Digital marketing can help associations grow their member base and generate higher revenues. However, keeping up with the tools and techniques disrupting the online marketing industry is challenging for many organisations.
In this dynamic scenario, it is vital to be selective and to establish a solid base for your association’s online marketing activities. This article offers a guide to effective digital marketing for associations.
A thorough audit
A data-driven analysis is one of the pillars of any digital marketing plan. The starting point involves a thorough audit that gathers vital information, including:
- Website Traffic
- Conversion rates
- SEO performance
- Paid marketing campaigns
- Email marketing audit
- Social media audit
Before launching any action plan, it is essential to perform a discovery process to determine what potential members want from an association. Critical steps in this stage include:
- Gathering feedback from existing members. Audit data will expose areas for improvement.
- Determining whether the core demographic has changed. If so, the methods and channels to obtain engagement must also change. We can not forget that today’s young professionals‘ expectations, career plans, and professional development needs differ from previous generations.
- Perform competitor analysis.
- Research the latest industry trends and determine which ones resonate with your audience and your association’s purpose.
Digital marketing for associations: Best practices
After a thorough audit and discovery, your association will have factual information that can be combined into a digital marketing plan. For long-term efficiency, the project should be built around the following best practices:
- Build flexibility and scalability into every digital marketing strategy, so your association can adapt to changing scenarios.
- Bring consistency into your communications and across platforms, from visual and branding elements to publishing frequency and tone of voice.
- Diversify your strategy, avoiding reliance on a single platform or channel and focusing on your owned media.
- Tailor your digital strategy to specific member or audience personas.
- Balance your communications using the rule of thirds or the 80/20 law for content-based strategies.
- Put all your digital marketing plans through a plan-implement-track-adjust workflow.
Next, we will discuss essential digital marketing strategies that every association can implement.
Three Content Marketing Strategies for Associations
SEO for associations
A higher SEO website ranking means more members, revenue, and attendance at association meetings and events. Good SEO requires attention to technical and non-technical aspects. Technical SEO aspects of reviewing include:
- Website speed
- Removing duplicate content
- Fixing broken links and error pages
- Ensuring HTML meets coding conventions
- Ensuring mobile friendliness
- Developing a voice search SEO strategy since this search modality is prevalent among busy professionals.
Non-technical SEO revolves around creating value in all your online communications. The association’s blog is a powerful tool if used strategically, which means:
- Ensuring blog posts answer member questions and touch on relevant topics.
- Targeting keywords that reflect the reader’s intent.
- Providing a mix of informational and educational content.
- Having a strong CTA at the end of each blog post to quantify the financial impact of a blogging campaign.
- Considering guest posts or interviews with renowned industry personalities.
- Distributing links to blog posts on social media and newsletters.
Email marketing for associations
Plan all email communications, including new member onboarding, automated replies and transactional emails, ensuring they reflect the association’s voice and your audience’s needs. The 2022 Membership Marketing Benchmarking Report states that email is the most effective member recruitment tool, even before meetings and events.
Your readers are probably busy professionals who can get upwards of 100 business emails per day, so keep messages concise and valuable. Moreover, personalisation is necessary to achieve greater engagement, so bring this into your email communications by default.
Social media for associations
The 2022 Membership Marketing Benchmarking Report also mentions that participation in associations‘ social media networks has increased to 60% relative to 2020 figures. This highlights the need to activate or solidify your social media presence to satisfy the need for engagement and participation.
- Facebook and Twitter are best for announcements, offering exclusive member offers, sharing links to the latest blog posts, and polling.
- LinkedIn can be part of your association’s social media strategy, offering valuable long-form content with a professional development focus.
- YouTube is also valid for social media marketing through long-form interviews, recaps of previous events, or broadcasting virtual professional development sessions.
Digital marketing constantly evolves, but implementing the basics remains the best way to achieve more robust recognition and a growing member base. Follow this guide’s best practices and content marketing strategies to create a strong foundation for your association’s digital marketing.