First, let’s define inbound marketing.
Inbound marketing is what you do to attract people to your products and services, perhaps before they’re interested in buying. Maybe they don’t even know what your product is.
You pull people to your website by holding out something tantalizing – a must-read story or blog, for instance. An ebook. A photograph that clearly has a story behind it. The answer to a basic and universal question.
Humans are curious by nature. Once you’ve defined who your top customers are, do everything in your power to learn more about your target audience.
Generally, inbound marketing brings people to your website via social media, search engine optimization (SEO), and email, but your company’s brand strategy may also need other items in the mix, such as advertising, print collateral, and video.
Inbound marketing is pull (vs. push) marketing: using blogs, events, SEO, social media, and other techniques. When people find something interesting – say, a meme on Facebook – they’ll click to learn more about it.
For associations, inbound marketing is a must-have. Not only will inbound marketing help associations bring in new members, it will help retain current members by reminding them of your products and/or services.
So, let’s make a checklist of the necessary inbound marketing techniques:
- Email campaigns
- Social media campaigns
How associations use content marketing to bring in new members
Ever notice that some people are more popular than others at, say, a cocktail party? Interesting people are often made, not born. They learn the kinds of stories that appeal to people they want to know better. And they become good at telling those stories.
Same with your company’s website. When you create strong, fascinating content, people are naturally drawn to you.
Some associations believe that their valuable content should be under lock and key – available only to subscribers. Yet, if you require your membership to log in to read your content, for example, you can’t really reach new audiences. Which is what marketing is all about, yes?
So, whether you call your blog “Blog” or “Notes” or “News” – or something else – you need to let it reach the masses, perhaps reserving some blogs or ebooks behind an email gate.
Start writing the kind of blogs that attract members you want.
How will people find your association’s content?
Generally, people find your website via an email campaign, social media, or a web search. Most people don’t forward newsletters, so you need to constantly work on adding to your member list; which you can do right from your website.
Your association is probably already doing targeted e-newsletters. After all, email campaigns are the least expensive and most successful of virtually all marketing tools.
But here are some ways to make your e-newsletters more effective.
- Come up with four or five standard kinds of stories, such as:
- Interesting fact
- Explain how a particular news story relates to your association, or to the topic your association addresses
- Something surprising
- A little-known solution to a problem
- An upcoming event
- Use an image for each story
- Tease each story by giving only a few lines at most about it, then offer a link back to a page of your website
- Make sure that every page (or every landing page at least) has a form so visitors can sign up for your regular newsletter
- Make sure that visitors have a clear and easy way to find out more about membership
- Make sure your website is mobile friendly (most people get email and visit websites via cell phone and tablet)