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Conference photographers – Think like a marketer not like a photographer

chairs
Our clients hold their conferences in various cities across the country and beyond, and we hire conference photographers who are local to each event. While we try to balance budget vs. experience, and certainly check portfolios and references, we are never quite certain what we are getting until we receive access to the images after the event has ended.

The photo above is an actual image we received from the photographer hired for a conference. Truly, it is a lovely image that reflects both technical skill and compelling composition.

But, it is not what we are looking for in conference photography.

We are looking for images that can be used on our website and in communications to promote our association and future conferences. We want to see:

People
And, lots of them. We want to reflect the fact that the conference has a lot to offer, and is therefore well-attended. Showcase the filled seating in the presentation audience, heavy traffic in the aisles of the scientific poster sessions and well-attended social networking events. This might mean planning staff and board group shots for the beginning or end of a networking event, so the photographer is free to capture the networking action when attendance peaks.

And, please show our conference attendees having fun and interacting, or alternatively, engaged in learning.

Branding
The photos received from one recent conference included lots of close-ups of presenters’ faces. Really close-up. The images represent very sharp, expertly-executed photography. However, we would have preferred the inclusion of some context, such as the branded podium and the branded presentation slide projected on the screen behind the speaker.

Our conferences are all well-branded, and there is signage everywhere. For candid shots of attendees interacting in the hallways between sessions, take advantage of this and position yourself to include conference branding in your shots.

Lighting
This is one of the biggest technical challenges. Conference lighting can be tricky, with dark presentation rooms and the off-color cast of artificial light. Using a basic flash can produce harsh and unnatural results. While most professional photographers are adept at handling lighting, this is something we have learned to take a close look at when reviewing potential photographers’ portfolios.

PS. Do not worry – The photographer who took the photo featured in this post also provided ample images that more than met our needs!

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Ten top tips for content creation

content creation tip


In my role as editor of the quarterly magazine publication for one of our clients, I am responsible for sourcing and curating content. One of the enduring challenges for marketing and communications professionals is struggling to come up with enough quality content to fill their needs. Here are some of the strategies I use.

Where does the content come from?

My top five tips for filling pages with really strong, relevant and timely content:

  1. Monitor what questions and pain points are posted in industry discussion boards or communities. This can be a great source for content ideas that address what members are grappling with right now.
  2. Work with an editorial council or board. Members of an editorial council can help recommend or provide feedback on topic ideas. They also help provide a wider network from which to draw, reaching out to contacts and connections as potential authors.
  3. Pose a question or topic in your own association discussion board. Every one of your members is a potential source for both inspirational successes, as well as lessons learned the hard way. Your members are experts in their industry, so look to them for answers. They love to share what they’ve learned with their peers, either by providing ideas and suggestions that can be compiled into an article, or by submitting their own full-length article on a given topic.
  4. Ask speakers for an upcoming event to provide an article that is structured around their planned presentation. This can help to build anticipation and drive registration for your event. Alternatively, ask speakers from a recent past event if they would author an article. This helps to extend the momentum for attendees, as well as facilitates sharing useful information with members who were unable to attend.
  5. Not all your content needs to be original. It’s OK to source articles reprinted from industry experts. Our members appreciate when we can bring great content forth, helping them sort through all the mediocre information they come across each day. Just be sure to secure appropriate permission first.

And, what do we do with it now?

Really strong, relevant and timely content is awesome! But once a magazine is published, please don’t leave all that valuable content hidden away between the covers. Repurposing content from publication articles helps build social media presence and drive traffic to your website.

My top five tips for repurposing article content:

  1. Post each article, individually, to your website or blog. This is different from posting the entire publication as a .pdf file or as an online version of your magazine. Posting as text helps your SEO! At the end of your article, include links to other related content or articles for those looking for additional information on that topic.
  2. Use the information in the article to create a short video or podcast to reach additional audiences.
  3. Tease paragraphs in your e-newsletter, linking to the full article on your website.
  4. Select two or three snippets from the article and strategically post about them to Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn at set intervals, again including a link to the full article.
  5. Tag and compliment the author wherever possible. The author will receive notice, and will often like, comment on or share your post. Their connections are likely to take notice, as well, driving post engagement up.

