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How Associations Can Create Amazing Email Newsletters in Less Time [Step-By-Step-Guide]

Written by Julie Dietz on July 21, 2016 at 8:30 AM

A step-by-step guide for associations to use to create an amazing email newsletter in less time.

Have you ever been forgotten? Maybe your brother forgot your birthday. Or you spent hours on a project at office and your boss forgot about it, so your hard work went to waste.

No one likes to be forgotten, and for associations being forgotten by members can be disastrous. If members forget about you or your benefits, then there's no reason for them to participate or renew. That's just one of many reasons it's important for associations to stay at the top of their members' minds.

How to Get Your Members' Attention

To stay top of mind and inform members of updates as well as all the benefits they could be taking advantage of, many associations send out email newsletters. The challenge, of course, is making sure that your newsletters aren't overlooked in your members' already crowded inboxes.

So how do you ensure that members open and read your newsletters? Your staff may not have hours to devote to creating a compelling, targeted newsletter that shouts for attention. They're busy keeping data clean, preparing for events, and developing new benefits, which often causes optimizing your newsletters to fall to the bottom of their priority list.

To make the most of your staff's time, you need a fast, efficient process for creating a regular newsletter that is meaningful to your diverse member base. This means developing an email newsletter creation process that produces updates that grab your members' attention and make them want to open, read, and click on your offers.

What Makes a Newsletter Amazing?

An effective email newsletter is one that demands attention. It contains content that's not only timely, but also relevant and helpful. Your members should want to open, read, and click on the content for more information. Shoot for articles and updates that members share with one another, friends and family, or start discussing in your online community.

If your members start looking forward to your newsletters, regularly replying to articles, or even directly sending you positive feedback, that's when you know you've created an amazing newsletter.

5 Steps to Quickly Create Amazing Email Newsletters for Your Association Members

Getting the results you want from your newsletter doesn't have to be a huge endeavor. These five steps will up your wow factor and save time.

Step 1) Decide What Type of Newsletter You're Creating

Start by defining your objectives and determining what type of newsletter will meet them.

  • Do you want to inform members about recent activity in your private online community?
  • Would you like to highlight your benefits and how they help members?

Your newsletter should revolve around your objectives, and what you want members to know.

Themed newsletters are often ideal for meeting objectives, and can be popular with members. For example, you can create a recent events themed newsletter to update members on what's been happening in your association or industry changes in the past month.

Once you've decided on objectives and a theme, then you'll know what type of information your newsletter needs to include. That makes searching for content faster, since there are fewer topics to comb through. No need to spend hours reviewing everything that happened last week, you can focus only on things like big industry changes.

Step 2) Design a Template

Your newsletter needs a design template that includes your association's logo and contact information. Keep other design elements minimal so they're not distracting. Crisp clines and colors, a table of contents to guide readers, and headings with subheads will make your template attractive and skimmable for those with limited time.

When you're preparing your first newsletter, designing a template may take up a block of your schedule. The hours you'll save on subsequent newsletters, however, will be well worth it because you can, and should, reuse the same template every week.

By reusing the template you'll give your members some consistency. They'll get used to the newsletter's design and organization, which will help them quickly find the information they're most interested in. This is the shortest path to creating value for your members.

Step 3) Compile Your Content

You've already cut down on content curation time by defining objectives and choosing a theme. Now, make sure you feature content that's relevant, helpful, and interesting to your readers.

Keep copy minimal, both because it saves your staff time and because your members don't want to read through long paragraphs. Link your copy's headline to the full article on your website or in your online community so members can choose to go through the content in more detail.

Break your copy up with pictures and videos, as well as tweets or other social media posts when relevant. In addition to being engaging and fun for your members, multimedia is a quick and easy way to diversify your newsletter's content.

Finally, include one or two key calls-to-action. Calls-to-action give your members somewhere to go and something to do after they read your newsletter, and ultimately bring them back to your association and its offers.

Step 4) Write a Stunning Subject Line

Amazing newsletters are ones that members open, which has a lot to do with the subject line. You need a catchy subject line that teases your reader with an air of mystery. What is the answer to that question? There's a secret that you're willing to share? Make members want to click on that title and open your newsletters.

Catchy will only get you so far, however. You also need to be accurate, and tell members what type of information they'll find in the newsletter. If you refer to the content, then you'll set the right expectations from the very start, and members will understand what value your newsletter will give them.

Last but not least: keep it short. Email subject lines should be around 50 characters, short enough that the end of the phrase isn't cut off.

Step 5) Target Your Audience

It may be that you're sending out a general newsletter that will apply to everyone in your association, but that's not always the best way to increase engagement. You'll typically get better results and higher member participation by targeting your audience.

For example, you can send an executive newsletter to all of the C-level people who are members, and a newsletter focused on new member engagement to people who joined your organization in the past year. Chapter and group members should have their own targeted newsletter content.

By targeting your audience based on their activity, membership, and interests you'll help ensure that members receive content that's relevant to them.

Bonus: Automated, Personalized Newsletters

Don't have time to go through all these steps? What if you could create a custom newsletter for your members with only a few clicks? No writing subject lines. No combing through content. No hitting "send." Just a few clicks, just one time.

With the right membership management software, you can.

Email Newsletter Takeaway

Along with the tools in your AMS software, using these five steps will help you create relevant, valuable newsletters that help your association stay at the forefront of members' minds.

Just remember that no matter how fantastic your newsletter is, you still need to set it up for success. Include a place for members to subscribe to newsletters on your website and in your online community, and allow members to unsubscribe as well. Unsubscribes aren't negative, they simply give you an opportunity to reevaluate the information members are receiving, and find updates that are more relevant and valuable.

If you take advantage of all the tools at your disposal, however, you'll have everything you need to create newsletters your members can't wait to read.

Nine low-cost member engagement strategies for associations.

Topics: Communications, Associations, Member Engagement, Marketing Automation

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