6 Tips to Improve Your Association’s Management with Data

When associations thrive, they see boosts in member recruitment and improved retention rates. They experience strong event turnout and growing engagement through other channels such as social media and discussion boards. They may even see more consistent non-dues revenue streams!

If your association isn’t quite there yet, you may be wondering where your efforts are going astray.

That’s where data comes into play. By examining your association’s member data, you can pinpoint the specific areas where your efforts are making an impact, or not. This information is vital to making informed decisions on what actions should be ceased, improved or prioritized. This holds true whether it’s your member engagement efforts or your internal operations.

We’re going to explore the many ways that your data can provide insights to improve your association’s operations through the following:

  • Better prepare your data.
  • Offer events that interest your members.
  • Communicate more effectively with members.
  • Discover opportunities to recruit new members.
  • Understand lags in membership. 
  • Identify opportunities for technological innovation.

Are you ready to make the most of your association’s data? Let’s get started.

Fine-tune your data. 

Before you can begin using your association’s data to improve management, you first need to review, clean and fine-tune your data. Simply examining your raw data will be time-consuming and is unlikely to offer many actionable insights. Plus, if you’re working with flawed or disorganized data, your actionable insights may send you in the wrong direction.

Therefore, our first tip for using data to improve your association’s management is cleaning and organizing your database beforehand. This process of working towards an error-free database is called data hygiene.

Data hygiene involves conducting an audit of your database and discovering areas with flawed information. From there, you can resolve those errors and create rules to eliminate them going forward. Start with:

  • Standardizing the entry of commonly used terms. This includes dates, addresses, titles, and numerals. This prevents duplicate, similar entries.
  • Merging duplicate entries and completing incomplete information. Ensure you have one entry for each member, representing a full picture of their interaction with your organization.
  • Segmenting members into common groups. Separating members into groups by common characteristics allows you to discover trends within your database, which you can act on later.

Need more support on data processing and creating actionable solutions? Check out AccuData’s primer on data hygiene.

Once you’ve cleaned and segmented your database, you can start examining your segments to better manage your association. 

Provide events that interest your members.

One of the biggest reasons members join associations is for professional networking opportunities. Association events are a popular way of providing those networking experiences, and you can improve these events with the right data. 

Planning and hosting an association event is a resource-intensive initiative. When you do, you want to make sure you’re providing the highest value possible to attendees. Examine your association’s data to discover:

  • Geographic locations where many of your members reside. Hosting events in those areas will make it more likely that your members will participate.
  • Topics of interest in your membership or field in general. Covering trending topics in your event makes sure your members are up-to-date on the latest news in the field.
  • Aspects of past events that have been particularly popular (or less so). For example, if you successfully incorporated new registration measures, or unsuccessfully incorporated new engagement strategies, plan your next event with that in mind.

If your association’s event management software is integrated with your CRM, it will be easy to see which of your offerings members have gravitated toward the most.

Communicate more effectively with members.

Data can improve your member communication strategies in a variety of ways. First and foremost, personalization is a powerful tool to boost member value by improving the member experience. Data is the key to getting started.

Something as simple as addressing email and direct mail communications to the member by name is a great start. However, personalization can go far beyond just changing the salutations. Consider these tips:

  • Only send members information about upcoming opportunities that they would be most interested in, indicated by factors in your database segments. This is the first email marketing design trend on this list.
  • Respect the communication preferences of members. If some of your members have opted out of email or direct mail communications, ensure those preferences are respected in all of your campaigns.
  • Discover and make the most of the many communication channels available. Examine your data to discover which platforms (email, direct mail, social media) your members are most responsive to and utilize them accordingly.

Communicating with members is a careful balance of effectively spreading the word while not going overboard with outreach. Data is key to being efficient and effective in this practice.

Discover opportunities to recruit new members.

Having and maintaining a strong member recruiting program is essential for your association to continue growing and thriving as time goes on. However, as the demographics of your membership change and technological innovations continue to evolve, recruiting is now more challenging than ever.

When it comes to recruitment, your staff has a few different challenges to overcome. These include: 

  • Locating potential new members.
  • Discovering what they’re interested in and how you can appeal to them.
  • Contacting them in a way that’s most likely to resonate.  

What might have worked when recruiting in the past may not work in today’s digital-first world. Your staff can utilize data to more efficiently recruit in the 21st century by:

  • Surveying recent additions to your membership. Use that data to discover the biggest drivers for members to join your association, and use them as selling points for potential new members.
  • Discovering new prospective members. Pay attention to information about non-members who regularly interact with your association through digital means. This could be a prospect who filled out their email to download a resource from your website.
  • Recognize which recruiting tactics are most successful. Use data to discover which of your digital outreach methods are having the highest success. This includes social media, email marketing strategies, cold calling, or even downloadable resources. Optimize those methods that have led to the biggest increase in membership. 

With data on the recent additions to your association and predictive analytics tactics, you can reasonably guess what potential new members of your association are interested in.

Understand why members lapse.

A strong member recruiting strategy is essentially useless if you have a low retention rate. Data is a valuable tool for discovering the reason behind a lapse in members and what you can do to alleviate those deterring factors.

For instance, examine your database to discover which members chose not to renew. Send a survey to those members asking what made them choose to end their membership, whether it be a lack of interest or an inability to pay the dues. Track those responses and brainstorm ways to circumvent that complication.

Furthermore, examine your records of lapsed members and look for common characteristics. 

For example, were members lapsing at a certain time period such as at the 3-year mark or the 10-year mark? If you’re using software specifically made for associations, what is the member adoption of your programs and services like? Pay attention to these common factors and consider what you can do to lessen the impact.

This same tactic is extremely useful for identifying at-risk members before they lapse. When you identify at-risk members, you can funnel them into a special engagement strategy to remind them of the value you offer and keep them around. 

Identify opportunities for technological innovation.

Your association’s data is a powerful tool to discover opportunities to improve your association’s operations with technology. 

You can use surveys or polls to discover what technology your members are most interested in interacting with or learning about. You may find that they’re most interested in learning about artificial intelligence and its impact on your industry or interacting with virtual reality experiences. At times, meeting member demands is a practice of having the right technology to do so.

You can also discover areas where your management efforts are falling short. For example, you may be putting a lot of time into certain engagement efforts but not seeing data-proven results (like your email newsletter or even a specific social media network). In that case, it might be time to discontinue or scale back the effort and incorporate another engagement method.

By examining your association’s data, you can discover the areas where your association’s long-held practices are no longer effective. Instead of staying stumped with management practices that are subpar, you’ll be able to use specific data to discover the exact failed practice and fix it.


Every interaction between members and your association can generate valuable data. Each of those data points provides a wealth of information on your association’s performance, and how it can be improved.
Consider these six tips when evaluating your association’s management efforts. With access to the right data, you’ll have solutions that are specific to your association in no time.


Author: Gabrielle Perham, MBA, Director of Marketing

Gabrielle is the Director of Marketing for AccuData Integrated Marketing. She joined the organization in 2017 and possesses more than 15 years of experience in strategic marketing, branding, communications, and digital marketing. She earned a B.S. in Marketing and an M.B.A in Marketing Management from the University of Tampa.


