Updating your email newsletter: simple updates for a classic tactic that never goes out of style

email newsletter

A denim jacket. A perfect white t-shirt. A little black dress. Or maybe an Eames lounge chair, “The Godfather,” or a 1966 Shelby 427 Cobra. While style is subjective, there are classics that seem timeless, appropriate no matter the season, occasion or date. Such is the case with the classic association email newsletter.

In our Personify Young Members 2.0 research, almost three-quarters of young members report receiving email from their membership organization often, either in the form of a newsletter (72%) or a more personalized message (73%) and both are effective in keeping young members informed and up-to-date.

When asked which marketing tactics young members wish associations used more frequently, email was near the top of the list, with more than one-third of survey respondents (36%) eager for the one-stop-shop convenience of a newsletter.

That’s right, the humble email newsletter.

Tried and true, popular with marketing staff and readers alike.  According to Content Marketing Institute, 83% of B2B marketers use email newsletters in their content marketing strategy. And email newsletters are getting read. Nielsen Norman Group reports that when asked which medium consumers would like to receive updates from, 90% preferred an email newsletter.

Why do newsletters perform so well? Convenience tops the list. Email newsletters offer a convenient, one-stop-shop for all the important updates and information during the week or month. Yet most organizations fail to take full advantage of this useful communication tool, leaving it in the back of their closet forgotten or relegated to being a catch all for a seemingly random pieces of information.

The good news is with a couple of updates, your email newsletter can take center stage once again.

Curating content for your email newsletter

Creating quality content can be difficult and creating a lot of quality content is even harder. But there’s good news, according to Jakob Neilson Research, “…the average time allocated to a newsletter after opening it was only 51 seconds. “Reading” is not even the right word, since participants fully read only 19% of newsletters. The predominant user behavior was scanning. Often, users didn’t even scan the entire newsletter: 35% of the time, participants only skimmed a small part of the newsletter or glanced at the content.”

When it comes to email newsletters, think quality over quantity. It’s OK to minimize the amount of content as long as it is:

  • Germane– Directly related to the reader’s interest and topics they care about. When you’re developing, collecting and publishing content for your email newsletter put yourself in your constituent’s shoes. What would you want to see?
  • Compelling– Your email newsletter shouldn’t be a duplicate of your association’s website. Think of it more as a flyer designed to get members excited. Think of your copy as teasers, short sound bites that direct the reader to a post on your blog or event information on your website. This ensures your content is scannable but also encourages your members to take action. Use your content as a way to get them to engage with your association!
  • Beneficial– Does your content leave your reader knowing more about a topic than before they engaged with your email newsletter? What are their interests and how can you use your email newsletter to reinforce the value you’re delivering to each constituent?

In addition to standard news, updates, blog posts and podcasts there are a multitude of ways to introduce new content into your email newsletters. Share an update from your organization’s CEO or President to make readers feel like they’re in the know. Include relevant statistics and data points in your newsletters as a surefire way to reassure you customers and prove your success. Learn more about your constituents by including a poll or survey (and publish results in the next newsletter). Include a fun Top 10 list for entertaining content your constituents will love. Inspire readers with stories that show impact and how your organization is making a positive change.

The burden for content creation doesn’t have to be carried by your staff alone. Recruit members and donors to share their stories for powerful user-generated material. Highlight the best photos shared on social media. Ask constituents to share their stories, or have experts answer questions submitted to a “Dear Abby”-style advice column. The possibilities are endless!

Creating (additional) connection

Whether in a footer, a header or some other strategic place within your email newsletter, your organization should always include links to social profile pages. Think of your email newsletter as a hub, with the spokes being your other marketing channels. Leverage your email newsletter to direct readers to other areas digital engagement channels like your website, blog or social media sites.

Remember, your email newsletter is not the place for long, thorough content.

Instead, provide a quick summary and then link to your blog for the full-read. Or, include brief summaries and then send readers to your website for more details. This introduces constituents to more of your channels and supports driving deeper engagement with your organization.

Capturing clicks for your email newsletter

You never get a second chance to make a first impression so don’t skimp on your subject line. Why are subject lines so important for email newsletters? Without an effective subject line, the content within your organization’s email newsletter has little chance of being consumed. Here are some tips and tricks for highly effective subject lines:

  • Introduce a numerical list of tips and tricks, e.g. 3 Ways to Boost Email Newsletter Performance!
  • Use the power of your database to personalize subject lines, such as The latest APA news for Amanda. People are up to 50% more likely to open an email when the subject line is personalized with one of their individualized attributes.
  • Pose a question to pique a reader’s interests. Some examples: How many young members are opening your email? Or Do you know where PersoniFest is going in 2020?

Ensure you’re hitting send the right day of the week and the right time of day. Every organization is different – look at what’s working best for you! – but many industries follow the rule that Tuesdays and Thursdays tend to be optimal send days, followed by Mondays and Wednesdays.

Email send time is also a critical engagement determiner, with the top four send times being 10 am, 8 pm, 2 pm and 6 am. Confirming that – for better or worse – people go to bed as well as wake up with their inboxes!

A little updating, some accessorizing and your email newsletter will be poised to conquer a whole new audience. Remember to focus on your content, using your email newsletter to drive additional connection and using the right subject line and send time to capture their attention and it will continue to serve you for years to come!