As a self-proclaimed dessert fiend, you might assume that I enjoy baking sweet treats as much as I enjoy eating them. The truth is, though, I’m not really a fan of baking—mainly because I don’t like the precision that’s needed for it. For those avid bakers out there, you know making a cake, pie, or something equally tasty that you see on Pinterest requires following the instructions to a T. And if you choose to substitute or skip ingredients (which is something I typically do), then there’s a strong chance it won’t turn out the way you expect.
Think about how you bake a cake. Before you actually put the cake into the oven, there’s obviously some prep work that needs to be done. You can’t simply throw a bunch of ingredients together and hope that it turns out to be a cake. Forgetting (or deliberately skipping and not substituting) an essential ingredient will probably result in the opposite of what you want.
You can view inbound in the same way as baking. There are some initial steps you must take before you develop a strategy and launch a campaign for prospects. By incorporating inbound into your association marketing, you’ll be serving your current membership and future members in a stronger and more compelling way. If you only have once chance to convince a prospect that your association is worth joining, then you want to get it right the first time.
The following is an excerpt from Dave Martin’s Increase Member Recruitment with Inbound Marketing Lead Generation from the Aptify blog.
Lead Generation through Inbound Marketing
What do you need to get started with inbound? Identify your target audience(s) and understand what each of these audiences needs to solve their problems, do their jobs, and advance in their careers. Find or develop content that suits prospects at each stage of the recruitment funnel. “Review the people, processes, and technology [you] currently have in place, to ensure that all three will support this new paradigm of selling,” said Wes Trochlil, founder of Effective Database Management.
Your content serves a greater purpose than simply driving prospective customers into—and through—your association’s sales funnel. If done well, content can:
- Deliver value to the marketplace over and above your association’s products and services.
- Demonstrate your organization’s goodwill and commitment to the community.
- Validate in the minds of prospects, members, and influencers that your organization is the genuine go-to source for industry-related information.
Creating a Successful Lead Generation Strategy
A lead generation strategy uses three components to nurture (or move) membership prospects along the funnel—turning them from infrequent website visitors into enthusiastic association advocates: lead capture (or lead magnet), landing pages, and lead scoring.
Max first visited the association’s blog by following a link he saw on Twitter. At the bottom of the blog post, he saw a “call to action” graphic promoting a tip sheet about preparing for interviews. He provided his name and email address to get the tip sheet. Lead captured!
The association offers this tip sheet as a lead magnet in the hopes of attracting prospects to the “top of the funnel.” The lead magnet’s purpose is to help the association begin to develop a relationship with the membership prospect, and to earn their trust and earn their permission to enter their inbox.
When Max clicked the “call-to-action” promoting the tip sheet, he was taken to a landing page where he entered his name and email address to get the tip sheet. Later that week, Max (now an existing lead) saw a promotion for another tip sheet, this one on perfecting an elevator pitch. Landing pages serve a dual purpose of capturing new leads and tracking re-conversions of existing leads.
Thanks to the magic of browser cookies, the association knows Max is engaging again with their content. They now have better intelligence on Max’s behaviors and activities on their website—knowledge they can use during subsequent emails and sales calls.
Pretty quickly the association’s staff determined Max was a “hot” lead. Unlike many website visitors, he downloaded several tip sheets, opened nearly all their automated emails, and, most importantly, clicked on the membership success stories.
Staff isn’t going to follow up with every person who downloads a tip sheet —many of them are not “qualified” leads, i.e., they haven’t behaved in a way that shows sustained interest in the association’s offering. How does staff determine how qualified leads are? Lead scoring prioritizes leads according to their levels of engagement with inbound marketing content. You can figure out who is ready to consider membership, when they’re ready for the recruitment call, and how likely they are to convert from a prospect into a member.
With all this being said, there is no one “perfect” recipe for inbound marketing success, but if you follow these steps, then you already have a good, solid foundation to get your organization heading in the right direction. And with time, you can determine the best ways to modify your association marketing strategy for your specific audience.