What separates associations with high rates of member retention from those that struggle with lapsing members? While there’s not a single answer as to why some membership bases remain strong and others fall victim to churn, one differentiating major factor is member engagement.
Member engagement describes the interactions between your association and its members. It’s the sense of satisfaction that members get when they attend a worthwhile event or interact with your social media content, and it often determines whether or not your constituents continue to renew their memberships.
As an association professional, there are many ways that you can engage members and keep them invested in your organization. However, in this guide we’ll focus on marketing strategies and how the right tools allow your association to track, manage, and boost engagement. In particular, we’ll cover:
- How Can Effective Marketing Boost Engagement?
- Key Marketing Metrics for Measuring Engagement
- Marketing Tools to Boost Member Engagement
First, let’s explore the connection between marketing and engagement. Why is it important to strengthen your membership marketing techniques, and how does that affect member engagement?
How Can Effective Marketing Boost Engagement?
When you think of member engagement, the first things that come to mind are likely your more visible and elaborate forms of outreach, such as events. After all, these high-investment opportunities generate high levels of engagement, and they’re an important part of why many members join your membership program in the first place.
However, as is outlined in the Fonteva guide to member engagement strategies, your association’s marketing and communications are also incredibly important elements of your member engagement plan.
From social media marketing to email marketing, your marketing strategies allow you to connect with members year-round, strengthen your brand identity, and conveniently engage members through the platforms they use every day.
That being said, you shouldn’t overwhelm members with daily barrages of marketing materials. To generate the most engagement from your marketing streams, you’ll need to be more strategic about the kinds of messaging and platforms you employ.
To help you achieve this, let’s take a look at essential marketing metrics that can help you track and boost member engagement.
Key Marketing Metrics for Measuring Engagement
It doesn’t matter if you have a small membership base localized to your community or a larger base with an international reach—all member communities are made up of individuals with their own unique interests, identities, and communication preferences.
This means that a single marketing and communications strategy won’t appeal to every member. Instead, to really engage your members, you need to adjust your outreach to match members’ individual needs and preferences.
This is where data can guide your marketing and communications strategies. By paying attention to the right metrics, you can understand whether or not members are engaging with certain marketing streams and if those channels are being used effectively.
In particular, be sure to track these marketing metrics:
- Social media marketing: channel return on investment (ROI), number of followers, and the number of likes, mentions, and tags. Social media has the benefit of coming equipped with many built-in metrics for engagement that are easy to view. From your follower count to the reactions different posts receive, these metrics can help you to understand what types of content and campaigns your members are responding positively to.
- Email marketing: channel ROI, email open rates, and click-through rates (CTR). Email is the backbone of your day-to-day relationship with members, but it can be difficult to ensure that members are actually looking at and engaging with your messages. By tracking open rates, CTR, and similar metrics, you can assess who and how many of your supporters engage with which email streams, and what kind of content is performing well. From this data, you can also determine next steps to take to improve your future email campaigns.
- Event outreach: attendance rates, paths to registration, and overall event satisfaction and feedback. Marketing is an essential part of your association events’ success. For example, how you market your event and who you market your event to can have a big impact on attendance and whether or not attendees are satisfied with their event experiences, which they can express through post-event attendee surveys. Insights like this make it critical to track these key event marketing metrics and survey attendees on their experiences.
- Association website: number of visitors, which channels lead visitors to the site, search queries that lead to site visitation. Your association website is one of the most important marketing and branding materials at your disposal. From your landing pages to the lead-generating content on your blog, your website is a living representation of your association. And by monitoring these metrics, you can understand how members are finding your organization and digitally engaging with you.
Once you’ve collected all of this critical data, you can use it to assess the performance of each marketing channel and campaign. Additionally, you can segment your data based on members’ interests and their level of engagement with your marketing materials.
For example, while your younger members may be responding well to your social media content, you may focus your email marketing campaigns on older members for higher open rates.
Marketing Tools to Boost Member Engagement
To effectively engage your members and streamline your marketing efforts, software solutions are an invaluable resource for your association. In particular, the following tools can make a world of difference when it comes to tracking, strengthening, or managing your association marketing and engagement strategies:
- Association management platforms. Association management software (AMS) is one of the single most powerful tools in your association’s tech stack. With a strong association management platform, you can monitor engagement across your marketing channels and manage the distribution of content. For example, you can easily automate and personalize emails to different member segments. Additionally, the right association platform will also come equipped with event management, financial management, and data reporting tools to streamline the daily responsibilities of running an association.
- Social media marketing software. Social media is an important part of how associations market themselves to new audiences and engage with members. These platforms come with an array of readily available multimedia tools and community-building features to keep members engaged. However, juggling the management of your various social media accounts is tricky. That’s where social media marketing tools can lend a helping hand, allowing you to design and create more engaging content, consistently provide materials, closely monitor your campaigns, and more meaningfully engage with members.
- SEO software. If you’re fighting to strengthen your association’s online presence and digital content marketing strategy, then search engine optimization (SEO) software can be a strong addition to your marketing toolkit. SEO software allows you to track the performance of your online content in relation to its ranking, authority, and level of web traffic on search engines like Google. With these tools, you can supercharge your content marketing efforts by making your website more easily discoverable for online searchers.
While you may be hesitant to invest in new technology, these tools are tailor-made to help your organization better connect with members, reduce time and labor costs, and create more effective marketing initiatives. The benefit of these solutions ends up far outweighing the initial investment cost.
Engaging your members is an ongoing process that requires continuous work from your association team. However, these metrics and best practices should ease the struggle of maintaining a strong engagement strategy.
With these insights and the right software solutions, you will be well on your way to crafting more engaging, inspiring, and personalized marketing strategies for your association.
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