Top Three Association Technology Trends in 2020

In this age of innovation, associations need to stay competitive. Recent studies have shown that by the end of this year, about 17 percent of work will be automated. Thanks to companies like Tesla, Netflix, and Amazon, the fourth industrial revolution is increasing the pace of change and customer expectations. To keep up as technology evolves, the way you run your association must evolve as well. 

Consider the benefits of future-proofing your association to make sure you have the capability to leverage the three association technology trends listed below:

  1. Artificial Intelligence
  2. Business Intelligence
  3. Digital Transformation

Continue reading to learn more about these top association technology trends.

1. Artificial Intelligence 

Artificial intelligence refers to the ability of a computer to think like a human (or more than one human) and adjust its behavior based on learned observations over time. Machine learning (or m-learning) is a subset of AI, which involves learning by applying an algorithm to data in order to gain insights into that data and make informed decisions based on these insights.

One example where artificial intelligence can be beneficial for associations is with content curation. Manually creating a personalized stream of information for each member of your organization is both inefficient and impossible, especially if you have a large member base with a lot of content to choose from. Artificial intelligence can facilitate personalization by combing through massive amounts of content within the association and matching the most relevant content based on each member’s preferences (prior interest in topics/subjects, type of events, etc.) and known factors (location, job title, etc.). 

2. Business Intelligence 

Although often confused with artificial intelligence, business intelligence is another association technology trend that’s going to take center stage this year. While AI aims to mimic human intelligence, business intelligence (BI) refers to the use of technology tools to collect and analyze data. The main purpose of BI is to provide organizations with useful information and analyses in order to make data-driven decisions. 

An association LMS or learning management system is an example of a tool that can be leveraged by your association to collect and analyze data. Psychometric and site-wide usage reporting features can provide invaluable insights to help you understand more about your learners and ways your educational offerings can be improved.

3. Digital Transformation

Digital transformation at its most simplistic level is moving operations from paper to electronic. Making this transformation is not nearly that simple and it must have support from the top down to be successful. Technology will always be a central part of these efforts, but for associations, it must go beyond switching from one vendor to another. 

Acquiring software for associations is just one aspect of digital transformation. While it’s true that organizations won’t be able to make the digital shift without the tools, a complete transformation also requires modifying your association’s priorities, processes, and strategies. 


Author: Amber Winter

Amber Winter is the Director of Sales & Marketing at Web Courseworks. She’s committed to helping association executives realize the potential of their education programs and turn them into high performing revenue generators. Amber was named one of Madison, Wisconsin’s 40 under 40 and the number 1 LMS salesperson by Talented Learning.

Five LMS Content Strategies to Attract, Engage and Support your Learners

Content is key to bringing learners together and creating valuable online education experiences. Essentially, it is the bread and butter of an LMS. When your content is developed thoughtfully and implemented strategically through a smooth process, your learners will find it effective and keep coming back for more.

These 5 strategies will help you create LMS content that attracts, engages, and supports your stakeholders:

1. Move from a Catalog to a Knowledge Community: 

Cultivate a dynamic knowledge community as opposed to a static catalog. This approach will allow your learners to draw from the synergy of multiple learning styles, including curriculum-based learning, live onsite and online events, peer engagement, and informal learning.

Learners can engage at a pace that feels comfortable for them, whether they have only a few minutes or can invest the time in an 8-week course. They will also benefit from collaborations with subject-matter experts who provide real-world insights. Shared information and ideas are constantly evolving, and your learners will want to check your LMS daily to see what they might have missed.

2. Present Your Content Strategically

After you have developed your community approach with varying learning styles and contributors, it is imperative to understand and utilize your content correctly. 

Low-commitment content will attract learners, such as an interesting podcast or a post in your news feed about the latest and greatest industry development. Foundational and curriculum-based courses serve as the core substance of your LMS, offering the most impactful and enriching opportunities. These courses are typically monetized and sustainable.

Finally, online classrooms and events can serve as great community-building options. Evaluate your content’s purpose and be sure it is being applied and consumed in a way that best serves your organization, LMS, and learners.  

Through these 3 levels of engagement, your organization can create a synergy between the various types of content to attract new learners and provide resources that build participation and revenue.

3. Ensure Professional Branding: 

Your LMS needs to be neat, cohesive, and maintain a complete appearance; this will give a professional look and feel to what you are presenting. Maintain consistency between all of your platforms – from your website to social media to your LMS. Factors can include fonts, colors, logos, graphics, photo styles, etc. Consistency will make an end-user experience less jarring when transitioning from your website to your LMS.

Refer to your association or organization’s style guide for these standards or read more about style guides here. This also means it’s also important to take the time to fill in profiles within your LMS, including titles, profile pictures, and bios. Investing time on the visuals on the back end will create a more organized and appealing experience for your learners.  

4. Consider Certification Opportunities: 

After you’ve developed great content, implemented it correctly, and branded your LMS, there should be a way to measure your learners’ success. That is where certification opportunities come in. These serve as an excellent incentive for learners to dive deeper into your LMS because they are given the chance to hit career milestones, demonstrate mastery of a skill, and measure achievements.

Once your learners achieve certifications, reward them with digital badges to add to their profiles and endorse their accomplishments. Certifications create a more holistic experience for LMS users by validating and giving credit for their achievements.

5. Personalizing and Organizing Content: 

Curate content to directly meet the needs of your learners so they can benefit from every resource available to them. When participants log in to your LMS, allow them to set preferences and personalize their learning experience. You can then use those preferences and member demographics to recommend content and learning opportunities.

Make it a habit to continuously audit your content. Use an intelligent taxonomy to organize information, remove out-of-date material, and accurately tag content. That way, your personalized recommendations are precise and valuable. 

The technology around LMS may be evolving, but one thing remains the same: content is everything. Establish an energetic community of learners and contributors on your LMS by creating and providing great content. By following these steps, your LMS will be well-rounded, polished, and organized. As a result, you will be more prepared to meet your learners’ needs throughout their education journey.


By: Julie Ratcliffe, Content Creator for CommPartners 

Make the most of your association LMS with these eLearning best practices for associations.

5 eLearning Implementation Best Practices for Associations

If your association is looking for more ways to facilitate your members’ professional development and encourage them to take active roles in all that your association has to offer, you’ll want to consider providing them with eLearning opportunities.

Effective eLearning targets your members’ most pressing continuing education needs and presents courses in a captivating way.

eLearning helps your association improve your members’ engagement by providing them with a valuable resource for their growth and keeping them informed in their field. You can utilize your association learning management system (LMS) and other platforms.

Let’s take a look at how your association can get started providing eLearning opportunities for your members. To implement your eLearning system successfully, you’ll need to:

  1. Choose an association LMS that will suit your members’ needs.
  2. Provide members with the opportunity to earn and track professional certifications.
  3. Notify members when new courses are available to them.
  4. Promote social learning opportunities and live learning events.
  5. Share learning opportunities on your association’s website.

The first step in getting your members started with eLearning is to choose the right association LMS to suit their needs. When the learning experience is personalized, they’ll be motivated and engaged.

1. Choose an association LMS that will suit your members’ needs.

The best association LMS will positively impact both your members’ learning experience and your education team’s work to create and distribute course content. Look for a modern LMS that incentivizes course progress and completion for your members and communicates with the association software you’re already using.

