow your association for updates on the campaign.

There are many other ways in which email-social media integration can push your advocacy campaign forward— for more on that, head on over to Salsa’s advocacy campaign planning steps.

7. Give opportunities for feedback

Engagement is a two-way street. You can’t ask the world of your members without giving something back.

Asking for feedback is an easy and effective way to engage your members while shouldering some of the perceived effort.

Conduct your surveys and polls so that they will be useful for both you and your members, at times such as:

  • After an event
  • At the end of the calendar year
  • Before a big campaign
  • During a membership drive
  • Around membership renewal deadlines

Feedback surveys show your members that you care about their opinions. They also demonstrate to your members that you want to get better for them.

When they see you putting forth effort and caring about their thoughts, they’re more likely to give you effort and thought in return.

While asking for feedback is a great engagement strategy on its own, you can provide incentive for your members to respond in the form of coupon codes, free gifts, or even a chance to win a bigger prize.

Wrap up

With the technology available to us today, you have the ability to craft amazing emails that are sure to capture your members’ attention. Let these email campaign engagement strategies lead you to make the most of that attention in the long run.

About the Author Jake Fabbri
This blog provides general information and discussion about email marketing and related subjects. The content provided in this blog ("Content”), should not be construed as and is not intended to constitute financial, legal or tax advice. You should seek the advice of professionals prior to acting upon any information contained in the Content. All Content is provided strictly “as is” and we make no warranty or representation of any kind regarding the Content.
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