Bonus tip: Bring your process full circle by tracking analytics to determine what content readers really respond to, and building on that for your next issue.

Please let me know if you have any other content tips of your own!

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What’s in your bag? Using video to up the entertainment value of your social presence

I like to watch Tara Hunt’s Truly Social series on YouTube. She did an episode on 5 Types of YouTube Videos Brands Should Make. It gave me pause.

One of my ongoing responsibilities here at AMPED Association Management is to produce regular publications for some of our clients. When a new issue is dropped, we announce it, with content highlights, across our various social channels, including Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn and the client’s online community.

These promotional announcements used to be text-only, and perhaps a little text-heavy. We’ve begun including an image, often of a staff member reading or presenting the new issue. We try to make sure the image is fun and engaging, and helps to put a personal face on the client association. Sometimes, we do video announcements that similarly feature a staff member presenting the publication and running through content highlights. Organic and engaging? Yes! But, the ideas in Tara’s video up the entertainment value and do so while keeping the process easy and the tone light. After watching the video, I have been thinking about different ways to apply many of these formats to benefit our clients.

One of Tara’s suggested format types, “Hauls,” reminded me of the “What’s in your bag” feature I sometimes see in magazines, where they lay out what a certain socialite is supposedly carrying around in her tote bag. I thought this might make a fun publication announcement:

The bottom line is that we want to provide content that members will find valuable, and that will cement our client’s position as an important source of information for their members. And, we want members to find our social presence entertaining. If your content is entertaining, your audience will like it, comment on it and share it. Their connections will then see it. And, they’ll all find themselves compelled to return later to see what’s new, building their personal connection to your association.

I look forward to the day when a member lets us know that they look forward to an upcoming magazine issue with anticipation, excited to see how we announce its release.

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Checklist for awesome content promotion through social reach

social mediaAs part of my responsibilities with one of our clients, I coordinate a media placement program. The program works to facilitate exposure for both our client association and its members by helping industry publications find member experts to fill specific media needs. Our client enjoys a great relationship with leading industry media groups who love to quote or otherwise feature members as industry experts.

This process of placing members in the media consists of two primary work flows. In our primary method, editors and reporters from industry media titles are looking for insights, quotes or case study information from our members on a given topic. I present the publicity opportunity in our online membership community and anyone interested can participate. Alternatively, association members have ongoing opportunities to write blog posts or recurrent columns on topics of their choosing.

It’s awesome for our members to receive mention in these publications and on the associated websites. It helps them build both name recognition and credibility with their end-user client target base. Helping to facilitate these placements and media relationships is a tremendous benefit of membership in this particular association. In addition, we do request that placements we curate mention our members as such – members of our association, so that we build name recognition and credibility as an association, as well.

This is an impactful, and growing, program. But once the placement is published, the work isn’t done. There are ways to amplify the content’s reach to maximize everyone’s exposure for their effort made.

After a member receives coverage or mention in the press, we announce the placement in our online community for members, and across all of our association social media channels. We also provide the following suggestions for members to make the most of their networks and maximize their exposure:

