33 Tips for Chamber Email Marketing that Attracts and Retains Members
Chamber email marketing is effective, efficient and, with our top tips for email marketing strategies, easy too. Even in a world where it may feel like social media reigns king, email is still working its magic driving more conversions than any other marketing channel, including search and social. 72% of people prefer to receive promotional content through email rather than social media, and email is 40 times more effective at acquiring new customers than Facebook or Twitter.
But with changes and advancements in the digital sphere happening all the time navigating email marketing can be a demanding task. Adjustments made by Google and Apple, for example, are heavily impacting open rates and unsubscribes. In a bid to remove junk emails from your inbox, Gmail launched Smart Unsubscribe, which offers users the chance to unsubscribe from promotional emails they haven’t opened in 30+ days.
Furthermore, Artificial Intelligence is dramatically altering chamber marketing as Gmail’s machine-learning AI bundles promotional emails by theme or topic. These technological advances alongside generations’ expectations for digital communications to be simple, relevant and easy mean when it comes to email marketing dropping the ball can risk losing subscribers.
According to Loren McDonald, Marketing Evangelist at IBM Marketing Cloud, 10% to 25% of subscribers completely disengage from a brand’s email campaigns annually – and the threat doesn’t stop there. The consequences your chamber risks by having an ineffective email marketing campaign include:
An affected sender reputation. Having inactive subscribers or a low sender score can cause more of your emails to land in the spam folder.
Skewed data. Inactive subscribers interfere with your data which can cause you to make incorrect marketing decisions.
So how do we mitigate these risks and ensure an effective email marketing strategy? The answer is threefold:
- Have an effective onboarding strategy for new members.
- Maintain your subscriber’s interests.
The rest of our blog will focus on elaborating 33 tips within this tripartite strategy you can use to optimize your chamber email marketing.
Onboarding Successfully with Your Chamber Email Marketing
Onboarding is an essential step to catching and holding the attention of your members with emails. Brand new members are the warmest and the most receptive. They are more likely to renew their membership if they feel from the outset that they have been welcomed.
Launch your email marketing strategy for new members successfully so as to ignite their interest from the beginning. Starting off with a strong onboarding email campaign will fan the flames of your success and get the fire going that you will have to nurture throughout their membership. Here are our top tips for successful onboarding strategies.
You should remember when welcoming new members to your chamber that the more personal their introduction, the more comfortable they will be settling in. Emails are essential but keep in mind you want to use this technology to support personally welcoming new members, not to replace it. People want exclusivity and relevance rather than generic content, so targeted marketing and personalization will come up time and time again.
In a bid to maintain a consistent personal touch, use a recognizable sender name and email address, sent from a person rather than the organization itself. This is preferable as it offers a face for your chamber and organization rather than reducing it to an automaton.
The sender name will dramatically impact open rates so sending the email with a real person’s name (e.g. Sophia from EventBank) will help prompt recipients to open the message. Consider having the same person who sends the welcome emails at your events so that new members feel as though they already ‘“know” at least someone there.
Topic and Frequency
Divulge in your first emails how many communications the new subscriber can expect to receive from you, what kind of communications these will be, and how frequently they will come. Allow your members the option to choose these factors so that they only receive a volume they are comfortable keeping up with.
This kind of transparency will be appreciated in the long run. New members will appreciate your chamber reaching out to get to know their interests and be more likely to engage with future emails.
Safe Sender Lists
Make sure to have your members put your chamber/association on their safe sender list to help ensure your emails get through and do not end up sitting in a spam folder.
Educational Email Series
Consider making an educational email series designed to teach your members about what your chamber or association does and it’s past, present and future goals and achievements. Prepare a campaign consisting of a handful of emails sent over the course of a few weeks to introduce new members to you and bring them up to speed.
Restate the Benefits
The benefits of joining your chamber or association should be apparent, and it’d be duly required to continue reminding newcomers of the member benefits in the welcome email can help eliminate the chances of buyer’s remorse by justifying their decision.
If you have an email newsletter, include a public greeting to your new members. Listing them under a section titled ‘Welcome new members!’ can act as a nice introduction for the new members to the existing members, whilst making the new members feel appreciated.
Maintaining Your Chamber Email Marketing Success
The advice for this category is more general, applicable to most if not all stages of an email marketing strategy. By keeping members engaged with your email marketing, your chamber is less likely to have to resort to re-engaging inactive subscribers. By and large, the bulk of our advice comes under the Maintenance section. These tips will be handy for all parts of your email engagement strategy, so keep them in mind during onboarding and re-energizing as well.
Consistency is key, and that’s no less true for this blog. At the risk of sounding like a broken record, our first tip for maintaining member engagement with emails is personalization. But think more than just the sender name. Studies have shown that having a personalized or catchy subject line can increase your email’s open rate by 26%. Also, use this opportunity to take advantage of your entire membership CRM.
You can mention details specific to each member, such as their membership level, upcoming birthday, upcoming membership renewal deadline, events attended, local events and more. Members will feel as if their time as part of your chamber or association is valued.
