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5 Reasons Why Your Association’s Prospecting Emails Fail (And How to Fix It)

Posted by Julie Dietz on Mon, Aug 01, 2016 @ 08:30 AM

The top reasons why your association's prospecting emails fail and the best ways to fix the problem.

Internet Live Stats estimates that almost 3.5 billion people have internet, and according to Ipsos, 85% of those internet users have email. That means there are almost three billion email users around the world.

Email clearly connects an astounding number of people, and organizations can use that network to reach a wide audience. For your association, using email to connect with prospective members may be incredibly effective, helping you grow your association through new member acquisition. And, as a bonus, email is cheap.

Targeting Prospective Association Members with Email

While prospecting emails are often seen as a sales tactic, associations have used prospecting emails to get in touch with potential new members for over almost two decades. The 2016 Membership Marketing Benchmarking Report from Marketing General even found that email was the second most effective way for most associations to recruit new members.

But more than 205 billion emails were sent and received in 2015 alone. With so many emails flying through cyberspace, people’s inboxes have become notoriously crowded. When people receive so many emails, and you send messages to prospects you don’t have a strong relationship with, how do you convince people to actually open your emails?

One answer is to make your association’s recruiting targets actually want to read your messages. By optimizing your emails and avoiding crucial prospecting email mistakes, you can build a relationship with potential new members. They may even start to look forward to your messages.

5 Problems with Your Association’s Prospecting Emails

Avoiding mistakes doesn’t just encompass the common email problems we’ve all heard about like blasting prospects with emails every day. You have to understand and avoid less obvious mistakes as well. Here are five of the biggest problems lurking in your association’s prospecting emails, and how to fix them.

Problem #1) They’re Too Long

When people open your emails, they don’t want to read long paragraphs or continuously scroll down. They may even see a long email and just decide it’s not worth the effort to read.

Fortunately, writing long emails is one of the easiest mistakes to avoid. Just keep things short. Short emails take the pressure of writing off of you, and they lower the effort required for your prospects to get through the message. A recent article from HubSpot even advocates creating prospecting emails as short as two sentences.

Additional benefits of short emails include originality – short messages look less like cookie-cutter templates that are sent out to everyone. You can still include more in-depth content by adding a link or two to longer posts, offers, or your website. Links give your prospects the opportunity to learn more if they’re interested.

Problem #2) They’re Not Mobile Friendly

According to data from Litmus, in 2014 more than half of emails were opened on mobile devices such as smartphones. Two years later, that number is likely even higher. Your prospects are also reading your emails on the go, and if it’s difficult to view on their chosen device it’s less likely that they’ll put in the effort to read your message.

To make your emails more mobile-friendly, remember to focus on brevity. With less copy, short emails are easier to read on smaller screens. You should also use a single-column email template to ensure that your message fits on smartphones and tablets. Select a font that’s large enough to be easily read, and include smaller pictures that can be viewed in full on mobile screens.

Problem #3) They’re About You

While the goal of your prospecting emails is to get people interested in your association, they shouldn’t focus on your association. If all you talk about is your association, then members won’t see how your association is relevant to them. To be more effective, focus your emails on your prospects.

  • How can your association help your prospective members?
  • What problems can you solve for them?

Emphasize not how great your association is, but how great your prospects’ lives and careers will be when they join. To do this, provide information or offers that help your prospects. If your industry is changing, for instance, explain how your prospects can adjust to changes with expert advice from your online community or by attending your training programs.

Problem #4) They’re Generic

Blasting your entire prospect list with the same information doesn’t work. People today expect customized online experiences, because if the information you provide isn’t relevant to their lives, why should they care? Big businesses (like Amazon) are leading the way in customization, but people expect it from everyone, including your association.

To get away from generalized content, target your audience and personalize your prospecting emails based on what each potential member is interested in. Use activity data from your website, online community, or membership management software to determine what your prospects are interested in. Did a prospect visit your conference page three times last week? They’re may be interested in attending your meeting.

Take that information and use it to send your prospects the most relevant, helpful information. Sent the prospect interested in your event a few short sentences inviting them to attend, and a link to the full schedule, for example. The more relevant the information you provide, the more likely it is that your prospect will open, read, and click on your offers.

Expert Tip: Nothing about your emails should be generic, and that includes the subject line. Some of the best subject lines are provocative or emotional, or include an element of mystery that grabs the reader’s attention. Incorporating these elements into your email subjects will steer them away from generic phrases. Remember to keep your email subject line short and clearly explain the content inside the email as well.

Problem #5) They’re Not Actionable

If emails aren’t actionable, then prospects read your message, and then what? Nothing. They have nothing to lead them back to your association. For your emails to be effective, there has to be something your prospects can do after reading the email.

Make your emails actionable by including a clear call-to-action that gives prospects a place to go after getting through your short, personalized email. The call-to-action might take your potential member to a resource, such as a forum, blog post, or ebook download that they might be interested in.

The goal is to lead your potential new members down the path to your association. Your emails and their calls-to-action should help prospects learn about your value and eventually decide to join. Showcase your relevancy and expertise, as well as how they help your prospects, as much as possible.

Association Prospecting Email Takeaway

Sending the right prospecting emails to your potential new members takes work. In addition to proper formatting that makes emails easy to read, the information they contain must be relevant, helpful and actionable.

The more helpful your emails are, and the easier the information is to access, the more likely it is that you’ll get through to your prospects. You’ll be able to build an effective email recruitment campaign that fosters strong relationships and eventually leads to membership.

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Tags: Membership Marketing, Mobile Engagement, Email Communication

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