In this post, we’ll dive into four of the easiest strategies for marketing association membership through commonly used channels. We will also touch on how digital credentials for associations provide the tools to increase awareness through member-led marketing. Let’s get started.
1. Focus on Content Marketing
Content marketing is all the rage these days, and there’s a good reason why: It works. Prospective members who are looking for your services will often find you through internet searches. However, in order for them to find you, you need to have content out there that meets their search query.
Let’s say that a prospective member has the question: “How do I meet other (insert industry) professionals in (name of city)?” Ideally, you will create and maintain an article or blog post entitled “Meet Other (industry) Professionals in (city).” The prospective member decides to ask Google this question. Google will then return your relevant result, and now you have the opportunity to convert the prospect into a member.
Search engine optimization (SEO) is a key part of content marketing and requires more than simply creating relevant content. Articles need to be well-written and optimized around your target query or keyword. Relevant content is at the heart of SEO and content marketing but it should provide value to the reader. In order to capitalize on search engine traffic, you must create content that not only answers the question of the search engine user, but also inspires trust.
Make a list of all of the most important topics that you need to discuss for prospective members. What does a prospective member need to know before deciding to join your organization? Take a look at your most frequently asked questions. You can often turn each question into a full article. Then, after you’ve amassed a collection of around 10 articles on your website, be sure to connect the articles together through a series of internal links within each article. Each link should be relevant to the topic and help the reader to further self-educate on what the association membership offers and why they should sign-up.
Remember this: The goal isn’t to get a prospective member to join your organization after reading one article. The likelihood of someone joining immediately upon awareness of your organization is slim, although it would be nice if it did happen that way. Most prospects will not convert after experiencing just one interaction with your organization. Research shows that it requires nine interactions on average before a prospect “buys.” To further encourage prospective members to convert, include a clear call-to-action at the end of the article. This should be a button or link that encourages the reader to take the next recommended action, such as sign-up, enroll, contact enrollments, or contact us.
One way to encourage more interactions with your organization is to link to other relevant articles. Another way is to encourage email signups (with the help of a lead magnet). Through email, you can continue to market to your prospects without them being directly on your website or social media platform. Entice readers to sign-up by offering something in return, this could be email notifications when new content is published or a regular monthly newsletter that provides both association and industry updates.
2. Focus on Social Media Marketing
Social media is a great option for attracting new members to your organizations. Unlike content marketing and SEO, you don’t have to wait for prospective members to initiate a search. You can reach out to them by targeting the right audience. There are two ways to use social media to market your organization. You can either pay for promotion or you can allow connections to happen organically.
Organic reach is definitely more challenging these days because social platforms like Facebook and Twitter have become pay-for-play platforms. However, it is still possible to reach prospective members through free strategies. For example, consider posting a longer Twitter thread, creating a sharegraphic using industry statistics that is likely to be reposted, or hosting a livestream video from industry conferences or events.
Hashtags can help to increase the reach of your organic posts, especially on platforms like Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram. On Twitter and LinkedIn, one or two relevant hashtags can help to increase visibility of the post and present it to users that are following those topics. Make sure the content within your post is valuable, insightful, or intended to start discussion around the target hashtag topic. Rather than using the hashtag to increase visibility against irrelevant content which can quickly impact the amount of trust readers have in your organization.
To reach prospective members organically, you’ll need to think in keyword terms. Because you can’t promote your posts for free on social platforms, you’ll need to rely on optimizing your content for search. It’s very similar to what you’ll do for SEO. Once again, think like a prospective member, and create keyword-rich content that answers their pressing needs. Create and post content that users are more likely to share such as industry statistics or insights, association involvement with events, and pose questions that encourage readers to comment and engage.
One of the most effective ways to reach your prospective members is through paying for promotion on your social media platform. The most popular social media platform for doing so is Facebook. But the platform where you place your ads is largely dependent on the audience you are trying to target. For example, Facebook had almost 2 billion daily active users in early 2022 but time spent on the platform and user growth are both slowing. LinkedIn has a smaller active user base at 810 million but is growing fast, partly influenced by the platform’s growth during the pandemic. LinkedIn is also considered the ‘professional social media’ and has become a powerful tool in recruiting and B2B marketing.
- It’s wildly popular which means that your target prospective members are likely to use it
- It has a ton of information about its users
- It’s affordable with greater control over advertising budgets
- You can easily start and stop campaigns
- You can learn more about your target audience
While PPC and content marketing campaigns focus on keywords and search engine users, social media marketing focuses on audiences, interests, and behavior. Using the exact search term isn’t necessary. With Facebook marketing, you simply need to identify the right audience and deliver a relevant message.
There are several ways to create audiences on Facebook. You can create a custom audience based on criteria that you plug in. You can create an audience based on people who are connected to you (i.e., people who’ve joined your email list but haven’t become members yet). Finally, you can create an audience based on people who resemble, or look like, the people who are already connected to you. This audience is composed of people who are probably not aware of your organization yet. You can also use Facebook to remarket to people who’ve visited your site within a specific set of days. This allows you to target prospective members who are obviously interested but not ready to commit just yet.
