Archive for the 'Associations' Category

16
Aug
16

What’s the state of association marketing?

Digital-Marketing-TrainingAs many of you probably know by now, I’m a public relations fanatic. Not only is it my full-time profession, but I’m constantly soaking up stories about new trends, PR disasters, crisis communications and more.

Years ago, PR (which used to be more focused on media relations) and marketing didn’t always mix well. Fast forward: The line is fuzzy – if it exists at all.

Now, marketing is very much about content. Without content, you’ve got nothing to communicate, no brand and no campaign.

But not just anyone can do marketing. It takes careful planning, strategic thinking and skill.

This week at the ASAE Annual Meeting, Demand Metric (sponsored by HighRoad Solution) unveiled its benchmark report, “2016 State of Digital Marketing in Associations.”

Among the findings: Association customers think marketing communications are rather stagnant – and each year, those feelings grow a bit stronger, according to the survey results. In fact, in the 2016 report, only one-fourth of respondents reported their members perceive communications as always relevant. (Marketing Tip No. 1: Know your audience!)

“All associations need a strategic marketing plan to drive all marketing capabilities and tactics,” Demand Metric said. “In the absence of a marketing strategy that is based on an association’s values and objectives, it is difficult for marketing to have the impact that it should. So for marketing communications and all other capabilities, the right approach is to lead with strategy and planning.”

As for tactics, email marketing again took the No. 1 spot as the most effective (the same as last year.) The biggest dip: mobile marketing. It dropped 11 percent from last year, and this year, only 18 percent of respondents said it’s an effective marketing tactic. Event marketing took the No. 2 spot while content marketing took No. 3.

Other key findings:

  • 71 percent of study participants report their association marketing overall effectiveness as somewhat or very effective.
  • More one-third of study participants rate their understanding of member needs as poor to neutral.
  • 91 percent of associations in the study are tracking some sort of marketing metric. Just 22 percent track ROI as a marketing metric.
  • 82 percent of the associations that track ROI report high overall marketing effectiveness.
  • The average annual marketing budget for associations in this study falls in the $250,000 to $299,999 range.

ROI_blog_graphicSpeaking of ROI, according to the study, many marketers shy away from analytics – which can be a fatal mistake. My two cents: There’s no point in engaging in marketing if efforts are fruitless, right? And so, marketers need to have a key spot at the table when it comes to strategic planning.

According to the report, IT handles many marketing tactics (the logistics of email campaigns, for instance), but marketing staff needs to be involved in the overall vision of an organization. All this said, it’s crucial for marketing staff to have an understanding of HTML and other basic web functions. Unfortunately, according to the report, that skillset has decreased among association marketing staffs.

Here’s where learning and professional development come in.

“Associations must view training as an investment, not just in growing the skills of the marketing team, but in enabling the marketing function to help the organization achieve its goals,” Demand Metric said. “Marketing needs to exist within a culture that values learning. The marketing team that has a competitive technical skill set is an asset to the entire organization it serves.”

So marketers, what do you think? How do you fit into your association’s strategic plan? Share your comments here.

09
Aug
16

Big city love from ASAE

attendees6Good news fellow Midwesterners!

In 2018, ASAE’s Annual Meeting and Exposition will be coming to Chicago!

On July 25, ASAE announced the host cities for its meetings, through 2022:

2017 – Toronto
2018 – Chicago
2019 – Columbus
2020 – Las Vegas
2021 – Dallas
2022 – Atlanta

“Congratulations to the cities selected for our 2018, 2019, 2020, 2021 and 2022 ASAE annual meetings and expositions,” said John Graham, ASAE president and CEO. “We had seven cities that were finalists in our selection process, and each one did a fantastic job. The proposals submitted by the winning cities exceeded our expectations. Looking forward to growing our partnerships with the respective convention and visitors bureaus in the coming years as we plan exciting and engaging meetings.”

ASAE last held its annual meeting in Chicago in 2007, which had the highest attendance of association executives. In 2019, it will be the first time Columbus has hosted an ASAE Annual Meeting & Exposition.

attendees11And, it’s hard to believe, but the 2016 ASAE Annual Meeting is next week, Aug. 13-16, in Salt Lake City, offering a versatile lineup of sessions and inspiring keynotes. New this year, ASAE is offering learning formats from which to choose.

I’m guessing there will be avid social media engagement, especially on Twitter using #ASAE16 and @ASAEAnnual. In fact, I’ll be following the stream, searching for future blog post topics and future guest bloggers. So please follow me on Twitter and don’t be afraid to tag me!

Is it your first time? Check out these tips from ASAE. And remember to use #newbie on your tweets.

At the same time, download the ASAE Programs App to help you connect with your network, keep track of your schedule and engage on social media.

And finally – have fun! I’ve been to Salt Lake and it’s a gorgeous city with some must-try eating hotspots. We’ve heard about how much revenue events such as Super Bowls and presidential debates generate for cities, think about how excited Salt Lake is to welcome you! Share some Twitter love.

I look forward to communicating with you next week!

