According to Daxko’s 2015 Trends & Opportunities Survey of YMCA, JCC, and other community nonprofit professionals, nearly 20% of respondents utilize targeted emails as their main form of communication to members. This is an increase over the previous year. Still, a hefty 28% of survey respondents reported that they rely on mass email as their primary mode of communication. By using mass email marketing, you may inadvertently be turning members away from your message and your cause.  Here’s why:

Today’s member (this includes most age brackets, not just millennials) expect savvy and personalized communications. According to Ian Durrell of SPSS, “Today’s customers perceive themselves as having unique needs and interests, and they demand that businesses understand and meet those needs.” By segmenting your membership database and providing personalized messages you can provide content that is truly meaningful to that individual member. For example, a young, female college student may feel alienated by a mass email that starts out with a reminder for silver sneakers or youth soccer camp. Instead, an update on the planned addition of barre class to the fitness center menu would resonate with this member.  Email communications are key to getting members engaged in your organization. More engaged members mean higher probability of donations and higher receptivity to volunteer opportunities.

Finding out what your members are interested in doesn’t require a degree in psychology or access to sophisticated market research. The very best way to keep up with member trends is with a targeted engagement plan and the right tools to put that plan into action. Simply taking a small sample of members could be enough to get started and provide added value to more sophisticated engagement programs and plans.

According to research conducted by Nonprofit Marketing Guide and Bloomerang, 64% of nonprofits are segmenting their communications and of those who are not segmenting their database, less than 2% “don’t see the value” of segmentation. Segmentation is catching on and it is widely regarded as a useful tool for engaging members and donors.

So, once you decide to make the leap, what are some great ways to segment your communications? According to or own Daxko Engage team, popular ways for YMCAs, JCCs, and community centers to segment include:

  • Age
  • Gender
  • Family/Single membership type
  • Pledge history
  • Volunteer history
  • Facility usage or check-ins
  • New/older member status

Once you experiment with a few segments take a look at your email open an click through rates and see how they compare to your mass emails. With a little tweaking you may decide to replace your monthly mass email messaging to a more targeted approach. You’re members will appreciate it!

Looking for more tips to increase engagement with your center’s emails?  Be sure to check out this post, 5 Tips to do Email Right.

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