  • Include the media placement as a news-worthy item in an email or as one item in your regular e-newsletter, distributed to your company’s email list. Include a link to the article!
  • Add the piece, with a link to it, to your company blog or news section of your website. Make sure the content is easy for readers to promote themselves by adding social share buttons to the post.
  • Add the piece, with a link to it, to your company profile in any industry-related online communities or directories.
  • Post a link on your company’s Facebook page. Tag the people and organizations mentioned in the article.
  • Post a link to your company’s Twitter page, including:
    - A mention @reporter or @publication and @association (some will re-tweet). Include a “.” before each @mention so that the tweet will appear to everyone, not just followers.
    - Hashtags #association, #member (if you have one) and #publication.
  • Post a link to your company’s LinkedIn page. Again, tag/mention anyone else referenced in the article.
  • Post a link to these other areas in LinkedIn: company, personal, personal update, appropriate LinkedIn Groups, and LinkedIn Blog. Include a short explanation in each case. Tag/mention people and companies involved. The others you tag might like and share your update!
  • Similarly, post a link to your company’s Instagram, Google+ or any other social media accounts not yet mentioned.
  • Make an impromptu video (just using your phone or tablet will suffice) with the media placement in hand. It’s OK to show off! Show off the print magazine/issue or show the screen with the article on it. Post the video across all the channels mentioned above.
  • Consider pulling snippets (brief quotes or other poignant points and tidbits) out of the placement and pushing them out over a period of time via your social media for ongoing, refreshed promotion of the placement.
  • Encourage employees to share the news of your organization’s media coverage via their personal social media. More and more companies are doing this by establishing an employee advocacy program.

If both the featured member and our association work to promote and drive traffic to the placement on the media outlet’s website, it can help land the piece on that publication’s “Top 5” list, which, you guessed it, drives even more exposure for member and association. It’s a true win (for the member)-win (for the association)-win (for the publication)!

Please comment below: What strategies work well for you in expanding your content promotion and social reach?

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Still relevant after all these years - Happy 100th birthday to the press release

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Next month marks the 100th birthday of the press release. On October 28, 1906, more than 50 people lost their lives when one of the Pennsylvania Railroad’s new electric service trains jumped the track and plunged into Thoroughfare Creek near Atlantic City, New Jersey. The Pennsylvania Railroad was a client of Ivy Lee, a publicity expert who is largely considered to be a father of modern public relations. Concerned about the potential for bad press and negative media speculation, Lee wrote and distributed the first-ever press release on behalf of the railroad. He issued an announcement about the incident to all major newspapers, and also invited members of the press to ride a specially-designated train out to survey and document the scene for themselves. The approach was widely applauded for being open and honest. And the strategy was considered revolutionary. Not only did it facilitate journalists doing their job of providing accurate reporting, but it helped put rumors to rest, shoring up the brand and its side of the story.

Some may argue that the press release’s time has come and gone. But, here at AMPED, we have been successfully growing the media presence of our clients in industry publications, and a key component of our strategy revolves around using press releases. They remain a great way to spread the word out about our clients, while building their credibility and branding. While no longer considered even remotely revolutionary, press releases have certainly come a long way since Ivy Lee’s time.

I have compiled ideas below to help you maximize your time and effort put into using press releases.

Writing and preparation
Today, the content of a press release is often published as it is written, especially online, so write as if you are preparing an article for your target reader’s direct consumption. Focus more on the story and less on the accomplishments and accolades. Include photos, video, infographs and other assets that will help media outlets convey your story.

Consider how your press release fits into your sales process cycle. Every press release should include a call to action. Let readers know what you want them to do.

Finally, make sure your press release is optimized for SEO by including key words and using text links back to relevant web pages.

Distribution
Use this opportunity to develop and strengthen your relationship with your industry publication contacts. Rather than sending a blanket communication to your entire contact list, send it out individually, communicating why your story matters to the audience they serve, asking if they will consider featuring your content and exploring how you might continue to work together in the future.

Finally, don’t forget about social media. Repurpose key nuggets from your press release into sharable social media content. And, certainly, amplify the effects of any resulting media coverage by promoting it through all your social media channels.

Just this morning, a colleague shared that she had received two requests for additional information from media who received a press release from us last week. The press release is not dead, but the times have changed.

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Achieve association goals using LinkedIn

LinkedIn Goals


People use LinkedIn for some of the same reasons they join associations — for professional development and to connect with colleagues. This makes LinkedIn a great tool for associations! It provides an opportunity to both expand and add value to membership through increased brand awareness, engaging with members and reaching potential new members.