21
Jul
16

How will new overtime rules affect your organization?

OT-Map-FINAL-medium-600x300In May, the United States Department of Labor released new overtime rules that will take effect on Dec. 1.

Since December will be here before we know it, nonprofits are already making adjustments, as the new rules will have significant implications for the nonprofit sector.

According to the National Council of Nonprofits, it all comes down to salary requirements.

With limited resources, many nonprofits can’t afford to pay their staff big bucks. Under the new regulations, most employees earning less than $47,500 will be entitled to overtime compensation. So think about your events and meetings. What will that mean?

That said, it’s a complex formula for understanding compliance, but the U.S. Department of Labor has published resources.

According to DOL, employers have a few options:

  • Pay time-and-a-half for overtime work.
  • Raise workers’ salaries above the new threshold.
  • Limit workers’ hours to 40 hours per week.
  • Combine options above.

The council offers some tips, as well.

“Employers have various options to comply with these change in overtime rules, ranging from increasing exempt employees’ salaries to the new level, converting them to hourly employees and paying overtime or making other changes to benefits or operations,” the National Council of Nonprofits said. “Nonprofits with budget years ending on June 30 will need to develop new budgets for the fiscal year beginning in six weeks that take these new changes into account. Nonprofits with budget years ending on Dec. 31 have more time to adjust and plan for 2017.”

In addition, the rules allow for the use of volunteers under certain circumstances, but DOL warns nonprofits shouldn’t use volunteers to skirt the regulations.

Working overtime

The department contends its new regulations will ensure companies – including nonprofits – adhere to the Fair Labor and Standards Act. It also says the new regulations will lead to a better work-life balance while increasing productivity and reducing turnover.

“Job titles never determine exempt status under the FLSA,” DOL said. “Additionally, receiving a particular salary, alone, does not indicate that an employee is exempt from overtime and minimum wage protections.”

Regardless of the exemptions the new rule provide, associations are concerned about the ramifications. According to ASAE, more than 250,000 associations submitted comments on the proposed rule to the department last year.

“Because the rule would dramatically expand the number of employees now eligible for overtime pay, associations and other employers could be forced to lay off staff or limit employees’ work outside of core business hours, stinting employees’ career growth and harming productivity,” wrote Chris Vest on June 1 in “Associations Now.”

Additionally, Alex Beall wrote about the new regulations, offering advice from Julia Judish, special counsel with Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman LLP.

“Once the employer has identified which of its currently exempt employees would convert to nonexempt, the employer should start now requiring those employees to do the equivalent of clocking in and clocking out and track their average hours,” Judish said.

As December approaches, we’ll track the new DOL overtime rules and report changes and their implications for nonprofits.

Until then, if you’ve got tips to share, please email Kristen Parker at Kristen@eventgarde.com. We’d love to share them!

12
Jul
16

The growth spurt continues for associations

membership-associationWhat keeps association leaders up at night?

According to Marketing General Inc.’s 2016 Membership Marketing Benchmarking Report, it’s issues such as balancing a limited budget, engaging younger members and understanding what members truly want, especially in terms of networking and professional development.

The good news, though, is that associations continue to grow.

Slightly up from last year’s report, this year 49 percent of associations reported a growth in membership. The largest individual member organizations (those with more than 20,000 members) were the most likely to see increased growth. In fact, only 14 percent report of respondents indicated no change in their number of members, a decrease from 16 percent in 2015.

For most associations, membership renewal rates didn’t change this year. Nor did the top methods for recruiting new members: word of mouth and email. Perhaps not surprising, associations said conferences and trade shows are also common recruiting tools, ranking No. 3.

Magnified illustration with the words Marketing Plan on white background.

So why do associations remain popular? Most association executives believe members join for networking and continuing education opportunities.

Other key findings from the MGI report:

  • The primary internal challenges to growing membership are difficulty in communicating value or benefits, insufficient staff and difficulty meeting members’ needs due to a broad membership base.
  • Competitive associations or sources of information (34 percent) and economy/cost of membership (31 percent) are the biggest external challenges to growing membership.
  • Nearly 80 percent of associations with increasing renewal rates indicate increased participation in their private social networks, with Facebook and Twitter being the most popular platforms.
  • A majority of associations consider the average age of their members to be between 45 and 54 years old.
  • Similar to acquiring new domestic members, the most effective methods for recruiting international members is through word-of-mouth recommendations, email and by promotion of or at an association conference or trade show.
  • The majority of associations currently have a separate strategic initiative or tactical plan for increasing engagement (58 percent).
  • More than 30 percent of associations offer certification of some kind.

So what does this mean for the future?

The MGI report includes best practices, predictions and tips from association leaders who participated in the survey.

As one respondent said, “Associations will need to find services that can’t be provided by any other organization — such as professional credentials. Networking can be online and social; professional development can be searched online; and knowledge is not valued, as information can be easily gathered. But status can only be gained by peer review and credentials are important.”

21
Jun
16

Survey says: Most of us are lifelong learners

technology-beginner-blog-imageOn the last day of school, I told my kids I wished I were still a student. I explained “adulting” is hard, and they looked at me like I had five heads.

