How to Structure a Trade Association e-Newsletter

It’s no secret that people want information faster than ever before. A trade association e-newsletter must work to stand out during haphazard scanning from readers. In fact, a recent study by Nielsen’s Norman Group shows that people only spend an average of 51 seconds reading an e-newsletter once opening it.[1] Given this limited attention span, how can associations leverage their e-newsletters to engage current and prospective members? Providing timely information directly of interest to viewers is certainly important. But it can be argued that the structure of an association e-newsletter is equally as important to procuring audience engagement. 

Readers have chosen to open your trade association’s e-newsletter with the promise of acquiring knowledge that is exclusive and relevant to their needs. Now that your recipient has taken that leap, the delivery of such information needs to be deliberate and concise so that people will click and engage. On average, people read about 200 words per minute. You have one minute of their attention. Therefore, your e-newsletter should not exceed 200 words. How can you achieve this feat? Check out our top three tips below!

Keep Sections Short and End with Strong Calls to Action

It’s best to never write out an entire e-newsletter section in an email. The goal is to provide enough information to get someone interested in a topic, and then ask them to click through so that they can finish reading. Each section of your e-newsletter should be a mere teaser with a strong call to action. Readers should always be directed to CLICK MORE to FIND OUT WHY and NOT MISS OUT. This serves to drive traffic to your association’s website, and also allows you to track which topics readers found interesting enough to engage with. Posting blogs and articles on your association’s website also builds up the content database and builds SEO value, so it will appear higher in organic search rankings online. 

Strategically Place Photos and Graphics

Pictures and videos can be used as a tool to break up sections, and also to provide a polished aesthetic to overall e-newsletters. While it is important to keep the design of a newsletter fairly simple and clean, a few well-placed Images can help to highlight important sections and also may serve as another clickable source to access more content and drive people to an association website. Infographics, event photos and social media links are all wonderful examples of the types of visual content that viewers find interesting.

Keep the Structure Consistent

Choosing what sections to include depends on your association’s objective for that issue. However, trade association e-newsletter readers tend to be creatures of habit, so it is wise to have a few standing sections that are included in every e-newsletter. For example, if your association plans on sending out an industry related newsletter for current members, you may include standing sections for industry news topics, event announcements, and member highlights each month. If space allows, additional alternate sections can certainly be included as preferred to promote breaking news, special promotions, and the like.

While trade association e-newsletter content is discretionary based on the industry and audience, we’ve included some of the most popular sections to include for associations below:

  • Industry News: Current events that play a role in or have an effect on the lives of your members. This may be in the form of association written blogs, resource guides, or articles written by experts.
  • Association News: Recent updates to association operations, protocols and awards that members might find interesting.
  • Event Information: Any pertinent information for upcoming events, including registration reminders, speakers, venue information and last-minute changes.
  • Current Member information: Highlight membership anniversaries and member businesses. May also include member housekeeping items, including renewal deadlines, referral information and more.
  • Prospective Member Information: Member benefit information, member testimonials and stories, membership specials and any other items that aid with recruitment.
  • Professional Development Updates: Event calendars that include educational webinars, lunch and learns and seminar opportunities.

E-newsletters are an effective and low-cost method for associations to stay in eyesight of current and prospective members, and to assist with general awareness for the services they provide. Relevant content, a clean design and consistent structure are all elements that can help your association e-newsletter succeed!

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[1] https://prsay.prsa.org/2019/06/27/how-long-should-your-e-newsletter-be/

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