Business profile
LinkedIn users can learn more about your association by viewing your business profile. They can choose to follow you, so that they receive email notices when you post updates to your profile. I did some research on this, and came up with this list of suggestions to really showcase your association through your business profile:

  • Make a strong first impression by making sure your business profile information is complete and includes your web address. Include your logo and an enticing background photo.
  • Provide more in-depth information for those interested in learning more. One way to do this is to create a separate page on your profile for each member benefit you offer. Include member testimonials on these pages for each service.
  • Upload your member contact emails into LinkedIn, and then use LinkedIn to send out emails inviting them to connect with and follow your business profile, and to join your discussion group (more info on discussion groups is provided below).
  • Use LinkedIn’s advanced search function to identify potential new members, and invite them to connect, follow and join.
    Keep all your followers interested and engaged by posting frequent updates about your association and your industry. Include both your own content — such as blog posts — and curated content.

Discussion group
Cultivate a sense of community among your target members, by starting a discussion group around your industry or specific topic of interest. It's generally recommended that you keep topics here general in nature, rather than centering the group around your association exclusively. When setting up your group, use industry key words in your group name and description, and consider making your group open (not by invitation only), but subject to group manager approval. Here are some additional suggestions for maximizing engagement within your discussion group:

  • Invite all staff, members and industry leaders to join, and engage with, your discussion group community. All group members will then have your group logo and a link to your group on their LinkedIn profile.
  • Consider setting up a separate page on your website for the discussion group, to give the group additional visibility. Similarly, consider setting up a Facebook page or group and invite members of each network to join the other.
  • Add discussion starters regularly, trying to focus on group members’ needs and concerns. You can mark a particularly strong or relevant discussion as featured, to pin it to the top of the group feed for a period of time.
  • Join other related and relevant discussion groups to connect with potential new members. Interact with contributors in those groups, and start posting valuable thoughts or shared articles. Once you establish yourself, begin sharing announcements from your association, too, such as for upcoming events. This encourages members of those groups to become involved with yours, as well.
  • Auto-send an email to new group members. Welcome new members and encourage them to begin participating by selecting your Manage button, then Templates on the left.
  • You can, and should, email your discussion group members regularly using the Send Announcement option. Consider offering free content from your association, cultivating potential new members. Announcements will also get added as a discussion thread for your group.
  • Over time, you will be able to identify strong contributors within your discussion group. Perhaps your next search for an extraordinary board member or keynote speaker might begin and end in your LinkedIn discussion group!

As you continue to build and leverage your presence on LinkedIn, cross promote both your profile and discussion group wherever possible, including on your website, in your newsletter and on your staff business cards. Likewise, every time you host a webinar or attend a conference, be sure to put out notice, both on your profile and in your group, that you will be in attendance, as well as invite everyone you meet to join you on LinkedIn.

Building a valuable LinkedIn presence may take some time, but in the end you will reap a more robust association through increased membership growth and higher member engagement.

 

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Employee social media advocacy: Tapping the marketing potential of the advocates within

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I recently attended a Social Media Breakfast (#SMBMAD) presentation by two members of American Family Insurance’s innovative social media department on the topic of employee advocacy. They were very clear that organic social media reach for companies is dead, and that employees can play a role in counteracting this.

 This post includes both information from that presentation and incorporates supplemental information from additional research.

What is employee social media advocacy?
Employee advocacy, in social media terms, refers to amplifying your organization’s marketing messages by leveraging the social media influence of your employees. This is done by making it easy for your employees to share company messages with their personal social networks.

An on-point employee advocacy program has three key components:
• It delivers relevant messages to your target audience, providing value to them.
• It supports your brand and enhances your culture as an organization.
• It generates share-worthy content, so your employees are inspired to share it with their family and friends.

