September 4, 2014

What Modern Marketers Can Teach Associations About Engaging Their Membership

What Modern Marketers Can Teach Associations About Engaging Their Membership

It seems like you can hardly scan your inbox or your favorite social media sites without hearing about the latest trends in marketing. Take content marketing for example - if you’re not delivering relevant content that’s appropriately timed to your members' wants and needs, then what exactly are you delivering? And delivering useful content is just the beginning. It’s finally dawning on marketers that just because someone filled out a form or attended a webinar, they aren’t necessarily interested in buying your product or service - at least not just yet. There needs to be an overall strategy of driving engagement from your members and getting them to take action. Luckily, the things that corporate marketers do to get success in the industry are not all that dissimilar to what associations can do to engage their membership.

Utilizing today’s marketing tools to continue to attract, engage, and convert members is an art as much as it is a science. Keeping your association relevant, particularly at a time when others can easily create online communities that directly compete with you can be a challenge. So how do you stick out? Here are a few things that associations can learn from modern marketers.

Clean Your Data And Keep It Clean

Cleaning up your data is a theme we’ve seen on this blog time and time before, and it applies just as much to marketing as it does to your AMS’ database. Having complete member records - meaning all critical data fields for your membership is captured - will inherently increase the delivery of email and nurturing campaigns, simply by having the right information. When evaluating new systems, look for the capability for to unify Email, CRM and Membership functions. The idea is to have all your data in one place, in a usable form, and to keep it that way. That way when you need it to communicate with your membership, you’re ready for your next campaign with no hiccups.

Identify Your Members' Personas And Clarify Key Messages To Them

Your association probably has an ideal target audience, made up of characteristics of members that help to define who they are and what they want. Your association may also have members that only have a few of the defining attributes of your audience but are still important to your association. Taking the time to consider all the various roles your members may have and how that affects what they’re interested in is of vital importance.

After you’ve identified your members personas, you can begin to clarify which messages might appeal to them. Tailoring content that addresses their specific roles, needs and experiences is key here. Test these messages by varying your communications and your campaigns. You can easily test email subject lines, content used on landing pages and calls to action for your membership using the built-in functionality of most marketing software. This A/B testing is key to determine which communications resonate with your audience and which communications fall flat. This is important to make sure you’re getting the right message to your membership.

Give Them What They Want

After taking the time to identify your members' needs and clarify your key messages to them, it’s time to give them what they want. Developing meaningful content that can help solve your members' pain points is key here.

"Developing meaningful content that can help solve your member's pain points is key. #association #management”

There are many ways to approach this. You can do a poll or informal survey to find out where the pain points of your members are, and create content that serves to address those pain points that your members experience. You can gather thought leaders, subject matter experts and association members and ask them to contribute content that can be used to educate the larger association audience. You can easily develop a bulletin board style forum where members can post what they want directly and engage with others on commonly asked questions. After you’ve done this, you can create content in the form of blog posts, whitepapers, frequently asked questions pages or email blasts that can help serve and engage your membership. Finally, you can reuse and repurpose content for more than one purpose. For example, if a guest speaker delivered a killer keynote, why not embed a video snippet of that presentation into your upcoming membership drive email or onto the membership page of your website? Get creative here, and know that there are many ways to serve your membership and give them what they want.

Keep Score Of What Works And What Doesn’t

After giving your members what they want, you need to determine how well it was received. Your association management software or marketing automation software can help with this. Look at which communications were opened, downloaded or otherwise interacted with. From here, you can see which pieces of content were a hit and which were duds. You can also see which members had high engagement with your campaigns and which didn’t. This is where the magic happens. You can further refine your marketing efforts by taking advantage of the data that’s generated. In today’s modern age, data is abundant and can help drive important marketing decisions for your association. Keeping score matters!

Modernizing Your Association’s Marketing Efforts

By following these simple steps you can easily modernize your association’s marketing efforts. Clean up your data and keep it clean, identify your member’s personas and the messages they want to hear, give them what they want and keep score so you know what’s a hit and what’s not. With a little patience and a bit of effort, you should be able to determine what’s a hit for your organization and what’s not. And you can deliver the modern experience to your members that they deserve.