In the first part of this “Engaging Members” series, we we looked at why associations are seeing their “organic reach” on Facebook drop so dramatically. Simply put, Facebook wants businesses and organizations to pay for advertising. In the second part, we examined one of the best alternatives for associations that lack the big advertising budgets of corporate brands: Email marketing.

It’s an “old school” tool with a lot of life left in it! But few associations have tapped all the opportunities that email marketing offers. So today, as we wrap up the “Engaging Members” series, we present five techniques that could move your email marketing efforts into the fast lane:

Don’t be a stranger: Personalized emails always outperform communications that are not personalized. An obvious example is using the member’s first name. But in a recent survey of more than 5,000 subject lines, Informz also found good results with personalized company names, chapter names and geographic data. The subject line “Your membership has an expiration date of ‘Expire Date’” had a 52 percent open rate, well above the benchmark average of 35 percent.

Or how about using the details of the last event a member attended to encourage her to RSVP for another one?

Make subject line testing part of your regular routine: By doing A/B tests regularly, and not just for special occasions, you can figure out what really works with your members. Do they like plays on words? Lots of capital letters? Short subject lines? Long subject lines? Depending on your membership, you can even test out an emoji!

Consider adopting automation: Keep in touch with your members “automatically” when they join the organization – in fact, consider a series of emails that could introduce them to all the benefits your association has to offer. Create a win-back campaign aimed at former members. Suggest some new CE offerings for members who have recently taken a CE course. Or, in the vein of e-commerce providers that email when you abandon your shopping cart mid-purchase, create a trigger email that would encourage members who might start to sign up for an event or meeting without finishing the process.

Think about mobile at the very start: The emails your association sends out are most likely mobile-friendly. (If not, they should be!) But if you find that a segment of your readers are consistently opening up emails from you on their smartphones instead of a desktop, think about tailoring the content you offer those members to be easy to read and interact with.

Don’t forget the design: AssociationsNow addressed this issue in a popular post in November entitled “The State of Email Design Stinks.” If your email isn’t pleasant to the eye and easy to digest, members could start to ignore it. Think about investing money in the creation of a few custom, flexible templates that your association can use for its various email marketing needs.

As your association continues to build and strengthen the important relationships with your members, email marketing should be an important part of your strategic plan.