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  • Writer's pictureColby Horton

AI: Great for Marketing. But Leave Your Member Newsletter to a Human

No matter how good the machine is, it can never replace the expertise of an industry professional, expertly curating the most relevant news that affects your members. Here are a few reasons you should leave your member newsletters to a human.

Artificial intelligence (AI) is a huge part of today’s marketing ecosystem. You’ve seen it in action when you use Netflix (suggested binge-worthy shows for your preferences) and Amazon (suggested products based on past purchases). But AI has also started to penetrate deeper into smaller marketing departments, helping brands enhance the customer buying journey. It’s responsible for better, personalized website experiences, enhanced PPC advertising, intelligent chatbots, and powerful customer insights.

So, let’s start with a definition. Artificial intelligence traditionally refers to an artificial creation of human-like intelligence that can learn, reason, plan, perceive, or process natural language. It might sound like science fiction, but on a simpler level, it’s machine learning meant to mimic human behavior. AI is intended to help with efficiency of tasks – particularly tasks that are done over and over again.

That being said, allow me to throw out something fairly controversial. Ready? Artificial intelligence has no place in an association-centric member newsletter. Why? Ann Handley, chief content officer at MarketingProfs, says it best: “An email newsletter is the only place where individuals—not algorithms—are in control.”

Look, no matter how good the machine is, it can never replace the expertise of an industry professional, expertly curating the most relevant news that affects your members. A human touch is undoubtedly needed to adequately engage and connect with your members. To back up my opinion, here are a few reasons I believe you should leave your member newsletters to a human.


In a true AI environment, the machine begins to learn what your subscribers are clicking on the most. Then, it starts to serve up similar articles in subsequent publications, specific to their learned “interests.” But what happens when these interests begin to change? Or if they get bored of the same type of articles week after week? You never want to lock out your audience from receiving varied and valuable industry content.

Out of Control

It goes without saying…the internet is huge! Have you ever Googled your industry to see how many results come up? There are billions of pages full of content just waiting to get in front of your members. And it goes without saying that you don’t want your members exposed to a majority of these pages.

Think about this scenario. In an AI-driven world, one of your board members, who happens to have clicked on a number of benchmarking articles in the last few weeks, is delivered an article on “Benchmarking Your Business During a Global Pandemic.” He clicks. As he reads, he sees quotes from a competing industry association. He continues reading and sees a reference to a company that directly rivals a program your associations supports. He gets to the bottom of the article and sees a “call-to-action” for more information, redirecting him to an education session that will take place at a future tradeshow that competes with your association’s annual event.

You can whitelist and blacklist publications all day long, but in a world where content decisions are made by a machine, this scenario can happen more often than you think.

Quality Control

Content quality can make or break your member newsletter. Machines can’t decipher good content from crappy content. These machines are simply looking for specific keywords, topics, names, regions, etc. So if specific criteria is met, that article is now in the running to be a part of your publication. And in an age where incorrect, negative or “fake” news seems to clutter the internet, are you willing to let a computer decide what articles your subscribers see? And what’s your thoughts on press releases, op-ed pieces, or short-form blog posts? Is there a place for this type of content in your newsletter? If the criteria is right and a machine is making the decision, be prepared to see them in your AI-driven publication.

If Not AI, then What?

We’ve built a business off creating personalized content wrapped around association data. We believe data is the true force that drives today’s email effectiveness – particularly when it comes to a member newsletter. Segmentation of your subscribers allow you to present a personalized experienced while still keeping editorial control of the content within your newsletter. The success of an email newsletter is driven by engagement levels – engagement wrapped around an emotional connection between the reader, your association, and the industry it serves. These emotional connections are created by humans, supplemented by data-driven initiatives.

Looking for a personalized, data-driven solution for your association’s digital newsletters? Contact us today and let’s get started!


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