An email list is a valuable tool for any business or organization. At the chamber we can use this as a promotional tool which can help entice or retain memberships, but the flipside is that many people expect me to email everyone on my list every time they have something they want to promote. And that’s not okay with me.
I know some don’t understand my hesitation.
Well, people are on my list to hear from me – not 300 other people. A poorly designed email from a business/member to my list could/has cause(d) people to unsubscribe. 😲
Plus, no matter how many emails I do or don’t send, someone always complains that they get too many chamber emails. So while I obviously still email them, I reduced the amount of emails I send out by cutting back our eNewsletter to 2x a month, reducing the number event reminders, and creating limitations for member emails blasts.
eBlast Restrictions & Practices
For me, and eBlast is a mass email I send out on behalf of a chamber member. To reduce the amount of requests I receive for these, while still supporting my members needs, I put a few restrictions on them:
- There is only 1 eBlast per week available (Yes – 52 slots per year means not every member will get one, but not everyone needs/wants one.)
- Outlining first-come, first-served: I will not reserve a spot with receiving the content they want included (text, photos). This freed up several spaces from people that mean well, but don’t follow through.
- Content/requests are only accepted at least two weeks in advance. “Poor planning on their part does not constitute an emergency for me.” I follow a flexible calendar, but I will not unnecessarily “fly by the seat of my pants.”
- To reduce accidental unsubscribes, I clearly label eBlasts as such so the receiver instantly knows it is from us on behalf of a local business.
I still get members that are surprised I won’t email every piece of news they have, so I’ve crafted a consistent response:
Honestly, I doubt you want me to send you 15 emails a week. Member eBlasts are limited to ensure I don’t overwhelm your inbox and so that open rates remain as high as possible. That means more people will open and read the one email that I do send for you.
The more that I stick to these rules the less requests I get – and the requests that do follow through are more thoughtful.
Additional Options for Members
Some businesses have better or bigger marketing departments that actually do have more to say. In addition to their one eBlast a year, I offer:
- Paid ad included in eNewsletter (charging any amount greatly reduced the amount of staff time for this)
- Remind them to login in to the chamber website and add any News Releases (we have Chamber Master). I remind them the benefits of our website, and I include these in 1 eNewsletter at no charge.
- Other non-email marketing opportunities, like Facebook, etc.
Recommended: Chamber eNewsletter Examples
Most of my members appreciate my explanations, and the options I have created for them.
And if they don’t?
Well, we’re a chamber of commerce – not an advertising agency.
Other Thoughts on Mass Emails
“Do you charge for eBlasts?”
Personally, I don’t. If the amount of requests becomes too much and I run out of slots, then I will. A lot of my members appreciate our built-in marketing opportunities, but that may not work for you, and that’s okay.
There are several chambers that do successfully charge for this. If a member questions it, you might could say something like:
We keep the price of membership low by offering a la carte options, instead of increasing membership rates universally.
No, You Can’t Have My Email List
Hopefully you know you legally should not give out your email list.
I once had a random guy walk in, ask about the price of membership, and then ask how soon he could have a copy of our email list. When I told him we don’t give it out to anyone, He said “Well, then what’s the point of joining?!” and left.
Uh, good riddance.
I have no idea who that guy was, but I know I do not want him as a chamber member. Yes, I had offered him solutions (like the member eBlast), but his insistence on the list of emails made him super sketchy.
I do require that members provide the whole content that they want and I insert it into a chamber-branded email template. Sure, I may make a few edits if necessary, but I expect them to do the work or actually pay someone to do it.
If they insist on having me do it, I offer to create their content for a fee. The minimum of this fee is at least my hourly wage times two and rounded up (paid to the chamber), because not only am I working for them, but the chamber is losing an hour. If I really don’t want to do it I charge a higher price. So far my range has varied from $50 – $200.
Note: Rates vary by type of work, but are the same member to member. I’m not charging people I don’t like more.😒
Okay, I got a bit carried away, so here’s my take-aways:
- Having set limitations or rules will help you.
- Members will better respect your time
- You’ll have more time to focus on your marketing, not their marketing
- By having a better set calendar, you’ll be planning instead of reacting. Having rules can seem harsh at first, but they will help you in the long run.
- Don’t give out your email list. Instead, offer to send an email on their behalf.
- “No, but…” or “Sure, I just need xyz.” sound a lot nicer than just “No” and have a better impact on your relationship (aka renewals).
- Creating a fee structure for marketing or service add-ons is not only a line of non-dues revenue, but a time saver – just be thoughtful about it.