Membership managers understand the importance of email in day-to-day work. More than a means to communicate with members, Email lies at the center of almost every task required to promote the health of any member based organization. Every application, renewal, event, campaign, etc. relies on email to drive success.

It should be surprising then, that many membership managers lack a knowledge of the key principles that make email’s successful. Whether it be one-on-one correspondence, or campaigns sent to email lists of thousands, there are a few simple things that you can do to drive the impact of the time you spend on emails. Close applications faster, drive campaign clicks, and optimize clickthroughs by taking the following tips into consideration:

1. Segment Your Lists

Spend 10 seconds on Google learning how to drive the success of email campaigns, and you’ll come across thousands of articles. Chances are, nearly every single one emphasizes the importance of segmenting email lists.

This tip is so popular, and the first on our list, for good reason. List segmentation works – and the reason why is actually quite simple.

As a rule, emails written to please everyone generally end up displeasing everyone.

The larger and more diverse your audience, the more generalized an emails content and voice must be. Messaging in your subject lines and emails becomes bland, generic, formal, and perfectly forgettable.

By splitting an email list into organized sub-groups, and creating even slight changes to email content for each group, you can have a drastic impact on the success of your campaign. Invest the time and energy to create completely different content for each group, and you’ll be surprised how much value you get back.

How to Segment Your Lists

As a membership manager, chances are you already have everything set up for quick and easy segmentation. You’ve likely already got multiple membership categories and, with luck, a whole slew of extended fields you can use to organize lists.

For example, maybe you’re an organization that offers membership to individuals and organizations alike. If you’re sending out an email blast to your entire membership, it would make sense to craft different messaging for each group. Individuals and organizations have different needs, wants, and expectations. Take the time to consider what they are, craft messaging that speaks to them, and send out separate emails to each list.

Not a writer?

Writing multiple emails for multiple segments of your email list is no small task. Not everybody is a writer, so multiplying your writing workload might seem like more work than it’s worth.

It’s a good thing then that you don’t have to!

Write one email that you wouldn’t mind sending to your whole list, but don’t send it! Copy your messaging, and make minor edits that you think might help drive their impact for certain segments. Something as small as adding emoji’s for an audience you think would appreciate it takes seconds, and even if it only makes a single person click that wouldn’t otherwise, the work is worthwhile!

After all, you don’t have to reinvent the wheel if it’s too much work, but you can still improve it.

2. Spend Your Time on the Subject Line

The subject line is the most important part of any email. Whether you’re managing a campaign, or simply getting in touch with a member, the best email writers understand that the subject line is priority one.

It might not be intuitive to suggest that you should spend 80% of your time and energy on the subject line when writing emails, but when you think about it, the reason is quite clear:

No matter how much time you spend crafting that message, that message won’t be delivered if an email isn’t opened! The point of an email is to deliver a message. The point of the subject line is to get a reader to open!

This is a simple principle to keep in mind whenever you’re writing an email subject line for any email. Most people write subject lines like they write email content – to inform a reader. It’s important to remember that a subject line can inform a reader, but it’s true purpose is to make them open your email!

Focus the messaging of your subject lines on email opens. Let your email content do the heavy lifting when it comes to providing information. You and your readers get no value from emails when they aren’t opened, so be sure to make quality subject lines your first priority for any email.

3. Test, Test, Test

Writing tailored content for different audiences is a sure-fire way to improve the impact of your emails.

But how do you know which changes will have impact? Why does one change improve opens and clickthroughs, while another doesn’t?

These are questions that are definitely worth asking. We can never definitively know why one change works and another doesn’t, but by tracking, measuring, and documenting the changes you make – you can significantly reduce your uncertainty about why some changes work, and others don’t.

Think of it this way:

Maybe you’ve been sending dry, formal emails to your entire list for some time now. After segmenting your lists, you write an email to one of your subgroups with a casual, humorous tone. This subgroup responds far better to this email than any other before, and you think it’s because they appreciate humor in your emails, but you aren’t totally certain.

You can reduce your uncertainty by testing your hypothesis!

Take this same group, and for their next email, really emphasize humor. If they respond even better you can be a lot more confident in the knowledge that humor drives opens for this segment. If they respond worse, this suggests that some other feature of your previous email is responsible for the boost in opens. If the response is the same, this might be cause for further investigation!

Whether it’s a humorous voice, different sized paragraphs, a new font, or any other change, testing helps you isolate what helps your emails, and what hinders them. By continuously documenting your hypotheses, tests, and results – you can continually chip away the uncertainties concerning what works and what doesn’t when it comes to your emails!

4. Use the Right Software

Segmentation and testing are simple concepts, but aren’t always simple tasks. Organizing lists by field seems like a simple idea, but when you’ve got to juggle spreadsheets and email campaign managers to do so, work quickly spirals out of control. Tracking email opens and clickthroughs is something any email management software can do – but getting that information out of it’s silo and into a cohesive picture of what works for your members is a tall task.

That’s why it’s so critical to work with software designed for you. Of course, Member365 is a capable suite of tools designed for membership managers, but it’s important to find the software that works for you!