This team has a deep understanding of high-touch community management
and is uniquely positioned to support the types of individuals who are accepted for membership.
With more than a decade of experience working with a range of associations and nonprofits, we can help your organization wield the digital marketing world to help with your many different initiatives – from membership growth to advocacy to fundraising.
Every organization brings a unique set of challenges and opportunities to improve member relations, broaden organizational awareness, and generate initiative conversions. That’s why we bring a data-driven, strategic approach to your comprehensive digital strategy that is rooted in your social mission and organizational goals.
Our Digital Marketing Services for Associations and Nonprofits
Our online marketing experts can customize a digital strategy that fits your business objectives. Here are some of the services we offer.
Digital Marketing Strategy:
We provide comprehensive strategies and implementation plans that are tailored to your nonprofit or association’s needs. This work can also include internal process and governance consultation.
Social Media Marketing:
We can offer your nonprofit or association a wide breadth of social media services. Click here to review our full list of services, including paid campaigns, content creation, channel growth and reporting.
If you’d like to learn more, visit our Social Media Services section.
Search Engine Optimization:
We can improve your rankings, maintain best practices, and create SEO-driven content that will lead new audiences to your site.
If you’d like to learn more, visit our SEO Services section.
Search Engine Marketing:
Whether it’s signing up for an email list, making a donation or membership, we can build and manage customized PPC programs that achieve your traffic and conversion goals.
If you’d like to learn more, visit our PPC Services section.
Email Marketing Solutions:
Our email marketing experts develop successful campaigns focused on providing your membership and/or potential new members with positive online experiences. Our strategic approach to email design, content and delivery ensures the right messages reach your audience.
If you’d like to learn more, visit our Email Marketing section.
We can help your organization better utilize, understand and leverage the power of online analytics to measure current programs and identify new opportunities.
If you’d like to learn more, visit our Web Analytics section.
As associations become more competitive, modern marketing efforts are providing unique opportunities for organizations to grow its visibility and increase its membership. Whether your organization is looking a mobile friendly and responsive website, want to update company marketing collateral to stay relevant, or need a marketing strategist to sit with your board to formulate marketing strategy, Epion is your solution.
With Epion, we will integrate our team’s strategic and technical marketing expertise with your organization’s team and company vision. We don’t do cookie cutter solutions. We customize every marketing plan to best align with your association’s goals to create a more effective outreach initiative. That’s the beauty of working with a local firm that doesn’t have 100 mouths to feed.
Our customized plan for your association will integrate strategy, website, digital advertising, and social media to create a united marketing front.
We are excited to serve your Association as a local company located in Arlington, VA. Epion is a strategic marketing, branding, and design company that serves associations, nonprofits and foundations in the Washington, DC, Virginia and Maryland area.
We work in a digital world, but our interactions will be people centered. Give us a call today, we’re right around the corner!
Digital Marketing for Associations & Nonprofits
CUSTOMER EXPERIENCE, TRENDING TOPICS, DIGITAL GOVERNANCE, INTEGRATION
How to Meet and Keep Members for a Lifetime
Marketers still struggling with outdated systems and old-school marketing tactics can’t compete in a digital world. With membership rates and renewals in decline, association and nonprofit marketing has never before depended so heavily on digital maturity.
Is your organization among the two-third of associations suffering membership losses in the past year? According to a recent 2016 Digital Benchmark report renewals are either in decline or at a complete stand still. Lack of member engagement is likely the main reason.
The key to growth and retention? Simply put, members need memorable, dependable and relevant experiences. The member experience should add value, whether it be one-click access to member only information, or personalized website experiences and campaigns. Members want to feel known, connected with and served. Delivering these experiences is known as digital maturity, and marketers who employ digital strategies hold tremendous power in their space.
“For association to compete in today’s high-speed digital world, they must deliver top-notch digital member experiences,” explains Cruce Saunders, founder of [A].
“A digitally mature organization will communicate with and serve members in ways that drive member acquisition, improve retention, and that connect and increase loyalty and engagement,” he says. “With the right digital tools and strategy, the return on investment is easy to prove.”
