The member experience starts with a choice and a checkmark
For associations, non-profits, and member-based groups—whose cornerstone value comes in the form of communication, content, and community—this 1:1 member communication is a must-have for marketers.
The ability for members and customers to control the content that they receive, specifically through email, is invaluable to their satisfaction and your bottom line.
Cue the Email Preference Center (EPC)—a centralized location where users manage their communication preferences and topical interests.
Robust EPCs sync data with both your digital platform and/or your association management system (AMS). This connection keeps your members' information up-to-date and lets them manage the frequency and type of emails received, versus unsubscribing from everything.
On top of that, a solid EPC can also help you optimize and display product/program ads to the right audiences through the emails they receive.
So how can EPCs keep your members at the center through content customization?
For instance, a CFO member of a manufacturing association will likely only care about a narrow scope of financial content related to managing cash flow, tracking equipment depreciation, or minimizing lost inventory value.
This CFO—let's call him CFO Charlie—is going to be underwhelmed and frankly, confused, if he gets swaths of emails outside of the topic he's focused on. Therefore, too many emails on industry updates, association news, or insights on other company functions like marketing or management will only frustrate him.
Finally, providing the option to select or deselect certain communications keeps your association in compliance with SPAM and other privacy laws. This can save you from paying hefty fines associated with email SPAM reported by your members or other recipients.
Plus, some EPCs offer frequency managers. This lets Charlie decide how often he hears from your organization which improves his experience even more.
Once Pamela becomes a member, her behavioral data isn't lost. The Email Preference Center keeps her preferences tied to her record so that you're streamlining the transition from prospect to lead to member.
In fact, your first welcome email can be focused on the content you know Pamela is interested in. You can even take it a step further and provide Pamela easy access to her now member-forward Email Preference Center, which offers up way more content than should could access as a prospect.
Whether you decide to hold that relationship in your digital platform or your AMS, you maintain the continuity of that relationship. And credibility with potentially a long-lasting member.
You might also sort categories by communication type and allow users to subscribe only to newsletters, industry reports, or calendar invites. Lastly, depending on your organizational hierarchy, you could allow your audiences to select content based on relevant sectors, industries, or job functions.
There's no one right way when it comes to how this information gets organized. The best approach however is to take the least self-serving approach. Think less about how your association organizes its programs, budget lines, and initiatives and think more about how your members are going to easily scan for and check the topics they're interested in.
- 5 to 15 main categories and sub-categories is optimal.
- For Member EPCs, default to pre-checked primary categories. Assume that, as members, they want to hear everything about your org at the onset and put the onus on them to opt-out.
- For Prospect EPCs, where there's no form of payment and no prior relationship, assume the opposite. Default to unchecked preferences at the onset unless they tell you otherwise just by way of entering your EPC.
About Nicole Crilley
Nicole is a digital strategist and content designer with 10 years of experience in email marketing automation, web design, marketing technology, user experience, and content production. With a versatile background in freelance, consulting, and corporate settings, Nicole specializes in identifying and implementing effective digital strategies.