Just as important as newsletter content and design, is the audience on the receiving end. Building a subscriber list is the best way to build a relationship with your prospective members and maintain it with current members. It’s been said to be one of the most effective ways to showcase your brand messaging and increase engagement with your association.
We’re often asked how to grow subscriber lists and while there’s multiple scenarios on how to do this, we’ll only touch on one as it’s the most important – promotion. Your industry audience won’t know about your newsletter unless they’re told. Are you showcasing the newsletter on the website? Promoting it on social media? Including the option on the member-welcome packet? All of these are great ways to build your list.
Promotion of your newsletter is only successful if your newsletter is not an exclusive member-only publication. In fact, we've seen many membership organizations come to the realization that member-only publications are not a member benefit, as many claim. We recommend sending your newsletter to both members and non-members because the benefits are undeniable. You’re not only giving your members the information they want and need for the industry, but you’re also able to see what your non-members are engaging with. With this feature, you can see if the non-members are clicking on your association CTA’s, which in turn tells you that they’re wanting to know more about your association and what’s going on within the organization and industry. This is your warm lead to reach out to that individual for membership.
Now, let’s talk about demographics within your distribution list. The more demographics you have on your audience the better. This allows you to personalize and segment the newsletter for your own marketing initiatives. For example, personalization allows you to target members that are coming up for joining, renewal, or are past due with paying their membership dues. Because there is no “standard”, you can include as much info as you’d like or use this capability to target around any capacity. It doesn’t need to be specific to membership, although the example describes renewals.
Like membership renewals, you can use the demographic data your association has on the subscribers, you can target non-attendees and promote conference registration, discounts, webinars, etc. Really, as long as you can provide the data/fields, the opportunities are endless.
Demographics are also an important benefit for advertisers, as they’re more likely to purchase if they know the type of audience they’re reaching (i.e., job titles, geographic locations, etc.).
Learn more about how your association can work to get this data for your marketing and membership efforts.
You have the emails and demographics, but how often should a subscriber list be updated? This is all based on how often your list changes internally. If you’re getting numerous sign-ups/members on a weekly basis, then update list each week. Otherwise, the best timeframe to update your list is monthly. This ensures that your editor has the most up-to-date information for your brief.
That’s not all, though. List maintenance is key when working with subscriber data and working with email marketing. Make sure to pay attention to your bounce rate, as it will tell you what your team needs to clean up within the subscriber list. There are many reasons why an email can bounce, but here are the top 7:
- Mailbox full: Your recipient’s inbox is full, so the server won’t allow any more emails to the mailbox owner.
- Message too large: Occasionally, the content in the message or an attachment exceeds the limit of the recipient’s server. It’s recommended to send email messages with smaller file sizes. See Part 1 of Newsletter Best Practices for more information on this.
- Blacklisted: When a recipient’s email server is blocking inbound emails it’s called blacklisting. The most common reasons for a block are:
- The address you replied/sent from is blacklisted
- One of the IPs you replied/sent from is blocked
- One of the domains an email is sent from is temporarily blacklisted
- The server that receives emails only accepts white-listed senders
- Known Spammer: The recipient’s email server might be marking sent email accounts as spam depending on email history and reputation.
- Undeliverable: If bounced emails are in the undeliverable category it means that the receiving email server is temporarily unavailable, overloaded or cannot be found.
- Email Block: An email can be blocked by the recipient if they wish to no longer receive emails from the individual.
- Invalid: In this category, the recipient email server is unable to deliver the email because the address was spelled incorrectly or has invalid characters within it.
To help your recipients receive your newsletters to their inboxes, recommend having them whitelist your sending email address, essentially marking it safe to send. This will also prevent your emails from potentially going to the Spam or Junk folders of the recipients’ email inbox. Each mail client has different processes for adding a sender to the safe list, so if they're unaware, have them reach out to their IT team.
No matter where you are in the stages of upgrading or building your email newsletters, know that your subscriber list is the lifeline to successful engagement.