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Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Inbound Marketing to Raise Your Membership

Last month I attended the annual ASAE Technology Conference in Washington, DC for association technology professionals, and I had the chance to meet many people who were looking for emerging technologies to help advance their organization. One of the common themes that I heard from my conversations was that these organizations were looking for ways to increase their membership.
One great way to increase membership is through inbound marketing. If you haven’t heard of the term inbound marketing before, it refers to the marketing methodology focused on creating and sharing content online that appeals to target visitors and customers. By creating content that your members and potential members care about, you will not only attract them, but you will keep them coming back.
I noticed that while increasing membership was very important to associations, most of them were not doing any sort of inbound marketing. I found that many are still reliant on the more traditional outbound marketing methods, such as cold calling, direct mail, and print ads.
Below are a few methods Fig Leaf has been using to help associations and other organizations with their inbound marketing efforts. These methods lay the groundwork for a successful strategy to increase membership and reach new potential members from your target audience.
Social Media
Taking advantage of your organization’s social media tools is a great way to gain interest in your association. We’ve seen some association only update their Facebook and Twitter pages every few months or so. It takes constant engagement to get people excited about becoming a member, even if they are just short updates on an event that your organization is attending. I read an interesting stat that the average value of an association Facebook “Like” is $214.81 over 12 months.  Stats like this show how a small investment in social media can go a long way to helping your association grow significantly.

Discover how else social media can fire up your membership sign-ups with our Social Prospecting WorkBook.

Similar to Social Media, the idea with blogging is to create interesting content. The content that Fig Leaf creates for association blogs will rarely include information about becoming a member, but content that members can benefit from, and thus bring them to your website. For example, a membership organization for dance instructors could post a blog about the hottest new dance spots. Another benefit to blogging is that it will help present your organization as a thought-leader, so you can build credibility in your industry. At Fig Leaf Software our motto is to blog as often as you want to be heard, so we try to blog at least once a week.

If you are just getting started utilizing a blog, read our Intro to Business Blogging eBook, to help you start reaping the benefits of this marketing channel.

If you aren’t able to measure the success of your blogs, social media, and other marketing efforts, then you won’t be able to improve. Fig Leaf focuses on analytics that go beyond basic Google Analytics for website traffic. As part of inbound marketing, we learn how potential members are interacting with your association web and mobile sites, and what methods for converting them into members are successful.

Email Marketing
Another great way to attract new members is through an email newsletter campaign, where you send out emails to include information about your association, your industry, or stories about how similar members have benefited. Email marketing can be tricky because you want to make sure that you are sending out helpful information, and that you are not overly promotional and ending up in spam folders. Fig Leaf Software recommends to balance the content of an email marketing newsletter to be 90% educational and 10% promotional.

To learn more factors you should think about as you build your inbound marketing strategy, and some tips and tricks to raising membership, please download The Nonprofit Guide to Inbound Marketing

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