Here are the Top 4 Takeaways for Combining Marketing with your Online Community

When the question arises of how to improve association marketing and what should we be doing for our members, the solution is actually easier than you think. Going back to the basics of marketing, you consider the 6 P’s: product, price, place, promotion, people, and presentation. When considering your members, the people should be your first priority – this is where online communities thrive. 

During our webinar, we dove deep into everything marketing can do for your association through an online community — a digital place for your members to connect with one another and easily engage with your content. Personify’s own Benjamin Morton, Product Marketing Manager and master marketer: Ashly Stewart, Marketing Manager analyzed all the data and helped answer the big question: Why combine marketing and online communities?

4 Highlights from “Association Marketing 101: Online Communities” 

1. Membership Engagement in the Digital World – The Stats

The webinar started by looking at how our attendees utilize marketing tools to engage and retain their current members. The highest percentages were for email, social media, and content marketing with email marketing coming in at 90% of attendees – no surprises there.  

Ashly and Benjamin also looked at some statistics from the 2021 Membership Marketing Benchmark Report, which showed drastic increases in participation in webinars from the previous year – 83% from 53%.  They also noted the increases in member engagement in professional development meetings and visits to members-only sections of association’s websites. The takeaway from these numbers? People want to engage with members- only content and participate in some sort of online community. 

Some other numbers to note were that 76% of internet users participated in an online community in 2020 and 44% said it was more important to have an online community in 2020, from The Journey Ahead: The Future of Associations, Nonprofits and Events.  

2. Marketing + Online Community = Dream Team 

Marketing plus an online community really is the dream team for an association. It provides the benefits of a social media platform with the security you need for your members. This is a safe place for your members to engage with your content, whether it be blogs, newsletters, or webinars, and you have the control. You manage how, when, where, and why your members see your content, and ONLY your members see your content. There’s not nearly as much of a concern of hacking, like with a standard social media platform like Facebook.

Marketing plus an online community really is the dream team for an association. It provides the benefits of a social media platform with the security you need for your members.

This also allows for deeper insights and member feedback. With email marketing you can only see so much with open rates – an online community allows you to see WHY someone is engaging with you​ and your content. Online communities can be more measurable. Your members are in your online community with the intention to engage with your association and its content. This allows for an easy way to get direct feedback and further build that relationship with your members. Online community also allows you to test and communicate at a lower cost that some other methods. There’s no charges for posting in your community! 

3. Member Retention and Engagement in the Marketing Funnel 

Ashly and Benjamin then walked us through how associations can utilize an online community to bring members through a marketing funnel. Below are the ways that they have seen online communities help engage new members from the time they sign-up to join the community to the point that they’re contributing to the online community and telling other people about it.

Acquisition and Awareness: What avenues you can use to let people know your online community exists & all the member-exclusive benefits that come with it​. 

Consideration: What to do to inform members of how it works & highlight your top features. 

Conversion: How you can make sign-up easy and the onboarding process powerful​ for members. 

Loyalty: Creating superusers, content generators and advocates​. 

4. What Makes a Successful Online Community 

To wrap up the webinar there were some important things to make note of. Your online community shouldn’t be a “set it and forget it” effort. If you aren’t spending time in your community and with your members, you won’t see as much return. If your current online community is falling stagnant, you can absolutely relaunch it and see it thrive again – so don’t give up! 

Managing your online community is easier than you think, and you don’t have to have a dedicated community manager to see success. We have a series on this exact topic “No Community Manager? No Problem.” We’ve seen that a marketing or membership role you may already have in your association fits very well with management of the online community. But there are also options if you have a smaller staff, such as having a volunteer team to help run the community. 

A thriving online community will see engagement from your team as well as your members. Once your members start contributing their ideas and collaborating with other members, you’ll see a level of engagement you haven’t seen before. Members will even create their own content and start their own conversations! 

Looking for More from the Conversation?

To watch these highlights and to dive even deeper into how associations can utilize an online community for marketing efforts, watch the full webinar today.  

And if you have any questions about online communities or how to get your members to engage with you and your content. We’d be happy to chat with you.