April 20, 2016

E-Marketing Isn't Dead

E-Marketing Isn't Dead

In a day and age where advanced technology reigns as king, you may feel like your marketing efforts should change.

But why fix something that isn’t broken?

Email marketing may seem like an outdated marketing tactic, but it’s still one of the most effective. Think about it: You’re able to reach thousands of people with the click of a button, instantly! Who wouldn’t want to do that? Whether it’s current members, prospects or donors, you have the ability to reach out to them easily and effectively.

Feel like your association needs to revamp its marketing efforts? You may want to reconsider and stick to what you know. E-marketing isn’t dead, but alive and well.

We know you’ve probably used some form of e-marketing before, who hasn’t? The problem is, many people don’t know how to effectively use it. Gone are the days of the pray and spray mass email technique, it’s going to take some effort to fully engage recipients.

Why You Should Care

E-marketing has many advantages that can assist associations as they strive to keep up with technology.

  • E-marketing is very cost effective. It’s easy for associations to segue this effort into their budgets. With the help of different e-marketing platforms, email automation is simple.
  • Feel like your staff is always forced to learn new platforms? E-marketing is something they are probably very familiar with. It will save them time and grief.
  • Who doesn’t love free advertising? E-marketing is a great way to showcase your associations content and recent happenings. This will not only keep recipients informed, but can increase engagement.
  • E-marketing is one of the easiest ways to approach prospective members. By sending them relevant content, you have the ability to recruit them. In turn, this can increase your annual revenue stream.
  • If people aren’t aware of association events, they won’t have the opportunity to participate. By providing prospects and current members with event information, you can increase registrations.
  • Want to increase website traffic and social media interactions? Attach these platforms to your emails. It’s important to always include a call-to-action in order to engage recipients.
  • This may come as a shock: But studies show that e-marketing is more effective than social media. Not everyone knows how to properly use social media, but almost everyone has answered an email in their lifetimes.

How You Can Make it Better

Your association most likely has a formula for its e-marketing efforts. While this solution may work, is it the best it can be? There’s always room for improvement, and that goes for your e-marketing initiatives as well. By applying a few tips, your association could see an improvement in its e-marketing efforts.

Develop an E-Marketing Strategy

It’s not enough to just aimlessly send out mass emails anymore. Not only will they not be read, but they will end up in a Spam/Promotions folder, never to be seen. This isn’t only ineffective, but a big time-waster for you staff. Associations will have to sit down and evaluate what they want to accomplish with their e-marketing efforts. Is it recruitment? Engagement? In order to effectively use an e-marketing tool, associations will need to come up with a posting schedule. This will give your staff appropriate time to come up with content to send to prospects, members and donors. You will have to come up with a formula to determine how many emails should be sent and how frequently.

Segment Recipients

Have you ever received an email that didn’t pertain to you at all? I’m sure you weren’t only confused, but annoyed. It’s important for associations to segment recipients by roles, in order to ensure they receive relevant content. It wouldn’t make sense to send a membership coordinator something regarding IT efforts, would it? It may take a little time to assign content to the proper recipients, but it will make all the difference.

Quick Tip: Ways You Can Segment
  • Member type
  • Job title
  • Join date
  • Level of engagement

Timing is Everything

Sending an email at 3:00 a.m. probably isn’t the best idea. Your readers will be groggy when they open their gmail the next morning and probably delete your email. It’s important to understand the proper time to send appropriate emails. Once you have tried different time-frames, it’s crucial to analyze the results in order to make adjustments. This isn’t a one-size-fits-all method. The best time for an executive director may differ from that of an IT coordinator.

Quick Tip: When to Send
  • The studies say the best time to send an email is on a weekday and at 10AM in the recipient’s time zone.
  • There is no one size fits all answer. Look at your historical email data and determine if there is a trend. Don’t forget to test various times of day and days of the week to see what works best for your organization.

Make it Interesting

Think of all the emails you receive every day. How many of them do you actually WANT to read? Associations must remember to keep their emails interesting and engaging. An easy way to do that is to create a unique subject line to entice readers. Keep messages short and productive, rather than bombarding readers with paragraphs of information - nobody wants to read that.

Quick Tip: The Best Subject Line
  • Keep it short and sweet - under 50 characters.
  • Use humor when possible. Funny emails stick out.
  • Apply alliteration when applicable (see what we did there?)
  • Avoid using all capitals - no one likes to be shouted at.

Promote Your Other Channels

An easy way to promote engagement is to use a call-to-action within your emails. Whether it’s marketing your social media sites or websites, readers will be able to access all of your platforms. Additionally, associations can attach instructions to join and/or renew their membership. This not only advocates engagement but also can increase revenue.

Quick Tip: Call to Action Examples
  • Event registration
  • Membership renewal
  • Product promotion
  • Content promotion
  • Abstract submission
  • Competition judging


It’s always exciting to implement new initiatives that can better your association. However, these initiatives mean nothing if you don’t test and analyze them. How will you know if something is working if you don’t measure it? This gives you the opportunity to use trial and error to find the best times, content and recipients to make your e-marketing efforts successful. If something is working, you know to continue. If not - you have the opportunity to adjust.

Quick Tip: Know How to Test
  • Always test one element at a time, otherwise you will not be able to tell which variant drove the success.
  • Start simple. There are many variables you can test on, begin with the less vigorous ones.
  • Keep a log of all of your tests. Record your data so you can refer back to it and learn from it.

E-marketing may seem like an old-school method to market your association; however, it’s one of the best ways to promote your mission. It might seem like a dying breed, but with a little revival, it can work for your association. By using the tips listed above, your organization has the potential to effectively reach thousands of individuals simultaneously.

To learn more about ways to increase memberships, take a look at our blog, The Equation for Your Association's Membership Success - Recruit More, Churn Less.