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It’s true that most people favor email as their preferred method of communication; it’s immediate and versatile. That said, this same flexibility often leads organizations, including associations like yours, to an over-reliance on transactional emails. Could your email strategy be overwhelming your audience rather than engaging them?

What We’ve Learned from Email Audits

Time and again, our audits reveal a common trend: most organizations, perhaps yours included, have a tendency to send out more transactional emails than those dedicated to building relationships—often at a ratio of 2:1. For instance, one client discovered that in a period of promoting events and membership campaigns, 64% of their emails were transactional, while only 36% focused on nurturing relationships.

This imbalance often results in communications that feel less humane and more directive—simply instructing subscribers to “buy” or “do” something rather than engaging them on a more personal level. We’ve got to start treating our audience like people, not just potential sales.

Comparing Transactional and Relationship Emails

Transactional emails have their place. They are essential for confirmations, reminders, and information about discounts. However, the problem arises when these types of emails dominate your communication strategy, reducing your members to mere transactions. This not only distances your audience but also increases the likelihood of your emails being disregarded or deleted with a simple thought: “Not today.”

Relationship-based emails prioritize building a meaningful connection with the recipient, whereas transactional emails focus on completing or confirming a specific action or transaction.

By strategically balancing these two types of emails, organizations can not only optimize their communication effectiveness but also foster stronger connections, enhance customer satisfaction, and potentially increase the lifetime value of their audience.

Transforming Your Email Strategy

How can you turn a standard transactional email into a relationship-building opportunity? Here are a few strategies:

Instead of just pushing for registration, frame it as an invitation to an exclusive event where they can connect, learn, and grow. Share stories of past attendees who found significant value in participating.

Replace a straightforward renewal reminder with a personalized appreciation message. Reflect on the tenure of their membership and highlight upcoming opportunities tailored for them.

When promoting a benchmarking report, initiate a consultative conversation. Provide snippets of insights they could gain and discuss how these could address specific challenges they face.

Offer more than a simple discount—invite them to an exclusive learning experience designed to enhance their professional growth, adding a preview of the actionable knowledge they’ll gain.

Have You Evaluated Your Email Strategy Recently?

If you’re planning join and renew campaigns or simply aim to improve your communication, consider conducting an email audit. Compare your transactional vs. relationship emails and adjust accordingly to enhance recipient engagement and achieve better results.

Your Next Steps

Transactional emails serve a purpose, but remember, building lasting relationships will sustain your organization in the long run. Begin transforming your emails today to deepen connections and elevate your overall communication strategy.

For more insights into enhancing your communication impact, read our guide on optimizing email strategies here.

Transition your strategy from transactional to transformational with Rottman Creative’s expert insights and watch your member engagement soar!

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Tell us if this sounds familiar.

You send out an email to members and prospects in the morning, and then check your open rate and click-through numbers in the afternoon. As usual, your numbers are stellar! 

You’ve got an open rate of 70% and a click-through rate of 60%. You notice that your numbers seem to keep getting better and better.

If you haven’t realized it by now, your numbers aren’t accurate. Over the past few years, it’s become increasingly common for security bots to be responsible for the great majority of B2B email engagement—as much as 80% by some estimates. 

These bots don’t mean to screw up your marketing plans. In fact, they’re in place to scan for links to malware and phishing attempts. 

They derive from security software associated with various B2B email programs. Their job is to scan the email intended for your recipient. And in fact, if they just scanned it, it would be no problem. But the bots also open the email and click the links to check the redirects and make sure they aren’t malware.

The problem is, bot engagement gets recorded just like actual engagement. According to HubSpot, these security filters are more common in certain industries, like finance or healthcare. Ultimately, you don’t really know if your emails are getting opened or not.

And while some marketing automation programs have tried to create fixes, it’s a cat-and-mouse game. Every time the bad actors increase their phishing efforts, security must get more sophisticated, too.

The bottom line is: The bots are going to win.

But that doesn’t mean you need to lose.

Let’s Stop Talking About Your Emails

During our regular client meetings, one topic consistently dominates the conversation: emails. The focus revolves around the emails we sent last week and planning the next set for the upcoming week.

We get it. We monitor our own email performance, hoping for high open rates and click-throughs. We recognize the value of email as a form of communication.

However, we also know that email shouldn’t be the sole communication platform. Relying excessively on it carries the risk of failing to reach the intended audience.

Therefore, our primary message to you is this: It’s crucial to significantly reduce the number of emails you send.

It’s scary to think about slashing the number of emails in the queue. But it’s even scarier to rely on a false narrative of engagement, created by security bots.

Instead of your entire marketing strategy being tied to sending email after email, you need to create a more holistic strategy. There are lots of names for this. Integrated. Omni-channel. Multi-channel. Cross-channel. Unified.

We’re agnostic as to the terminology, but for our purposes in working with associations, the key idea is Not just email.

Not just email can look like utilizing the social media platforms where your members and prospects hang out. It can look like texting, calling, and messaging. And it can look like thoughtful content strategy that hasn’t just been rinsed and repeated from the previous year.

We know it’s uncomfortable to let go of the main tactic you’ve always cleaved to. To untether from what seems like a sure thing. And it’s overwhelming to think about learning platforms you’re not yet familiar with or perhaps haven’t even been invented yet. 

Marketers in industries across the spectrum are feeling the pain, but we know the particular stress that membership- and subscription-based organizations are feeling. We also know that it will only get worse—and not “worse before it gets better,” but “worse before it gets even worse.”

Rottman Creative can help free you from email dependence. Have questions? Let’s chat.

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