Have time or action triggered emails sent at suitable moments to take the legwork out of doing it yourself. That personalized birthday greeting could be an automated email. If a member or prospective member open a certain article or blog post on your site, send an automated email with similar content (e.g. ‘We saw you were interested in ….. Would you like to find out more?’)
In layman’s terms, grouping your subscribers and putting them in an individual mailing list. Define the segments you plan to create and then create custom email campaigns for each one. These groups could range from spectator subscribers – those who have never purchased a product/attended an event but visit your website and consume your content so should be easy to convert – to subscribers who have purchased membership from you in the past but have not engaged with your site or your content ever since – to subscribers whose engagement is consistently high.
A must in this day and age. Your emails are likely to be shunned entirely if they do not translate into a mobile-friendly format. About 53% of emails are opened on mobile devices. 79% of smartphone owners use their device for email and data for over 1.8 billion opens from campaigns sent in 2013 shows that mobile is the most popular environment for a subscriber’s first interaction with an email. In most likelihoods then, your members are going to first open your email on their handheld device.
They will thank you for having a format that doesn’t need to be enlarged or has content cut off. Investing in mobile optimization is guaranteed to pay off for your chamber.
Changes made by your email platform and general advancements in technology may impact your email marketing. In tandem with the new dawn of Artificial Intelligence, Gmail and Outlook have now made their platforms compatible with Amazon’s Alexa voice assistant.
With smart speaker users at a high (85.5million or 10% of all internet users in China, 74.2 million or 26% of internet users in the US, and 12.6 million or 22.4% of internet users in the UK have a smart speaker), making your emails more voice compatible will help keep up with these technological changes. Alexa will read the sender’s name, subject line, and text.
She reads emojis but will ignore images and certain HTML attributes, so choose emojis with care or simply avoid them altogether. If you do use emojis, try ones whose names will catch the attention of listeners when reading out loud and out of context, especially in the subject line or the preview text.
Alexa will ignore your images (and the alt text you used to describe them) so avoid putting key information inside images. Instead, use images to support your message but put important information in the text body. Use proper semantic elements appropriately in your email, especially for text, such as headings (h) and paragraphs (p).
Timing is Crucial
One of the major players in email marketing fatigue is volume. If you overload on the emails, no matter how engaging or relevant the content may be, open and response rates will decline. There are a number of appropriate times for sending emails: during a membership drive, during the membership renewal period, approaching an event, conference, or important capital campaign, when your chamber or association is being recognized with an award, around members’ birthday or holidays.
In fact, your members will expect emails around these times so they will already be inclined to interact with them.
Avoid No Reply
Make sure members can respond to your emails. “No reply” emails set an unfavorable precedent that your organization is difficult to get in touch with which is the opposite impression you want to make
Have an on-brand and not overly complicated email design to reel members in. Visually appealing emails are more likely to encourage engagement than text-heavy emails. However, don’t overload the email with images, videos and design features that can distract recipients from the message of the email and also risk slowing the load times. You don’t want to risk recipients giving up rather than waiting for the email to load
Keep it light with a friendly tone that is likely to fulfill the requisites of our keyword: personalization. This might not be useful in all your forms of communication, but for emails, it has been proven that a conversational tone provides a sense of genuine interaction between members and chambers. This sense of personal touch will have engagement at a high as members are comfortable and at ease with communicating with your chamber.
Stay Relevant, Informative, and Interesting
Occasionally provide news articles about topics that your members are interested in. Tailor the information to suit their interests – you should already know the kind of content they want to see as they are a member of your chamber! This will instill confidence in the members that your chamber is on top of the latest current affairs and happenings within their fields of interest, and consequently, they’ll be more likely to take other messages seriously.
Integrate Social Media
Link your profiles in your email’s header and footer and include a “follow” button in your email’s header, footer, or body. You could even embed a particular post in your email’s body, promote a hashtag for your members to use, or ask members to share content on their own social media pages. Make your social media strategy as simple as possible so members can follow it with ease – they won’t want to go out of their way to engage!
Send Activity Emails
These are emails that contain updates, notifications, and summaries of user activities. Activity emails tend to be the ones that members are actually happiest to receive, meaning they are perfect for increasing member engagement.
Cross-Sells & Up-Sells
Use emails to offer the opportunity to purchase merchandise or a membership package that is similar or an upgrade to what your members already have.
These can be extremely useful for getting members to come back, and for getting new members as well, as they help you to improve the membership experience in any way possible. You can send surveys to members who chose to join, or leads who didn’t join, your association or chambers. You can even send surveys to your general audience to segment them based on their particular needs so that you can create and tailor your membership specifically to each of your segments. Surveys are also a great way of showing your members that you care about what they think whilst proving to your members that you want to improve for them.
Making the effort to allow your members to see that you care about them is more likely to result in them reciprocating these efforts. Provide an incentive for survey responses too in the form of discount codes, coupons or prizes and send them at optimal times of the day, before and after work, on Tuesdays, Wednesdays or Thursdays, when studies have proven are the best times to send them.
