To be successful and grow in the modern marketplace, membership organisations need to better align their digital marketing strategies with the way people actually find and choose companies to ‘do business’ with.
People are tuning out traditional, disruptive marketing tactics like banners, pop-up ads and cold email blasts, while social media, search engines, and mobile apps have transformed consumers from passive recipients of information to active researchers, creators and distributors.
Members and prospects want tangible benefits and positive outcomes in return for handing over their membership fee.
The ‘inbound marketing’ method embraces this change by focusing on ‘getting found’ by qualified prospects through remarkable online experiences, and by producing relevant and helpful content that solves users’ problems. The approach is perfectly suited to designing marketing strategies for membership organisations, aligning with the common values of customer service, mutual benefit and tangible value.
Speak to your prospects when they want to talk to you
Inbound marketing uses permission-based, customer-centric techniques like Search Engine Optimisation (SEO), content creation, email, and social publishing, to meet potential customers where they are, at the right time, and in the right context.
By demonstrating value and educating your prospects (rather than selling to them), organisations build credibility and trust, which leads to engagement and loyalty once prospects hand over their credit card details and cross the threshold into membership.
Ready to add inbound to your marketing arsenal?
Here’s an overview of the marketing tools and techniques your membership organisation should be using at each stage of the customer’s journey to create a member experience that’s engaging, compelling, and builds long-term loyalty.
Let’s take a look at how you could put this together for your membership organisation.
*Before you start, it’s important to put a digital strategy in place and work out what you’re trying to achieve and who your audience is. Download our Digital Marketing Campaign Checklist for guidance through those early steps and start your inbound marketing strategy at a run.*
Attract potential members with content
Membership organisations are all about providing their members with value, and how better to do that than by answering their pressing questions?
When your potential member starts searching for answers in Google, what do they type? Create captivating content that uses similar language and phrases to attract that person to your website and establish yourself as a caring organisation that supports your members needs from the start.
Some examples of how membership organisations can use content to attract their target audience include:
- An employment union could create How-To videos that walk someone through the steps required to complete a claim.
- A sports fan-base could design infographics with results and statistics to help someone with their tipping league.
- A credit union could write a blog that gives advice about saving for a car or house.
- A subscription-based beauty organisation could offer How To videos of useful beauty tricks.
- A political party could put together a calculator that helps someone decide who to vote for based on their beliefs.
Connect with prospects by offering value
Once you’ve captured potential member’s attention with helpful and remarkable content, the next step is to ask them to share their contact information so that you can begin a conversation with them and nurture them down the path to membership over a period of time.
Offer your prospects something of value in exchange for their contact information via an online form – at the very least, you’ll want to get their email address. Remember: people don’t like to give up their contact information freely, so make sure that the resource or content piece you’re offering is high quality and meets the needs or solve the problems of your target audience.
Some examples of valuable content offers and resources for membership organisations include:
- A workers’ union could create a ebook on workplace rights and what to do if you’re being treated unfairly.
- A medical association could write a whitepaper with an in-depth analysis of the regulation of e-cigarettes.
- A credit union could create short, educational video tutorials that teach subscribers how to fill out a tax form or apply for a loan.
- A not-for-profit could provide a tool or app that helps people make more informed choices at the supermarket.
Convert prospects into members
You’ve attracted potential members to your website and captured their contact information, but now you need to transform those leads into paying members. While some leads might be ready to sign up right away, others need more convincing before they hand over their credit card details.
Start to build a trusted relationship help leads become more ready to buy by nurturing them with a series of personalised emails focused on helpful, relevant content and offers, for example:
- The workers’ union could nurture leads who downloaded the eBook on workplace rights with case studies that show how they successfully advocated for higher wages for individual workers.
- The medical association could offer those who downloaded the whitepaper the opportunity to trial their CPD tracker for free.
- The credit union could nurture leads down the path to purchase by offering a free online demonstration of their banking platform.
- The beauty organisation could entice leads to sign up by offering new subscribers a ‘beauty box’ gift for a limited time.
Keep members actively engaged
Inbound marketing isn’t just about attracting new members. It’s also about keeping your current members actively engaged, happy, and inspired to spread the word about your organisation and its services to their friends, family, and social networks.
Continue to engage with members both online and offline, and offer remarkable, helpful content and offers by email, on social media, and on your website, to delight and reassure members that they made the right decision when they joined.
- A sporting organisation could hold a members breakfast and invite a high profile sportsperson to speak.
- A university union could hold a quiz night for members with lots of prizes and auction items up for grabs.
- A not-for-profit organisation could run a photo competition on Facebook with a lifetime membership as the winner’s prize.
- A gym could run an eight week fitness challenge for members with a welcome pack, awards and prizes for participants.