Why do it?
No one likes to see their social feeds filled with sponsored content, no matter how relevant the algorithm predicts it should be. Let’s face it. Organizations are tolerated on social media just because they help keep networks free for others. As it is, social media channels are making participation more and more difficult for organizations unless they pay to play.

One quote from the American Family’s presentation, attributed to Augie Ray, CX research director at Gartner, was, “Your brand is disappearing from consumers’ news feeds, but friends will always see content from the people they know, care and trust.”

In other words, employees can help provide your branding messages with:

Reach
Employees have the potential to greatly expand a brand’s reach on social media. And the math is simple. Consider how many fans your organization’s Facebook page has. Now consider your employees and add together how many friends they each have, individually. I bet the result is quite a bit higher than your brand alone. In the presentation, it was stated the average is 10x higher, and 90% of employees’ social contacts will be new to your brand!

Trustworthiness and authenticity
People are trusted more than companies, and personal accounts are not filtered by social networks the same way that corporate messages increasingly are.

Sounds good, doesn’t it? Here’s how to start:

Designate a leader
This person coordinates the different components of the program, provides information and training, clarifies guidelines, answers questions and collects feedback from participants, as well as external data.

Set up a system for measuring results
You can only manage what you measure, so start out by deciding what your reasons are for establishing an advocacy program and set measurable goals. Examples might include organic reach, a shift in target demographics, web traffic or sales.

Establish a social media policy
Be sure everyone understands the guidelines, and that they are reminded of them periodically.

Create a social media warehouse
This should include a wide variety of articles, video clips, infographs, photos and other images for employees to choose from. You don't want everyone sharing the same exact thing at the same time, or your efforts will seem canned and disingenuous.

Consider employees’ social media motivations
Consider that many employees want to find fulfillment in their work and want their contributions to make a difference in the world. Your employees will want to share that which makes them proud. Think sustainable environmental practices at the workplace, volunteering in the community or teams working on the organization’s latest project. Similarly, when an organization’s social content recognizes team members, colleagues will naturally want to share.

Feel free to recycle content
Recycling and repurposing content that’s already been created and even previously used can be really powerful, especially if it was well-received in prior iterations. Plus heck, it’s already available, and what could be easier than that?

Start small
Begin by training (and periodically retraining) a core group of employees who are already socially active and who appreciate and relate to the culture of the organization. And keep participation strictly voluntary.

Create a social work environment
It should not only be OK for employees to share on social media, but it should be encouraged, and even fun, to do so. Consider gamification, creating a leaderboard and mini-competitions. American Family encourages the use of #OneAmFam to help cultivate their engaging social culture.

Comply with full disclosure
Employees should indicate in content they share that they are employees of your organization. This may sound like a surefire way to kill all the fun, but American Family keeps it both transparent and light by using #iWork4AmFam. As a matter of fact, the tool they use to facilitate and automate their advocacy program automatically tacks this on to all employee posts.

Try out tools of the trade
There are a number of online tools that help facilitate the organization, scheduling and posting of content. Some are free or very inexpensive. Some companies, like American Family, use comprehensive customized tools.

Appreciate employee efforts
Show advocates that their participation matters, that what they’re doing is having an impact and is appreciated.

There are additional perks for your organization, too:
Aside from the obvious, increased social media exposure, employee advocacy programs can demonstrate your trust in employees. Advocacy programs improve internal communications between team members and management. Employees can derive deeper meaning and purpose in their work through exposure to great content and actively owning and sharing it. All of this helps employees develop a sense of ownership in the organization

On top of all that, employee advocacy programs can boost the bottom line. According to the National Business Research Institute, a 12% increase in brand advocacy generates a 2x increase in revenue growth. It has also been found that socially engaged companies are 57% more likely to get more sales leads. All this using a tool you already have — Employees!

