There’s a lot involved in getting email marketing right. When and how you send is important. So is your content. Subject lines, who it’s sent from…these are all components of good email marketing. But before you launch an email campaign, it’s essential you perfect the following email marketing best practices for chambers.
What is Email Marketing?
Just as it sounds, email marketing is using emails to drive desired action. For chambers that action could be:
- feeling welcome (as in the case of an onboarding series)
- showing member value/education
Email marketing is rarely done in a one-off email. Most savvy email marketers create an email campaign around their intended goal. Thus, the series of emails causes the recipient to take action or feel the intended effect.
10 Email Marketing Best Practices for Chambers
In order to achieve the desired effect, chamber pros must create an email marketing campaign that includes:
#1 The Goal
Know exactly what your emails should accomplish and how you will measure success.
#2 A Good Segmented List
The days of buying lists are over…well, for most of us they should be, at least. Instead, you want to build your own list. Chambers likely have a:
- member list
- event attendee (non-member) list
- list of people who have shown interest in the chamber
- sponsorship list
- businesses in town who are not chamber members list
Any email marketing campaign will be more successful if you select to send to people who already know about you. For instance, you have a list of businesses who are not members. Instead of spamming them all with a message out of the blue asking them to become members, you could offer a valuable piece of content on your website (and promote it through social media), that would help you identify people who may show interest in the chamber.
As part of the download process, offer them something else of value, like a weekly email with tips and tricks for improving their business marketing. Allow them to opt-in to receive it. Now, you’ve just built a list of business in town who aren’t members (cross-check those in the original download list with your member list and segment out anyone who is a current member).
But you have something else too.
The people on this list believe they need help with their business marketing because they subscribed to it. If they didn’t need your tips, they wouldn’t have subscribed.
You needn’t make it about marketing tips. You can create an email offer about any common issue businesses may face.
What logical steps would your intended audience take to move you toward your goal? For instance. if your goal is to increase membership by 20 members, map out the sales funnel/steps someone would take to join at the stage they’re in.
If you’re creating an email campaign designed to convert people who have attended events to members, draw out the natural cycle in the sales process and assign content to the different stages of the process. They already know about you, so you want to show them value and educate them on the offerings that can solve their problems, ultimately inviting them to join.
Never invite someone to join without allowing them to get to know your chamber first.
#4 A Good Send Address
There are two components here: the sender (the person in the “from” line) and the sender (the platform behind sending).
The sender (human) is one of the most important components when it comes to opens. People tend to pay more attention to emails from someone’s name than a “noreply” address. It’s much more personable to receive something from Bob@thecitychamber than it is noreply@thecitychamber.
The first will be viewed as a personal communication (especially if the recipient knows Bob), while the latter might be perceived as a promo blanket send.
The sender (platform) is important because a sender platform with a bad reputation can mean all of your email marketing brilliance goes straight to a spam folder. So before you decide how you will send your email, look into email vendors/software. Find out what their send rating is. A vendor who seriously discourages SPAM and educates its customers on email marketing best practices cares and protects its send rating.
#5 A Captivating Subject Line
People open emails based on two things: sender and subject. You want a subject line that drives action (to open), that is mobile-friendly (more and more emails are read on smart phones) and doesn’t trigger spam filters. With some audiences, using emojis has improved open rates. According to PPC Land, that increase can be as much as 66%.
#6 Valuable Content
When we use the term “valuable,” we are referring to valuable in the eyes of the recipients. While your chamber
may must have a marketing need or goal behind the email campaign, in order for it to resonate with the audience, the emails must speak to their needs.
The content of the first one in your email campaign sets the tone for the rest. If a recipient opens it and deems it unimportant or “not for them,” that will affect your future open rate as well.
Giving them good content, especially when it’s serialized will make them eager to open it every time it hits their inbox.
Another good idea when it comes to content is to tell your chamber’s story or share something everyone can identify with as a lead in. Ideally, each of your emails should have a hook, something that draws the reader in immediately.
#7 Easy to Skim Design
No one is interested in reading the chamber version of War and Peace so keep your emails short. If they need to be lengthy, limit paragraphs to 2-3 sentences, ask questions on one line, put important things in bold or on their own line, and use as much white space as possible. It will keep the eye moving.
#8 A Call to Action
You’ve created an interesting subject line that drives opens. You have content that impresses your intended audience. They’re excited about what you have to say. But if you don’t include a call to action, you’re missing a key success component in email marketing best practices for chambers.
Your audience is ready to respond. They want to hear what comes next. If you don’t provide a call to action, you’re leaving them to decide on their own what that is. That decision may not gel with what you were intending.
#9 A Scientific Approach
While we can suggest best email practices for your chamber, much of the specifics as to how to implement that depends on your audience. For instance, does a humorous subject line get more opens? What about using personalization? These things should be tested as part of your email campaign so that you can use the most effective methods of meeting the needs of YOUR audience, not a generic one. Just as you try things on social media to find the post type your audience finds most engaging, you will need to experiment with your email components as well.
You should keep an open, scientific mind when it comes to your content and what your audience will like. Testing can be done in a wide variety of areas including:
- subject line
- send day
- send time
- content tone
- content length
- button sizes, shapes, and colors
- call to action wording
You could spend years figuring out what your audience prefers but who has that kind of time? Instead, test what will have the biggest impact on your emails.
Remember what those were? The top two?
Sender and subject line.
The sender should be a person at your chamber, not a box like “hello” or “noreply.” There’s no real testing needed here. People are more apt to open from a person and even more so if it’s someone they’ve had recent contact with. Remember, you can set up rules in your email system if you would like to send from the chamber CEO but would prefer the membership director receive responses.
The subject line is the place with the biggest payout potential. There are so many options when it comes to this space. Since many emails are read on mobile phones these days, it’s suggested you keep subject lines under 50 characters so that the message doesn’t get cut-off. However, this is one area you may want to test. If your audience doesn’t follow the norm and does most of their opening on a computer, shorter lines may not matter. Either way, it’s advisable to keep them under 72 characters.
Are there other things that affect opens? You, betcha.
Things you can try in the subject line alone include:
- short subject lines versus long ones
- Detailed subject lines versus mysterious ones
- Personalizing the subject line with the recipient’s name
- Conversational versus direct (Hey, I wanted you to know… vs. Chamber Event Newsletter)
#10 Sharable Content
A good email campaign makes it frictionless to share. Sure, it’s easy enough for a recipient to forward an email they receive to someone else but an excited recipient may want to share your information with more than just one person. In that case, it’s a great idea to include social share buttons for easy sharing.
Finally, all good email marketing campaigns have measurable results. You should constantly monitor open rates and click-throughs. Above, we mentioned the importance of A/B testing but it’s also important to apply the data you’re receiving.
What are recipients clicking on? What isn’t getting touched? Use this information to shape the rest of your campaigns and offerings.
Implementing email marketing best practices for chambers will help you get more opens and thus make your email campaign more successful. However, it’s important to note that while there are best practices in a general sense to understand the specifics of what that means to your chamber audience, you’ll need to do your own testing.