Written by Tania Galarza, former Managing Consultant
In my previous post on membership communications, we looked at the challenges associations face in breaking through “the clutter” to get the attention of their members. While professionals are inundated with messages from every corner of their lives, successful associations have developed ways to increase the likelihood that their communications will be noticed. In my experience, it starts with a disciplined methodology.
- Set communications objectives/goals to help define the desired outcome of a specific communication or marketing campaign. This will inform decisions about defining the target audience(s), messaging, and tactics, and it will help establish clear expectations for an association’s efforts.
- Develop integrated marketing communications plans to translate objectives into
a “game plan” that allows you to be proactive in executing stand-alone communications or campaigns. Defining audiences, messages, channels, and timing helps increase the probability for success and ensures that different tactics can complement each other. It also establishes “owners” for the different marketing activities.
- Assign a “gatekeeper” to oversee the timing of distributing communications to members. This staff member or department can also review communications content from various program areas to provide the association guidance on reducing redundancy and increasing cross-promotion opportunities. Having this filter is particularly critical for managing email and social media and avoiding communication overload.
- Segment audiences and tailor messages to improve the likelihood that communications will resonate with the intended recipients. You want your members and non-members to associate communications from your association with being relevant and value-adding. There is a positive correlation between segmenting and tailoring messaging accordingly with open and click-through rates.
- Test and control groups provide the opportunity to measure the effectiveness of subject lines, content, links, timing of emails/postings, etc, in electronic and direct mail communications. Avoid the trap of doing the same thing over and over, even when you have had a successful campaign.
- Analysis and reporting is critical for measuring the success of communications goals. This will help determine what is /is not working and inform making adjustments to campaigns. Most associations’ databases and email systems have reporting capabilities that the IT team can tap into and capture data for campaigns. Website tools, such as Google analytics, are also available. It is critical to establish expectations with departments to capture, translate and report out on this data – or, assign this responsibility to a designated staff member to support all departments.
Keep in mind that including all of these elements versus picking and choosing is what makes a disciplined approach effective. What is your association doing that works? Tell us about your successes with communication and the approach that has worked for you.