Reaching Your Membership Through Digital Marketing

Last year, Planet Fitness added 1.6 million new members to its gym.

The increase of consumers could be attributed to the company spending more than $30 million on marketing campaigns – some running nationwide – comparing its brand to their competitors’ brands in what more they have to offer.

“Through a combination of brand recognition and optimal market forces, Planet Fitness has been able to hit some huge milestones for the fitness industry,” said Planet Fitness Brand Manager Evan Magliocca to Loyalty360.

Associations do not have to spend $30 million to keep their members engaged or increase association membership. They do however need to continue to reach out to members to keep them engaged in the ongoing activities and advocacy of the association.

One way of doing that is through digital marketing. This is especially important in catering to millennial members.

In a survey conducted by Buzz Marketing Group in 2015, more than 25 percent of surveyors referred to professional organizations as “old school.”

Those under the age of 40 were leaving older groups for the following reasons:

  • 37 percent did not see value in the group.
  • 45 percent reported participation was too expensive.
  • 35 percent said the group wasn’t a community comprised of their peers.
  • 31 percent felt that groups lacked technology.
  • 27 percent said it lacked proper curation.

“Millennial business owners and leaders overwhelmingly believe that today’s professional communities are a powerful tool to build social currency and further their professional goals,” says Tina Wells, founder and CEO of Buzz Marketing Group. “Over the last five years, it is clear that groups like YEC, Summit Series and Levo have transitioned the once-antiquated industry into a beacon for curated social capital, relevant professional benefits and peer-to-peer learning from Gen Y.”

Let’s go back to the statistic of 31 percent of millennials leave professional groups because they “lacked technology.”

What ways can associations use their digital marketing influence as a way of membership engagement?

The Institute of Management (IMA) used a video contest to engage both old and new members.

The “You’ve Got to Earn It,” video contest showed members the importance of earning the Certified Management Accountant credential.

“We wanted to adapt to the way millennials consume media, so we leveraged the power of word-of-mouth marketing and third-party credibility in getting these individuals who made these videos and their take on what the CMA means to them to talk to their peers about the program,” said IMA Vice President of Integrated Marketing Ellen Gurevich.

During the voting period in February, IMA’s Facebook page reached 500,000 more people than in the previous month and had 600 new U.S. followers.

Influencer marketing continues to build momentum in the digital marketing field.

Influencer marketing allows businesses the opportunity to promote and sell products or services through people (influencers) who have the ability to have an effect on the character of the brand.

In a survey conducted by Altimer, Tracker and Top Rank Marketing, 43 percent of those surveyed have experimented with influencer marketing.

However, there are challenges to influencer marketing that doesn’t make implementation as easy as it may seem.

“One of the challenges affecting the future of influence is that it is compartmentalized as part of other initiatives,” says Principal Analyst of Altimeter Group Brian Solis. “This prevents influence from earning executive attention and support as a standalone program of value, benefiting a larger digital transformation effort.”

While influencer marketing continues to work out the kinks to help businesses overall with brand advocacy awareness, reaching new audiences and being engaged with your members is still the most crucial step associations can do when it comes to membership engagement.

See what your members are posting on their social media pages when it comes to your association.

Use some of that feedback to tailor posts to get the conversation going or just reach out to them.

Another way as Jason Verdelli at Social HubSite, Phase 2 Solutions suggest is to “use gamification to create member value in an online community.”

“When you do your homework first and understand what motivates your members, creating a reward system to keep members motivated can be simple,” Verdelli explains. “What’s important to understand here is, by keeping members motivated through a constant state of achievement (i.e. Gamification), you will be creating a dopamine (feel good chemical) delivery system. This keeps members motivated to participate.”

Membership engagement continues to be an ongoing challenge for associations. With the right marketing scheme, engagement will soon become a walk in the park.

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