How One Association Easily Targets, Customizes and Creates Relevant Email
The importance of relevant, targeted email content was not lost on the Healthcare Businesswomen’s Association (HBA). The HBA was spending a lot of time – upwards of twelve hour a week – creating 15 customized versions of their weekly enewsletter, and knew that there had to be an easier way. Once they discovered some of the time-savings features in Informz, their process radically changed and emails were created in half the original time.
I spoke with Phil George, Manager of Marketing and Communications at HBA, and Carol Meerschaert, Director of Marketing and Communications at HBA, about their favorite time-saving features in Informz and how they’ve overhauled their process for communicating several different variations of their weekly enewsletter.
Alex Mastrianni, Informz: How does the HBA use email to communicate with members?
Phil George, Healthcare Businesswomen’s Association: Every week, HBA members receive an eBulletin – a collection of local and association-wide news stories, chapter updates, event information and membership news – personalized to their local chapter. In the past, the HBA would send one newsletter out each week with association wide news, and each chapter would send a quarterly newsletter with local chapter news. Now, I manage the email creation process for each of the 15 chapters and allow them to submit content for the weekly newsletter. This might sound like an overwhelming task, but with Informz, I’m able to use dynamic segmentation to create one version with 15 different variations instead of 15 completely different newsletters.
AM: Dynamic segmentation is one of my favorite tools, too.
PG: The time savings has been incredible. It used to take me a minimum of 8-12 hours to do 15 versions. Now it takes 4-6 hours at most.
AM: How do you manage the content for 15 different variations?
PG: Chapter volunteers have a weekly content deadline. It’s sort of like I’m the “email traffic control” person on staff. If they want to include specialized content for their chapter, they need to have it to me on time to be included in the weekly eBulletin. They can even send me a specific subject line if they’d like. I use targeted subject lines in Informz to deploy the requested subject lines. It’s win-win because I don’t have to create the subject line and it’s now relevant to the information inside, which helps with open rates.
AM: With all this content, how do the newsletters perform? Is frequency a concern?
PG: The newsletters can get pretty lengthy, but we continue to get clicks all the way down. We share reports with volunteers and most of the time, the relevant content – the content that they submitted – is what gets the most clicks. Regarding frequency, we’ve actually scaled back a bit during the summer months and switched to a biweekly schedule.
AM: How has everyone – your team, your members, chapter volunteers – taken to this new process?
Carol Meerschaert, Healthcare Businesswomen’s Associations: It’s been great on all sides. For us, it’s been a huge process improvement. With Phil managing all the content from our Informz account, we can ensure that there is one consistent voice, look, language and style for all of our email communications. Members are receiving a more relevant, member-focused newsletter instead of two newsletters (one association-wide, one local). And for the volunteers, it’s been seamless. It’s made their lives so much easier because they just focus on the content, not the email creation process. They have really embraced this new process.
AM: How did you get buy-in from the volunteers? Were they hesitant to switch to this new way of doing things?
CM: We really emphasized that this is a partnership with our volunteers. We created an Informz Tips document to gain support from our volunteers and explained what kind of content they should send, how we would assemble messages, and email tips. And as Phil mentioned, we share reports so they can understand how their news performed. Creating trust was critical. Once in place, it was a win all the way around.