If you’re in the habit of sending out mass communications often, you might already know the benefits of integrated email – mass communication is a powerful tool for any organization for far too many reasons to count.
Any membership-based organization has plenty they can gain from making good use of a message designed to be sent to reach a wide audience – advertising, awareness, promoting professional development, and more. All of the attention you put into creating your messages will pay for itself quickly enough, and using membership management software can help streamline that process to make it as close to effortless as possible.
So, assuming you’re confident that you have the right tools at your disposal – and you have a lot of options, so do some shopping around first – let’s talk about a few of the reasons you might want to send an email campaign.
If you’re worried about engaging your membership base as a whole – or, actually, even if you know that you’re only trying to promote something among a specific part of your membership base – then consider whether something we describe here is right for you, and then go see how easily your software of choice lets you make that happen.
If you don’t think you can pull off what you want to right now, then hold off on scaling back your goals until you’ve checked out a few different suites and solutions. You might find that one program can do something another can’t in terms of design and layout for your messaging, or you might find that there’s an easier way to identify groups of members worth targeting with a certain message. Keep that in mind as we go ahead and start talking about some of the many good reasons to send out an email campaign.
To Respond to Churn
One of the uses of mass communication is as a way to combat churn.
This is a bit of a subtler benefit, but consider: suppose that you’ve identified that a particular set of members is at risk of churning. Hopefully you’re paying a lot of attention to this – maybe you’ve even identified something they have in common, whether it’s an organization or simply a common risk factor or anything else.
What are you going to do about it? You’d be right to imagine that it would be awkward to reach out to those members and say “Hey, we notice you’ve been drifting away,” because no one likes to feel like you’ve been keeping tabs on them. So how do you reach out to them without, well, reaching out to them?
That’s easy – you come up with something to grab attention that you’ll craft for an audience that includes the members at risk. You’re not going to tell any of them the real reason for it, you just have to come up with a good enough reason to offer something that will get their attention.
What could you offer them? Well, that answer is going to be as complex and unique as your organization, but in the absence of anything to give them, let them know what’s coming up in your organization’s near future. Get them excited, and give them a reason to keep engaging with you. There’s no need to say why you’re doing this, or advertise who exactly you’re trying to inspire here – but quietly including your target audience in a wider one is a good idea.
You might say, “Aren’t the members I’m worried about churning the ones least likely to be checking our emails anyway?” This is a valid concern, but one that can potentially be mitigated by knowing how to write effective subject lines, avoid triggering spam filters, and learning how to A/B test your campaigns. If you worry you’re going to lose them, you’re only going to make it worse by not acting!
To Raise Funds
This one should seem obvious, but that’s exactly why it’s here. Using an email campaign to advertise fundraising drives, or offer reminders of the perks of upgrading to another membership tier, is a necessary tool. Writing personalized emails is never going to go out of style, especially depending on who you’re trying to appeal to, but there are many ways to use mass communication for fundraising drives. Make sure you don’t fall out of line with the privacy and spam-related laws in the countries you’re serving, though!
Anyway, what you should be paying attention to when fundraising by email are a few things: first, the easier you make it for a member to donate, the more likely they are to do so. Make the button or link prominent in the email; don’t make your audience search or scroll! And don’t be afraid to ask a few times – send out another round, stressing urgency in the title. And then follow up again – inboxes are often saturated, and as long as you’re not antagonistic and don’t overdo it, people usually will accept a few tries at a fundraising drive as the cost of doing business. Sometimes you need to grab a particular pair of eyes a few times before they’re in the right mood to donate, and that’s okay.
Using a software suite designed to distribute email campaigns means you’re often within arms’ length of tools that will let you take sophisticated analytics as well. The ability to see how often your emails get opened in the first place can help explain why a fundraising drive might be under performing or even knocking it out of the park. Each of these tools is useful in a vacuum, but bringing them all to work together in tandem is even better.
To Collect Data
Speaking of analytics, this is a good time to mention that email campaigns are useful as a barometer of just how much your members are engaged, assuming you’re using software that keeps track of that – email clients may or may not allow you to access that kind of information, so the use of proprietary membership management software gives you an extra edge in understanding your membership base’s response to and enthusiasm about the messaging they receive from you. Even if your primary purpose in sending out an email campaign is just sharing information, you should never miss a chance to collect information too.
We hope you’ve found this advice helpful. If you think carefully about your organization’s current vision and purpose, and its relationships with its members, I’m sure you can come up with a good reason to start working on – or at least thinking about – what kind of message you’d like to send, and what you’re going to do differently next time you write one.