Choose an association LMS that helps your members get excited about completing courses through:

  • High-quality content. Content is king in eLearning, and you are the expert in your field. Provide high-quality content to keep your learners motivated to complete courses and come back to you for more. Look for an association LMS that makes it easy to get your content up and running quickly, without sacrificing quality.
  • Interactive learning experiences. Interactive course authoring capabilities like being able to add interactions to videos and drag-and-drop experiences help learners retain more information than they would reading or watching alone. When members enjoy the learning experience, they’ll be motivated to complete more courses.
  • Gamification elements. Everyone loves a little friendly competition or a challenge to beat your personal best! Scoreboards and other gamification elements keep members motivated throughout their courses, while completion badges that they can display on their profiles in your association management system (AMS) increase their engagement with their fellow members.

The right association LMS facilitates your members’ professional development, engages them in your association’s offerings, and provides them with the opportunity to share valuable information about their areas of expertise with their colleagues. When your LMS and AMS are integrated, sharing this information becomes even easier.

2. Provide members with the opportunity to earn and display professional certifications.

The certifications and credits that your members earn when they complete courses using your association LMS are important indications of their professional standing. In certain fields such as healthcare, these certifications are often required for maintaining their career and potential advancement in their fields. Help your members progress in their careers by selecting an association LMS that they can use to earn and track necessary professional certifications.

As you compare eLearning systems for your association, look for one that facilitates the certification process by:

  • Encouraging course completion. When members know that their profiles in your AMS will be updated automatically to reflect the courses they’ve completed and the certifications they’ve earned, they’ll be motivated to participate in your continuing education offerings.
  • Show CE records. Many of the accreditation bodies need to see continuing education records from the past three years, so ensure that members are able to self-report courses they’ve completed and certifications they’ve earned on their profiles and upload transcripts from previous eLearning systems they’ve used.
  • Connect with other members. One of the major benefits of membership in your organization is the opportunity for networking with other professionals in the same and related fields. When members are able to earn and display their certifications, they’ll know who may be a valuable connection or resource just by browsing their colleagues’ profiles.

An effective eLearning system makes earning required certifications more convenient for your members, helping to remove potential barriers in the way of their career development. To learn more about granting professional certifications through an association LMS, you can visit Web Courseworks to see how the process works for healthcare associations.

When your members learn that using your association LMS to complete courses is both enjoyable and valuable, they’ll want to enroll in more. Make sure that your members are made aware whenever new courses become available to them.

3. Notify members when new courses are available to them.

Creating new courses is an important component of your association’s mission to facilitate continuing education opportunities for your members. The first step is selecting an association LMS that makes it easy for your team to develop effective ways of presenting the material they most need to learn. You’ll also want to use your LMS and other software systems to send automated notifications and reminders to your members.

For the most effective communications, choose an association LMS that integrates with your membership management system and can help you:

  • Provide an adaptive learning experience. Help your members continue gaining valuable knowledge and skills in a specific field or subfield by selecting an association LMS that recommends them future courses to take based on their history in the LMS, past purchases, interests, and more.
  • Automate your communications. Both your association LMS and your AMS can help you communicate with your members more efficiently by allowing you to set up automated email notifications and reminders.
  • Facilitate course purchasing and registration. Purchasing and enrolling in new courses shouldn’t be inconvenient for your members. Choose an association LMS that automates parts of those processes to save them time and energy.

With an up-to-date LMS (and potentially new membership management software as well, to make more effective use of your integrated software systems), your association is sure to meet your learners’ needs. You can even make their experience a collaborative one through social learning opportunities.

4. Promote social learning opportunities and live learning events.

Everyone’s preferred learning style is unique, and everyone can benefit from engaging more deeply with the material they’re learning by discussing it with others. Choose an association LMS that facilitates social learning on the platform and allows members to register for live learning events.

When your learners have the opportunity to participate in social learning opportunities, they’ll retain more of the information they learn and be more motivated to complete additional courses. Your association LMS can help by incorporating:

  • Discussion boards and live chat features. Learners participating in an online course can take advantage of these features to discuss the material with each other, gaining new perspectives and better understanding.
  • Registration for live learning events. Host a live learning event for members who live nearby to attend. They’ll be able to meet each other, collaborate in person, and learn more about your association. Publicize the event in your association’s communications to increase attendance.
  • Materials from past live learning events. Your online learners are likely spread out all over the country, if not the world, so they won’t all be able to attend your live learning events. However, this doesn’t mean they have to miss out! Make sure that your association LMS allows you to upload materials distributed at the event so that online learners can access them, too.
  • Updating members on future learning events. Even if all the details aren’t ironed out yet, it’s still a good idea to let your association members know when and where your learning events will be held as early as possible. As presenters, topics, and times are being finalized, you can find a conference management software that helps you manage other elements of your conference like reviewing submissions.

When you’re able to engage all of your online learners in social learning opportunities and even bring them together at live learning events, they’ll have a more memorable and enjoyable experience.

This is easiest to accomplish when your association LMS and membership management software are communicating to help carry out your event. If your membership management solution is built on Salesforce, you can check out re:Charity’s list of the top Salesforce apps to find the right software for facilitating your live learning event.

To make sure that your members make good use of the courses, events, and other learning opportunities that your association offers them, don’t forget to share them on your association’s website!

5. Share learning opportunities on your association’s website.

Your website is a hub for news about your association and information on all of the ways your members can choose to get involved. A clean, modern site that offers easy access to all the features of your AMS and association LMS will motivate members to take part in the continuing education offerings your association provides.

Whether your association has recently updated your site or you simply think it may be time to revamp your online presence, you’ll want to make sure that your site offers:

  • An engaging site design. Have new courses to offer or other exciting information about your association? Ensure that all of your updates are clearly presented on your website and that members can easily navigate to your most-used site areas. If you’re looking for guidance or inspiration, you can check out some effective web design tips here.
  • Access to members-only content. Members should be able to login securely to their courses on your association LMS, their member profiles on your AMS, and other protected areas via links on your website. To make the process convenient for them, make sure that they can get wherever they need to go in just a few clicks.
  • Mobile functionality. Your members are busy professionals and often on the go, so make sure that they can access your site from their smartphones. You’ll also want to choose an association LMS that allows them to complete coursework on their mobile devices so that they can continue learning from wherever they may be.

By choosing an excellent eLearning platform and incorporating it into an effective network of software solutions, your association can transform your members’ experience. You’ll encourage them to become lifelong learners and motivate them to take part in the opportunities your association creates for them.


When your association provides your members with quality eLearning opportunities, you’re demonstrating that you value their continuing education and professional success. The right association LMS is sure to improve your learners’ experience and encourage them to grow.

Author Bio

Amber Bovenmyer is the Director of Sales & Marketing at Web Courseworks. She’s committed to helping association executives realize the potential of their education programs and turn them into high performing revenue generators. Amber was named one of Madison, Wisconsin’s 40 under 40 and the number 1 LMS salesperson by Talented Learning.


Read this guide to learn more about effective web design strategies.

5 Effective Web Design Strategies to Attract New Members

When it comes to inspiring potential members to join your association, an attractive and easy-to-use website is an essential component of the process. Your goal is to design a website that your members can navigate—and your team members can update—with ease.

