By Dr. William D. Ivers, CEO, Clubessential
Here’s why a General Manager should focus some attention on email:
- Well targeted email can increase member participation at every event. How often have you experienced a sell-out? Use email well, and you will experience more.
- Email can build the bonds of community between members, making the club a more important and more permanent part of their lives.
- Email can personalize members’ relationships with the GM, the Chef and other key staff. Wouldn't it be nice to walk into a crowded dining room to be greeted with smiling recognition at every table?
- Email can tempt passive members into trying club services they never use. Engaging such members is the secret to a vibrant club atmosphere.
- Yet email is so cheap it hardly appears in the budget.
This article is one of ten that will be sent, one per week, for ten weeks.
1. Capture Your Membership’s Email Addresses
2. Be Consistent
3. Make Staff Come Alive
4. Make Members Come Alive
5. Make Events Come Alive
6. Drive Traffic to Your Web site
7. Add Artistry
8. Target Mailings
Next Week's Installment:
Build An Asset
Step 9 of 10 to engage your membership with email
Last week’s discussion of “targeting” revolved around the idea that you have an implicit contract with each member: They will read as long as you provide information of interest to them. More to the point: they will stop reading if you send emails that don’t match their interests. So you need to assemble data about their interests and then selectively email if you want to keep the electronic communication channel open.
This week concerns monitoring the electronic channel to see if it is working for you. This involves “tracking” your email activity.
Archive What You Send
This may seem awfully trivial, but you should keep an archive of every email you’ve sent. Some Web vendors will do this automatically, but if yours doesn’t, it isn’t very hard to capture a copy of each email (send it to yourself) and save it in a folder. There are several reasons to save the emails:
- You may want to look at last year’s version to use it as a template or a starting point for this year.
- You may have had a particularly effective or ineffective mailing and want to review exactly what was sent to see why it had the impact it did.
- If you are the General Manager, you may want to monitor the quality of the messages being sent by others on the staff. Occasionally you may want to bring in a graphic artist to help polish your branding: having the history to examine will make this easier.
- The archive will also encourage some advanced planning for events, because you can establish standards for announcement, reminder and follow-up mailing dates.
- If you have staff turnover, it is always great to have a way to look back on prior activities so nothing is forgotten.
Revive Email Addresses
Every time you send an email, some of the addresses will “bounce back,” either because the address was wrong, or isn’t working for the moment, or because it has been changed. You should keep a field in your Web site’s marketing database that indicates whether the email address is working and if not, why not. Don’t just delete email addresses that appear to be broken. Sometimes servers go down or email boxes fill up and the address will temporarily fail, but later will work again. Of course you should track down members who appear to have changed their email addresses but have forgotten to update them. Coach them how to go to their personal profile to update their email address.
Some systems will indicate which recipients actually opened their emails.
This is very important information for several reasons:
- The percentage of “opens” indicates how well you wrote the email title (after all their decision to read is made based on the title, not on the content) and how interesting the subject is to members. If members scramble to read about the new grill porch but don’t bother to open the emails about the proposed new exercise equipment, that tells you something.
- You can also classify your members based on who reads which kind of emails. This is valuable marketing data for your Web site marketing database. Once you gather some of this information you can define “Dynamic Groups” that automatically include members with certain interests.
- In certain situations it is important to know that a member opened an email, and when they opened it. You may want to make sure, for example, that a member was reminded of an upcoming Board Meeting, and can make phone calls if the email remains unopened.
- A member who doesn’t ever open club emails is also worth investigating. Perhaps this member doesn’t really use email –you should know that and instead flag them for paper mailings. Or perhaps the member has a Spam filter that is blocking your email – they can allow your email through once you alert them that it is being blocked. Maybe the member has an indifferent attitude toward the club and hasn’t bothered to read the email out of lack of interest – here is an opportunity to identify dissatisfied members and discover what can be done to bring them back into the club family.
It isn’t easy to identify why a member chose to attend a particular event – usually there are multiple factors that combined to encourage attendance. Even so, there are some things you can do that will indicate how effective your emailings are:
- If you had a similar event last year, compare the attendance this year when you used emails.
- Compare the fraction of readers who attend versus the fraction of non-readers. If 70% of the readers show up but only 35% of the non-readers, that’s a pretty strong endorsement of the emailing.
- As a test, remind half of your registrants that they signed up for a particular event, but don’t remind the other half. Then compare the attendance figures to see if the reminder had an impact. Calculate again, leaving out those who did not open the reminder.
- For an even more effective reminder campaign, do a telephone reminder to those who did not open the email reminder. (While you are at it, ask them why they didn’t open it.) Then compare the fraction of registrants who actually showed up against similar figures for other events.
- Do a rough calculation of the added net revenue per each additional event attendee. Multiply this figure times the apparent increase in attendees that you can roughly attribute to the email campaigns. Then compare the total net increase in revenue against the cost of the labor you’ve employed to develop and send the emails. Usually you will discover that the emails pay for themselves many times over.
Email tracking, besides helping you refine your style and targeting, can be a great source of information about the activities and services individual members seek.
Next week we will conclude this series with a discussion of how your electronic communication channel can become a permanent asset of the organization that builds value year after year.