3 Ways Subscription Emails Optimize Association Membership

When you’re a part of the management team for an association, you’re working hard to cultivate an environment to actively engage your members. 

Associations laboriously provide their members with memorable experiences and unique opportunities for growth. From conferences with professional speakers to educational courses members can take advantage of joining your association is a way for individuals to widen their professional network as well as gain invaluable knowledge. 

What are the strategies your team can implement to optimize your association’s membership? Let’s talk about email. Email subscription is a pretty old concept and there is a false, (but fairly common) perception that email marketing has become outdated. However, it’s still one of the most effective and direct forms of marketing today.

There are ways your team can leverage your email communications with subscription lists to further expand and improve your association’s membership. 

Your team probably already depends on software to aid with the day-to-day practices of association management. Additionally, with the help of certain tools, you can use your email subscription list in smart ways and communicate in more targeted streams. That’s why you have to be careful when choosing your association management software; it could mean the difference between generating valuable insights to improve your communication strategies and wasting a lot of time and money for a tool.

This guide will walk you through how certain management tools can actually elevate your subscription emails to offer more value than simply sharing a monthly update on your association. Certain software solutions will help your association’s team:

  1. Start the conversation and attract new members.
  2. Provide important association updates.
  3. Save time with automated “trigger” emails.

While subscription emails are a pretty simple concept, it’s always useful to go over your processes and tools to see if there are any areas of opportunity and growth. Let’s get started!

1. Start the conversation and attract new members

It’s exciting every time your association gets a new member. A new member means another person who can grow from others around them while also sharing their own experience and knowledge, as well. The larger your association’s network, the stronger it is and the more value it can offer its members. 

One of the most effective ways to attract new members to your association is to invite people to join your subscription list. Being a part of an email subscription list is a great way to get general information about something, especially because it is usually free. Your association is already considered a thought leader in its space, so subscription emails as a free newsletter is a good way to engage with those in the same space as they can learn more about your association and get excited.

How can you leverage subscription emails to bring in eager and passionate new members? Here are some general guidelines to get you started:

  • Embed your subscription email box into your association’s website. If somebody is already on your website and perusing your blog posts to get information on your association, it’s likely that they might want to engage even further and become a member. This provides an easy way for people to add themselves to your list without having to leave your site. Find management software that can help you create your website as well.
  • Make sure your emails are informative with general but helpful information. These emails should be a gateway for those who are interested but not yet members to learn a little bit more about your association. Send emails regarding exciting new events to showcase what your association can offer. Include testimonials from current members so that they have an opportunity to explain why your association is great.
  • Provide ways for nonmember subscribers to inquire further. To ensure that your subscribers might just decide to become members, include contact details and registration information at the bottom of each of your subscription emails. This way you give them the option to ask questions if they’re interested and then eventually make the move to becoming an official member. 

Be wary of asking people to join your subscription list in too obvious ways. Some might think you’re trying too hard or acting too much like an advertisement. Start with something small and embed your subscription email form directly into your website or into your association’s social media profiles

2. Provide important association updates

People join subscription lists because they want to get continuous and consistent information about a particular source, whether it’s a clothing store they frequent or an association they are a part of. Your association’s membership management tool should have wide email marketing capabilities, as communications is a vital part of how your members stay engaged and get updated on important news. Your members shouldn’t be clueless as to what’s going on, and they’ll appreciate the transparency as well.

However, there’s a fine line between overwhelming your subscribers and providing a good amount of helpful information. What should your subscription emails include? 

  • New events and their details. Your association will be launching a variety of events throughout the year, so make sure to let your subscribers know about them. After all, these are the people who will most want to attend them. 
  • Changes to an event. You never know when a speaker might not be able to make it or a venue will get overbooked. Quickly let your members know of any changes to an event so that everyone is on the same page.
  • Changes to policy and guidelines. Being a part of an association means adhering to the rules that the association has in place. Whether you have to attend a certain number of events or pay your dues each month, make sure to let your members know if you decide to switch something up.
  • Announcing exciting updates. Your association is going to hit some big milestones. Whether you passed the record for most attendees at an event or raised an incredible amount of money through a fundraiser, your subscribers want to know the positive outcomes of being a part of your association. 

As you can see, an effective communication tool is essential for association leaders and staff. Emails are going to be a major way you engage with your association’s members, so make sure you are sending them relevant and actually useful information.

3. Save time with automated “trigger” emails 

Automated “trigger” emails are messages sent to a particular group of people in your subscription lists that provide important information based on a “trigger” that goes off. For example, if an association member forgets to pay their dues that month, a “trigger” email will be sent, reminding them. This isn’t exactly the same thing as subscription emails, but your association management software should have marketing automation capabilities as well.

Find an association management tool that can handle automated emails and segment your subscribers into different groups based on certain “triggers” that they make. Not only does this allow you to organize your communications and individualize your marketing to be more personal, but it helps provide more specific data-driven insights. 

For example, you can figure out how many members begin to sign up for an event but never actually finish the registration process. This data-driven fact can clue your team into the fact that maybe your registration form is too long or tends to malfunction. 

What are the types of automated “trigger” emails your association should be keeping track of? Here are some examples:

  • Dues reminder. Let members know when it’s close to them having to submit their membership dues. Most people who continuously forget are glad to have the reminder. 
  • Late dues. If a member forgets to pay their membership dues, automate an email to let them know.
  • Payment confirmation emails. People want to know that their payments go through in a secure and efficient manner. Soothe their worries and automate your email tool to let members know when their payment has been received.
  • When a member fails to complete a form. Some tools will know when someone has begun to register or starts a process but doesn’t finish. Send an email to remind them of the benefits of registering.
  • Periods of long inactivity. If a member hasn’t come to an event in a while or hasn’t engaged with your software for a certain period of time, an automated email asking them why they’ve been inactive and reminding them of upcoming events can be useful. Maybe they have a concern they weren’t voicing or just got a little busy but would still like to know what is coming up.

Automated “trigger” emails don’t only help your association’s members’ lives by sending more specific targeted messages, but it also helps your staff’s lives as well. Don’t bog down their day by making them send email after email every time a member pays their dues. There’s no reason today to not be using automated email tools to handle those tedious tasks, so find an association management tool that can help you.


Every association will have an email subscription list if they have a large membership. Learn how you can leverage your association’s communications and start using subscription emails to attract new members as well as improve the experiences of your current members. Good luck!

Onward & Upward,

Sender.net Team


Contributed by Jake Fabbri. Jake Fabbri is the Vice President of Marketing at Fonteva with over 18 years of experience working in marketing management. He has experience with lead generation, content marketing, marketing automation, and events.