Email List Management Strategies for Associations

Email List Management Strategies for Associations

Your email list is a key way to maintain relationships with members, prospective members, and others important to your association. Here are eight expert tips to help you manage association email lists more effectively.

Decide on the Purpose of Your List Before You Start Collecting Addresses

In an ideal world, you want to figure out why you’re collecting emails in the first place before you start strategizing about their management. For most associations and nonprofits, emails are a way to recruit new members, keep in touch with existing members, and invite people to events. Deciding on the purpose of your email list will help later when it comes to segmentation.

Find the Email Service That’s Best for Your Organization

These days one of the biggest headaches of working with emails has been taken off your plate with free or low-cost services that handle automated tasks that used to require manual performance. Switching horses midstream isn’t impossible, but it’s a bit of a pain, so try to find an email service at the start that you can stick with as your association grows and changes. Some popular options include:

  • Mailchimp
  • ConvertKit
  • HubSpot
  • Constant Contact
  • ZeroBounce
  • Paperform
  • ActiveCampaign


Make Capturing Email Addresses Easier

How do you obtain addresses for your email list? People will probably sign up at conferences and trade shows, but the lowest-hanging fruit are the visitors to your website. Therefore, you should place email capture bars in the most trafficked areas of your site urging people to subscribe. You can increase captures by offering something free in return, like a downloadable ebook or tip sheet.

Confirm Opt-In First

Once someone subscribes, be sure to verify their email address using what’s known as the double opt-in process. This helps ensure you’re getting real people on your list and not bots or scammers.

Also, be sure to have an opt-out process. This is usually an “unsubscribe” link at the bottom of every piece of communication.

Create a Welcome Sequence

Set up a couple of emails that all new subscribers receive when they first sign up. Tell them what they can expect by giving up their email address, or even better, ask them what they’d like. Do they want notification of everything you publish, or do they perhaps only want news about events? How often would they prefer to be contacted?

Segment Your List to Make It More Useful

Most associations find one giant list too cumbersome and not particularly helpful. Instead, they create different tracks or segments based on what the subscriber wants and where they are in your version of a sales funnel. Segmentation allows for greater email personalization and results in a higher open rate.

Are they just exploring associations in your field or are they ready to pull the trigger on membership? You might want separate lists for your blogs, events, and members, as well as lists for guest speakers and thought leaders. Some organizations separate email addresses by demographics that are important to their operation.

Clean Up Your List Periodically

Over time, your list will become cluttered with outdated information, as people change jobs, retire, etc. So, your email list will need regular “hygiene” sweeps to keep it as up to date as possible. You will have to go through it at intervals and take care of:

  • Remove or re-engage “dead” subscribers who haven’t opened an email in a certain period of time, like 90 days – you can either cut them from the list or try to reach out to them again
  • Eliminate duplicate addresses
  • Fix or remove addresses with typos
  • Update invalid addresses or get rid of them


If you find yourselves with an inordinately high amount of inactive subscribers or useless email addresses, you can conduct an email update campaign. At your meetings and on your website, remind folks to double check that you have the right email address for them. If they haven’t heard from you in a while, it’s time for an update. (You might be able to combine this with a credit/debit card update reminder if you have a lot of autopay options.)

Enlist Professional Help If Managing Your Email List Feels Overwhelming

We get it — managing an association email list can seem like a sisyphean job on top of everything else you do. That’s why Jaffe Management is here to help with expert email list management, in addition to our many other services. Reach out to let us know how we can help you with email and administrative tasks, so you can focus on more important associations functions.