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Samantha Lake Posts

Is Your Association Talking to the Right People on Social Media?

Social selling relies on connections, so how do you make sure you’re connecting with the right people? Talking to the wrong people means wasted time, and much fewer leads than if you talk to the right people. The trick is to qualify your leads before you even talk to them, but how can you do that?

Use Member Profiles

To talk to the right people, you need to know who the right people are. That’s where member profiles or personas can help you. By building up member profiles, you know who you’re looking to connect with before you even start.

ConsultingA detailed profile of your ideal member can help you figure out:

  • Who they are
  • What their needs are
  • What specific problem you can solve for them
  • What kind of language they use (not what you think…read on!)

Armed with this information, you can go about finding your ideal members, and reaching out to them in a way that speaks their language and directly addresses their needs.

Member profiles also help you segment your prospects so you can tailor your social posts to each specific group, rather than using a catch all approach. A tailored approach is much more likely to bring you the results you want.

Member profiles get you into the mind-set of your prospects so you can see your association through their eyes, and better understand how to present it in an appealing way.

Listen To Your Members

Your members are the best people to tell you what they need and whether you can provide it. Listen carefully to what they’re saying on social media. What do they talk about, ask or complain about? What are they looking for?

The deeper your understanding of your members, the more accurately you can determine how likely they are to recommend your association. Pay attention to their intentions too; the way you approach a prospect who is looking for information will be different from how you approach a prospect who is showing signs of being ready to join.

Do Your Research

Always research your leads before approaching them. With a group of prospects, that means understanding their needs, motivations, and place in the cycle, as outlined above.

When it comes to individual contacts, make sure you know who they are and what they do. What makes them a good lead for you? Do they have the kind of decision-making power you need them to have? If they’re a business contact, what is their position in their company, and what power do they have to make or sway decisions?

When it comes to research, social prospecting is a must. Social prospecting means finding qualified leads from within your network and beyond, meaning that you’ll focus your efforts on the people who are most likely to convert.

Having a good grasp on who your leads are and what makes them qualified before you start will increase your chances of focusing your efforts on the right people, and converting leads into members.

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How to Grow Your Association’s Membership with Marketing Automation

Can marketing automation help grow your association’s membership? Simple answer, yes. Marketing automation is the use of software to automate your marketing processes in a much more efficient way, and to deliver consistent, timely, and relevant content to your prospects and members. For associations, utilizing an automated marketing software can translate into growing membership by allowing you to do the following:

Keep Brand Consistency

Brand consistency is essential for your association. You want to make sure your message is strong, clear, and consistent across all channels. Through marketing automation, you can plan out your entire campaign and see the overall structure as a whole. This allows you to make sure there is consistency. For potential new members, they will easily be able to understand your association’s message. Having this strong voice will attract those prospects.

Boost Member Engagement

gears_marketingYour current members play an extremely important role in the growth of your association. With engaging members, they can help spread the word about your association and recruit new members. If prospects see this engagement and passion from your current members, they are more likely to want to join. If all your members are silent, then the attractiveness of your association will suffer. Without their help it may be difficult to grow and continue success. With automation, you can monitor which members are engaging and help push content to those who are not.

Maintain Current Members

Just as it is important to grow and find new members, it is equally as important for the success of your association to maintain the members you already have. Losing members is not a good sign for the growth of your association. If prospects see satisfied current members that have been with the association for many years, it will certainly increase their likelihood to join. Through marketing automation, you can send out personalized content to all of your different members based on their needs to keep them engaged and attract new members along the way.

Track Content to Your Prospects

When you automate your marketing efforts, you have the ability to automatically send out specific content at specific times. Just like points along a “sales funnel,” you are giving them targeted messages at the right time to push them through to join the association. Also, you have the ability to track what they click on to better improve those tailored messages. When tracking prospects, automated messages push their general interest into commitment to your association. Turning interest into commitment, means turning prospects into members.