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'Cater to Goldfish' and other words of advice for making your eblasts more reader-friendly

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I recently redesigned the monthly e-mail newsletter of one of our clients to be mobile-compatible, and am preparing to do so for another. Why? Well, according to email testing and analytics company Litmus, email open behavior has changed dramatically over the past four years. Between 2011 and 2014, the percentage of emails opened on mobile devices, such as smartphones and tablets, increased from eight percent to about 50 percent. This represents 500% growth! That is a huge shift in behavior.

Managing email is one of the functions most commonly performed on mobile devices. When users encounter email that is not mobile friendly, they get frustrated and frequently delete it without reading, and may not even open future emails from you. This can kill your open and click-through rates, when what you really need is for your reader to open, read and find value in your email content. Optimizing email to facilitate an enjoyable and engaging experience on mobile devices has become crucial.

Here are six tips to keep in mind when designing email for mobile:

Provide a sneak-peek
Pre-header text provides a preview of the first few words of the email either behind or below the subject line that is visible on most mobile devices without opening the email. This allows the recipient to scan his emails and helps in deciding whether or not to open them. Intriguing pre-header text can spark higher open rates.

One size should fit all
Use a responsive or flexible design. Responsive means that the content automatically adjusts to fill the screen space available, be it a mobile device or a desktop unit. This is easily done by using a responsive or mobile-friendly template provided by third-party email services.

Eliminate scrolling around
Use a narrow (480 pixels), single column design. Multiple columns can be difficult to read for mobile users, especially if they have to scroll around to view all the information. Make sure you use a font size that is large enough that your reader doesn’t have to zoom in by pinching in and spread out in order to read your content.

Cater to goldfish (hint: they have short attention spans)
A study by the National Center for Biotechnology Information showed that people have an attention span of 8 seconds, which is 1 second less than that of a goldfish. Keep your content short, relevant and easy to follow. Use headings and bullets to break up large blocks of text. Readers “on the go” will be more likely to read content that’s brief and can be absorbed at a glance.

Let fingers do the walking
Make sure any buttons and links are easy to tap on a mobile touch screen. Make sure they are large enough, and don’t place links too close to each other. Keep in mind that users often hold their devise in one hand, with the thumb doing all the navigation. If you use a menu bar, keep the number of navigational links to a minimum.

Make it worth a thousand words
Images can be great for adding visual interest. But using too many or using large images can exasperate users with lengthy download times. Also, many mobile devices have automatic display of images turned off by default, leaving blank areas in the message. Use ALT text for any image you do use to provide context when images are blocked.

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5 ways to use social media to increase member engagement

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Many associations use social media marketing to post content to various platforms as a means for getting their message out to as wide an audience as possible. As one website, todaymade.com, put it, “social media is about dialogue, not push marketing.” That would be the social part of social media. And, we as humans are social beings. Imagine who you would rather spend time with—someone who talks on and on about themselves without letting you get a word in edgewise, or someone who asks you about how you are doing, wonders what your opinions are and genuinely seems to care more about you personally than about impressing you.

Not too long ago, I attended a lunchtime talk by the social media team at American Family Insurance. The speakers were pretty delighted with Twitter as an ideal platform for interacting and building engagement with their target audience. I got to see their words put into action. As the program was beginning, I tweeted that I was looking forward to attending the program. Within minutes, American Family had favorited my tweet, and tweeted @me that they hoped I find the program helpful. Later that afternoon, one of the speakers tweeted @me, thanking me for attending. Now, that’s some really attentive engagement.

Here are 5 ways associations can use social media to engage members:

  1. Tweet a welcome message @new_members when they join your association and congratulatory messages @members who achieve successes or milestones.
  2. Design posts for engagement by using compelling visuals or humor, something to evoke an emotional response.
  3. Thank people for “liking” and “sharing” your content.
  4. Allow for commenting on blog posts, and respond in a timely manner to comments on your blog, FaceBook and Twitter posts, even if just to say thank you for the comment.
  5. Encourage the use of a brand hashtag by promoting it in all related internet and print marketing.

