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A common marketing practice for communicating with your members is the use of e-mail merge. For those of you that are not yet familiar with what e-mail merge is, it’s a feature that allows you to send a personalized, or general message to many recipients in one “blast.” If you are not using e-mail merge, you are losing out on a feature that will not only save you time and money, but also compliment your marketing strategies. Many club management software companies include this feature in their software, and it requires very little setup. The benefits are many, and should be taken advantage of to communicate with your existing members, former members and prospects.
Using e-mail merge you can target recipients and match the e-mails up with your marketing, sales and retention initiatives. The e-mails created within a merge program will use tags, or tokens, which will be replaced with the text that is merged from the software source. For example, if you are sending an e-mail to members to remind them about their upcoming membership renewal, the e-mail would include tokens (or tags) to reference the recipient’s full name, date of expiration, and you could even include a link to direct them to login and renew online. The beauty of e-mail merge programs is that you can customize and personalize the message. If you work with a marketing company, or designer for your ads, they can often provide you with a PDF that you can copy and paste into a template, and send as an e-mail merge blast.
A good e-mail merge program will not only include the ability to customize the content, but also target the recipients. Again, this might be dependent on the information that you are capturing within your club management software.
The uses for an e-mail merge program are countless. Here are some suggestions on how you might be able to use e-mail merge to your benefit, by sending; birthday letters, membership renewals, upcoming credit card expirations, club closing reminders, event announcements, fund raiser promotions, special offers, coupons and new program offerings. In addition to these features, you might find a value in being able to e-mail your monthly statements and balance-owed letters. This will not only save you time, but save you money and create a more efficient system for handling your receivables.
There are some things that you need to do before you begin an e-mail merge campaign. You will need an e-mail account that can be used to send the e-mails out. Your club management software support should be able to guide you through the process of linking your e-mail account with your e-mail merge program. This way, you can set up the e-mail address where the e-mails that bounce back are sent. It is always good practice to contact your Internet service provider to let them know you will be sending e-mail blasts specifically for the purpose of business communication. They will let you know if there are any guidelines that you need to follow based on your account. In many cases there will not be any, but it’s better to check in advance so that you don’t run into a roadblock when you are ready to do your mail merge. You should also include information on how to opt out of the e-mail communication. Even though your intentions might be good-natured, some of the recipients might not want to continue to receive your e-mail merge communications.
E-mail merge programs should be a part of your sales, retention and marketing plans. If you aren’t using e-mail merge, you are missing out on a tool that could help you grow your business and expand your communication capabilities!
Susanne Nauseda has an Exercise Science Degree that she put to use in the Health and Fitness industry for 10 years, prior to joining Twin Oaks Software where she has worked for the last 11 years. You can reach her at 866.278.6750 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.