An attractively designed website that is regularly updated with all of the most relevant content for your members is an excellent way to improve member engagement. Your website is a valuable resource for both current and potential members, so you’ll want to keep it up-to-date with recent news about your association and new engagement opportunities available to members.

Let’s take a look at some of the ways in which you can use your website to motivate both current and potential members to engage with your association. To get started, we recommend that you:

  1. Choose a user-friendly CMS.
  2. Integrate your website with your AMS.
  3. Customize your website to your association.
  4. Manage events through your website.
  5. Partner with a web design agency.

The foundational step in the process of creating an excellent website is choosing the right content management system (CMS). Ideally, your association is looking for a platform that’s both user-friendly and easy to update.

1. Choose a user-friendly CMS.

Whether your association is creating your first website or giving your existing site a makeover in an effort to attract new members, one of the first decisions you should consider is which CMS you want to use to build your site.

Look for a CMS that doesn’t require any technical knowledge or coding expertise to allow your team to create engaging web content for your members.

To get your new website up and running for your members, you’ll first need to get your association’s staff on board with the new platform. You’ll also want the resulting website to be easy for your members to navigate.

As you compare potential membership website builders for your association, make sure that you look for qualities such as:

  • Ease of customization. When your platform is easy for your team members to use, you’ll be able to keep your association’s website updated with the information that is important to your members. Look for customizable templates and drag-and-drop editing features that make it easy to create a beautiful site without having web design experience.
  • Features for your members. A CMS designed specifically for associations can help you maximize the use your website to provide valuable information to your members. Choose a CMS platform that facilitates the creation of a member directory so that members can connect with each other. You’ll also want to be able to create password-protected pages for members-only content such as internal resources or whitepapers.
  • Responsive design. With more than 52% of all website traffic in 2018 coming from mobile, you’ll want a CMS platform with responsive website templates. Whether your members are visiting your site on their smartphones, tablets, or computers, they’ll always have access to your most recent content.

With a website that’s easy for both your association’s staff and members to use, you’ll keep everyone updated on your associations initiatives, service offerings or events. For a seamless experience, choose a CMS that allows you to integrate your new or refreshed site with your existing association management system.

2. Integrate your website with your AMS.

If you’re not using one already, consider implementing association management software (AMS) to gather information about your members, process memberships, and keep members informed about upcoming opportunities. Integrating your new website with your AMS will help save your team time and energy by automating many administrative tasks.

As your association prepares to select a CMS for your new or current website, look for a platform that offers API integration with your current AMS. This way, the two platforms can sync valuable information between them such as:

  • Your members’ profiles. Top AMS platforms facilitate the creation of comprehensive member profiles containing their contact information, records of their involvement with your association, and additional information such as certifications they have earned. With integrated systems, updates to their profiles made on one platform will appear on the other automatically.
  • Your existing members directory. This directory is essential to keep your members in contact with one another and can help newer members make valuable connections with more established ones. Integrating your AMS with your website will eliminate the need for dual entry. Any changes made to your members directory through your AMS will automatically reflect on your website.
  • Membership management. Membership registration and renewals are two essential tasks for any association. An AMS can automate payment processing, saving your staff time from having to manually process memberships.

When your AMS and your website platform work together, your association will be able to free up time to focus on your mission and reach even larger networks of members.

The process of creating a positive member experience begins as soon as they visit your association’s website for the first time. Ensure that your website is customized to your association to build connections with your members from the start.

3. Customize your website to your association.

One of your website’s most important roles is that of a reliable and trustworthy source of information about your association. Members, especially newer ones, will be more enthusiastic about engaging with your association online when your website is highly customized.

This is one of the main reasons why it is so important to choose a CMS that your team is comfortable using. When your association’s logo undergoes a makeover, for instance, or when you want to draw attention to a big upcoming event, you’ll want to be able to reflect those updates across your website as soon as possible. Using a non-technical CMS, your team members will be able to make these changes quickly and easily.

In addition to a CMS that’s easy to use, your association should look for web design features such as:

  • Templates with customizable branding options. Building your association’s brand recognition is especially important when it comes to attracting new members and getting them acquainted with your association once they join. Customizable website templates make it easy for your team to meet your association’s brand standards on your website.
  • Social media integrations. Make it easy for current and potential members to connect with your association through social media. You’ll want to select a CMS that offers social media follow buttons, sharing options and embedded live feeds for your website.
  • Add-on modules. Your members want to be able to collect the information they need and complete all necessary transactions on one central location. Add-on modules allow you to offer everything through your website without having to send your members to a third-party platform for transactions like event registration or member logins.

Once your association has chosen the right CMS to suit your needs, ensure that you have a good understanding of its features so that you can use them to their full potential. You can have a look at Morweb’s website design tips for more guidance on making an engaging website for your members.

If your association regularly hosts conferences and other events for members to attend, events management features can be an easy way for your team to manage everything from registration to ticket processing.

4. Manage events through your website.

Conferences and other events present an excellent opportunity for your association’s members to interact in person, share ideas, take part in professional development opportunities, and get to know new members.

Offering events through your website makes it easy for members to register and for your association to record their registration information.

Look for a CMS that offers an events page as one of its add-on modules. This way, members won’t be directed off your site to complete their registration. On-site registrations maintain trust with your members and makes the process more convenient for them. By choosing a CMS with events management capabilities, you’ll be able to:

  • Accept online registrations. Your association will gather your members’ registration information and accept payment through your website. If you integrate your website with your AMS, you can collect more in-depth metrics about your members’ event participation
  • Build excitement with event pages. You can spread the word about your event and increase attendance by creating an event page on your website. This page contains important information such as the agenda, location, activity schedule or even a live stream of the event.
  • Promote upcoming events on your homepage. Your website’s homepage is often the first place your members will go to for updates about your association. Choose a CMS that allows you to show a preview of your upcoming events to drive current and potential members to your event pages and increase registrations.

Whether you’re hosting an event, offering opportunities for continued learning, or have news to share related to your association’s work, your members will feel most connected when you update your website regularly.

5. Partner with a web design agency.

Keeping your current and potential members up-to-date on your association’s work and upcoming events is one of the most important functions of your website. Choose a CMS platform that makes it easy for your association to update your site as often as needed to communicate exciting developments.

Your association can best accomplish routine updates by selecting an easy-to-use CMS, especially one that facilitates front-end editing of pages. If you’re planning a complete makeover for your website, however, you may want to consider partnering with a web design firm. They’ll help you:

  • Determine your association’s goals for the redesign. What information, visuals, and additional display elements will best attract potential members to join your association? How can a redesign benefit your current members? A web design firm can help your association think through answers to these questions before you get started on your redesign.
  • Find ways to improve user experience for you and your members. Your website
  • should be a beneficial tool for everyone involved with your association. For you, it’s a convenient way to spread the word about upcoming opportunities, while for your members, it’s a central location for their engagement with your association. Work with your web design firm to improve the experience for both your members and your team.
  • Turn your ideas into strategies. Your association’s team members know what you want to communicate to your members, but you may not be experts in creating a website that will do so effectively. A web design firm brings their expertise to your process, allowing you to create a website that’s right for your association’s needs.

If you think that partnering with a web design firm sounds like the right choice for your association, check our Morweb’s checklist of qualities to look for in a web design agency.


