The Real Inbox Culprit: Email Relevance, Not Frequency

When it comes to sending out emails, most people say their subscribers complain that they receive too many of them.  So if you think the obvious solution would be to send fewer emails, think again.

If every email you sent contained something members valued, they wouldn’t complain. Instead, they’d thank you. The real problem is the disconnect between what you see as valuable and what your members see as valuable.

The reasons why knowledge is power when it comes to email content marketing

To get a handle on your email situation, first, you have to understand how you got to this place. Who decides what you send to your subscribers? How do you decide how many emails to send out each week? Is anyone monitoring the situation?

In many associations, nobody knows how many emails members receive or even what they’re receiving. That’s because nobody tracks what you’re sending out. The solution is to do an audit on your email marketing plan. An email audit will reveal some basic information you need to know including:

  • How many emails you send each week and each month.
  • Which departments and staff are sending emails.
  • Email frequency by the type, like promotions, industry news, educational content, association news and advocacy.
  • Percentage of emails that get delivered.
  • Percentage and type of emails that recipients open.
  • Percentage and type of links people click.

Your common email questions answered

What’s the appropriate email frequency? According to the 2017 Membership Marketing Benchmarking Report from Marketing General Inc., (MGI), on average, most organizations send their members four emails a week. Is that the appropriate amount? Only your members know the right answer, but they won’t all give you the same answer, because they have different communication preferences.

Why do associations send so many emails? Because every department thinks their emails contain important, need-to-know information. Apparently, the bigger the staff, the bigger the problem. According to the MGI report, those with operating budgets of $20 million or more are most likely to send five emails per week. In contrast, those with budgets under $5 million are more likely to send only one or two emails per week.

If your readers think you send too many emails, you do, but that’s not the main problem. Keep reading to discover the real inbox culprit and how you can fix it.

Blog → Why being consistent is the best thing you can do for your email newsletter

The real inbox culprit: relevance, not frequency

Remember, people wouldn’t complain if all the emails you sent them were relevant. They don’t open your emails for a simple reason: based on their past experiences, your emails are just not worth opening.

Their complaints are symptoms of these two problems:

  • No cross-departmental communications strategy and collaboration.
  • Not enough list segmentation.

Departments and teams must have the tools they need to achieve their goals.  Also, they need to align their interests with the greater interests of the whole by maintaining attention, loyalty, and trust. But one department can’t solve the email problem. Everyone must agree to a new email strategy.

It has to be one that puts the subscriber’s needs first, not the organization’s, and definitely not each department’s need to cram their “important, need-to-know” stuff into their subscriber’s inboxes.

What is relevant to all of your members? The answer is, not much. That’s why the best approach to email lists starts with segmentation. You must segment your email list, so you only send relevant content to each member. By understanding their needs, interests, pain points, and aspirations, you’ll understand the type of segmentation you need, for example, by position type, career level or specialty.

Hyper-personalization: engage with a segment of one

What do your subscribers want in your emails? The same things they want as consumers: relevant information. According to the 2017 Adobe Consumer Email Survey Report, when they asked people what the one thing was that they would change about the emails they got from brands, 40 percent of respondents said they would make them less promotional and more informational. Also, 27 percent said they would change the email content to be better personalized to their interests.

With the technology available today, you will find it easier and faster to personalize content by a member’s interests. ASAE’s Chief Information and Engagement Officer, Reggie Henry, recently talked at the Aptify Users Conference about the need for hyper-personalization. He believes organizations and businesses should communicate with and market to a segment of one.

Reggie said people are willing to share data in exchange for personalized experiences, so that’s the direction associations must go. He provided the following numbers to back his argument up:

  • Forrester reported that 77 percent of consumers have chosen, recommended, or even paid more for a brand that provides a personalized service or experience.
  • Accenture found that 75 percent of consumers are more likely to buy when you recognize them as an individual and provide recommendations based on their unique wants and needs.

Nowadays, people can find information anywhere. That means your promotional and informational emails are no better than anyone else’s unless you give each member what they want. Unlike other organizations in your subscriber’s world, your organization has access to the data to deliver personalized, if not hyper-personalized, content you can base on their unique wants and needs.

Your organization or group has an advantage: your subscribers and readers have chosen to have a relationship with you. They may have even paid to have a relationship with you. But, in an information marketplace where personalization is becoming more prevalent, your members expect you to understand and deliver what they need.

If you know what content each member wants and you deliver it when they want it, they’ll give you their attention, loyalty, and trust because you always get it right, or at least, almost always. Take advantage of the technology in the email content marketplace that will allow you to send emails your recipients will always open and never complain about.

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