Increase Flexibility

Marketing automation, like mentioned before, allows you to send what you want, when you want, to whom you want. Give prospects what they want by tailoring your message to each recipient. Your automated campaigns are created by you and can be altered to what fits your association’s message. Just set up your steps, import your prospects and members, and boom – your marketing automation software takes care of the rest!

Most associations have one overall goal: Gain and retain members. Using marketing automation software allows not only maximum reach to prospects, but also constant personalized content to current members. By taking care of your current members and targeting prospects with information that is relevant to them, you are increasing the ability to grow and succeed as an association.

 

A Note From The Author

If you like what you read here, I encourage you to read the Association Marketing Toolkit, which is full of additional resources, tips, and ideas for marketing your association!

Marketing Automation for Associations

 

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Online Marketing: Tools You Need to Succeed

It’s no secret that the Internet has well, taken off. So my question to you now is, how developed are your online marketing tactics?

With almost 300 million people using the Internet in the United States alone (according to Internet Live Stats), I hope your answer is very.

Yes, I know there are so many options and offers floating around out there. They are all intended to help you and your association drive traffic to the website and generate leads through inbound tactics, but the question is, what is right for you?

Unfortunately, in today’s hard and fast world of information, there is no shortcut to marketing your website online. If you want your association’s website to get the kind of attention that draws members to your services, you have to develop a basic strategy with three core fundamentals.

Successful Online Marketing

The path to successful online marketing begins with an understanding of these modern marketing essentials:

  1. Search engine optimization
  2. Content marketing
  3. Social media marketing

Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

SEO_scribbleSEO is the practice of organically boosting the visibility of your website on search engines. With Google and YouTube as the top search engines of the time, it is important to research how your site can cater to the preferred means of optimization for these engines.

There are many tactics and best practices to enhance the ranking of your website. A few that I strongly suggest are:

  • Precise, one-of-a-kind page titles
  • Better quality page structure
  • Rich, genuine, appropriate keywords on all pages
  • Backlinks from respected websites
  • Consistently updated, relevant content that is shared
  • Images and videos rich with important words and descriptions

Basically, constructing a firm SEO strategy starts by providing genuinely sold content that incorporates keywords pertinent to the content you have chosen. It takes time and genuine effort to maintain a search engine’s endorsement, but through content sharing, keywords, and a great site you could become successful through your SEO practices.

It is said that almost all searchers click on the first site that appears on the search engine, so if your website is how you intend to grow your association, SEO is pretty important!

Content Marketing

Before the days of web surfing, finding your prospects was your job and your job alone. But now, everything has changed. It is your job to make it so that your prospects can find you.

How do you do this?

Through providing valuable, genuine, relevant content! Nobody wants to be told what they should do and why, not when a world of information is available at their fingertips. That’s why you need to provide content that shows your potential and current members why your services are right for them.

Online content can be many things. A few ideas for you are:

  • Blogs
  • White papers
  • Podcasts
  • Educational videos

Keep in mind that search engines like Google monitor content, so as previously mentioned, creating and acquiring genuine content is a process that takes time and effort. As a marketer for your association it should be your intention, regardless of shortcuts, to provide authentic, germane content in the name of the services you provide.

people_talkingSocial Media Marketing

Once you have your content and SEO packaged neatly, apply a social media strategy to tie it together. It is important to know that search engines take the number of likes and shares of a page into consideration when ranking.

Also, consider why it is called ‘social’ media. Regardless of the number of fans or followers you have, without interaction your efforts are meaningless. In order to be successful with search engines, the content you provide can’t be dormant. Active engagement and sharing is absolutely required in order to boost your ranking through social media. Besides, search engines aside, these networks give you the opportunity to communicate with your current and potential members the way they want.

To sum it up, if you want to be successful in today’s marketplace, the Internet is where you need to be. Yes, it’s different from the generation running the workforce today and the previous generation, but it’s impossible to deny that this form of communication is now the driving factor of commerce in most countries throughout the world.

