How to Make Your Association Email’s Extraordinarily Engaging

Email marketing. For us marketing folks, it’s the bane of our existence.

We’re told how critical it is for brand awareness, revenue growth, and event marketing. BUT, rarely does advice go beyond, “put the reader first” or “provide something valuable.”

Our agency recently hosted a roundtable at the AMP Networks Reset, Reinvent, Revenue Conference. And it became immediately clear that association executives have a lot of email marketing questions.

So, we figured it may be helpful to expand upon the advice we provided those association attendees, helping you approach email marketing with confidence and clarity.

1. Write interesting headlines

How are you going to get Sharon or Dave or Malik to stop furiously scrolling through their email? Headlines.

As David Ogilvy famously said, “On the average, five times as many people read the headline as read the body copy. When you have written your headline, you have spent eighty cents out of your dollar.”

When brainstorming your email headlines, lean into human curiosity. For example, here are our top performing email headlines this summer:

  • This is your last chance 41% open rate, 7% CTR
  • Read beyond the lines 42% open rate, 8% CTR
  • Your future could be in this email… 35% open rate, 6% CTR

These stay within the playful nature of our brand, but really dig at the reader’s curiosity. If you’re struggling with headlines, try running A/B tests with two different approaches to see which direction engages your audience more.

2. List Segmentation

Right now, list segmentation is hotter than granny’s piping hot homemade apple pie. Everyone wants a slice, but very few have the patience to navigate it without getting burned.

Here’s all you need to know about email lists:

  • List size is far less important than open and click through rates.
  • A bigger, unengaged list, can push your emails to spam inboxes. Since we’ve begun removing unengaged subscribers (haven’t opened an email in 12+ months), our numbers have exploded.
  • List segmentation is a delicate process. You need to be in tune with your email analytics, and curiously explore ways to direct content into bite-sized pieces for your most important audience members––the people who open, respond, click, follow, donate, forward, etc.

3. Niche Newsletters

Niche newsletters are booming across the indie writing scene. And it’s a ripe opportunity for associations to jump ahead of the curve. Basically, platforms like Substack make it super easy for your association to send out more personalized messaging to certain demographics and reader segments.

This could be the future of personas.

To recap:

Keep playing with your headlines until you strike a balance of interesting and on-brand.

Segment your lists by taking a hard look at your analytics. It’s a research-based strategy.

Consider niche newsletters as the next marketing trend. There’s little downside with a whole lot of upside.

Of course, if your association needs help crafting extraordinary engaging emails, our team of brand, marketing, and creative professionals are happy to set up a chat.

Psssst. It’s your conscience. Click this mysterious link and I’ll leave you alone. 

Jonah Malin's headshot

Jonah Malin

Jonah Malin is a creative marketing professional, crafting story-driven content to execute a diverse range of digital, print, and social deliverables.

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