Competition in every industry these days is at a fierce level. With so many online platforms to manage, and not to mention your offline presence, it truly can be intimidating to stay competitive.
While all this may be overwhelming for some businesses, associations, in particular, have to fight hard to retain members and gain new ones. However, with all of this complexity to deal with, there are digital solutions that can help.
Associations should, therefore, be focused on creating a tech stack that’s geared towards strategically attracting new members, and then engaging them so they stay.
Modern age associations should be focused primarily on providing value to their members, and even transforming them into active advocates. This all comes from value.
Associations can leverage technology to connect more deeply and give people indispensable reasons to stay with them. There are many platforms, mediums, tools and other touchpoints that can enable associations to connect on a deeper level.
We’re not suggesting that associations should use all of these, but rather a subset of these touchpoints, that’s targeted towards their audience.
In this post we’ll be looking at the platforms, mediums and tools associations can use to digitally engage and influence customers.
1. Membership Directory
Associations can leverage their membership directories by integrating them into their website. Associations can even create a membership directory with Membership works, a membership software suite that makes it easy to manage all facets of member management.
Having a membership directory integrated on your website gives a better impression for your members and provides a dynamic experience for website visitors.
2. Membership Tools for Better Experiences
Associations absolutely need a membership management tool to automate processes such as event registration and membership payments. The traditional way of doing this was to either do it manually or through email, both very tedious processes.
Management tools can make these processes much simpler, efficient and organized. You want to use a tool that will make your job of managing members easier.
3. Staying Active on Social Media
According to the statistics, 94% of adults aged between 18 and 34 are likely to follow and engage a brand through social media. That’s the power social media has these days, and if you aren’t going social, you’re automatically at a huge disadvantage.
Of course, before deciding to go all-in on social media, you’ll have to decide which platform to leverage your efforts. Take some time to figure out which social media platform your members use the most.
It could be Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn and so on. Different platforms appeal to different audiences, so choose wisely.
Facebook is obviously the all-encompassing market leader when it comes to social media, but don’t rule out Instagram and LinkedIn either.
Make sure to post regularly on every platform so that your members stay connected and engaged with your association. Focusing your efforts on a single platform is a good idea, but posting from time to time on other platforms can also be helpful.
Facebook in particular, is a platform that caters to every need. It’s a place to hold events, post job offers, look for recommendations, and even run a charity drive. There’s nothing it can’t do, so keep Facebook a core part of your social media strategy.
Here are a few pointers to focus on:
- Facebook is the market leader and most people use it regularly. Make it a part of your strategy, even if your members are more active on LinkedIn
- Update your social pages regularly, but preferably choose one platform that will be updated on a daily basis
- Sharing content made by others does not equate to being active. Share the content that you think is shareworthy and provides value to your members. Sharing for the sake of being active will actually dilute your association’s image
- Create original content and share it on social media to communicate that your association cares about its members
4. Email Marketing
Many marketers believe that email marketing is dead. After all, with everyone glued to Instagram and YouTube, who has time to open their email?
It turns out in fact, that quite a lot of people prefer business communication to be carried out through email. 73% of millennials prefer communications from business through email. 99% of people check their email every day.
It doesn’t take a wizard to realize that email is still a very effective way of getting people’s attention. You just need to utilize it the right way.
Associations that wish to use email marketing should focus on it first to retain their existing members. Some ways to use email marketing:
- Create content and distribute it through email
- Create a newsletter that updates members
The important thing to realize with email marketing is that it’s almost useless if you don’t monitor and track your progress. Keep an eye on your open rates and click rates. This can easily be accomplished by an email campaign management tool.
You should focus the email copy to be about your members first, and then your association. Keeping members at the forefront of your campaigns will lead to deeper engagement and more loyalty.
5. Online Community Mobile App
With a members-only community mobile app, you can engage your members while they’re on the go, regardless of the device they’re using. Offer members the ability to easily search contacts, participate in discussions and stay up-to-date with association news and more.
Members that have the option to engage with your association at any time and claim its benefits will understandably lead to higher engagement.
Mobile apps are also a great way to recruit younger members because their technological expectations are highly centered around mobile devices.
Members who download your app should have reason to continue using it. So keep pushing regular content and news updates through the app to keep them engaged.
Sam Makad is a business consultant. He helps small & medium enterprises to grow their businesses and overall ROI. You can follow Sam on Twitter, Facebook, and Linkedin.