With one-third of individual member organizations indicating a decrease in five-year membership numbers, it’s more important than ever to stay relevant and connected to members. Members and charitable givers are constantly distracted by a multitude of competing channels, messages and free social and networking communities of our digital era.
Many of the organizations attaining member growth and engagement are those seizing the power of the data hidden within their CRMs and Association Management Systems (AMS). The AMS is commonly used by associations and nonprofit organizations to manage membership data, interactions and events. Best of breed AMS solutions provide an end-to-end interface for managing all aspects of membership. The leaders are those integrating member data with an enterprise marketing system (EMS).
Think of the AMS as part CRM and part back-office accounting functions. Now pair the AMS with an EMS. Together the two can enable member-centric content personalization and behavioral marketing. This means simplified membership processing, event and training registration, enhanced and automated communications and campaigns, and effective fulfillment of other association marketing needs.
Make the most of your content and deliver top-notch digital member experiences. SCHEDULE A CALL.
The ideal member experience is delivered by using an AMS as the primary membership database and then integrating the AMS with platforms like the Kentico EMS to create personal and easy onsite experiences and closed-loop marketing campaigns. Digitally empowered organizations also use these technologies to streamline internal systems and processes for major efficiencies and return on marketing investments.
More About Kentico for Associations and Nonprofits
Kentico’s full set of integrated solutions, include the Kentico Web Content Management System (WCMS), the Enterprise Marketing System (EMS), support for E-commerce, mobile, and online communities, intranets and collaboration.Kentico EMS functionality specifically coupled with an integration into the AMS enables member-centric content presentation and marketing, including membership processing, event and training registration, member and prospect communications and other association marketing needs.
We use strategy and experience to generate results
Our team specializes in on-page and off-page SEO as well as PPC. We have a proven track record in increasing search engine rankings for our clients. Our strategies are designed to achieve one or more of the following goals:
Call To Action
Inspire the target audience from social networks to visit your website
Encourage dialogue and coverage from influential people and related sites
The art of turning strangers into loyal customers that frequently buy
We can help you achieve great results across several key areas including Search Engine Optimization, Social Media Marketing, Email Marketing, PPC and Digital Marketing. Our clients in the Washington, DC metro area and beyond trust us as their marketing partner.
We combine creative ideas with our vast experience in search engine marketing to deliver measurable results for our clients. We can help you build relationships with your audience by engaging them with your brand using our digital marketing services.
t’s no secret that member organizations such as societies and associations have been experiencing member attrition for a number of years. In an industry where a decline in members is common, it can be difficult to qualify the success or failure of your own marketing efforts. While the goal of these efforts is ultimately an increase in membership, another helpful tool for analysis is benchmarking your efforts against those of your peers. The answer to the question, “How are we doing?” can certainly be answered in a vacuum, but another relevant piece of the story is realized in comparison with similar organizations and there is much to be learned from shared experience.
Three organizations published membership marketing benchmarking reports this summer—the 2016 Association Email Marketing Benchmark Report by Informz, Association Marketing: 2016 State of Digital Marketing in Associations by Demand Metric and the 2016 Membership Marketing Benchmarking Report by Marketing General. Each report gives excellent insight into the marketing efforts of a broad range of member-based organizations.
This article draws from all three reports to offer a broad picture of the state of marketing in the association industry. It also presents ideas for how you might improve your own marketing initiatives.
BEFORE MARKETING COMES MARKET RESEARCH
Knowledge of your members and your industry is the bedrock of a strong marketing strategy. One would expect that by virtue of their status as member organizations, associations automatically have greater knowledge of their constituents than retailers and other organizations that target the general public. However, a majority of associations do not collect relevant member information. In Demand Metric’s survey, only 30 percent of respondents reported membership insight capabilities.
This is a decline of 11 percent compared to 2015. Organizations that do not take the time to understand membership trends are not well positioned to effectively reach current members, let alone future members. Demand Metric reported that 80 percent of societies with a high understanding of their members also claim high marketing effectiveness. Societies that do not have in-depth understanding of their members only felt they had 50 percent marketing effectiveness.
