So where does that leave nonprofits that want to better engage their members but lack the big advertising budgets of corporate brands?

One of the best alternatives is something associations have been doing for so long that it’s become like a favorite pair of sweatpants: Comfortable, reliable, but certainly not exciting.

That something is email marketing, which is consistently shown to outperform “sexier” options like social media and display advertising.

Here are some stats to back that up:

  • Email is nearly 40 times more effective at acquiring new customers than Facebook or Twitter combined, according to this study from McKinsey & Company
  • Email reaches its intended recipient 90 percent of the time, compared to about 2 percent for Facebook posts
  • Facebook has more than 1 billion users, Twitter about 255 million users. There are nearly 4 billion active email accounts.
  • A survey by Informz of more than 1,300 large and mid-size associations who used the company’s marketing platform found open rates in the United States averaged about 34 percent with click-through rates of about 15 percent.
  • Email conversion rates are three times higher than social media, with a 17 percent higher value in the version, according to McKinsey & Company.

Even though it feels like email marketing has been around forever, more sophisticated techniques and tools allow for more specific targeting than a decade ago, along with the potential to mine a lot of valuable data.

Here are just a small number of the things that associations can use email marketing to accomplish:

  • Promote events and continuing education opportunities
  • Increase membership renewal rates
  • Welcome new members with information, tips and resources
  • Share industry news and positions taken by the association
  • Create a regular digital newsletter to replace or enhance your print products
  • Direct traffic back to your website
  • Strengthen relationships with members

OK. So this “old school” tool seemingly has a lot of life in it. But few associations have tapped all the opportunities that email marketing offers. Those opportunities are what we’ll take a look at in Part 3 of the “Engaging Members” series, so stay tuned!