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Event Email Marketing for Associations: 3 Essentials

Event Email Marketing for Associations: 3 Essentials

 

The first pitfall into member attrition is the assumption that members are committed to sticking with an organization simply because they’ve signed up to pay regular dues. That financial pledge is far from a binding agreement, and their continued membership is contingent on your upkeep of further incentives to stick with the program.

Just think about the difference between the expectations of a one-time donor and those of a longtime member. When a regular supporter pledges a gift, they’re investing in your ability to forward the cause. When a member pledges their dues, they’re also investing in your organization’s ability to provide value through development and training opportunities.

Never forget that their continued support is conditional on the exchange of extra resources, events, and opportunities. Fail to provide these engaging opportunities, and your membership rate is sure to drop.

Funny enough, one of the most important steps in the event lifecycle is often one of the most overlooked. Keep in mind that not even the best events can succeed without strong attendance. That’s why marketing is such a crucial step to the success of your association events.

Promoting these special membership events is a multi-step process that could include written invitations, videos, and social media posts. Far and away one of the most effective channels for association event marketing is email. This reach of this medium is unrivaled, with 99% of consumers checking their email daily.

However, you can only maximize the benefits of email marketing to your event when you employ specific engagement strategies. In this guide, you’ll find out how and why you should:

  • Optimize your email content
  • Curate personalized membership outreach
  • Gather important data from your email campaigns

With an intuitive and comprehensive email marketing strategy, you’ll work to increase your member engagement and retention, giving your associates an invaluable return on their investment.

Optimize Your Content

The poorer your email content, the more difficult it will be to market effectively. After all, even the most engaging messaging template will feel empty or uninspired with a dull message. Once members read through too many poor messages, they might very well become non-openers.

Your top priority should be to optimize your content. By taking the time to create appealing, informative, and specific content, your email marketing immediately becomes far more likely to digitally engage your members and thereby increase actual event registration.

Many marketing emails are in danger of falling through the cracks and getting ignored, whether that’s due to generalized messaging or other poor content practices. A badly curated message will bore and alienate readers from the attraction of the event being promoted. A great message will encourage indecisive members to take a chance and enjoy the opportunity.

Here are a few tips to optimize your own email marketing content:

  • Keep your focus specific and purposeful. Limit individual emails to highlight one particular topic, such as promoting an event or reminders for due renewals. Keep to this chosen subject, otherwise readers may become disinterested.
  • Make a strong, personalized subject line and header. Consider that emails with personalized subject lines are 26% more likely to be opened. Hooking readers with an engaging header will encourage them to explore the whole message.
  • Break up text-heavy content. Spare readers’ limited attention with quick, direct messages. Images and graphics are a great tool to give a breather between long paragraphs. Just remember that many readers will access your emails on their phones—images are important for breaking up the text but shouldn’t take too long to load.
  • Address readers by name. Members are naturally drawn to content that is personalized to them. This shows that you care and that the event is made with them in mind. According to this Experian report on customized messaging, personalized emails are six times more likely to deliver higher transaction rates.

These content best practices can also be more easily streamlined with an effective membership management software—integrations between your member database and your email tools make it easy to automate the process of personalizing subject lines with members’ names. This is especially helpful if your team is short on time or if your membership base has recently grown, when creating truly specific, personalized content can be a logistically difficult task.

Curate Personalized Member Outreach

However, your personalization strategies should go far beyond simply calling your members by name. While this is a good first step, the best way to give them a stronger sense of connection with your organization is to personalize all of your member outreach.

As mentioned above, our recommended strategy is to integrate your email marketing tools to work in conjunction with your existing Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software and/or Association Management System (AMS). This will allow you to track and apply important member data in all of your email communications.

For example, your AMS and CRM systems are capable of gathering and organizing data such as member age ranges, shared interests, and other segmented similarities that go beyond the initial courtesy of remembering your associates’ names. You can use this information to personalize marketing campaigns to the members receiving them, such as sending more virtual event opportunities to members outside of your local base of operations.

You might consider focusing on a few of the following strategies when deciding how to make use of precious CRM data:

  • Include personal details. As discussed, referring to members by name is a simple and effective way to grab their attention and make them feel more appreciated by the organization.
  • Target communications to segmented member groups. Whether they be segmented by shared hobbies, location, or age, members will be more apt to engage with communications they find the most personally relevant. Minimize general messaging and instead engage members on a more intimate level.
  • Track engagement metrics and curate messaging accordingly. For example, the next time you announce an event, send an email to members who attend events frequently and offer them early registration or a discount.This gets the member interested in the event and helps you continue to foster a positive connection with them.

Fonteva’s buyer’s guide to event management software may also be of some use to take full advantage of these event strategy methods.

These techniques will not only improve your relationship with members, but can also increase the registration rates of future events and build life-long support for your association. After all, the more personally connected that a member feels to your organization and other members, the more likely they are to see value in your programming.

Gather and Report Data to Improve Future Event Marketing Strategies

Now that your event marketing tool is working closely with your AMS and CRM software, you are free to analyze and implement this data in ways that might not have been previously possible.

One of the key tools available to you is the ability to create comprehensive data reports on your marketing efforts. After all, how can the success or failure of your association events and marketing be measured without having that data organized in the first place?

By compiling reports on member engagement statistics, your team can review the strengths and weaknesses of your email marketing strategy and course-correct in a more informed manner. This helps you to foster successful practices, and suss out what operations could be improved.

For instance, your team can make note of which emails have been read and which tend to be left unopened. Then you find a common trend among the non-openers, such as certain style, content, or subject choices, and adjust that unfavorable trait in your future messaging. Finally, you could use this information to increase event registration rates, as you minimize the possibility of important event emails ending up as dead non-openers in your members’ inboxes.

Try experimenting with this strategy for yourself. Let your software run an email marketing and data report for your team to review and see how you can implement tangible, specific changes to your next marketing campaign.


Even the most capable development professionals can struggle to market their member events, and great opportunities can still tally an attendance rate far lower than expected. Unfortunately, these events are only as successful as the number of participants there (virtually or in-person) to enjoy what you’ve created. Especially considering the current pandemic, many association events are in crisis with the struggle to increase their attendance rates and overall success.

Thankfully, with a more engaging, personalized, and informed email marketing strategy, your team can break down the roadblocks that keep your members from engaging with your event emails and with the events themselves. For more tools to help manage your membership operations, Fonteva’s listing of top management software options includes detailed descriptions of various association services and features that may suit your individual needs.

 

Headshot of Jake Fabbri, Chief Marketing Officer at Fonteva

About the Author

With over two decades of experience marketing association technology, Fonteva CMO Jake Fabbri has developed a deep understanding of the unique needs of associations and the challenges technology can solve. Jake’s marketing expertise has been honed by demonstrated excellence in the areas of lead generation, content marketing, marketing automation, and events.    

 

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