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Professional Associations - How many members are opening your emails?

How Many Members are Opening Your Emails?
Informz recently published a report on Benchmarking Association Email Marketing.

It was based on users located in Canada, US, and abroad that use Informz as their solution to send email communication to their respective members. One of the first metrics that I found interesting was the results on the Types of Emails sent. It displays the following information:
% of contacts opened 35.22% 40.73% 26.66% 28.84%
% of contacts clicked through 34.36% 15.46% 16.56% 22.75%

I found these metrics very interesting.  As these metrics were generated based on 500 associations sending 400 million emails, it does not get into detail regarding the surrounding action plan by each association (it just focuses on the email component).  With all the e-mail campaigns we have handled in the past, I have seen the results with the following:
  • Surveys:  Reach out to your membership base in various ways to advise them that a survey is coming before it is deployed.  The simplest way to do so is to advertise it in an upcoming newsletter, explaining why it is important as a member to participate, and what you will be doing with the results.  Another option is to gain permission first to send them the survey.  Reaching out to them by phone will show that as an association, you care about your membership, and you will also be gaining explicit permission to participate.
  • Events:  This metric seemed pretty straight-forward.  Many members are interested in upcoming events, and will actively open emails to see what educational and networking opportunities are coming up.  Based on Greenfield’s experience with event promotion, the numbers pertaining to click through and registrations seem to be in line.  It can take several emails spaced appropriately to encourage someone to register.  Also, it does not factor in any other promotional activity you are doing for your event – mailings, advertising in your newsletter, follow-up calls, etc.  Ensure that you have a well thought out marketing plan to boost attendee registration.
  • Appeal:  This is really an area that your database will come in handy, if set up properly.  While appeals can and should be made to all members – targeted messaging should apply depending on the job-level of your member.  Do not plead for sponsorship/monetary funds that are out of reach to coordinators, when that type of message should reach Directors/Presidents.  Planning your appeals based on job-levels, or member-levels, will start to increase the open & click rates on your emails – as the message will be relevant to whom it is being delivered to.
  • Newsletter:  While this metric surprised me, further thought about it made sense – associations that are sending the newsletter at the same day/time every month will have their members more actively ignoring what it is inside the message.  Same goes if the subject line is static.  Change it up a bit – it will raise interest with your membership database.
The final thing is to ensure that you are not sending too much to your member base at any time – I have heard members of associations indicate that they receive up to 5 emails a week from their association, and are just deleting the message without opening them now, because it is way too much communication in their busy lives.

The 2011 Association Email Marketing Benchmark Report contains many more interesting statistics and best practices – and as I delve into it more I will post more thoughts – but you can see for yourself by downloading a copy now.