Six Tips for Managing Your Association’s Email List

Six Tips for Managing Your Association’s Email List

Your association’s email list can be the key to promoting events, communicating with members, and soliciting donations. But without some strategy and organization in place, collecting emails will just be a waste of time. Follow these six tips for better association email management.

Set a Goal for Email Collection

Before you start amassing a list of contacts, you need to decide why you’re collecting emails in the first place. You might have several goals, such as:

  • Promoting events and conferences
  • Signing up new members
  • Enrolling people in training
  • Selling publications or other merchandise
  • Soliciting charitable donations
  • Your ultimate goal will determine where you place signup fields, how you segment your list, and how you cull names periodically.
  • Make Sure Signing Up Is Easy


If people have to hunt around looking for a way to sign up for your email list, they’ll get frustrated and give up. Therefore, it’s essential that you make it easy for folks to leave their details:

  1. Place email capture bars or gateways in multiple locations on your website. Your homepage should definitely have one, as well as relevant pages inside the site.
  2. Limit the number of fields you ask people to fill out; you can always collect more information later, such as during a double opt-in process (see below).
  3. Let parties know what they’ve signed up for, especially if you have more than one email list.
  4. Consider placing links to signup captures in places other than your website, such as when a member teaches a class, your YouTube channel, etc.

Build a Healthy, Organic Contact List

The more specifically you can place your email captures, the more likely you are to attract people who really want to receive your emails. Most of the time, you don’t want to be buying lists but building them organically on your own. The rule of thumb is it’s always better to have a small list of people who really engage with you than a huge list of people who ignore your correspondence.

One way to increase the health of your list is to use a double opt-in process. This means rather than simply sending a welcome email once someone signs up, you instead ask them to confirm their signup. You can also ask about email preferences, like what kind of news they want to receive from you, so they feel like they’re getting a customized approach and you aren’t wasting time.

Segment Lists

Most associations will want to segment their lists, dividing contacts into categories. Your contacts won’t get every email you send, just the ones that are relevant for their preferences. You can segment any way you like, whether by demographics (subscriber-based filter), engagement, or offerings (activity-based filter).

Use tags on your list to denote which people get which emails. This way, when a recipient gets an email from you, they’re more likely to open it because they haven’t already been bombarded by irrelevant content. You definitely want to do this if you are operating a nurture campaign that’s more sales oriented. Email recipients will fall into different steps of the nurture process, so you want to make sure they get the right copy.

Analyze Results

Of course, you need to analyze results as you go to see what’s been effective and what needs to change. Things you may want to monitor include:

  • Bounce and delivery rates
  • Open rates
  • Unsubscribes (make sure people have a way to do this)
  • Click-throughs
  • Replies
  • Conversions (event sales, member signups, etc.)

To test different email campaigns you’re thinking of running, you can do an A and B trial with a smaller audience to see what the response is.

Clean Up Lists Regularly

Don’t let your email list become the equivalent of a kitchen junk drawer. You need to clean it up regularly to keep it effective. Get rid of any bounces or duplicates right away.

Next, decide how long you want to keep emailing people who don’t open emails or engage in some way before you delete them from the list. You might send an inquiry asking if they still want to remain on your list or warning them this is their last email from you. It’s worth repeating that a small quality, active list is always better than a large one that goes nowhere.

Has managing your association’s email list become too daunting? Jaffe Management can assist with that. In addition to meeting planning and membership, we specialize in email management. Let us help you make the most of your mail list, so you and your members are both served by your correspondence.