For all organizations and businesses, not just associations, it’s the ultimate catch-22—you need more leads to make money, and you need money to get more leads. To thrive, associations need members and customers to continue running, but it can be difficult to find room in the budget for marketing and lead generation. Never fear though, there are easy and affordable methods to draw more potential members and purchasers to your organization right at your fingertips.
Find Your Audience on Social Media
Social media is the cheapest, easiest channel you can use to communicate with your members and potential members. Look to your existing membership and the experts in your field to find out which platforms they use, then join the conversation! Growing your social engagement is a low-cost way to build your online community and garner an audience of passionate people in the field your organization represents.
Contribute frequently with article links and original content, and minimize self-promotion. Learn which hashtags they use so you can do the same, and interact with their posts. Joining their community builds name recognition and establishes your organization as a resource worthy of the investment of their money and time. Once established on the platform, you can ask your audience what they want from you. Crowdsourcing your audience’s wants and needs is a great and easy way to find content or marketing gaps so you can address them.
Improve Your SEO
Search engine optimization (SEO) is essential to drawing new leads, and every content strategy should incorporate effort toward continuously improving the content already on an organization’s website. Associations are uniquely positioned to have great, keyword-rich content. With access to passionate content experts and a body of knowledge dedicated to a specialty, you have the potential to create a really robust blog. Creating and maintaining a blog takes substantial effort, but the impact on your SEO is huge.
It takes less work to optimize your landing pages by showcasing your services or benefits in the context of the industry you serve. Tweak these pages to beat the competition in search results by
- ensuring your page title is keyword-rich and accurately describes your content
- using industry-related keywords in your H1. Instead of “Membership,” include the industry: “Join papier-mâché plane makers in the only membership organization for you,” or “The only organization for papier-mâché plane makers.”
Create Engaging Content
Good SEO will bring more users to your website, but you need them to keep coming back if they’re going to see your value and become a lead.
Give them a reason to return. You need to offer them value before they will become a lead. That value could be a newsfeed updated with industry stories, a blog from member volunteers, or another resource you provide.
How many times have you visited a website, found that there was nothing for you, and left? You’re wasting everyone’s time if you drive traffic to your website but don’t offer anything of value there. It doesn’t have to be the keys to the kingdom, but your website should provide something to visitors coming in, whether that’s information on a given topic, best practices or guidelines, or even a quick freebie. Giving your visitors something will attach your brand to a source of value, and encourage them to come back and even move on to purchase your products.
Convert Visitors to Hot Leads
While you can’t identify each individual visitor and speak directly to them, you can get their information to create a dialog. If you can capture addresses, e-mail addresses, and names, you can grow your prospect list and directly engage your audience. The catch is, they have to willingly give you this info. Users are unlikely to give information freely to organizations they don’t trust or for nothing in return. You may not be able to convince people to opt in for marketing content, but there are a few ways to get your prospects’ information:
- When they make a purchase, let them opt in to hear about special offers or new products. Keep an up-to-date list of these opt ins and send them regular e-mails with compelling marketing copy and deals.
- Share a publication with nonmembers. SmartBriefs and similar news digests can be a great way to continue communicating with prospects while providing the value they want.
- Incentivize sharing their information. Place a form on the website that promises them something of value in return for giving you their contact info.
- If they visited for conference information, send them e-mails detailing new developments as they arise or remind them of incentives like discount deadlines or giveaways. If you can get demographic information on their position or subspecialty, you can tailor this information to send them the specific content more likely to convert them into members and customers.
- If they visited to learn about membership, offer a package of membership goods in exchange for their information. You could send a detailed PDF, a physical package with a brochure, a few single-page resources they can use on the job, or a promotional product with your organization’s logo. (Physical gifts increase word-of-mouth reach.)
- Offer a high-impact one-time downloadable product in exchange for their information. The item needs to be of value to your audience. Consider white papers, printable single-page references, or simple workbooks to track of certification maintenance.
Let the Data Guide You
How do you decide what to provide? What content will your audiences consider valuable? Your website analytics may answer those questions.
Check out your highest-viewed pages, pages with the most repeat traffic, and any topics users seem to search for most. These metrics give you a glimpse into the minds of your audiences and suggest what they need to follow you down the path to conversion.
If a high percentage of searches on your site are looking for a specific guideline or best-practice resource, create one and have people enter their information into a form to get it. If no one is visiting your product pages, improve the pages’ SEO by tweaking the content, restructure your site to ensure ease of access, or posting about your products on social media—and consider the possibility that the products you offer aren’t what your audience actually needs.
Bringing Home the Bacon
With the right content strategy, you can reach your audience where they already are with minimal impact on your budget. Not only is finding them on social media, boosting your SEO, and providing valuable content a great way to boost your brand’s credibility and gain new prospects, but it is also an effective, low-cost tool to get to know them and what they need and want to see. Connecting with the people who are your bread and butter, the professionals out in the world that are the reason your organization exists, is the best way to ensure its continued success.
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