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February 19, 2020 How to Promote Your Association Online Sergio Garcia - Marketing Manager

How to Promote Your Association Online

A few weeks ago I shared the top association marketing trends you need to know about for 2020. However, integrating new trends into your association's marketing strategy in a way that will produce the best results can be challenging. Well, challenge accepted! We created a new comprehensive guide, How to Promote Your Association Online, that will give you all the tools you need to create an effective strategy that will drive growth.

The guide provides a complete marketing plan for associations with a step by step walkthrough of modern best practices to help promote your association and provide real value for your community. Here are some insights from the guide that will help get you started. 

How to Promote Your Association Online

Promoting your association requires consistent commitment to a comprehensive, modern marketing strategy built on best practices. Your entire organization must be internally aligned to delivering high quality customer service while leveraging modern best practices in data analysis, artificial intelligence, content marketing, digital marketing, SEO, and channel marketing.

Through combining these various techniques, promoting your association will become a seamless process for your team that will delight your membership and wider community. 

1. A Unified Approach to Growth

Let's face it, many associations struggle with silos. This type of organizational culture creates internal friction which in turn creates friction for your members. 

Your entire organization must share a unified view of the member experience.   

I get it, it may seem impossible. The odds of getting your entire organization to agree on anything, may seem as slim as the odds The Avengers faced in defeating Thanos; which was 1/14,000,605! 

However, as ambitious as the task may seem I promise you it’s far from impossible. Above all else creating a unified, collaborative internal culture will enable your organization to enhance the member experience and provide value for your membership - so hear me out. 

Member retention is one of the most important KPI's for any association. Yet churn is very real; one of the most common causes is misalignment between marketing and sales, as well as a lack of investment in aligning sales and customer success. 

Imbalanced investment across key areas of your organization creates friction. That friction will result in unhappy members and slow your association’s momentum for growth when they churn. 

Your organization can reduce friction by identifying the areas where your members experience the most issues and make them better. At the heart of resolving issues in the member experience is aligning key departments within your association. 

You can only provide quality customer service if your internal operations are streamlined and collaborative. 

Data Democratization is key to aligning customer success, marketing, sales, and all of your teams, to work towards the common goals set under a unified view and understanding of the member experience.

Making all of this work requires setting up processes for how data is shared, who owns, analyzes, and reports on it, etc. Getting your entire organization on board will take time but committing to it can help lead to significant growth.  

You may be wondering where to begin in establishing a collaborative internal culture. It starts with data and information. 

2. Research, Analyze, and Share Results

You’ll need to take a three-pronged approach to create data democratization in your organization. First, research needs to be done to identify internal friction:

  • Departments that need stronger alignment 
  • Areas where there’s a lack of process 
  • Weak points that need investment 
  • Audit your organization’s tech stack 

Secondly, research must also be done to identify friction for your community when engaging with your association. Each team should approach this research with the end in mind. Define how a specific member experience can be improved, visualize what the ideal solution looks like, and lay out what’s needed to accomplish that objective. 

Some questions to ask are: 

  • What do your members want? 
  • Why did they join? 
  • How can you use member feedback to improve their experience? 
  • How can you better understand the way your members engage with your association via social media and content on your website? 
  • What’s needed to create solutions for your members? 
  • How can you better segment communication to your target audiences?

Once answers to these questions are established, work backwards from the agreed ideal solution to identify the most direct path to success and what data you’ll need to measure that success. These measurements will be your key performance indicators (KPI’s). Lastly, identify which systems capture those data points and note any gaps. 

Have each team nail down answers to these questions:

  • What data is needed? 
  • What type of technology is needed? 
  • Who will analyze data and glean insights from it? 
  • Who will generate reports and how frequently? 
  • How will the data be shared interdepartmentally to ensure any actions that need to be taken can be executed? 

To help get you started, check out results from Wiley’s Global Society Survey. When asked why they joined an association, members listed the following as their top 3 reasons:

You can do your own research to better understand your membership by conducting surveys using tools like Survey Monkey, Google Forms, or member feedback tools built into your AMS. You can also analyze existing data to see what content, channels, and messaging drives the most engagement. 

Data democratization will help significantly reduce internal friction, create a collaborative organizational culture, and help drive informed decision making that will optimize the member experience.

Once you’ve collected enough relevant data, and you’ve identified where and how you can improve the member experience, you’ll need to roll out an engagement strategy that will delight your members and, by extension, your larger community. Effectively using data is the backbone of promoting your association, it's how you provide value in a digital age. 

The backbone of the member experience is quality content and ensuring your organization's content is discoverable online.

3. Optimizing Content for SEO 

In January of 2020 Google released a core update to their algorithm that had noteworthy impact on search engine rankings. 

Google describes core updates as “significant, broad changes to our search algorithms and systems ... designed to ensure that overall, we’re delivering on our mission to present relevant and authoritative content to searchers”. 

Google’s recent update significantly reduced rankings for companies in health, finance, law, and technology. Which begs the question, what happened? 

Analysis of the impact of Google's most recent update on these specific industries showcased how much true expertise is valued in SEO and, by extension, the user experience. 

Content must contain thorough research and insights, it must be comprehensive, it must be well written, and it must show genuine expertise. The chances of an 800-word blog or article checking off all those boxes more convincingly than an 1800-word piece of content are slim. 

A study from Backlinko which focused on word count for page one results on Google found that 1,890 words was the average!  This has been best practice in recent years, yet many organizations are unaware of it.

These points all route back to a common theme: SEO and high quality content go hand in hand. 

Whenever your organization creates content, whether for a blog post, copy for your main website, or new published research, it’s worth assessing if your content is well matched to the needs of your community, including whether it’s accurate, up to date, and generally written in a way that demonstrates true knowledge on the topic at hand. 

Google’s guidelines went so far as to say that it prioritizes content with clear expertise, authority, and trustworthiness. 

The impact of core updates provides you with clues about Google’s broader intent and how best to align your association marketing strategy. Look at sites that performed well for keywords your organization is targeting and analyze what aspects of their content makes their brand stand out above the rest. 

Understanding SEO will help promote your association by ensuring your organization is a consistent resource for your community as they search online for solutions. 

4. Optimize Your Association Marketing Strategy

The steps I've listed in this blog are just parts of the big picture when promoting your association. I can't emphasize enough that in today's landscape you'll need to commit to a comprehensive, modern strategy that is built on these steps.

The workforce is changing as Millennials and Generation Z develop their careers. They are constantly online engaging with content and brands through a diverse portfolio of channels. It's up to you to ensure your organization adapts to these changes and evolves with the times by taking on modern best practices and integrating them into your association's marketing plan.

We created our new guide, How to Promote Your association Online, to provide you with all the tools you'll need to:

  • Understand the logic behind modern best practices
  • Effectively integrate them into your association's marketing strategy
  • Provide value for your community
  • Grow membership and increase retention

Get a complete marketing strategy for your association and download the guide today.

How to Promote Your Association Online