March 12, 2024

As we're building back from Covid we're seeing a lot of organizations struggle with their memberships. It almost feels like you’re starting from scratch, having to test out new communication channels to see what works and what doesn’t. Traditional marketing techniques can be effective, like sending out your postcards and your mailings, but with the world used to communicating digitally as a result of the pandemic, we're finding a lot of success with launching digital marketing campaigns with our clients.

Digital marketing reaches a wider audience quickly and, often, at a lower cost than traditional marketing. If you are looking to start or expand upon your digital strategy, the first thing you need to do is identify your target audience. Figuring out where your membership base lives on a digital landscape can help define where you’re going to focus your marketing efforts. An easy way to do this is to survey your current membership. Ask them questions about how they currently receive communications and news updates and which channels they prefer (Social media? Email? Website?). 

If you find a lot of traffic is visiting your website, you'll want to use it as a conversion tool. Optimize your content, create compelling visuals and develop clear calls-to-action so that web visitors turn into members. This is also a great opportunity to utilize paid advertising (like Google ads) to drive more traffic back to your website. These types of paid ads allow you to segment viewers by their location, interests and other demographics.

You'll also want to consider taking advantage of social media. Yes, we know, social media is overwhelming. But posting consistently to just one platform is a great start. No matter which platform you choose, you’ll want to encourage engagement with your followers and really highlight all the benefits of joining your community. There are three steps to developing a social media strategy: Inform, Engage, Educate and Entertain. 

  • Inform: Start a weekly campaign that explains your organization’s mission, its work, and the benefits of joining. 
  • Engage:You can then add in a second weekly post that poses a question to respond to or add in highlights an industry fact that is then linked to an article
  • Educate and Entertain: Once you develop a following, you can then continue to grow your social media presence with video clips, testimonials, and information on your programming, education, and events. 

Whatever you end up posting, make it personal to your audience and always include information about becoming a member.

If you have a decent amount of email contacts, start a monthly newsletter and include your upcoming events, writings from an industry expert, and any other benefit that your members receive from joining your organization. Make sure to include information on a variety of topics and offerings and feature different members- especially if your association serves an industry with chapters or a variety of segments. People will only read what applies to them, so to keep email open rates high, you want to make sure your newsletter provides value to as many people as possible.  Just like posting regularly on social media builds your online presence, keeping a consistent schedule is also key to ensuring a high engagement rate.

Another idea is creating an event around membership. For example, offer a limited-time promotion or discount on membership fees. Or hold a membership drive that provides new members a free webinar or other bonus after they sign up. These membership events should last no longer than a month at a time. Setting a deadline can create a sense of urgency that motivates people to join your organization.

Utilizing any one of these digital marketing strategies will help boost membership. Remember, your organization does impactful and important work, so don’t be shy about bragging! Let people know why they should join and how being a member will benefit them.

If you need a little extra help, partner with AH to improve your membership acquisition strategies! To learn more, download our Digital Marketing Toolkit or contact us at