For most associations, email is the bread and butter of their digital marketing efforts. It is cost-efficient, provides metrics for engagement, and can provide segmentation in a way that some traditional marketing efforts cannot. To maximize the effectiveness of email marketing for your association, follow the best practices below.
Segment Your Messages
Breaking up your email list into smaller, more targeted lists, can yield better results from email campaigns. Not all of your content is going to be relevant to all of your audience all of the time. Break up your contact list into “segments” such as members, non-members, leaders, past event attendees, job title, type of business, etc. To maximize the result with little effort, vary the message of your email slightly so it is more relevant to the audience you are sending it to. If your message resonates with your targeted audience (segment) they are more likely to continually open your emails, thus improving your open rates, engagement, and deliverability in general.
Avoid the Spam Folder
Understanding spam risks and how to avoid them will keep your carefully crafted emails out of spam folders and maintain your email reputation. To skip the spam tag, make sure you follow the proper privacy laws in place and only email contacts who have opted in and given permission to receive your emails. This is where segmentation comes into play as well — content that is relevant to an audience is less likely to be deleted or marked as spam. If an email recipient is constantly deleting your emails without opening them their email program may automatically flag the emails as spam moving forward. Ensure you avoid the spam folder by segmenting your emails, using the correct permissions, and keeping your contact lists tidy.
Keep it Focused
To avoid overloading your audience with information, keep your emails focused on a single call-to-action (CTA). The more CTAs, the more decisions your audience has to make. And when the decisions become overwhelming, the answer is almost always no action at all. Your text should be as succinct as possible (250 words or less typically performs best), include graphics, bold text when appropriate, and include CTA buttons. If you do have multiple CTAs in an email, break it up with images or dividers.
The exception to this rule is newsletters, which are a great way to deliver the latest news all in one place. Keep newsletter subject lines and layouts consistent so readers know exactly what to expect.
Use Consistent Branding
The importance of brand recognition for your association should never be underestimated. Build email templates using your brand colors, fonts, and logo, then stick to that style. Use the same style and colors for headings, subheadings, and hyperlinks.
Consistent branding also includes your association’s brand voice. Identify elements of that voice and then ensure that is reflected consistently in all of your communications. This includes the style of writing. If you write your emails in AP style but your website doesn’t follow AP style, you’re losing easy points with your audience for a lack of professionalism.
You are building a relationship with your audience through your marketing; consistency builds familiarity, which in turn, earns trust.
Create Mobile-Friendly Messages
It’s not unusual to see a significant chunk of your audience reading your emails on their phone. If this applies to your association’s communications, make sure you tailor your messages accordingly. Many email platforms offer mobile-responsive email templates. Test your email by sending it to yourself and viewing it on your device. Make sure your CTA is easily accessible and link the page you want readers to visit in multiple places: the images/graphics, the button, and the text.
Keep an Eye on Your Analytics
Luckily for us digital marketers, many professional email platforms offer reports. Keep an eye on your reports and make a note of how your emails are performing. Track your metrics so over time you can recognize patterns and trends, and adapt your email marketing strategy as needed. Pay attention to your open rate, click rate, bounce rate, unsubscribes, and spam reports – the data is telling you what your audience wants (and doesn’t want) in their inbox.
Email marketing might sound straightforward, but crafting effective email campaigns takes expertise.
Dani Damario is in Marketing & Communication Services at Smithbucklin.