For potential members curious about your association as well as many of your current members, your website is their go-to source for information. Use your website to draw in new members and better serve your current ones by designing a site that they will enjoy visiting and your team will have no trouble updating with the latest content.


Author Bio

Murad Bushnaq, founder and CEO of Morad Media and Morweb, is a man of many hats. Since its inception in 2004, Murad has acted as Creative Director, Technologist and creative problem solver. He is dedicated to helping nonprofits and associations to grow their online presence with Morweb, a robust website platform and content management system.

The 5 Key Ingredients To A Successful Email Marketing Campaign

This blog won’t be the first to tell you that you need a strong subject line, or a salesy call to action, or even a killer design, to have a successful campaign. What it will tell you is how to think strategically and holistically about your email campaigns. So, let’s go back to grade school (ahh, the simpler times) and use the 5 Ws to provide you with the fundamentals that comprise a strategic email marketing campaign:

WHO: Audience

Arguably the key piece in any marketing campaign, if you’re not reaching out to the right audience, it won’t matter how amazing your email is, it’s not going to perform well. Plain and simple. Whether you’re starting from scratch in terms of building you database of email subscribers or already have an established list, making sure you have the right contacts is key.

Starting from scratch? No worries. From web pop-ups that incentivize users to sign up for your newsletter to Facebook’s Lead Generation ads, there’s a myriad of ways to start building a qualified email list.

Already have a database? You’re off to a great start! But making sure your list is not only cleaned but GDPR compliant is key. Ensure that all contacts on your list have subscribed to receive marketing material from you before deploying your campaigns.

Some of most profitable campaigns that you can execute are those that are triggered by user behavior. From emails that kindly remind you when you’ve left an item in your cart to incentivized discounts on your birthday, email service providers (ESPs) such as Klaviyo have made it super simple to launch automation campaigns. Here’s some food for thought on other potential automations that drive a significant increase in revenue:

Lapsed Customer: have a large list of customers who haven’t made a purchase in a while? Send them an incentive to come back and make a purchase right at your average lapse point.

Large Lifetime Value: don’t forget about your loyal customers. By sharing new arrivals before they hit the shelves or discounting their next purchase over a certain amount, will not only show your customers you care and value their business but also help drive additional sales from the lowest hanging fruit.

Inactive Customers: The phrase “all is not lost” can be applied here. Most brands find that a large part of their email subscribers have not actually made a purchase. Use this as an opportunity to test out new email lay-outs, featured products, or incentives to learn how to better convert this untapped audience.

WHAT: Content & Design

Unfortunately, there’s not a black and white answer to what design or subject line is going to work best for your audience. The key here is to test, test again, and then test again. But remember to test one piece of the email marketing puzzle at a time so you can understand what variable is causing the desired (or undesired) outcome.

WHERE: Landing Page

This one’s simple. If you’re promoting a specific product, blog, service on your website, make sure you are driving the user to that specific page on your site. Dropping a user on your homepage will not only seem lazy, but creates a disconnect in the conversion flow, causing the reader to most probably leave your site immediately.

WHEN: Send Time/Day

Use your current email analytics to understand not just what day and time you receive the most opens or clicks on your emails, but when you see the biggest uptick in revenue. While you may see a 35% open rate on Wednesdays, if those opens aren’t driving revenue, you may need to reevaluate your deployment schedule.

Not sure where to start? Use Google Analytics to find out the highest trafficked day/times on your website. This can serve as a great starting point for testing your deployment strategy.

WHY: We’ll Let Our Results Speak for Themselves

When using the tips and tricks outlined above, our client’s email marketing campaigns have seen an average increase of 51% in revenue. Not to mention, the automation campaigns comprise 46% of the total revenue driven from these campaigns. If you want to start to see these results for your business, simply use the 5 Ws listed above. Happy Sending!

Author Bio

Danielle Butera is the Chief Marketing Strategist at Blueswitch. Her team of marketing strategists use their experience to drive traffic, create a larger customer base, and increase conversions for a variety of clients. BlueSwitch takes new or existing business to the next level by building a website that engages customers and drives sales.

Keeping Members Happy: 4 Quintessential Rules for All Associations

Taking care of your members should always be at the top of your association’s to-do list. But how can you make sure you’re doing the best job possible?

Whether your association is small-staffed or international, keeping your members happy will always be what helps determine the success of your organization. At the end of the day, the interactions and engagement you have with your members – those who pay dues to keep your association running – should be considered high priority.

In order to make sure your members stay happy and actively engaged with your association, it’s important to keep yourself accountable for the effort you put into servicing members. And luckily for you, there are key steps you can take to make sure you’re doing the most to make members feel valued, appreciated, and at home.

Let’s take a look at four quintessential rules your association should follow when servicing members and making sure they’re satisfied with their membership. With these rules in place, you’ll have a solid foundation for the ultimate success in member satisfaction.

Rule #1: Personal communication is a must.

When managing a large group of members, you may feel like reaching out to each one individually is a hassle. And while this may seem time consuming, it can actually make or break the way your members feel about your association.

At the end of the day, members want to feel like they can have genuine interactions with a real human being who understands their struggles and needs. If you leave members with an automated email or voicemail box, it may be the last time you hear from them.

Putting effort into communicating with your members on a personal level will show them the value you place on their time and money. Getting to know them on a first name basis, recognizing their achievements and anniversaries with your association, and reaching out throughout hardships can give you that personal connection members are longing for.

For associations with large memberships, or associations scrambling to find the time, making personal connections with every member may in fact be impossible. However, with association management or customer-relationship management software, you can use tech tools to help reach members quickly while also creating that personal touch.

Making the effort to know your members on a more personal level will help ensure they feel appreciated and happy with their membership experience.

Rule #2: Provide support and training.

No matter whether a member is brand new or been with your association for many years, offering customer support and training services can help keep them in the know in terms of making the most of their member benefits.

Providing tutorials on your association’s services can cut out a lot of the frustration and questions members may have when interacting with any member interface or website program you have in place. For example, if you use a chat forum or exclusive member web page, you may want to create a guide or video on each feature members can use on this site, as well as how to navigate the space.

You should also provide guides for benefits that require online access or any extra work that may come across as confusing. Does your association host webinars? What about online workshops? If members are not sure how to access these benefits, they may give up entirely, decreasing your member engagement on benefits you work hard to provide. But with a tutorial on these services, you’ll be sure to receive the member interaction you’re looking for.

Similarly, providing constant customer support can help members get any questions or concerns they have answered in a timely manner.

Create a space for members to contact your association’s staff in case of a question, comment, or concern. Whether this is a voicemail box or email address (which is answered by a real member of your staff), there should be a way for members to have their voices heard and responded to by your association.

You can also provide emails that explain any changes that occur at your association giving members tips on how to navigate new features and what they can expect from these changes. By warning members ahead of time, you’ll mitigate any stress due to unexpected change.

Rule #3: Track and execute member complaints.

If your members are coming to your association’s staff with problems or concerns, active listening is not going to be enough to keep them satisfied.

Members want to know that the problems they’re facing with your association’s interface, member benefits, or anything of the sort are actually being addressed from within. Members don’t want your association’s staff to just apologize, they’re looking for active change and a better experience in the future.

This is where complaint tracking and execution comes into play. Your association needs to take ownership for any hardships they cause members, respond to these complaints in a timely manner, and assure members that their problems are being looked into and taken care of.