- Four out of five LinkedIn users have the power to impact business decisions
- There is a variety of ad types available: sponsored content, sponsored messaging, text ads, and dynamic ads
- There are different pricing models available depending on the goal of the ads
- 75% of LinkedIn users are outside the US, increasing international reach
LinkedIn advertisers need to create a Campaign Manager account from which the advertising initiatives are set-up and managed. For each campaign, you will then need to set the target objective from the choice of Awareness, Consideration, and Conversions. Within the objective, you can further refine the goal of the ad such as boosting brand awareness, increasing visits to the organization website, and driving enrollments. Target audiences are defined through the use of job titles, industry types, company names, and professional or personal interests. Although demographic targeting is not as specific as Facebook ads, the audience is more likely to carry out the target action.
3. Activate Advocacy
Referral marketing plays a huge role in reaching prospective members. Not only can referral marketing extend your reach, it can be much more effective than other strategies on this list. If it isn’t already, make referral marketing an integral part of your outreach. Here are two easy strategies to explore:
You can simply ask members to refer your organization to their colleagues and friends. But to be more effective, attach a reward (e.g. earn $50 for each new member who signs up through your special account). In fact, consider setting up an affiliate network that’s mutually beneficial to you and the affiliate marketer. A small reward can better motivate your current members to spread the message.
Use digital certificates
If you don’t want to use monetary incentives to inspire referrals, you can use digital certificates. Instead of paper certificates that are meant to hang on walls (or get lost in file cabinets), a digital certificate is the modern evolution of physical certificates and are designed to be shared socially. Digital certificates are used to represent membership, replace or supplement membership cards, recognize affiliation or involvement, and reward personal or professional development.
Another key benefit of digital certificates is that they can generate referrals back to your site. Those who are interested in learning more about your organization can simply click on an embedded link right on the digital certificate. Your proud member or graduate can become a powerful marketer for your organization simply by sharing their digital certificates on social media. Learn more about digital certificates here.
4. Switch Up Your Membership Offers
Sometimes, a prospective member fails to join because of an undesirable membership structure. Do you have variety in your membership? Consider these options:
Offer a free trial – Free appeals to everyone. Some members need to simply try your program risk-free before making up their minds.
Offer short-term memberships – In addition to free trials, consider limited runs. While this option may not be right for every organization, don’t feel like you’re bound to the standard one year contract, either. You can offer six month agreements, or even month to month.
Offer increment billing – Instead of billing all at once, offer to bill on installments. For example, while the member may still be locked into a year agreement, they’ll only need to pay every month.
Offer a guarantee – Guarantees go a long way into inspiring confidence. Stand behind the touted benefits of your membership program by a money-back guarantee.
Offer multiple tiers of membership – Not every prospective member will need the full array of benefits. Consider portioning out your membership so that it appeals to a wider group of people.
3 Strategies for Using Digital Credentials in Marketing Association Membership
Digital credentials provide you a powerful tool in your marketing kit. Digital certificates are the digital evolution of physical certificates and are easier to share, while digital badges are less formal and can be embedded in email signatures and on personal web pages. Here are three strategies using digital credentials that you can use to increase awareness and referrals for association membership.
1. Encourage Social Shares
Made for sharing, recipients celebrate their latest achievements and membership by sharing their digital credential to their preferred social media platform. Their followers, made up of individuals that also make up part of your target audience, see the digital credential and click to learn more. They are taken to the dedicated digital credential page where they learn more about the program, the issuing organization, and can click through to the enrollment page.
You can encourage your members to share their association digital credentials by including targeted call to action buttons in the credential delivery email. Use link text such as ‘Share Credential’ or ‘Open Credential’ that tells your member exactly what action to take. The CTA is customizable depending on the association marketing strategy. For example, if you want members to share to Facebook, make the CTA ‘Share Credential to Facebook’. If you want members to add their newly earned credential to their LinkedIn profile, make the CTA ‘Add Credential to LinkedIn’.
2. Utilize Digital Credential Recommendations™
Accredible launched Recommendations in 2022 to enable issuers to reach more prospective candidates organically. Using a pay-per-click model, Recommendations intelligently places your credentials across relevant credential pages, the suggested credentials tab, and in CourseFinder search results. Individuals that are browsing these locations see the highly relevant and recommended credentials and are encouraged to click to learn more and enroll. Learn more about Recommendations here.
3. Add Your Credentials to CourseFinder
CourseFinder is an Accredible credential directory that is free to use and exclusive to our credentialing partners. You can add your membership credential or certification credentials to CourseFinder to promote your programs to prospective candidates. Individuals that use CourseFinder show a high intent to convert and on average earn between 3-4 credentials each. Credentials that are added to CourseFinder should be fully optimized to ensure they are returned in relevant search results. This includes planning a relevant and understandable Course Name, Description, Category, and Skill Tags, and including a link to the best place for the user to learn more or sign-up.
Marketing your association membership is the best way to increase your awareness of your association and drive growth by attracting new members. However, marketing should be done in relevant locations and show prospective members why they should be interested in your membership. This means showcasing the benefits they can expect, the value they get from their membership, and any introductory offers for new members. Using digital credentials, members champion your membership and provide avenues of authentic marketing, promoting trust and encouraging their followers to learn more.
Want to explore more benefits of digital credentials for your members? Get in touch with Accredible or request a platform demo to see membership digital credentials in action.
Download our Recruit and Retain Members with Digital Credentials Guide to learn how you can deliver additional value to your members and recognize their efforts to support the association. Research how your association can utilize the technology and platforms of today to drive membership growth and better retain existing members.
Use this guide to:
- Improve visibility of Association benefits to potential members
- Harness the reach of current members to recruit new members
- Engage and reward members for their contributions and growth
- Encourage members to participate and renew their membership