From the Front Lines

Making the Most of Your Association’s Marketing Automation Platform

By • April 4, 2015

Brianna Lawson, Naylor Association Solutions
Brianna Lawson, Naylor Association Solutions

As associations, we are always seeking to improve how we communicate with current and potential members, or in other words, how to keep the spark alive. A marketing automation platform allows your association to market to members on multiple channels, including email, social media and websites, and to automate repetitive member communication tasks.


Marketing automation platforms help associations improve their communication with members. RealLilTweetables

Marketing automation not only improves your association’s bottom line, but also the workflows of your membership and marketing teams. RealLilTweetables

Marketing automation platforms assist in giving members the information they need when they want it most. RealLilTweetables

READER NOTE: Products or services mentioned in this article are for informational purposes only and do not imply an endorsement by Association Adviser or Naylor Association Solutions.

Some associations are using solutions such as Eloqua, HubSpot, Marketo, Callidus Cloud and other marketing automation platforms, but often not to their fullest potential. Chad Lloyd, marketing manager of Boxwood Career Solutions, shared his thoughts on these particular marketing automation solutions: “Marketing automation platforms such as Eloqua and Marketo allow you to better engage your members and prospective members at the appropriate time,” he said.

According to Lloyd, these platforms also allow you to connect with your members on a “personal level” so that your communications seem as though they were created just for them. “Through the use of digital body language tracking, you are able to understand exactly what your members and prospective members are interested in and customize your communications with them,” he added.

Let’s take a step back for a minute

marketing automation platform for associationsIt’s important to understand that marketing automation platforms aren’t just blast email tools. In this Amazon/Apple era, consumers expect refined, customized interactions with the organizations that they do business—and their interactions with your association are not exempt. Therefore, there are two things you don’t want to do:

  1. Waste your valuable time and money marketing to someone who isn’t interested in what you are sharing.
  2. Burn your list by over-communicating with your contacts and causing them to opt out of your communications, thus leaving you with no opportunity to market to them any further.

By avoiding these two common traps above, you can focus more of your energy on analyzing what’s important to your association and feel confident that you are engaging effectively with members. Now…are you ready to improve communication with your members?

Understand the benefits of your marketing automation platform

You know you can trust that your marketing automation platform will help take care of all your association’s communications needs. Brianne Baird, director of communications at CMI (Consulting Management Innovators), is an association partner of Naylor’s and is currently using a marketing automation platform to serve valuable content and resources that its community wants – not what she thinks it might want.

“At first glance, marketing automation systems can tend to look like they are designed for sales teams at for-profit companies to simply generate leads and ‘get the sale,’” she said. “When you take a closer look at this technology’s ability to track engagement across multiple channels along with the slew of functionality improvements in recent years designed to create efficiencies for marketing teams and integrate with outside systems, you have technology that is essential for use by associations to engage the current community, attract new members, and deliver the services and resources they want and need.”

This type of software is extremely convenient in that you have the ability to reach your members within a single platform and review data on their behavior. But, you may be overlooking all that marketing automation platforms have to offer:

  • Creating automated responses on your behalf. This allows you to communicate personallywith each and every member in a timely manner. Automating emails based on forms submitted, visits to a webpage, clicks of a link in an email, opens of an email, or clicks of a particular link on a Web page help you respond appropriately based on each original email.
  • Having the ability to track the engagement of each email you send. Use this as an opportunity to encourage the purchase of other services and benefits your association offers to its members.
  • Giving you the capability to mold content. Analyze the content you are sending and discover which topics each of your members are interested in. Develop content that will speak to each individual’s needs.
  • Creating more personalized experiences for your members. Building relationships with each of your members requires a steady stream of communication. That’s where these automated responses can come in quite handy. Plus, personal emails will make your members feel good and eager for more.
  • Giving you the ability to go beyond monitoring your association’s trends. You can pull data based on your current members’ behavior and prospect actions, including renewals, registrations, purchases, downloads. All of this data is stored within your marketing automation platform, allowing you to analyze each campaign’s effectiveness.

With these benefits, you are giving members the information they need when they want it most, encouraging potential members to convert into permanent ones and permanent members to renew each year.

How your association can best utilize your marketing automation platform

From here it’s time to take these benefits and determine what you can do to improve your member communications. Here are a few suggestions for getting the most out of your marketing automation software:

  • Your association can create a lasting first impression by automating a welcome email to new members. Set up your platform to send new members a personalized email with member benefits, options and discounts. Make them feel good about their decision to become a member of your association. This will also prevent any new members from feeling left out.
  • After analyzing the topics in which each member of your association is interested, you can generate a follow-up email based on that particular topic. You have the opportunity to connect with your members by understanding their wants and needs directly from them!
  • Marketing automation platforms can assist your association with event automation. For example, you may plan to host a webinar on a particular topic and your desire is to generate sign-ups for subsequent webinars. How can you do so? All you need to do is set the webinar information emails to deliver based on each member’s response (or not, based on non-response). You can then follow-up with a thank you email to each member who signs up for the webinar.
  • When you host an ad on another site, you can embed an automation system-generated link into your ad to track who is clicking and then triggering a number of marketing events afterwards.

Bottom Line

Marketing automation not only improves your association’s bottom line, but also the workflows of your membership and marketing teams. The above are just a few examples of what associations could be doing to communicate better with their members.

The first step to ensuring that you are using your marketing automation platform to its full potential is to analyze the data you have. As Naylor’s Chief Innovation Officer, Marcus Underwood observed, “The field of data analytics has exploded in recent years, as the growth of online communication channels has made it possible to track and measure more behavior than ever before. Organizing that data in an actionable and intelligent way would be virtually impossible without marketing automation software. Our associations’ ability to communicate to the right people with the right message is the key to member acquisition and retention.”

It only takes a short amount of time to discover so much about each of your members. It’s certainly worth it in the end when you are able to create compelling campaigns, increase revenue and maintain engagement with members.

Brianna Lawson is an online marketing specialist at Naylor Association Solutions.