The landscape for association membership has changed drastically over this past year. As a result, associations of all sizes are struggling with how to best engage existing membership to reinforce membership value and showcase the value of membership to prospective members. We’ve pulled together five simple marketing tactics for associations to leverage.

Membership growth drives

associations membership growthWord of mouth remains one of the most powerful ways to promote a business, including associations.  Here are a few interesting statistics about word-of-mouth marketing, according to SEM Rush:

  • Most marketers (83%) use word-of-mouth marketing because it increases brand awareness.
  • 43% of marketers use word-of-mouth marketing to increase sales.
  • 64% of marketers agree that word-of-mouth is the most effective form of marketing.

For associations, that means leveraging your current member base to help recruit more members. Peer-to-peer word-of-mouth communication provides a personal perspective that is hugely effective in bringing new members to your association. Unfortunately, many associations don’t use the often-overlooked tactic, yet it’s fairly easy to do. While it could be as simple as asking current members to refer new potential members, a coordinated membership growth drive can be even more effective, offering incentives to those who help bring in members while providing materials such as email templates or flyers for members to use. If your association cannot spiff current members for recruiting new members, even recognizing efforts without any kind of spiff or compensation is still powerful as associations are only as strong as their active members.

Email marketing campaigns

Email Marketing Tips for BeginnersTo keep or grow membership, associations need to consistently communicate the value of membership. Email marketing campaigns can do just that by showcasing member benefits or highlighting individual members. As a channel in your association’s marketing mix, email marketing can be one of the most effective forms of marketing on a mass scale if done correctly. Is email marketing really a viable tactic still? Yes! Check out these stats:

  • 73% of millennials identify email as their preferred means of business communication. (WordStream)
  • 80% of retail professionals indicate email marketing is their greatest driver of customer retention. (WordStream)
  • Email marketing earns $38 for every $1 spent. (Campaign Monitor)

YourMembership put together a great list of email marketing tips and ideas for associations. Be sure to use a reputable email marketing platform like Constant Contact, Mailchimp, or AWeber so you can segment lists, review reports, and monitor results.

Have active social media channels

social media channels for associationsSocial media is about creating a community online, creating a sense of familiarity by seeing what an association is all about regularly. For any of your social media channels, speak to topics that interest prospects and current members. For example, talk about funds you’ve raised, resources you offer, events you’re hosting, or legislative accomplishments that will benefit those in your industry. Encourage engagement and ask for feedback to build community. Engage your audience in a two-way conversation, and you will create a very effective resource for new members while keeping your existing members involved. You’ll also nurture those people to be brand evangelists for your association.

Maintain an informative and engaging website

Many members look to associations to provide value which includes resources, education, and industry updates. All of this can be done by maintaining an informative website that members can use to obtain the resources and information they need. One feature your website should include is an active blog where you can provide up-to-date information about the association, update membership benefits, showcase existing members, and more. Work with a small business marketing consultant to set up your blog and suggest a content calendar to follow to ensure your blog is updated regularly.

Solicit testimonials from your current membership

testimonialsPotential members are more likely to believe testimonials from existing members when it comes to the value of membership over anything an association may say about itself. That’s why it’s important to constantly ask for testimonials from your current members and showcase those testimonials on your website. In addition to sending testimonials to you, happy members can go to any number of 3rd party sites to write a testimonial for you, including Facebook, Google My Business, and Yelp.  The best way to get a testimonial from your current members is to ask!

Marketing your association doesn’t have to be a challenge. Leverage one or more of these marketing tactics to maintain your membership base and attract new members!

Patty Hughes
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