Another example demonstrating the power of engagement took place at the annual conference of one of our clients. We had a first-time exhibitor who became a super-user of the conference’s mobile app. Beginning before the conference even began, he was posting photos and status updates frequently, commenting on the photos and updates of others, and messaging with staff and registrants. Although he had never before met anyone in attendance, participants knew who he was and many already felt connected to him. Needless to say, by the time he hosted his booth in the exhibition hall, he had built relationships and he experienced a steady flow of prospects stopping by to talk with him.

Social media marketing is valuable because it facilitates engagement. Engagement is important because that interaction strengthens members’ understanding of, relationship with, and trust in your association.

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The cockroach of internet marketing—Tips for getting the most from that old standby, the email newsletter

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With all the new platforms emerging as the latest and greatest new marketing channel, email strikes many as old-fashioned. Other digital venues such as social media and mobile marketing may be stealing the spotlight, but email continues to grow, as well.

One reason email is so effective is because it provides a more personal connection than other digital strategies. It takes the conversation about your association out of the public domain, off your website or social media channels, for example, and into a very personal space — the in-box.

According to Jason Hirschhorn, chief executive of the digital curator ReDef, email is a "great place to get in front of people who are interested in what you have to say. Email is a 40-year-old technology that is not going away for very good reasons — it’s the cockroach of the Internet.”

News on the web or delivered via social media channels can too easily get buried in news feeds and lost in continual scrolling. A message delivered via email remains in the in-box until some action is taken. We hope that action is to open eagerly and read the content with interest, clicking links to our website for further information and even sharing information contained in the message with friends and colleagues. Unfortunately, this is not always what happens.

Associations send regular newsletters as a benefit of membership, to keep members informed of association activity that may be of interest to them, as well as provide supplementary news and context that is relevant to them.

Members already have a natural connection to and interest in an association’s newsletter content. However, everyone’s inbox is overflowing. So, how do you set your message above the others to ensure it gets read?

Write effective subject lines so recipients open your messages. Many email services recommend against subject lines such as “Monthly Newsletter.” They suggest using this space to tease your top news. However, if readers know that your newsletter contains lots of relevant information that is of interest to them, that monthly newsletter may catch their eye right away.
Also, research shows that shorter subject lines, of fewer than 30-35 characters, result in higher open rates. Try different approaches and track your results to see what works best with your readers.

Write effective and creative headlines and subheadings. Your newsletter should be easy to navigate at a glance. Cater to skimmers (like me).

Consider how your message looks with images disabled. Because most people read email either on a device or by viewing it in their email’s preview screen, they won’t have images enabled. Design your newsletter to look professional even with blank boxes inserted where images should be. Images should not occupy overly large areas, especially near the top, and text should wrap neatly around those graphics.

All your images should also include “alt text,” which is the alternative text that appears when images aren’t loaded in an email. This can be done easily when using an email newsletter service such as Constant Contact.

Please also note that because use of email preview screens allows readers to read and review email without actually opening it, your readership may actually be quite a bit higher than your stated open rate.

Test. Your last step before publishing your newsletter should always be to send it to yourself as a test. Make sure it renders correctly, and check all links.

As with your friendly neighborhood cockroach, which has survived millions of years, through ice ages and nuclear war, email has demonstrated its staying power. Use the newer social marketing channels in conjunction with email, and the two can complement and strengthen each other. Encourage your readers to share your content by including social sharing buttons for key articles within your newsletter. And, including social follow buttons in your newsletter allows readers to easily follow you on those channels. Experiment to find a strong balance, and don’t give up your association’s monthly e-newsletter just yet.

Sources:
www.nonprofitmarketingguide.com/resources/email-newsletters/nonprofit-email-newsletters
www.nytimes.com/2014/06/30/business/media/for-email-a-death-greatly-exaggerated.html?_r=1
http://blog.hubspot.com/marketing/guide-creating-email-newsletters-ht

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