A great way to do that is to keep members in the loop when troubleshooting issues. Having a space where customers can view their complaint tickets and see if problems are being addressed is a great way to ease their minds when waiting on answers. They can also see how many complaints they’ve submitted, whether or not those complaints have been solved, and what solution your association has come to.

Rule #4: Keep a customer-first mentality

And finally, the most important rule of the bunch: Make sure your association always acts with customers in mind.

Keeping your mentality focused on the satisfaction and happiness of your members will propel you to make decisions and changes based on member needs and wants. You should consider your members in every decision you make, from switching up the software you use, to increasing your dues fees, and anything in between.

You should also be sure to give your members each their own equal share of attention and respect, as well as those interested in joining your association. Treating your potential new members like a welcome part of your community can only increase your chances of recruiting them into your association’s membership.

With your members in mind every step of the way, your association can be sure the decisions it makes are the best for those who matter most.

Keeping your members happy is a tall order to take on, but by implementing some core rules, your association can make sure members get the best treatment possible.

Author bio

This guest post was contributed by over friends at Web Scribble, a job board platform that helps associations all over the world increase member benefits, member engagement, and non-dues revenues.

3 Digital Member Acquisition Strategies to Grow Your Base

Recruiting (and retaining!) dues-paying members is not only paramount to the longevity of your association for financial reasons, but an ever-growing membership also correlates with your organization’s potential for industry-wide influence. Your members are essential to the success of your association. As such, member-based groups should be constantly seeking new avenues to discover prospective supporters with the goal of motivating them to join the association. Fortunately, recent research suggests that association membership is generally on the rise across the country. In fact, as reported in the 2018 Membership Management Report1, nearly half of the associations surveyed saw an increase in new members over the past year.

What does a national trend in growing memberships mean for your association? To put it simply, engaging in new member acquisition is an opportune and worthwhile undertaking. There are many different methods that your association can employ to search for and gain new members, both offline and online. In this blog post, we are only going to focus on key online tactics you can use to grow your base. In this digital age, online member acquisition efforts should be a cornerstone of your association’s membership growth strategy.

The internet offers countless possibilities to find and attract prospective new members. From producing web-based content to digitally involving current members, online strategies are both useful and cost-effective. This blog post discusses three digital member acquisition strategies you can employ to grow your base. These strategies are:

  1. Implement an inbound marketing strategy to attract potential members
  2. Use paid advertising to target member personas
  3. Design and activate a digital “refer-a-friend” program

While one of these strategies requires a financial commitment in line with your budget, the other two are completely free tactics that your association can use to grow its’ online presence and reach likely supporters. Building comprehensive online member acquisition strategies can take time, but the net result of attracting new members to your professional or trade association is undoubtedly worth it in the long-term. Here’s our first tip:

1. Implement an Inbound Marketing Strategy to Attract Potential Members

Inbound marketing involves the creation of purposeful content (such as blogs, social media, and search engine optimized posts) that provide educational value to your targeted audience2. Ultimately, the goal of content creation is to motivate readers to download pertinent items, generating new leads (prospective members) for your organization. Targeted content brings in interested readers who are searching for helpful information online. The best part about a solid inbound marketing strategy? After crafting and publishing high-quality content produced by the brainpower of your team, the major legwork is done! The beauty of inbound marketing is that relevant content doesn’t have an expiration date. Once helpful material is produced, your content will continue working on behalf of your association’s membership growth strategy over time. As you build up your association’s digital content library, your work is simultaneously improving your association’s online visibility and increasing the chances that your ideal prospective member will organically find the website.

Here are a few tips to producing an effective inbound marketing strategy:

  • Focus on search engine optimization3, also known as SEO. For associations, SEO will involve a variety of ways to ensure that your website and its content appear high in search rankings, so interested readers easily find your materials. The goal of SEO is to drive organic traffic to your association’s website while becoming a trustworthy source of relevant information, dare we even say an industry thought leader! A great resource for charting an SEO-driven marketing path is to check out Moz’s Open Site Explorer tool4.
  • Create industry-relevant eBooks, webinars, or guides that seek to educate your niche audience. For example, if your association includes members who work in the retail industry, publishing downloadable infographics that discuss industry trends and insights might be of interest to your ideal member. As an added bonus, educational content will also create additional value for existing members, enhancing member retention efforts.
  • Ensure your content is mobile-responsive. In this digital age, we’re always accessing information on our smartphones on-the-go. It would be unfortunate if a likely supporter found one of your association’s eBooks online, only to discover that the format was incompatible with his or her iPhone and left your website before even reading the eBook’s first sentence! Ensuring that your association’s content is mobile-ready is key to a lasting and effective inbound marketing strategy. To put it succinctly, “mobile technology is an imperative” according to Fonteva5.

2. Use Paid Advertising to Target Member Personas on Social Media

Now that your association’s team has developed an arsenal of interesting and educational content for your audience, an important step is to share it far and wide. While inbound and content marketing material will serve your association without paid advertising, promoting your material with the help of paid media can’t hurt either!

Paid advertising can help grow your base by expanding the reach of your association’s content and deliberately surfacing the materials to the right people.

The goal of this type of paid media campaign is to attract the interest of your target audience and guide them to download information from your website. A key component to conducting a successful paid advertising effort is in targeting the right personas, or detailed mock-ups of likely supporters6. It can be helpful to think of your association’s member personas as “pre-members”. Some questions to ask yourself when creating each target persona are:

  • What is this typical member’s job responsibility?
  • How old is this member? How does this member’s age impact their involvement in the association?
  • What value does the association bring to this member?
  • What is this member’s education level?
  • How does this member interact with the association’s industry?

It is okay to get detailed when developing member personas, but remember to allow room for variation as well. Both Facebook and LinkedIn allow for very specific targeting of criteria, and Twitter provides multiple options for tailored targeting.

3. Design a digital “Refer-a-Friend” program

Attracting and retaining membership is important and strategic work that requires a year-round approach. For an association, updating and iterating on a membership growth strategy is imperative. Every creative idea you have to attract new members has merit. One of the most effective member acquisition strategies is to implement a referral program! Why? Your membership is your greatest resource. Each of your members’ has his or her own personal and professional networks that likely includes individuals who would be a great match for your association. In essence, a member referral program involves requesting that your current members suggest to their own contacts that they join your association. Since we are focusing on digital tactics to grow your base in this blog post, here are a few ideas on designing and implementing a digital member referral program.

  • Design your member referral program. There are multiple ways to design a successful referral program, so focus on developing a program that fits best with your association’s current membership and marketing operations. One referral structure is simply to ask that your members send a personal, informational email to a friend or colleague about the association and CC your membership coordinator on the email. This is an easy way to track which of your members is engaging in the program and personalizes the outreach in a meaningful way. Another way to organize a member referral program requires a little more tech savviness. Work with your technology team to implement a pre-filled text box with language that can be sent to prospective members from current members with one click of a button. The easier the task, the higher the likelihood that your members will follow through on the ask.
  • Send an introductory email to your existing members. In launching a referral program, it’s important that you spread the word! While adding new website content describing the referral program is great, the first step in introducing a new practice is to send an introductory email and get your members excited.
  • Incentivize your members to refer their contacts and/or colleagues7. There’s nothing quite like a prize to motivate the masses to participate in an activity. Incentives can vary based on your association’s industry area and type of member. For example, if your association operates in the coffee industry, sending your members a branded or personalized coffee mug could inspire them to join your referral program. Of course, digital gift-cards are also coveted and easy to pass along to active members. Lastly, remember to be patient with your members!8 Hopefully, engaged members will contribute to your referral program promptly; however, it is important to remember that building a digital referral program takes time.

