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« Back Post Date: Wednesday, November 20, 2013, 10:00 AM
Implementing a Targeted Email System
By adopting a targeted email strategy, you can easily segment your members into particular groups and drive a stronger response to your communications. Read on to learn how.
By Alyssa Montgomery and Amy Sand

This is article two of a five-part series on implementing Digital Marketing Essentials in the private club market. In article one we looked at how private clubs can effectively use social media to drive success.

The world around us is getting more personal every day. There are endless options to customize your computer and cell phone with custom themes, ring tones, and even your own vacation photos. Today, our online experience has become so custom that it’s not uncommon for someone to see their social media updates, stock portfolio, fantasy football team score and recent emails all on the same screen. Businesses have translated this desire for personalization into every technical application, from ads on a webpage determined by search engine use, to emails based on past purchases. By adopting a targeted email strategy, you can easily segment your members into particular groups and take advantage of personalization to drive a stronger response to your communications.

Think about it: How many emails do you receive a day? If you’re like most people, you have a pile of messages waiting in your inbox every morning. Many of these emails are junk, filled with irrelevant information. How often are you deleting emails before you read them? Or labeling them as junk and unsubscribing from the mailing list? In all this chaos, what makes someone interrupt their workflow to view an email? Usually it’s when the email is personalized to what they enjoy. It’s about getting the right email to the right person.

There are four ways to effectively segment your membership population with a targeted email system: Using opt-in groups; analyzing your members’ spending habits; using current knowledge about members; and using database information. By tapping into these four methods, you can increase the effectiveness of each message.

Power to the People
Opt-in groups are controlled by members. By having interest areas that members check, they take the option (or “opt-in”) to join an email group. Opt-in email groups are efficient because they allow you to send emails to only the people who request them. This leads to a higher rate of opened emails, and thus more information being received and read. Your members are also less likely to filter your emails if they only see items from you that they have opted to receive.

Your web vendor should provide interactive tools which make it easy for you to grow your opt-in email lists:

•  Within a member’s profile, there should be a list of different mailing groups the member can select to receive communications from (Fig. 1). These mailing groups can be setup based on interest areas, such as golf or bridge.

•  You can also use opt-in groups to “go green” and save money on printing costs. Due to the electronic availability of your club newsletter, you may have an excess of printed copies. Create a newsletter group to allow members to opt in or out of a hard copy and cut down on unnecessary spending.

•  Members frequent webpages that interest them, thus making those pages prime locations to place your opt-in boxes. For example, add a plug-in to the golf page to allow members to sign up for “Niners” emails with a single click. (Fig. 2)

Fig. 1

Fig. 2

Money Talks

Below are a few action items you can take to derive further value from your members’ routine spending.

Review chit level details in member statements.
   — If you analyze a member’s spending habits (Fig. 3), it will become clear what they enjoy doing with their time and money. Using POS data directly, set up automatic searches for members who regularly purchase wine. Automatically add these members to your growing invite list for the upcoming wine pairing event and also take the liberty to sign them up for the wine club email.

•  Capitalize on a member’s history with the club.
   — Create email groups from past attendee lists (Fig. 4). Merge related groups to form more comprehensive groups (deleting duplicates). For example, create a master group including those who attended any of five kid-related events in the past. Advertise all future kid events to them.

Fig. 3

Fig. 4

Use What You Know

Many clubs have established groups: Board of Directors, committees and several activity based groups.

There are a couple of ways you can take advantage of your knowledge of member interests:

•  Create email groups for each committee or activity. Some of these groups, like women’s Bridge, meet every week at your club but the data in your website does not properly reflect who is participating. Train staff members to take attendance at these activities and then update your email groups accordingly.

•  Cross promote similar interest groups. For example: if a member is part of the bridge club, they may be interested in other recreational activities, such as Bingo (Fig. 5).

Fig. 5

Use What Your Database Knows
Run reports to capitalize on data that’s already stored in the member directory. These reporting tools make complex grouping easier by pulling similar information from multiple members. For example, return all members born in or before 1948 to create a group of members over 65. Remember, dynamic groups only pull what’s available: The more personal information members provide, the more possibilities you have for grouping.

•  Pull all female members to invite them to a Ladies Luncheon.

•  Return members who have a wedding anniversary or birthday that falls within the current month. Send an email inviting them to celebrate their special day at the club (Fig. 6).

Fig. 6

Now that you’ve successfully segmented your member population into appropriate email groups, it’s time to personalize the email copy.

By using snippets (similar to mail merge fields) emails can easily contain personal information such as name, dates, etc. Snippets can also be used for targeted, automated communications.

For example, you could schedule an email to be sent on the 15th of each month targeting all members with more than $200 remaining in their F&B minimum. The email could be personalized with their name as well as their exact F&B minimum balance.


Use snippets to cut through the junk mail with personalized information. Get your information to the right person by segmenting your members into distinct groups. The more focused your mailing list and copy, the more likely the reader is to focus on what you wrote and the less likely they are to block all your future communication. Do that and you’ll be the hero who increased retention and revenue simply by following a few email best practices tied to people’s innate desire for personalization.

Co-Authored by:

As a senior interactive marketing & SEO consultant, Alyssa has used her 5+ years of industry experience and technical knowledge to propel her clients to the top of the club market.

As a marketing associate in the Digital Marketing Agency, Amy enjoys taking complex technical language and transforming it into clear, engaging information.