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How to Promote Advocacy through Social Media

If you are looking to increase both donations and engagement in your cause, social media is a valuable tool that shouldn’t be overlooked. For many associations and nonprofits, print campaigns provide the bread and butter of their communication with supporters, and the majority of donations still come from direct mail channels.  As such, it might not be easy to include social media as part of your campaigns. However, with statistics from The Chronicle of Philanthropy showing an impressive increase in online donations, it’s clear that connecting with supporters online is more important than ever before.

The Importance of Social Media for Nonprofits

Social media provides a versatile and immediate channel for nonprofits to connect with their target audience. A successful fundraising campaign is based around an emotional connection with supporters, engaging them in the cause and motivating them to take action. Social media can be used to spread the word about a cause and inspire action.

Social media’s immediacy is a boon for nonprofits. Social media can be used to keep supporters up to date on measurable goals, fostering a sense of involvement with a campaign. Nonprofits can also post updates on their activities, answer questions, and raise awareness through social networks.

Social Media and Print Channels in Tandem

A well-written print campaign is a must, but many print campaigns don’t link directly with social media. By including links to social media profiles in a print campaign, you are encouraging supporters to connect in a variety of different ways, especially considering the growth in online giving.

Of course, the social media profiles in question need to be well thought out and active if they are to play a role in increasing donations for a nonprofit. In addition, a smart print and social media campaign will come with a built in plan for measuring its success. Clear metrics that show which channels are most active or most profitable will mean measurable feedback, and the chance to streamline the next campaign to build on the strengths of its predecessor.

Presenting a Unified Message and Clear Call to Action

One of the keys to running a successful campaign using print and social media together is to make sure your message is unified across all channels. From the layout of a mail shot to the overall look of a Twitter profile, it’s vital that all channels present a strong, unified message. A nonprofit is a brand as surely as any for-profit company, and that should be reflected in the consistent use of visual elements such as logos and typeface, and less tangible elements such as tone of voice.

One of the strengths of a print campaign is that it usually includes a clear call to action, leaving supporters in no doubt as to what to do next. When incorporating social media, it’s important to avoid the temptation to talk around the subject with no clear call to action. The call to action can be a donation, of course, but it can also be liking or sharing a status, signing a petition, or inviting a friend. One of the strengths of social media for nonprofits is the potential range of calls to action, which can increase supporter interaction with a campaign.

While print media is likely to remain a mainstay of fund and awareness-raising for nonprofits, social media has a valuable role to play. By utilizing the strengths of both channels, nonprofits can create a well-rounded campaign that meets supporters where they are and engages them in the cause at hand.

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Avoid These 5 Common Website Mistakes

In today’s technology-driven world, your association’s website is arguably its most important marketing tool. As such, the content and design of the website should accurately reflect your vision, services, and ideals.

It’s time to take a good look at your website. The first step towards improving your website is knowing which critical mistakes you’re currently making, and how you can fix them. Does your organization need a website makeover? If you’re not sure, here’s how to tell.

Poor Design

marketing_cubeThere’s nothing wrong with wanting a unique website, but too much creativity in design can result in a loss of clarity, focus, and appeal for your organization’s target audience. Your target audience must play a key role in influencing the design of your website. Younger markets may be more attracted to websites with youthful imagery and color schemes, while older target audiences may prefer a larger font size and simpler designs. By clearly identifying your target audience in advance, you will be able to create a website that speaks directly and efficiently to your members. This, in turn, will provide them with a positive experience.

A professional website design should be relatable to the user and make him or her feel in control. Images and animation are a plus when used properly. The excessive use of images, however, will only detract from the website’s focus and clarity. A good idea would be to incorporate visual banners that feature your target markets and highlight specific services. Banners can be changed and updated regularly to maintain relevancy. The right font is also important for legibility; small or atypical fonts make text difficult to read, defeating the purpose of using the website as a marketing tool. Readability is a crucial element of any successful website.

