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Email Marketing and Designing the Right Message for your Members

You have carefully written and edited your message, but have you considered what it looks like before you press “send”?

Knowing what your association’s members are using to view your electronic messages is an important part of ensuring your message is delivered and read by your audience.

I subscribe to many electronic newsletters.  Often I have unsubscribed because the message was hard to read, or not laid out properly.  It may have been great content, but I was not willing to struggle through reading it because it was visually very unappealing.  Likely this is because the content provider did not consider my software requirements prior to developing and sending the message.

Make a practice of inquiring about what e-mail software your members may be using to view your message.  Are they using desktop software like Outlook, a web-based tool like Gmail, or a mobile device like the iPhone?  If it is Outlook (or another desktop software) – what version are they using?  Are they using the iPhone or the iPad?

A recent Benchmarking Report released by Informz (who collected their data in order to release their report based on over 400-million emails sent by over 500 associations) found that the number of members using desktop software decreased from 67% in December 2009 to 61% in December 2010.  It also showed that in December 2009, 6% used mobile devices to open email, but a year later this statistic more than doubled (up to 13% in December 2010).  The use of mobile devices is expected to grow dramatically over the next few years, while desktop usage is expected to drop.  While the Informz report focuses on Association’s e-mail marketing, these metrics are supported throughout other industries as well.  A blog post from Jordie van Rijn, says “Mobile email will account for 10 to 30% of email opens, depending on your target audience, product and email type.”

As your members continue to get busier and as mobile devices continue to grow in popularity, it may be time to check in with your members to determine how they are viewing your information.

It can be difficult to have your message render properly in all the various e-mail software and browsers out there.  But at the very least, designing your message layout for the most popular tools used by your membership will increase your open and click-through rates, and your overall membership engagement.