There are a variety of inexpensive, simple ways to collect member insights including surveys, focus groups and personal interviews. Survey Monkey offers a free account for surveys 10 questions or fewer and Google Forms is another free option for surveys. Focus groups can be scheduled during annual society meetings when a group of members are together in person or done virtually. Interviews can be formal, scheduled events or a focused set of questions you instruct society staff to ask whenever members call in. Consider taking the conversation public. You can use social media platforms like Twitter and Facebook to pose a question to your followers. You’ll not only find out what your members think, you’ll engage the community in an open conversation.
However you decide to gather information, your members’ point of view is invaluable. Ask about what members see as benefits, what else they would like from the organization and their preferred way to receive information about the association. Ask what prompted them to join the society and what keeps them on your member roster. Ask about professional goals they have for themselves and how your organization might better support those goals. Think about the marketing tactics you are considering and what member insights would help you decide which tactics have the best chance for success.
TAKE THE TIME TO MAKE A PLAN
Once you have the information from your member research, take time to thoughtfully consider what activities make a positive contribution to your organization’s mission and what activities fall short. Then make a plan. Strategic plans are especially important for organizations run primarily by volunteers and part-time employees. The frequent turnover and variety of opinions can easily lead to inconsistent and disjointed marketing. Setting goals and clearly communicating them throughout the organization helps leadership, staff and volunteers stay on the same page and work toward the same goals.
In your plan, establish multiple tactics for achieving each goal. Classic marketing wisdom dictates at least three touch points to result in an action. Assign responsibility and create a timeline for each marketing campaign from inception through execution.
Email is one of the most effective membership marketing tactics for societies; 77 percent of organizations in the Demand Metric report claim email as an effective tactic and 56 percent of Marketing General respondents identified email as one of the recruitment tactics that earned their organization new members. Only one percent of societies reported not using email.
The Informz report explores association email marketing in-depth. The average open rate in 2015 was 36 percent. Marketing General reports similar figures for open rates—40 percent for renewals, 33 percent for event marketing, 32 percent for association news and 21 percent for new member campaigns. The Informz report cited 1 to 5 emails per month were sent by 71 percent of respondents. There was no correlation between number of emails and open rates. Open rates are driven more by relevancy than frequency.
Even organizations that have not engaged in focused research often have access to member information via member directories, membership applications or purchase history. Use this information to help tailor email messages to segmented groups, such as new members, members who have been in leadership positions before, members who attended the annual meeting, members with specific interests in the field, etc.
Informz also calls out automated email as a tactic with recent success. Automated emails are triggered by an event and each subsequent email occurs automatically based on an activity by the recipient or a pre-defined schedule. This format allows organizations to steadily send out small bits of increasingly more targeted information. If a recipient clicks on a link in the first email, a subsequent email can give more information about that topic. Or if a recipient does not click on the call to action in one email, the next email can prompt the action again in a slightly different way. In one example, an organization replaced a new member welcome email with a campaign comprised of three automated emails. The open rates jumped from 18 percent to 63 percent. Most email systems, such as Emma and MailChimp, have or are adding functionality to assist with automated email campaigns.
An important factor to consider with modern email is that 41 percent of people read email on their mobile device. So test your email campaigns to make sure they are both functional and engaging across multiple formats.
Seventy five percent of Demand Metric survey respondents indicated event marketing as a successful membership marketing tactic. According to the Marketing General report, four of the top 10 tactics that earn new domestic members were related to event marketing. The same report indicated that events are an especially effective marketing tactic for organizations with fewer than 5,000 members.
Market your event properly and you could be adding names to your member roster before the event even begins. Consider strategically pricing events so that non-members save money by becoming members before registering for the conference. If you choose this tactic, make sure that anyone who takes registration over the phone understands the plan and can suggest membership to anyone who tries to register at the nonmember price. Another pre-event marketing tactic is a free registration contest. In 2016, the National Athletic Trainers’ Association (NATA) ran a contest for two free conference registrations, housing and airfare. People entered by sharing a photo of a colleague they would like to see at the conference with the hashtag #bettertogether. NATA members selected a winner through votes.This contest gave people a chance to show appreciation for colleagues and highlight a perk of the conference—spending time with the fantastic people in their profession. It also gave NATA great content to re-share.
