10 Apr 2019

It’s no secret that email is an effective and valuable channel for associations to communicate with their members. Email is the preferred subscription communication method for 72% of US adults, outperforming all other channels by over 20%.  A Forbes article lists email as one of the best ways to drive website traffic. And yet, leaders of many organizations struggle to understand how to maximize the efficiency of their email-based engagements.

Many executives, particularly at associations, are concerned about over-reliance on email – the dreaded “email fatigue.” But at BulletinHealthcare we send nearly a million emails to members of the country’s most premier medical associations and societies every day. And we do that while maintaining metrics well above industry norms.


We’ve taken several key steps to ensure healthy email engagement, and we arm our association partners with everything they need to monitor the performance of their email news briefings.

It goes without saying that to judge the success of an email, it is important to know if your audience is reading it. At BulletinHealthcare, we mainly use two different metrics for this: open rate and 90-day reach.

Open rates are a standard metric. Averaged across all our publications, we have a 36% gross open rate, with many publications experiencing gross open rates significantly higher than our cross-network average.

Looking at 90-day reach, we gain a more nuanced perspective on the portion of our audience that engages with our news briefings.  Some recipients may not read their briefing every day, but tune in every few days, few weeks, or even few months. When we look at 90-day reach, the percentage of recipients who engage with the briefing jumps up to 76% on average. Median 90-day reach found for health organizations? Just 50%.

If you look at the average open rate and 90-day reach for your organization’s email marketing efforts and your stats are above average: excellent! Keep doing what you’re doing.

But if you’re looking for ways to improve your email communications, there are a few important levers you can pull.

First, focus on the quality and usefulness of your content. Most marketing and communications professionals know they shouldn’t blast their contact lists with promotional messages every day. But if you focus on providing your members with something useful, like a concise digest of news relevant to their profession – with a promotional message from your association neatly tucked in – they’ll be begging for your daily email.

Personalizing your content will further improve engagement. Another study performed by Mailchimp found that segmented email campaigns, where emails were sent based on recipients’ interest groups, generated higher open rates.

But how do you know what content your members are looking for? Set up systems to track every engagement point. BulletinHealthcare tracks engagement statistics through our online reporting system. This system allows association partners to log in to a secure portal that provides key metrics for monitoring engagement, including link- and date-specific click counts for the association-provided content in the briefing. With this report, our partners can see which messages generate the most interest. Our partners then use that knowledge to inform their future content.

Another lever association communication and marketing executives can pull to improve their email engagement: cleaning up their mailing lists. And not just to ensure deliverability.

At BulletinHealthcare, we only deliver emails to our association partners’ verified members. Our email lists are uploaded from our partners on a consistent basis – sometimes daily. Because of this, our deliverability rate is essentially 100%.

To ensure high engagement, we go a step further by setting certain parameters for removing recipients who do not engage with our communications – typically after 6 months of emails being delivered without registering an open or click, followed by a 30-day period with a warning notice.

This practice seems obvious: remove people who aren’t engaging, and your engagement will go up. But many organizations are content to email people indefinitely, even if the person has – over the course of six months or a year – not shown any interest in the communication. Continuing to send to inactive or uninterested emails doesn’t benefit anyone. We recommend focusing on the individuals who demonstrate through their behavior that they want to hear from you.

BulletinHealthcare’s dedicated partner relations team also closely monitors engagement. When our team notices a lot of variability in engagement from day-to-day for a specific briefing, this can indicate that certain stories are driving interest more effectively than others, which informs our analyst team’s story curation process.

We ensure the continued success of our email communications by focusing on high-quality, useful content, maintaining the integrity of our recipient lists, and monitoring all the relevant data. In turn, BulletinHealthcare retains high reader engagement and our distinction as a top member benefit. By partnering with us – or simply utilizing these best practices – your organization can do the same.