We hope this article has provided you with three actionable member acquisition ideas you can put into motion at your association soon. Members are the lifeblood to every association, and as such, developing and executing a membership acquisition strategy should be a top priority. Good luck!

Author bio

Cleo Dan is the Vice President of Communications at Muster, a civic technology company providing online advocacy, grassroots engagement and data analytics solutions to organizations of all types.

Sources

1. http://marketing.marketinggeneral.com/acton/form/6893/0011:d-003b/0/-/-/-/-/index.htm
2. https://www.hortongroup.com/blog/why-your-association-needs-inbound-marketing
3. https://moz.com/beginners-guide-to-seo
4. https://moz.com/blog/one-giant-leap-for-link-data-announcing-open-site-explorer
5. https://www.fonteva.com/2016/12/07/will-virtual-reality-become-reality-for-associations/
6. https://blog.bufferapp.com/marketing-personas-beginners-guide
7. https://associationsnow.com/2018/08/membership-hack-referral-incentives/
8. https://www.fonteva.com/2016/02/04/maintaining-healthy-relationships-4-important-keys/

The Association LMS: 5 Reasons Why Your Organization Needs One

There are a variety of reasons that people join associations. These reasons include networking, leadership development, and oftentimes professional development – all translating to your members looking for opportunities to grow.

When it comes to networking, face-to-face events still take the lead. These face-to-face networking events can also combine leadership development and educational programming. However, in today’s world we also want to be able to connect with people outside of a scheduled networking event. We want to be able to learn outside of a face-to-face conference. We want to be able to do these things whenever we want, from wherever we want.

As the world continues to deliver us so many things right when we want them, the demand for the ability to learn online continues to grow. Your members are experiencing this in both their personal and professional lives, and have come to expect the same from their association.

How can you easily deliver content to members online? An LMS! An LMS is a Learning Management System. If your association is not already delivering educational content online through an LMS platform, you are already falling behind in the digital transformation. If you’re still not convinced, we’ve outlined some of the top benefits of having an LMS:

1. Accessibility

First, there is the practice of accessibility to make your LMS usable by as many people as possible – traditionally thought of as people with disabilities but also benefiting other groups – such as those on mobile devices, or with slow internet connections. When you are going through your LMS selection process, it’s important that you make sure your LMS is ‘accessible’ by these definitions.

Second,  make your educational content accessible. While face-to-face conferences or events will probably never disappear, they include travel costs and time away from work and family. With an LMS, you’re delivering on-demand content from these in-person events, webinars, and from original content created through authoring tools such as Articulate and Captivate. You can also utilize the LMS to live stream webcasts from those in-person events or professional studios!

By delivering all of this content on-demand, you are enabling your members to grow, to receive required continuing education credits and further engage with their association, whenever it is most convenient for them, from the comfort of their home, office, or anywhere else in the world. And by delivering your learning content in a variety of ways, you give the learner ability to not also choose when they want to engage, but how. By giving them choices, this gives the content longer lets for wider access ability for members. This also allows you to expand your reach outside of those members who are willing and able to attend your in-person events.

2. Cost Savings

Yes, an LMS costs money. However, it helps significantly save costs associated with traditional training and education. For example, you may be hosting the same meeting multiple times in different cities – this translates into venue costs, food and beverage, travel, and time!

Alternatively, you could hold the entire meeting online via a webinar, or live stream a webcast from one location. This also allows your members who cannot afford (whether it be time or money) to travel to these in-person meetings the ability to attend online or take an on-demand course after the fact – allowing them to continue their education and engagement while saving money and time.

3. Non-Dues Revenue

In addition to creating opportunities for your organization (and your members) to save some money, an LMS should provide you the opportunity to also generate more non-dues revenue. Your LMS should have eCommerce capabilities as well the ability to integrate with the eCommerce functionality within your AMS or CRM, if you’d like all of the purchasing to happen in one place.

Within these eCommerce tools, you should have the flexibility to offer different pricing scenarios – such as member vs. non-member, attendee vs. non-attendee. Features such as product bundles and coupon codes can also allow you to market content in different ways and continue increasing sales. It is important to remember that eLearning is not bound by the same constraints as in-person events and to use these new opportunities to multiply your revenue potential.

4. Learning Assessment and Education Management

Again, LMS stands for Learning Management System. Whether that learning is required continuing education, optional certificate programs, or watching on-demand webinars and conference sessions here and there for some just-in-time training about specific topics, it can all take place on the LMS.

Part of the accessibility of courses and education via an LMS also means easy access to tests and assessments, instructor-led virtual learning, automatic certificate generation and credit management. Whether your learners are receiving automated rationale on tests to manual feedback from instructors to providing their feedback to associations through surveys, your learners will continuously be assessing their online education.

In addition to learning assessment, the LMS can also serve as the repository for all of the learner’s awarded certificates and continuing education credits. You can also have this information written back to your Association Management System (AMS) with the appropriate level of integration, or to a community platform, allowing your learners to show off achievements to their peers.

5. Data & Analytics

At this point, it’s clear that an LMS can expand your organization’s reach, potentially help you cut down on some face-to-face costs, and generate additional non-dues revenue. Once you create the content, organize your courses, and have learners visiting your LMS; you receive more than just additional revenue and engagement – you now have data!

An LMS allows you to track and maintain a lot of great learner data. You can easily see the popularity of courses and events, the points where learners are falling off and disengaging, what people are purchasing, and if specific marketing tactics and promotions are successful. Utilizing this data, you can monitor, analyze, and improve learner adoption as well as behavior and financial performance, allowing you to outpace your competition.


In this ever-changing world where we continue to become more and more reliant on digital, where your members expect more from your association than before, it is important to stay ahead of the curve and continue to be seen as an industry-leader in your field.

Whether your goal is to expand your reach to more members, more learners; to cut down on costs or to increase non-dues revenue, one goal all organizations have in common is to retain members and grow memberships. As the competition heats up with platforms such as Lynda and Coursera, it even more important to understand that an LMS is a vital part of many organizations’ digital ecosystem and that without one, they will be left in the past with their face-to-face conferences and mailed certificates.


Author Bio

Jocelyn Fielding – Director, Marketing & Sales Operations

Jocelyn is responsible for all marketing activities at Blue Sky eLearn, as well overseeing sales from an operational standpoint. She has over 10 years of experience in sales and marketing, with 7 of those years being spent at Blue Sky, marketing and selling to associations, corporations, and pharmaceutical companies. When Jocelyn isn’t working, she enjoys being outside – whether hiking or heading to the beach. She’s also an avid traveler, has been to six of the seven continents, and is always planning her next trip (or two!).

7 Tools That Will Grow Your Association and Events in 2019

Marketing for events and associations is harder today than ever before. The internet has democratized information, education, networking, and purchasing. Attendees and members have more options, which makes it tough for you to stand out.

