Association Connect

Maximizing Membership Marketing ROI Starts With Digital

By Shirley Kehrsmeltzer | March 21, 2022

If the past year has proved anything to associations, it’s that unforeseen circumstances can diminish not only membership numbers, but also dollars tied to gaining and retaining members. But as the dust starts to settle and the focus turns to rebuilding, now is a better time than any to invest in membership marketing that garners real ROI.

Why Now?

According to Personify’s January 2021 report, “The Journey Ahead: The Future of Associations, Nonprofits and Events,” 39% of organizations said the ability to recruit new members was very challenging in 2020. Furthermore, 35% said the same of their ability to retain existing members. Only 6% said recruiting new members was not at all challenging. Combine those stats with the budget constraints many associations—and potential members—experienced, and it’s clear that their membership marketing needs a boost. The good news: It doesn’t have to break the bank.

Digital Reigns

So how can you to maximize your membership marketing efforts for lower costs and with a potentially smaller staff than years past? For starters, it’s essential that you go digital with your tactics. That’s not to say you should abandon traditional marketing altogether—but digital marketing is generally less expensive, can provide you with more leads, can be measured more easily with immediate analytics and results, and allows you to adjust in your messaging and targeting throughout a campaign.

There are tons of cost-effective digital tactics to help grow your membership, but one that continues to be a differentiator is creating an online community. According to a 2020 membership organization industry report, 46% of membership organizations don’t yet have an online community. On top of that, Personify’s report notes that only 19% of organization staff report using an online community, while 31% say they want to engage their members with an online community. Creating such a platform could be a huge opportunity to show potential members that networking and peer-to-peer learning aren’t tied solely to events—a nice value-add for simply being a member.

Some other inexpensive, easy-to-implement digital marketing tactics to explore include:

  • Search engine optimization – enhancing your quality and quantity of website traffic from search engines
  • Retargeting – targeting past website visitors with ads attracting them back to your website
  • Pay-per-click marketing – driving traffic to your website through an ad on another website, paying that publisher only when your ad is clicked
  • Email marketing – sending an email out to your target audience to advertise, request business, solicit sales, etc.
  • Social media marketing – using your social media accounts to promote your association
  • Content marketing – creating, publishing, and distributing content, such as blogs, for a specific online audience
  • Downloadable content, such as webinars and white papers – offering your website visitors free content, such as webinars or whitepapers, that gets them to return

Short on Time, Resources?

Did you read all of that and think, “Well that all sounds great, but I don’t have the staff or resources I need to execute these tactics or stay on top of tracking results”? First off, you don’t have to utilize all tactics listed above—just those you feel confident implementing most efficiently—but use as many as you can in conjunction with one another to have the greatest effect.

When you simply can’t take on any more work internally, hire a vendor to do it with you or for you. Look for a vendor that understands associations and one that you feel can deliver on your specific membership marketing needs—without forcing you to spend money you don’t have. For instance, YGS offers a scalable approach, so you don’t have to hurt your bottom line to execute a customized membership marketing campaign that yields tangible ROI.

In a rebuilding year, you can’t afford not to invest in membership marketing. What better time than now to get started?

To learn more about how YGS can help you rebuild your membership, visit www.theYGSgroup.com/RebuildYourMembership. Together, we’ll pick a game plan and achieve membership greatness.

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