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Marketing Automation for Associations: 3 Workflows to Turn Leads into Members

Marketing, Membership Lindsay Rutz

For associations who are new to marketing automation, it can be intimidating and feel impersonal, but it’s quite the opposite. Automated workflows create opportunities for associations to improve marketing initiatives, boost membership numbers and drive growth.

Another perk of automation is you are able to learn more about your audience through campaign interaction and engagement – which is especially helpful when marketing your membership to new leads, longtime prospects and lapsed members

Here are three automated workflow examples your association can implement into your marketing automation strategy to turn leads into members. 

Workflow #1: New Leads

Let’s imagine – A web page visitor searching through your content has come across one of your benchmarking reports about the industry you serve. They thought this information would be valuable and decided to provide their email address to access the report. Their email address is now stored in your database for you to use in marketing automation campaigns to drive further engagement, and ultimately, membership. 

Using this information, you can create personalized workflows that are tailored to the new lead’s interests based on their digital interactions with your association. The purpose of this campaign is to build brand awareness and promote interest in your association

An example of a potential workflow could be:

  1. A thank you email for downloading the report with links to industry content
  2. Follow up about one week later with another piece of content that’s related to the report’s information
  3. If the new lead has clicked on the links you’ve provided, invite them to subscribe to your newsletter
  4. If they haven’t interacted with the links, send another email 7 to 10 days after the second email with a video discussing an industry topic and a CTA to follow you on social media for more industry content

Once you have gained the attention of your new leads and see them interacting with your automation campaigns, you can filter them into nurturing workflows that will prompt them to become a new member.

Workflow #2: Longtime Prospects

Your longtime prospects are going to be your best targets for new members. They have interacted with your association many times, which means you have gained valuable insights into their interests that will help you market membership more effectively to them. From their online interactions, you have a better understanding of:

  1. The type of content they’ve downloaded
  2. If they’ve subscribed to your blog or newsletter
  3. What events and webinars they’ve attended
  4. Resources they use like your career center or learning management system
  5. What they aren’t interested in and don’t interact with

After this information has been analyzed, you can “score” your longtime prospects so you know who the hot leads are and which ones need more nurturing. 

As an example workflow, let’s say you are targeting longtime prospects that have attended your most recent virtual event. Here is how this automation workflow could go:

  1. Send an email with a link to a survey about your virtual event for feedback and engagement purposes
  2. Send a thank you email to those who respond to the survey with a link to your events calendar 
  3. Send a second email to those who didn’t respond to your survey, asking them fill it out about one week after the first email
  4. After a few days (either from the thank you email or the second survey email), they’ll receive an email with news or information related to the topic of the virtual event
  5. Those who responded to the survey AND clicked on the link will get an email inviting them to join your association about one week later
  6. Those who don’t meet this criteria are placed into a new lead nurturing workflow based on their previous digital interactions

Workflow #3: Lapsed Members

Let your lapsed members know you want them back! Since they were once your members, you can use previous data to win them back. Remind them of some of their favorite benefits and what new ones you offer that complement or supplement the older ones. 

Here is an example of a workflow for memberships that have lapsed in the past few months:

  1. The first email will be a CTA to renew their membership – “Don’t miss out on our new career advancement resources – Renew your membership today!”
  2. Send a second email to those who don’t renew after the first email – include more information about membership benefits they would be interested in with another renewal CTA
  3. About 7 to 10 days later, a reminder email will be sent with new, relevant content and another CTA to renew their membership
  4. For those who still haven’t renewed their membership, send a short survey asking them why – include another CTA to renew
  5. Follow up with those who responded to the survey and a few of those who didn’t to see how you can improve your membership – others can be directed to another nurture workflow

Investing time to reach out to your lapsed members will be beneficial to your association. You can learn how you can improve your membership strategy and why they lapsed in the first place. Also, some of these lapsed members could have just forgotten to renew and just needed a quick reminder!


Marketing automation makes the process of membership marketing quick and easy. Your staff will have more time to focus on other important projects, but the effectiveness of membership marketing won’t be affected by automated workflow campaigns. Once your association becomes more comfortable with marketing automation, you can implement other automated campaigns for event promotions, course and training registrations, and more!

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