Sponsors, exhibitors, and other partners have more options, too. They no longer rely on the One Big Annual Event to collect the majority of their leads or to put new products in front of qualified buyers.

The increased competition is healthy for the industry as a whole, but it presents an enormous challenge to individual marketers who must rise above the din.

And that isn’t even the most challenging part! Association marketers have more options, too. Too many. Way too many. Take a look at the now-infamous Martec 5000 slide to see for yourself:

The number of tools, technologies, and channels available to marketers today has grown to a laughable level of complexity, and shows no sign of tapering off any time soon.

But despite the staggering number of choices, the basic tenet of marketing events and associations hasn’t changed: demonstrate the value of your service to qualified people, and make it easy for them to choose it.

Now, not every marketing tool will help event and association marketers do that, but the right tools in the right combination will. And after helping to grow more than 200 associations and over 1500 events, Feathr has learned what works and what doesn’t. They’re excited to share some actionable recommendations with Fonteva readers for a digital toolkit that every event and association marketer should use to meet (and exceed!) their marketing goals in 2019. Seven high-converting tools they recommend are:

  • Geofencing
  • Paid Search
  • Paid Social
  • Partner Invites
  • Attendee Invites
  • Landing Pages
  • Retargeting

Let’s learn a little about each one.

1. Geofencing

Powered by GPS and RFID technologies, geofencing is a tool that enables targeted advertising to a pinpoint physical location, served to mobile devices within the virtual boundaries of that location. Geofencing can serve ads to locations as specific as an individual street address.

When qualified prospects are gathered together in one place, a geofencing campaign will ensure that your message gets seen on mobile devices in that location. It’s an extraordinarily efficient marketing tool, especially for top of funnel/brand awareness campaigns. Association and event marketers have been especially successful when geofencing competing events, aiming membership messaging at college campuses to boost student membership, and for sponsor/exhibitor prospecting, by geofencing the offices of prospective partners.

Learn more about geofencing for events here.

2. Paid Social Advertising

Paid social advertising operates on the same concept as traditional display advertising, except ads display exclusively on social media platforms such as Facebook and LinkedIn. Because social networks know a lot about their users, targeted social advertising can be incredibly precise.

Advertisers like yourselves get to learn the location, industry, job titles, and interests of their prospects. This enables hyper-targeted marketing messaging that ensures marketers are reaching the right people. Prospects aren’t bombarded with ads that don’t apply to their interests and advertisers aren’t wasting money showing impressions to unqualified people. Paid social advertising also has the added benefit of reaching prospects where they spend most of their online time.

Of course, paid social shouldn’t replace your association or event’s organic participation in social media, but when used strategically, it will significantly boost your online audience and expose more qualified people to your brand.

3. Paid Search

Paid search is a form of advertising triggered by prospects’ web search behavior, and like each marketing tool mentioned here, it precisely targets qualified prospects. Unlike programmatic advertising such as retargeting, prospects don’t need to have visited your website or interacted with your advertising before they can be targeted by a paid search campaign. They include themselves in the campaign by searching the web for phrases you identify as relevant to your organization’s goals.

When you run a paid search campaign, you choose a set of search terms, and when people search for those terms, they see your ads. Simple as that. All you have to do is choose which search terms are likely to be most relevant.

Paid search is especially useful for building new audiences, since it introduces people to your messaging for the first time. It ensures that ads and prospects are perfectly matched.

A good way to start with paid search is by using Google’s free keyword planner. Try it out!

4. Partner Invites

Word of mouth advertising is the only kind you can’t buy. But you can nurture it with the right incentives. For example, every one of your event partners has their own unique audience, and that audience can be yours too. Persuade event partners to promote their involvement with your event by offering custom collateral such as social sharing images, customized emails, and ad creatives they can use with little additional effort on their part. This is a reliable way to get them to promote for you, putting your message in front of your partners’ audience’s qualified eyes.

To further encourage participation, Feathr has seen great success from customers who offer special discounts or programs to event partners who register a certain number of attendees through their invite collateral. More tickets for their team, a sponsorship upgrade, a bigger booth…get imaginative. But make sure your invite supplier offers customizability at scale and analytics for partners to track their own referral campaigns. It makes your job easier and offers partners quantitative data about the success of their own campaigns.

5. Attendee Invites  

Attendees are another powerful source of referrals. They are unlikely to have the reach of brand partners, but they have a critical advantage: the trust that comes from a personal recommendation.

As with partner invites, events have tried to generate attendee invites for some time – usually by including a request and maybe a special coupon code or registration link in the registration confirmation email to each registered attendee.

But new solutions make attendee invites more compelling and trackable than ever. With such a solution setup, each event registrant will be prompted to invite friends and colleagues that are part of their network right as they register online.

Then, as the organizer, you get to see how many attendees are actively advocating your event and how many new registrations those invitations have driven. Such attendee invite programs also improve the accuracy of your future marketing and help identify influencers in your audience.

6. Landing Pages

These are simple, custom webpages to which advertising clicks are directed. They are the modern alternative to the common practice of directing email, paid advertising, and referred traffic clicks to either your homepage or a registration page.

Homepages tend to bombard visitors with information. They have menus with links, contact info, membership services, a member portal login, event information and more. And all of that information is useful – for the right visitor.

The strategy behind custom landing pages is to give visitors all the information they need and none they don’t – based on the interest they’ve displayed through responding to a specific ad or email. In essence, a properly designed landing page will include just the information required to drive responders from a campaign through to a particular action.

That action could be to register for an event, sign up for membership, or even just request more information. The call to action is up to you, but the conversion rate will increase. When shopping for a landing page builder, look for one that offers attractive templates and easily scalable production.

7. Retargeting

Retargeting is a form of smart display advertising served to segments of your own web audience. Retargeting only shows advertising to individuals who have already visited your website, a strong indicator of interest in your association and its events. Retargeted ads can display on nearly any website, so your message catches your audience wherever they happen to be online. On average, it has a 10x higher conversion rate than standard display advertising.

Like all the targeted advertising tools in this article, it relies on the principle that marketing performs best when it aligns with the unique interests of those it is served to. It means you’re not wasting money on cold, unqualified prospects. They already know you. They already like you. And as a result, they are significantly more receptive to your advertising.

It’s simple, too: just choose your segments (examples of segments are people who visited your registration page, people who visited your “why exhibit” page, people who visited your “benefits of membership” page, etc.), design a message and creative that would resonate with that segment, and a campaign budget. Some Feathr customers run a dozen or more different targeted advertising campaigns in the months leading up to their events, and many see 100x ROI and higher, since display ad space is cheap and event tickets are valuable. Retargeting is effective, precise, and easily scalable.

Read about specific retargeting campaigns that boost event attendance right here.

These technologies represent what Feathr considers to be an ideal combination of marketing tools for association and event marketers in 2019 and beyond. They target interested prospects, drum up organic interest from referral audiences, and offer analytics to quantitatively measure ROI. Put simply, they work.

There are plenty more tools, tips, and insights about how to grow membership and events in the digital age over on the Feathr blog. We encourage you to check it out!

Author Bio

Chris Hillman is Director of Content at Feathr, the marketing toolkit for events and associations. Feathr is based in sunny (and swampy) Gainesville, Florida.