This question comes up for association boards frequently. The key to this question is understanding the association and nonprofit industry standards and then being able to measure these standards.
How often should we email our members?
It’s easy to feel overwhelmed with the number of emails we receive and now, there are so many other ways to feel connected. Each organization is different in how frequently to communicate with members and which medium to use to do so. Monitoring key metrics will help unravel the mystery. It is an ongoing process that will change time-to-time, but finding key indicators and monitoring them is a great place to start.
For example, one of our clients, ULI Charlotte, was promoting each or their events with at least three emails. When the number of events increased over the last year, we asked if this was the most effective way to communicate. We determined that this was too many emails to send to our members so we created a periodic newsletter. During the summer, we email the newsletter every two weeks. During the rest of the year, we send the newsletter only once a week. Members know they can get a quick snap shot of the organization with one email on Tuesdays at 10am. This has reduced our event notices to once per event (unless otherwise needed) and reduced our emails by more than 50%, increasing our open rates to over 38%.
When designing the newly created newsletter, we kept it short and sweet with three sections: Upcoming Events, Spotlight and News. It includes a list of upcoming meetings, member profiles, short recaps of meetings, and first-time announcements of upcoming meetings. Registration to the events and open rates are higher than they have ever been. We are monitoring these metrics and making sure we are keeping the newsletter fresh and relevant.