Instead of bombarding members with a lengthy survey for them to complete, you could also just ask one targeted question in an email. This will result in a much larger response rate as members don’t feel bogged down with a task that includes several questions.
Things to Avoid:
- Avoid certain words: Free, This is Not Spam, Great Offer, etc. can all (ironically and counterproductively) put you at risk to be sent straight to the spam folder
- Images: No text and a single image in your email (such as an event flyer) is a no-go. A reasonable ratio to have is 60% text, 40% image.
- Avoid Attachments where possible: At best, they can slow load times and at worst, carry a virus.
- Avoid All capital letters: NOTHING SCREAMS FRAUD LIKE ALL CAPS. Additionally, it can be quite an assault on the eyes.
- Punctuation: go easy on the punctuation. Use it properly and keep in mind that Spam and phishing emails often include more than one exclamation point!!!!!
- Avoid Certain Fonts: Keep it simple. Unusual fonts and colored fonts can impact how email renders.
- Misspelling: Sometimes a result of phishing by non-English speaking hackers, misspellings in an email can increase the likelihood of it being deemed risky.
Re-energizing Members with Chamber Email Marketing
The worst has happened. Your subscribers are inactive and their engagement with your chamber’s promotional material is frozen. The good news is you have nothing to lose as you initiate your re-engagement strategy. Thaw their interests with an effective strategy to get your chamber’s email marketing back on top.
Ensure Your Emails Are Getting Through
People’s contact details may have changed; your email might be residing in the dark corners of the junk box or spam folder, or the email delivery simply may have failed. A lot can go wrong technically so first and foremost, check that the back end of your email management is on form. Knowing the difference between a “soft bounce” (something is wrong on your member’s end – mailbox full, server down, etc.) and a hard bounce (the email address doesn’t exist or isn’t valid) is helpful.
Keep in mind that your subscriber’s email box is probably overcrowded, so they might have missed your first re-engagement email. Send it again just in case!
Use Inactivity Emails
Use emails to re-engage customers who haven’t interacted with your chamber or association in a while. Sometimes, members may disengage from your chamber and community because they do not understand fully what it does for them or it no longer feels relevant. Send an email with actionable and serviceable advice that can encourage them to become greater participants and more active within your chamber. As mentioned before, if they are already totally inactive then there is nothing to lose.
Those who haven’t engaged with your emails in the past six months or so should be put into their own inactive subscriber group so that they can be targeted for re-engagement or inactivity emails.
When an inactive subscriber clicks on an offer highlighted in your re-engagement email, an action trigger could send a follow-up email thanking them for reconnecting automatically.
Combine Segmentation and Automation
Using both the aforementioned features chambers and associations can add members to different subscriber groups based on their actions. Automation allows you to do this with ease. For example, if you send a re-engagement email asking people to choose their preferred frequency of emails, they will be automatically moved to a subscriber group based on their choice.
Target your emails using these sub-lists instead of just sending out to the entire list. Just as in the onboarding emails you allowed them to choose the frequency and types of emails they received, allow them to update their preferences frequently so they are only receiving the information that is most relevant to them and thus most likely to stay subscribers.
Offer tantalizing treats or VIP offers in your emails! You could offer a variety of creative ideas: Early registration to popular events, early-bird prices, invitations to exclusive events, exclusive access to webinars, podcasts, courses, customized recommendations, discounts and coupons, and free, limited-run branded gifts. These options and any of your own ideas could reignite a spark of excitement in your chamber that was flickering. You could combine this with expanding your member population by offering current members who refer people to you an exclusive gift. The existing members are more likely to stick around because of the favor, whilst your chamber will benefit from an expanding membership.
Have a Series of Re-engagement Events
On your mission to re-energize members, let them know that your goal is to nurture an active community. Re-engagement events can be hosted online if need be; Webinars, Live streaming Q&As and interviews, coaching session workshops and classes, and theme days are all options you could try. Try using EventBank’s management software to create an official event page for your event that attracts members and has them ready to reintegrate with the community.
It is essential to remind members to renew their membership shortly before it expires. You can send a call to action to have members turn on an automatic renewal, so neither you nor they have to think about it again! If you offer a free trial similarly don’t forget to remind your users to continue their membership.
Give Members a Choice
Finally, allow the option to leave. People change and a subscriber might’ve lost all interest in your emails. Presenting the choice of leaving forces them to confront whether or not they would like to keep receiving your emails and could be a push in the right direction. If not, you are keeping your lists clean by getting rid of inactive subscribers.
If you are attentive to your subscribers’ actions and desires, then you should be able to run your email marketing campaigns successfully, fostering a high open-rate and enhanced engagement with your chamber or association. Stay on top of your strategy by following this guide and maximize your email engagement!
Chambers run events. Events run on email invites. Check out our list of 10 awesome event invitation emails for your chamber to use in its next big show. Want to learn more about email marketing tools for chambers of commerce? Book a Demo and find out more today!