9 Horrible Mistakes You’re Making with Your Association Marketing

We all make mistakes with our association marketing efforts. But are you making too many? Take a look at 9 common association marketing mistakes below to find out!


wrong-way-yellow-road-sign-featured.png1. Spray and Pray Email Marketing

Do you send emails to members and prospects without segmenting? How many of your email communications are sent to “everyone” in your database? I have to admit that at ERA we did this for many years until we embraced inbound marketing. Stop spraying and praying. Get smart and embrace inbound!

2. Emails and Websites Not Responsive

This is a no brainer. All of your marketing must take a mobile first approach. There is no excuse for not having your emails and websites designed responsively. That is, designed to render properly on any sized device. Sound intimidating? Don’t sweat it. You don’t have to rely on tech-savvy coders to get it done. For email, simply purchase templates for under $20 from Theme Forest, Campaign Monitor or Stamplia. For websites, consider themes from Theme Forest or StudioPress. I’m a big fan of StudioPress WordPress websites (this blog is based on the Genesis Framework) and Copyblogger in general. They are design experts and their sites are beautiful!

3. Ignoring SEO

The first thing your members do when researching a topic is visit a search engine (and, according to Stat Counter, about 88% use Google). If you don’t rank among the first five results for specific keywords or phrases no one will find you. If you are ignoring SEO entirely you’re missing out on new members, new attendees, new sponsors and new donors. So wake up and learn more about SEO. Here are a few SEO resources that all association marketers should read:

4. Buyer Personas

Personas can be challenging to develop but the more I work with them the more important they become to my marketing. Personas are semi-fictional representations of your ideal customer. They provide insight into your buyer’s business challenges, what keeps them up at night and identify common objections to your products and services. Once you understand your buyers you can develop content that helps solve their problems. Do this and they’ll keep coming back for more!

Below are a few buyer persona resources:

5. Creating Irrelevant Content

If you don’t understand your buyer personas you’re probably creating content that is irrelevant to them – or doesn’t resonate as well as it should. That is, your content doesn’t help them solve their biggest business challenges. So develop personas and create relevant content that solves problems.

6. Ignoring Keyword Ranking

If you’re not identifying and tracking your industry’s most important keywords your content is probably much harder to find online. In a world of content overload you’re in serious danger of becoming irrelevant. For ERA, we identified keywords (and phrases) like “direct response marketing” or “era d2c convention” and make sure we create content regularly with these keywords. We track our ranking for these keywords weekly and are always looking for ways to improve.

7. Your Blog Stinks (if you even have one)

Do you have a blog for your association? If not, start blogging now. If you have one, are you methodical about your approach to blogging? Do you have an editorial strategy, calendar, and meeting? Check out my recent post Your Blog as a Pillar of Inbound Marketing to learn more.

8. Not Collecting Data from Site Visitors

Do you know who is visiting your website? Are you collecting information from your visitors? If not, you should be. Using landing pages and forms to collect visitor information is a great way to better understand who is interested in your content. It’s a great way to help develop personas as well.

9. Pouring Money Down the Drain with Direct Mail

For most of us (not all) our members have moved online. So why are you still spending HUGE amounts of money on direct mail. Why aren’t you re-distributing your marketing dollars to content creation, SEO and digital advertising? Call me crazy but at ERA we are NOT designing and mailing an Attendee Brochure for our annual convention this year. We are developing more content and shifting over $15,000 to Facebook and LinkedIn advertising. Why? Because we can attribute registrations directly to our marketing spend. With print, we just can’t do this.

10. Using an Old Skool Email Engine

Yeah, I know I said 9 horrible mistakes, but here’s a 10th. Are you using an old skool email engine that doesn’t have marketing automation capabilities like drip email campaigns? If so, you’re in the dark ages. Consider moving your digital communications to a platform like Hubspot, Marketo, Act-On or Eloqua. You’ll be amazed at what you can do with these platforms and how smart your marketing can become!

What do you think? Did I miss anything?

This post titled 9 Horrible Mistakes You’re Making with Your Association Marketing originally appeared in Inbound MarTech on March 22, 2015. 

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