In their drive to attract, engage, recruit and ultimately retain new members, Association marketers are facing added competition not just from other trade associations, increasingly they are being squeezed by for-profit commercial businesses that have ramped up their own efforts to attract this same audience. One of the primary services that associations offer to their members is information, in the form of content.
The majority of the critical information that members used to get solely from an industry association today can be easily found and obtained elsewhere—and typically free of charge with no annual membership fees. The American Heart Association for example – once had a near exclusive lock as the sole source of premium content for all things related to the heart. That role kept membership strong and growing. They now are now facing increasing competition for share of mind from hospitals, medical groups, for-profit businesses and manufacturers of prescription drugs for the treatment of cardiovascular disease. As more competing content sources compete for mindshare, the less valuable the association becomes as a leading resource for information – let alone a ‘paid’ resource.
Associations and nonprofits should look at this as not just a challenge in terms of member acquisition but also as a major threat to their member engagement and retention strategy. And what aggravates that is the fact that many lack the resources and strategy to run robust and ongoing integrated member acquisition and retention campaigns to keep existing and prospective members engaged.
The bottom line is, Associations can no longer rely on historical or traditional tactics to acquire and retain members – they need to get into the content game and start producing fresh, relevant content to drive traffic and engagement. This is not a simple task—it takes a disciplined approach that regularly creates and distributes new insights, ideas and information, packages them in a concise and compelling way that attracts attention, and communicates the value that the content delivers to its members. And to be truly be effective, that content must also be search engine optimized to make it easy to find, and properly coded with relevant keywords in key areas of the site that Google is looking at, including page URLs, page titles, and content across the association’s website. When this is done properly, a dashboard can be set up to track, measure and optimize engagement and conversion of the content marketing program.
With organizations of all sizes jumping into the content game – it is absolutely critical that you begin a smart content marketing strategy to re-capture and retain the membership base and reclaim your stake as the dominant voice of your industry.