Pop-up windows, advertisements, and auto-playing videos or sounds are other distractions that can detract from a website’s function and design. Think of yourself as a consumer; do you like websites that have pop-up advertisements or images flooding each page? Chances are the answer is no. A simple design that’s well organized, has visual appeal, and utilizes readable fonts will be more effective in the long run.

Disorganized, Non-Relevant Content

A website’s design may attract attention, but it is the content that will ultimately drive consistent traffic to a site, and keep people engaged while visiting it. Content can ultimately determine the success or failure of a new website. Homepage content should be well structured and designed to accurately reflect what your association has to offer. A cluttered or overly flashy homepage can turn potential members off from the start. Can visitors determine what your organization does within seconds of reaching the homepage? If not, it may be time to consider a re-design.

Text that does not utilize page titles, headings/subheadings, bullets, or paragraphs makes it more difficult for users to find the information they need. Quality, not quantity, is what consumers want from contemporary websites. According to Forbes Magazine, visual options are more effective when kept to a minimum. Also, remember that the copy used on your website also directly impacts its search engine optimization (SEO) ranking. This is so crucial because prospective members should be able to find your website online simply by using a quick search.

Website content should also be up to date and relevant to the visitor. Unnecessary or outdated content reflects poorly on a association’s image, giving visitors the impression that your organization has little interest in meeting the needs of the public. By posting regular, updated content, your association will benefit from greater interest and a higher ranking on Google’s search engines to generate even more traffic to your site.

Lack of Inbound Marketing Opportunities

In order to convert website visitors and build your online following, you need to be taking advantage of inbound marketing opportunities. Inbound marketing allows prospective members to fill out forms or landing pages that are directed to your sales team. This way, prospects are coming to you willingly, and the need for outbound, direct marketing campaigns is eased.

As important as inbound marketing is, many organizations neglect to include these calls to action on their website. A call to action may be a request to purchase a product, download content, register for more information, subscribe to a newsletter, share comments, or more. The ultimate goal of inbound marketing and calls to action is to encourage users to initiate an inquiry and become a lead for your sales team to follow up on. Your inbound marketing devices and calls to action should be simple, clear-cut, and placed in strategic locations on the website where they can easily be found.

Flawed Navigation

Successful websites are quick and easy to navigate, so visitors don’t become frustrated and waste their time looking for information. A clear sitemap and simple navigation are important aspects of your website design, as they enable visitors to find exactly what they’re looking for within a short amount of time. When using text for navigation, remember to be brief and “to the point.” Hyperlinks should be clearly visible; dead links should be avoided at all costs. The use of headers, footers, and a main menu should be consistent throughout the site. All subpages should be easily accessible also.

In addition, your website should include links to relevant content throughout all pages. Never hand your audience the chance to walk away without making an impression. At the end of each page, suggest other relevant pages and interesting content. Your sitemap should also be designed so visitors can easily navigate their way back to the main pages, including, but not limited to, the home, contact, and services pages. Easy navigation makes an organization’s website more efficient and provides clarity to its users.

Lack of Mobile Compatibility

mobile_bubblesToday’s average consumer is very busy, which should not be a surprise to anyone. Now more than ever, accessibility is a must for any successful website. As people are constantly multi-tasking and obtaining information on the go, there is no arguing the importance of responsive web design. Your audience expects instant connectivity wherever and whenever they desire. This includes web browsing on the go via mobile devices.

A Google study by market research firms SmithGeiger and Sterling Research revealed that 67% of consumers were more likely to conduct online business with organizations that had a mobile compatible website. A great deal of Internet browsing today is conducted via mobile devices. If your website lacks mobile compatibility, you could very well be losing out on valuable opportunities to competitors.

Does Your Website Pass the Test?

Ultimately, your website should be the hub of all marketing efforts for your association. It is your organization’s face to the world, and often provides your target audience with a first impression of your association. For this reason, it’s essential to keep your website up to par with your audience’s expectations. So, with that said, take a long look at your organization’s website. Is it making any of the mistakes listed above? If so, it may be time for a new website. The bottom line is to invest in a quality website. It will pay off.

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