Engaging current and potential members is crucial for associations to retain and grow their existing membership levels. Many organisations have seen a decline in membership since 2020 – and an outdated engagement strategy plays a significant role in this.
So, what is the solution? Associations need to create omnichannel engagement with their existing and potential members.
What is omnichannel engagement, and why do associations need it?
Omnichannel engagement involves having consistent and personalised cross-channel communication with your audience. While most organisations may already utilise multiple communication channels with their audience, each communication platform is often used for a different goal. This approach lacks an awareness of the user journey across platforms (making this a multichannel engagement strategy rather than an omnichannel engagement strategy).
An omnichannel engagement strategy helps associations communicate with their audience across all the platforms they use with relevant messaging for the audience’s stage in their journey that ultimately works together to achieve a common objective. The experience feels seamless for the audience and increases their affinity and advocacy for your organisation.
Research from Google shows that omnichannel engagement can deliver significantly higher lifetime customer value than standalone marketing strategies.
1. Research your audience
To successfully achieve omnichannel engagement with your audience, your association needs to clearly understand whom you want to engage with. Gather data on:
- Your audience’s preferred platforms
- How they move from one platform to another throughout their journey
- Audience demographics
- Audience interests – both in-sector and other
- What are their challenges and goals?
Ensuring you have this data before you get started will give you a higher chance of successfully reaching your audience with the right message at the right time.
2. Define the common goal of the platforms
Next, to ensure you can deliver consistent messaging across your communication, you must define the common goal for all platforms.
Do not be confused – the objective of the individual content does not have to be the same (e.g. click on this link, react to this post, follow our social media). However, every message in the journey should help the user get closer to the ultimate goal they want to achieve, such as renewing their membership or registering for an upcoming event.
Related: Six Ways To Use Social Media To Grow Membership In Associations
3. Segment your members for better personalisation
Based on the information you found when researching in step one, you should be able to see some apparent differences and similarities across your target audience. It’s essential to segment your audience according to their preferences so that you can create personalised communication (see step four) that will appeal to their specific needs rather than something too broad to be relevant.
How you segment your audience will depend on the goal(s) you want to achieve. Some standard segmenting options include:
- Professional groupings, e.g. experience, job title
Ideally, it would be best if you looked to create reactive segments that update based on how a user interacts with your other communication – this is what will help you take your communication from multichannel engagement to omnichannel engagement. For example, you may target users differently once they open an email, visit your website, or see your ad on social media.
4. Personalise your messaging across channels
Once you have your segments, you can start to create content that communicates your message in a highly-relevant and targeted manner. For example, if you are targeting young female professionals, you may use graphics that primarily feature women and copy that focuses on progressing in their careers.
Depending on the user’s journey stage, you will also need to adapt your messaging. If this is one of the first times hearing about your brand, you will likely need to share some more background information and context compared to messaging for a user who is further along in their journey.
Related: How To Use Storytelling When Marketing Your Conference
5. Build a community
Word of mouth remains the top channel for association member acquisition and should be prioritised within your omnichannel engagement strategy.
Building a community for your members and supporters is one of the most effective ways to create omnichannel engagement in your association. This means that messages will not only be coming from your official communication channels but will also be organically generated by your existing members across all their communication platforms.
Read more: Community Building: Transforming Association Membership
6. Test, learn, and adapt
An omnichannel engagement strategy should evolve with your audience and your association’s goals. This means continuously testing new segments and personalisation, learning more about your audience, and adapting your strategy as required.
Omnichannel engagement is a 365-day strategy that can help you maximise your reach with the audience, maintain awareness outside of annual conferences, and position yourself as the leading association in your field.
Get in touch with Congrex Switzerland for our support in managing and growing your association.
Congrex Switzerland is an internationally operating agency delivering customised solutions. Annually Congrex Switzerland organises approximately 45 events with over 73’000 delegates. This encompasses the overall organisation of conferences and meetings, including the management of hotel rooms and strategic consultancy. Amongst our clients are international associations, governmental organisations, and corporations.