Schedule strong speakers and develop an interesting program. Then organize supporting activities to enhance that program. Stations that give attendees an opportunity to interact not only make participants feel more involved in the event, they give participants the opportunity to make a contribution that they will naturally want to share with their peers. The Society for Scholarly Publishing hires a graphic recorder who captures the keynote speakers in words and images and also collects feedback from participants throughout the conference. These images are photographed and shared frequently by attendees. If you have a tight budget for your event, consider soliciting sponsors to cover the cost of additions like this. Sponsors who want more bang for their buck will do their own promotion, making life even easier for your marketing team.
Decide on an event hashtag and make sure attendees know it. Be active from your organization’s account throughout the conference. The more moments in an event that are easy and natural to share, the more likely attendees are to talk about the event and your organization.
During the event, also take advantage of the fact that a group of people in your field are all physically together in one space. Host a special coffee or cocktail hour for those interested in becoming a member. Have current members and leaders speak briefly about the impact the organization has had on their career and invite attendees to ask questions.
A lot of member organizations host annual meetings, but smaller, regional events can also add value for your members and provide another opportunity for marketing and member engagement. Consider adding more focused events in person or even virtually through a webinar. Think outside the box. Contests, social events and unique networking events may be more appealing additions to your members’ busy schedules than another education-only event.
WORD OF MOUTH
Word of mouth marketing is excellent because it is effective— 69 percent of Marketing General respondents said word of mouth was the reason new members joined the society. Another benefit of word of mouth is that members do most of the legwork. To celebrate their 175th anniversary this year, the Royal Society of Chemistry asked members to dedicate 175 minutes to chemistry and share their contribution with the hashtag #Time4Chem. The campaign draws positive attention to the society and its members and generates buzz. All the society did was establish the campaign and tell members about it. The members stepped in and carried it out.
Social media is an excellent tool for word of mouth marketing. The society’s responsibility is to create shareable content and give members a reason to talk about the society. The beauty of social media campaigns is that while your organization may view the campaign as a marketing tactic, members see it as another opportunity for engagement. The more your members engage with your organization the more likely they are to stick around.
Ninety-eight percent of societies use social media, but only 56 percent say it is a successful membership marketing tactic. A social media presence is almost as important as a website for organizations today. It gives another avenue to share content and also offers an easy way for people to get in touch. Marketing General reports that 76 percent of societies say that participation in their public social media networks is growing.
When deciding what channels to use, refer back to your initial member research. Do not waste your time on platforms that your members and potential members do not use. Prescheduling posts is another opportunity to save time and make social media feel more manageable. Most platforms allow users to schedule posts directly on their accounts, but for ones that do not, a third-party application like Hootsuite can be useful.
If you are having trouble getting members to engage on social media, consider inviting some of your more active members to help get the conversation started. A bellwether can help lead the flock and there is no shame in giving serendipity a little push by asking for deliberate participation from a few influential members of your community.
In the midst of executing your marketing tactics and especially when you sit down to plan for the next year, it is important to analyze the results of all marketing. In this article we supplied numbers and statistics about what works for many societies, but your organization is unique and needs to examine what it working for you.
The Demand Metric report notes that the number of marketers who conduct data analysis has declined from last year to only 53 percent. Analysis takes time and training, resources that are precious to a society with a small staff, but the training and time must be viewed as an investment in making better decisions and achieving goals.
Hopefully this information can help you benchmark your current membership marketing and think more strategically about your future membership marketing.
For society marketing ideas, check the Allen Press Pinterest page where we pull together innovative organization marketing for inspiration.
DEMAND METRIC. Association Marketing: 2016 State of Digital Marketing in Associations
Accessed August 15, 2016.
INFORMZ. 2016 Association Email Marketing Benchmark Report
Accessed October 13, 2016
MARKETING GENERAL INCORPORATED. 2016 Membership Marketing Benchmarking Report
Accessed August 19, 2016.
Specific Support for Member Associations
This team has a deep understanding of high-touch community management