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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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How NOT to get prospects

So your in-person event is back on. Great! Now you need attendees. Here’s a list of proven failures that will most definitely NOT attract prospects. Take these tactics off your to-do list. Then implement a few of the surefire strategies listed below to build a high-quality prospect pool and get more people in the door.

FAILURE #1

Have no value proposition or differentiator

If you’re looking to deter prospects or get ignored altogether, having no value proposition is a great start. Afterall, professionals in your space have lots of events to choose from, so they can just choose a different one. Alternately, they might be satisfied with LinkedIn or Google.

FAILURE #2

Send a drip campaign with 5+ emails

Don’t stick with a “spray and pray” e-blast approach. Sending multiple impersonal emails is a proven tactic to take potentially interested people and chase them away.

FAILURE #3

Hire a famous keynote speaker who is irrelevant to your industry

Your association promotes itself as the best place to find industry-specific resources. Don’t hire a big name celebrity as your keynote speaker who knows absolutely nothing about your industry.

FAILURE #4

Use overly complex language nobody can understand

Long paragraphs, long sentences, and long words take lots of time and brain power to decipher. If nobody can understand you, they surely won’t know why or how to register for your event.

FAILURE #5

Create busy visuals nobody can decipher

Your event branding and logo shouldn’t be difficult to read. Using a plethora of colors and fonts adds to the clutter and is guaranteed to turn people away.

FAILURE #6

Use a generic event name that is meaningless to anyone outside your association

Don’t be afraid to use your association’s acronym as your event name. Afterall, if prospects have never heDon’t use your association’s acronym as your event name. Afterall, if prospects have never heard of you before, they won’t be compelled to attend XYZ’s Annual Conference.

FAILURE #7

Wait until the last minute to create your event website

Your event’s website is a central hub that lets people get to know your association, see how they’ll Your event’s website is a central hub that lets people get to know your association, see how they’ll benefit from your event, and actually register. If you leave off the value proposition, agenda, and registration links until a few weeks before your conference you won’t reach attendance goals.

FAILURE #8

Be so exclusive nobody thinks they are allowed to come

Don’t hide the fact that your event is open to the public, including people who are not members of your association. When people don’t feel welcome, they will definitely not investigate further.


5 Ways to Actually Attract Prospects

Aside from doing the opposite of the failures mentioned above, here are five ways to up your event game and attract more prospects.

SUCCESS #1

Tell your story

Your prospect might have no idea who you are or why they should care. You have to convince them to care. You can’t do that with a few dozen impersonal emails. Tell your story quickly and make it easy to take action on it.

SUCCESS #2

Craft a unique value proposition

If you can’t articulate in just a few words why someone should attend your event, you need a new value proposition. Focus on benefits and differentiators. In one sentence, explain why you are worth someone’s money and time away from the office.

SUCCESS #3

Speak like a human

Messaging should be authentic and value based. Write everything at a 7th or 8th Grade level for easy comprehension. Be friendly and inviting. Make sure everything makes sense to someone who has never heard of your association before. 

SUCCESS #4

Be relevant

Take time to curate a truly relevant experience that addresses your audience’s current pain points. Conduct surveys and focus groups. Choose a keynote speaker who knows your industry inside and out.

SUCCESS #5

Keep it simple!

When it comes to your messaging, visuals, agenda, or anything else related to your event, go with the simplest choice. Cut the clutter. Stay on point. Promise select takeaways that matter to the segment of prospect you’re going after.

A good default strategy for event-related prospecting is to think like a prospect. Take some time to consider the types of messages and offers you prefer to receive from other businesses and organizations. Stick with those and leave the rest of the noise behind.

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