The Personify team at the ASAE Tech Conference.

The Personify team at the ASAE Tech Conference.

If you think ASAE Tech is just for I.T. staff, think again.

While historically the industry’s marquee event for showcasing association technology of all kinds, as the impact and reach of the various tools powering today’s modern nonprofit continues to expand, so too have the opportunities for learning about how to optimize these systems across all areas of an organization.

One of the sessions kicking off today’s agenda 4 Key Steps to Digital Marketing Transformation at Your Association, led by the American College of Radiology’s Dave Martin, is one of the sessions breaking the mold.

While digital transformation has long been a cornerstone of conference programming for a technology team, Martin’s session explored best practices marketing teams can adopt to ensure they keep pace.

1.    Get the Right People on the Bus

The right approach begins with the right team. To ensure the right mindset, Martin encouraged attendees to explore the DARC model, originally introduced by HubSpot to help their CMO screen talent for their industry-leading inbound marketing team:

  • D – Digital Marketers who live their lives online and are familiar and comfortable with blogging, the growing variety of social media and the Internet.
  • A – Analytical: Marketers who are data-driven, always measuring what they do and making decisions based on the available information.
  • R – Reach: Marketers who have a knack for growing their network with savvy for topics and the ability to create a natural, gravitational attraction to their work.
  • C – Content: Marketers who are natural content creators, with a strong interest in – and willingness to – write.

Once you have the right people in place, Martin suggests organizing the team around the funnel:

  • Attract (Top of Funnel): Personas, content strategy, SEO, PPC, blogging, webinars, social media
  • Connect (Middle and Bottom of Funnel): Analytics, CRO, landing pages, marketing automation, lead scoring and nurturing
  • Engage (Bottom of Funnel): Website, messaging and persuasion, sales enablement, case studies, collateral, partnerships
  • Inspire (Member Marketing): Member retention, education, member-focused content, eNewsletters, online community

2.    Be Agile

Borrowing another term from the I.T. lexicon, Martin suggests that marketers need to mirror their technology peers in being more agile in their planning and execution. Instead of a “waterfall” approach, Martin suggests teams should:

  • Respond to change as opposed to following a rigid plan
  • Introduce rapid iterations organized around themes instead of leaning on big campaigns
  • Test constantly and learn from data
  • Commit to many small experiments instead of placing many large bets
  • Focus on the individual and their interactions instead of broad target markets
  • Collaborate across the marketing team and organizations rather than be constrained by silos

3.    Outcomes over Outputs

In one of my favorite takeaways from the session, Martin urged attendees to, “market with a magnet, not a megaphone.” While association marketing teams are often highly experienced and deeply familiar with their audiences, there’s an opportunity to change the conversation and ask strategic conversations around goals and objectives. Don’t be afraid to poke holes and leverage data to drive your decision making and support your point of view.

4.    Build Your MarTech Stack

Here at Personify we’re no strangers to the power of the MarTech stack and the transformational effect it can have on an organization (check out our recent webinar and blog post on the topic).

While nonprofits include a number of nuances specific to the work we do, there’s a great deal to learn from the commercial sector when it comes to marketing technologies. As of 2018, there are over 7,000 technology tools designed to bring marketers closer to their buyers! For-profit businesses invest heavily on systems to support data gathering, automation and conversion.

The benefits of a strong MarTech stack are just as clear for nonprofits. A MarTech stack can help an association:

  • Increase membership renewals and retention
  • Drive non-dues revenue, especially when it comes to events
  • Attract new members
  • Engage and inspire membership
  • Position your organization to cross-sell and up-sell products and services

Where should you start? Martin suggests beginning with your database, whether a CRM, AMS or Constituent Management Engagement (CME) solution like Personify. Connecting your systems to your database is an essential next step in supporting activities across the funnel, from early attraction of that new lead through inspiring their continued journey as a member of your organization.

5.    Analyze and React

But I thought there were 4 steps! Martin surprised attendees with a fifth suggestion that may be the most important of all. The old adage says you can’t manage what you can’t measure. Understanding your organization’s marketing performance by the numbers is a critical step in ensuring digital transformations provide ongoing value to an association. Key performance indicators (KPIs) like website traffic, new contacts, visitor-to-new contact ratios, new contact-to-member ratios, blog traffic, organic search and keyword rankings are only some of the metrics marketers should look to.

People. Process. Results. Technology and a commitment to measure it all. While not necessarily new to marketers in the association space, Martin’s unique way of packing up his 4 (really 5!) steps in digital marketing transformation paves the way for alignment of teams across an association and success in the year to come.