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3 Association Marketing Strategies From a Membership Manager

As an association, conversions of leads to members and increasing member renewal rates are two of the most important aspects to consider when creating marketing strategies.

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As an association, conversions of leads to members and increasing member renewal rates are two of the most important aspects to consider when creating marketing strategies.

Yet, many associations still struggle to convert potential members into dues paying members. In addition, associations with first year member renewal rates below 60% are more likely to see future memberships decline.

Recent data collected by HubSpot, sheds light on other common marketing challenges many organizations encounter. This includes getting ROI from marketing activities and using the best technologies for the needs of the organization-- both which are vital for achieving membership goals at an association. Web Scribble recently spoke with Jill Murphy, Membership Manager at the Society of American Military Engineers. Jill has been busy revamping SAME’s membership marketing strategies since she took on her position in 2016. She gave us a glimpse into some marketing tips that could also be applicable for any association’s membership marketing strategies.

1. Communicate with all teams in your association

A common mistake associations make is creating marketing plans without communicating with other teams in the organization. This is not an efficient way to work in any business and can ultimately have a negative impact on the membership goals you are trying to reach.

So, to create the strongest possible membership marketing plan, your association should prioritize communicating with all the teams that make up your organization. Doing this will ensure that all critical elements such as recruitment of members, products and services, and general brand marketing are all tied together. Jill discussed how actively communicating marketing goals and ideas with all the various teams in SAME has been beneficial to her association. By bringing marketing strategies to the board and discussing how she plans to help grow the organization, as well as ideas for maximizing revenue, she has been able to get everyone on the same page.

2. Organize memberships for a clearer marketing plan

According to Jill, one issue she has experienced while working as SAME’s Membership Manager is the reorganization of the membership structure itself. SAME has a large range of professionals and demographics that makes up the member base. Before Jill, there was no formal membership recruitment program or tracing on non-members. After clean up of the database, SAME had a clearer idea of who were not members. This organizational impact allows them to better market to the people who are not members, and to those that are, which ultimately supports the growth of their membership.

3. Implement strong email marketing strategies

Email marketing is one of the best tools for a high ROI, the metric that shows how much the return on your email marketing investments are, and generate new member leads. But common mistakes made in email marketing can interfere significantly with both your ROI and overall lead generation. Some common, yet serious mistakes that are often made when using email marketing are excessive emailing of similar content, bundling too many offers in one message, and not making messages personal to each member. The National Mail Order Association believes these mistakes are more likely to push people away than spike their interest, which is therefore detrimental to your association meeting membership goals. With the average open rate for an email sent by an association of 32.36%, having strong email marketing strategies is essential for enticing more potential members to ultimately grow (and retain) your membership. Jill has avoided these common mistakes when emailing members and potential members of SAME. For current members, personalized emails are sent to collect dues annually, as well as to communicate with various chapter leaders about the latest information.  Similarly, personalized messages are also used for prospective members. For those who have been to some of SAME’s events, Jill will offer personal deals to those people based on their participation in those events. Strategies like this have shown great results in generating new memberships for the association. Jill spoke about some membership strategies she followed in the last organization she worked at that brought good results. “Things I’ve done in the past is reach out to anybody who had attended an event in the previous year, or was new into the database in the previous year, and offer them a ‘join now and get 15 months for the price of 12.’ That was always a really good way to get people on board.”

Overall, in order to reach your audience via email, you must make your email content relevant and clear. Your association can do this by simply personalizing email subject lines, which has been said to increase your open rates alone by about 26%. Jill Murphy and the Society of American Military Engineers have a firm grasp on the marketing strategies that work best for growing and maintaining association memberships.

By following these three simple (yet essential) marketing strategies, your association’s membership marketing team will be much better equipped to make membership goals a reality for the entire association.