Email Engagement Strategy for Associations

Email Engagement Strategy for Associations

Sep 21, 2018 | Member engagement

There has been a sharp increase in overall email open rates but click rates have stagnated.


When figuring out your email engagement strategy, you must first determine how you measure success. The best metrics for measuring email engagement are: delivery rate, open rate and click rate.

A recent Benchmark Report from SendGrid (1) showed that there has been a sharp increase in overall email open rates but click rates have stagnated. If members are opening emails but aren’t clicking on them, it means the content hasn’t grabbed their attention. Interesting subject lines and other strategies can get them in the door, but that doesn’t mean they are engaged

This study found quantified an open rate of 18 percent, up from 14.6 percent in 2017. However, the click rate increased to 2 percent from 1.7 percent the prior year.

Another 2017 benchmarking study issued by Informz studied the same email metrics for marketing automation and email optimization. The report stated that in 2016, the number of emails that were sent through marketing automation campaigns increased by 70% year over year. (2) These automated messages are highly customized emails sent to precise target groups.

Customization Through the Creation of Membership Segments is Greatly Underutilized

  • 59% of associations customizing for new members
  • less than 20% customizing for any other type of segment

As a result, less than 15% feel that they are effectively leveraging their marketing automation system. Consider the following as potential segmentations you can use to customize information delivery to your members to increase member retention:

  • executives or middle managers
  • groups with similar interests
  • segments by city, state or country
  • membership status (new members, fellow, student, corporate membership)

Tips to Increase Your Open Rates

  • using between 3-7 links had click rates greater than the average
  • emails sent in the late afternoon get the highest open rates
  • subject lines with less than 10 characters had the highest open rate

Utilize Your Most Powerful Tool: Your e-newsletter

The use of e-newsletters has changed dramatically. Today’s audience will turn away quickly if they are constantly “sold to,” so a better approach is give away useful content. How do you decide what content to provide?

Eli Shtraikker, Chief Technology Officer of InLoop advises that,

A simple google search for trending topics isn’t enough to determine the content your members are looking for on your e-newsletter. AI uses predictive search and dozens of data parameters to evaluate the content that your members are looking for, without them having to tell you.

Tips to Increase e-newsletter Engagement

  • provide a mixture of informational and selling content to reduce the number of members who unsubscribe
  • utilize AI powered platforms to curate relevant 3rd party content
  • segment your membership list to send fewer emails to each member. Send customized and personalized content instead
  • consider offering e-newsletter subscriptions to non-members to increase your member recruitment
  • send your e-newsletter outside of your regular frequency. Triggered campaigns have a click rate 4 times higher than “business as usual” campaigns, (3)

Goal Example for Email Campaigns:

We will increase our open rate by 10% in the next 90 days.


1. Smith, Ernie.

2.  Informz 2017 Association Benchmark Report

3.  Data and Marketing Association.

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