You’re annoying subscribers

in Associations - Membership,Cultivation & Stewardship,Email

An experience with an association triggered this post.  But I have no doubt it applies to a number of charities as well.

It illustrates the importance of making everything EASY for your members, donors, advocates, subscribers, volunteers, etc.  And how important it is to think like they do.  View their interactions with you FROM THEIR PERSPECTIVE – from their side of the table.

Here’s what happened:

Help your subscribers manage incoming email THEIR way

Hank is a member of AOPA (Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association). He has a primary email address on his account that we’ll refer to as PrimaryHank-dot-com (a fictitious address).

Renewal notices, event announcements, promotions, and other offers are sent to his primary email address.

One of the offers was to receive a daily email with news from the aviation industry – called Smart Briefs.  This offer is available to NON-members AND members.

Hank subscribed but with a different email address (we’ll call this fictitious address SecondaryHank-dot-com).  Daily emails – even on a topic you’re interested in – can clog an in-box.  Many of us can’t get read them every day.  This is why Hank used a secondary account so his main email in-box wouldn’t be cluttered and he could work more efficiently.

Here’s the annoying problem
 that resulted for Hank

At PrimaryHank-dot-com he continues to receive offers to subscribe to Smart Briefs (even though he has already subscribed).  And at SecondaryHank-dot-com he gets offers to join AOPA (even though he’s been a member for over 20 years).

The system – their database – doesn’t recognize multiple email addresses for a member.  And there’s no way for Hank to correct it himself and stop receiving unwanted emails without unsubscribing.  He hasn’t called AOPA yet to see if they can do something manually; but that time-consuming step isn’t good service for subscribers.

This is very annoying to a member, subscriber, donor, or a customer of any organization.  I have a similar situation with a company that must have zero file segmentation. I’m not impressed with the fact that they don’t recognize the business I’ve already done with them (and it’s appreciable), and therefore don’t seem to appreciate my business too much. 

In fairness to AOPA, overall it’s a terrific association that accomplishes a great deal on behalf of its members and general aviation.  I too am a member.  

I just felt this snafu in their database is an example worth mentioning.  I hope many others can learn from it.

This problem highlights how easy it is to view a situation one way while at work as the membership director, development director, communications officer, etc. . . . And look at it 180-degrees out when on the other side of the table as the user, subscriber, or even consumer.

Think about it:  How many email addresses do you have?  I have five.  And I segregate my mail for efficiency.  I couldn’t get much done during the day if 100% of my incoming emails all went to the same address … the same in-box.

How might AOPA
or any organization “fix this problem?”

When Hank was signing up to receive the daily Smart Briefs, ask if he is already a member.  If not, sign-up with his name and email.  However, if he is a member then send him to a different sign-up form.  Verify his membership and give him the option to CHOOSE a different email address.

Ideally send him to a form where he can choose what newsletter, news briefs, etc. are sent to which email address.

That’s stewardship.  That’s putting members first and recognizing that we have multiple email addresses and may even want to use more than one to interact with your organization.  Make it easy and convenient for us.

Have you had a similar experience with a nonprofit?  Do you have an idea how to fix the problem?  Please share below in the comment box.