3 Ways to Grow Association Membership with Digital Marketing

Murad Bushnaq - Guest Writer
By Murad Bushnaq - Guest Writer
December 17, 2020 · 8 min read

According to Marketing General’s 2020 Membership Marketing Benchmarking Report, annual association membership growth was slowly on the rise for 42% of organizations earlier this year. However, the COVID-19 pandemic threw a wrench in many organizations’ plans. To counteract the negative impact of the pandemic and subsequent economic downturn, it’s time to come up with a game plan to attract and retain your members.

As a nonprofit marketing professional, you understand that the marketing world is dynamic and ever-changing. Technology and tactics are never stagnant, which means that it is crucial for associations to keep up with new developments in their industry and adjust their strategies accordingly. The future of associations depends on their ability to modernize rapidly and maintain relevance among members, and these efforts are becoming increasingly digital. 

An association’s online presence contributes significantly to people’s perceptions of the organization, so it’s important for marketers like yourself to prioritize this in your promotional strategies.

With so many digital platforms available at your fingertips, it can be difficult to select the ones to prioritize. To help, we’ve narrowed it down to three modern tactics that help associations connect with their current members and prospects in ways that resonate. 

As you rethink your marketing strategies, hone in on these digital strategies to maximize your reach:

  1. Optimize your association’s website.
  2. Create impactful videos.
  3. Establish a social media presence.

Forming a comprehensive digital strategy is crucial for every association, no matter its size. Ready to learn how to make a lasting impression on prospects and boost membership numbers? Let’s kick things off by discussing how to optimize your association’s website.

Digital Marketing Strategy #1: Optimize Your Association’s Website

Your website is the foundation of your association’s digital marketing strategy. It gives you an outlet to display your work, connect with members, and deliver a more impactful supporter experience. Prospects navigate to your website when they’re looking to learn more about your cause and connect with like-minded individuals, so it’s essential to start optimizing your digital marketing efforts here.

As discussed in Morweb’s guide to building a membership website, your association’s website should house valuable marketing content, such as:

  • An ‘About Us’ Page. For associations, a dedicated ‘About Us’ page is imperative for displaying its work and driving its mission forward. Include core details such as your organization’s history, mission, core values, and staff/board member profiles. This page supplies prospects with everything they need to know about your organization’s purpose.
  • New Member Information. Considering that the primary goal of your membership website is to boost membership numbers, you’ll want to share any information that a prospect would need to know before joining. Feature a compelling case for prospects to join by sharing information on benefits and membership levels as well as a link to your online membership form.
  • A Members-Only Area. Including this on your website enables current members to manage their memberships while also incentivizing prospects to join in order to gain access to exclusive content. Use this area to safely share resources and provide registration for members-only events. You may also consider creating a forum where members can discuss industry news and your association’s work.

No matter what information you include, make sure you’re first equipped with a powerful content management system (CMS) to bring your vision to life. 

As discussed in this guide, you’ll want to select one that’s built specifically for associations, because these come equipped with vital tools for engaging members that more generic website builders don’t offer. For instance, a CMS with an intranet portal and private pages will empower you to develop a compelling members-only area.

Digital Marketing Strategy #2: Create Impactful Videos

Humans are visual communicators. Your members don’t just want to hear about their impact; they want to see the difference your cause (and their contributions) are making. Video marketing is a powerful way to make that connection.
Prospects of all ages watch videos on a consistent basis. In fact, Promo conducted a study which found that 49% of surveyed users watch over five videos per day, while 10% of all respondents watch “too many videos to count” every day. It’s up to your marketing team to determine what types of content will stick out to your audience and resonate with them.

Deliver impactful video content by following these best practices:

  • Share videos from supporters or partner organizations. Producing videos can be as easy as a passionate supporter talking about your mission. Associations are in a unique position to produce these videos, because members are naturally inclined to advocate on your behalf. Look to active members who are passionate about the organization’s mission, programs, and events. Prospects will respond positively to seeing someone in a similar position talking about your organization.
  • Focus on short, high-impact videos. Deliver short yet enticing videos to engage viewers and encourage them to research your association further. For instance, teach users something that can help them in their professional lives. Share interesting facts and industry news that align with your association, aiming to spark curiosity amongst your audience and prospects.

Once you’ve developed content that effectively communicates your vision, share your high-quality videos across various digital channels such as email, social media, and blog posts. Then, pay attention to what types of video content your users engage with the most, whether you gauge that through social media likes, comments, and shares or through email open and click-through rates.

By mastering video marketing, you’ll effectively establish trust, communicate your brand, and deliver important messages more effectively than you would through other mediums. Videos provide an opportunity for prospects to connect with your association on a deeper level.

Digital Marketing Strategy #3: Establish a Social Media Presence

Chances are, your marketing team has already created a few social media pages to connect with younger generations of supporters. However, if your association wants to expand its digital presence, you need to put a solid plan in place for maximizing your social media presence.
An established social media presence allows you to connect with your professional community, leverage your supporters’ social networks, build your brand, and increase member acquisition. It’s an essential part of any modern communication strategy, so make sure your team is prepared to implement strategies like the following:

  • Interact with your community. Don’t just use social media to broadcast messages; use it as a two-way communication tool. You can engage with followers in authentic and meaningful ways by responding to their comments and encouraging them to share your posts. This is also a prime opportunity to shout out local organizations who are leading the way with projects in your industry.
  • Share valuable content. Rather than focusing solely on your work, share content that pertains to your members. Consider posting member highlights, benefits of joining, industry trends, networking events, and relevant learning opportunities. By changing up the content you post, you’ll keep your audience fully engaged.
  • Monitor progress. According to Fonteva’s guide to association member engagement, your team should “consider measuring how often you gain and lose followers, level of post engagement, amount of profile tags or references, and which of your posts get the most attention.” Monitoring social media metrics like this will empower you to refine your content and share more impactful posts that encourage engagement over time.

Social media is a foundation-building tool for associations looking to stay ahead of the game. Prior to refining your social media strategy, take time to discuss the goals your team wants to achieve the most, whether that’s recruiting prospects, increasing current members’ engagement, driving traffic to your website, or boosting event attendance. 

By setting quantifiable and achievable goals, your team can organize its time and resources to make the most of the association’s online presence.

The Gist

In an increasingly digital world, associations like yours recognize the need to connect with members online. Start by optimizing your association’s website design to include everything a new member would need to know. Then, jump to other methods such as video marketing to deliver impactful narratives and social media to connect with younger generations of supporters.

With an ever-growing list of marketing platforms, it’s easy for association professionals to get caught up in producing an abundance of appeals for several outlets. However, you’ll need to narrow it down to spend sufficient time creating impactful outreach. These three digital tactics are essential for a modern marketing strategy.

Backed by a well-designed website, captivating videos, and a strong social media presence, you’ll be prepared to deliver an exceptional member experience.

About the author

Murad Bushnaq - Guest Writer

Murad Bushnaq is the Founder and CEO of Morweb. Since its inception in 2014, Murad has acted as Creative Director and Chief Technologist to help nonprofits spread their vision online through engaging design, intuitive software and strategic communication.

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