What comes to mind when you read the words “email marketing”?
Don’t worry, I can hear your groans from here!
Email marketing is one of those things that we feel like we never get quite right. It’s simultaneously easy and tremendously labor intensive; “past its prime” but still essential and critical to how we reach our audiences. It is this dichotomy which makes email marketing so frustrating; we know we have to do it, but we often don’t know how to do it successfully.
At this quarter’s McKinley breakfast, I presented to a group of clients and friends on this exact dilemma. We hear all the time about overuse and abuse of email, of which many of us are guilty, but we’re still not able to shift course. The main reason is that email has become a habit, and this is especially prevalent in associations. There are such low barriers to use—low cost, ease of use, ability to reach thousands of members and customers at once—coupled with the instant feeling of gratification that comes from pressing “send” and knowing your message will appear in front of hundreds or thousands of eyeballs.
So breaking these habits, and creating new ones, is not an easy undertaking. Internal departments have competing priorities, which can be difficult for the manager of the email marketing program to navigate. But the best way to start moving in a new direction is to facilitate internal discussions focused on thinking about the member…better yet, thinking LIKE the member. What does your membership want to see and hear from you? If you don’t know, ask them, and then honor what they tell you. Create discipline around what warrants sending an email and what does not. Are there skeptics within your organization that think, when it comes to email, more is more? Seek them out as partners; help them see that a new, more proactive and less reactive approach will not only ease the pressures on staff, but will truly honor the commitment you have made of delivering value to your members and customers.
You can find some additional tips in my presentation slides; and please feel free to contact me with your thoughts and questions.