Truth is, I love school. I’m a self-professed word nerd, but I also love learning about pretty much everything, which is probably why I’m determined to get my master’s degree one of these days.

I guess my love of learning shouldn’t come as a surprise, though. According to a recent survey by Pew Research Center, most Americans – 73 percent to be exact – define themselves as lifelong learners.

From do-it-yourself projects to professional development, Americans want to learn, the report found. Most learning occurs in traditional places, but the Internet is quickly becoming a reputable knowledge source.

Of those who responded to the survey, 63 percent of working adults have taken a course or engaged in professional development throughout the last year to improve job skills, mostly for career advancement. Perhaps of special interest to associations, 36 percent of the workforce sought education for a license or certification.

At the same time, 65 percent of those who participated in professional education said learning has expanded their professional networks.

In addition, the report found those with high levels of education were more likely to seek out education. Pew Research Center contends this fact negates the argument that the Internet democratizes education. Again, however, the report said those with lower levels of education turn to the Internet for education.

And the report found those who learn professionally are also more likely to learn personally – more good news for associations/organizations representing recreational industries.

sharing-is-caring-social-learning-in-the-workplaceWhile technology continues to evolve in the education arena, the Pew study found many learners aren’t aware of digital learning options. For example, 61 percent of respondents aren’t aware of distance learning while 80 percent aren’t familiar with massive open online courses (MOOCs). Even fewer learners are aware of digital badges.

In terms of industries, those working in the government sector, more than in other industries, represent the highest number of professional learners. No. 2 was education, followed by nonprofit organizations.

I alluded to this above, but most professionals participate in education at their workplace. The Internet is the second most common platform, followed by an offsite facility, such as a hotel. And, head’s up to associations: Conventions and education programs take the No. 4 spot.

Perhaps not surprising, the report found attitudes about learning shape people’s desire to seek out educational opportunities. Most of us like the idea of lifelong learning, but very few yearn to sit in a classroom. In fact, 58 percent of respondents say they’re constantly looking for opportunities to grow.

“Two large forces are driving fresh interest in the way people learn and why they learn,” said Pew Research Center. “The first force is the rise of the Internet and its disruptive potential for education, both for the formal purpose of gaining extra training and credentials and for the informal purpose of learning new things in hope of personal life enrichment. The second force is the steady advancement of the ‘knowledge economy,’ in which economic value is increasingly derived from working with sources of knowledge and in which more and more jobs are built around knowledge workers who use information to ‘create original knowledge products.’”

14
Jun
16

Globalization isn’t a ‘one-size-fits-all’ strategy for associations

global biz expansionAccording to the United Nations, in the year 2100 the world’s population will be 11.2 billion people.

Not surprisingly, Africa and India account for much of that growth, meaning businesses will steadily expand into those regions. As such, we could see a booming global marketplace, which opens the door for associations.

As markets grow, businesses will increasingly need the services associations provide, such as professional development, knowledge transfer, networking, education and professional certifications, according to Globalstrat, which recently released, “2016 Association Growth Global Trends Survey Report.”

Among the challenges associations will have are identifying the markets yielding the most potential for growth and creating business models to address specific markets, Globalstrat said.

According to the report, 30 percent of associations have 5 percent or fewer international members and conference attendees. However, while only 18 percent indicate 5 to 14 percent of their members are international, nearly 30 percent of associations in that same range had international conference attendees. So there’s not always a direct link between international members and international program participants.

What does that mean for associations?

19957784-Global-business-plan-concept-presentation-With-creative-hand-drawing-business-strategy-plan-concept--Stock-PhotoFor those with a high number of international members, there may be opportunities to better market events internationally, Globalstrat said. At the same time, these organizations should consider hosting events outside their home countries. On the other hand, associations with a high number of international event participants but a low number of members may consider improving membership value for international members.

Other key findings in the report:

  • North America is the most popular location in the world for global expansion among associations, followed by Europe, Australia/New Zealand and South America.
  • Organizations that have a solid international business strategy experience faster growth.
  • The top three metrics for success are membership, financial performance and number of meeting and event participants.
  • In terms of services, trade associations place a high emphasis on in-person networking opportunities while professional organizations rank the delivery of a journal or magazine as a priority. (For global expansion, Globalstrat recommends professional associations lead with live events, focusing less on membership, while trade associations should focus on membership and live events in tandem.)
  • About 50 percent of survey respondents use Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn proactively while 90 percent of respondents use these social media channels in some fashion. (Twitter is the most popular.)

“Associations are so diverse and operate under conditions and in environments that are so significantly different from one another that it is impossible to suggest a ‘one-size-fits-all’ solution to international development,” Globalstrat said. “Yet, it is hard to identify an association or organization that is not affected, in some significant manner, by globalization. The question for association leaders, managers, staff and their stakeholders is, ‘How will they interpret the changes taking place, correctly identify the implications and then decide a course of action that successfully navigates these changes?’”

24
May
16

No more masses for association marketers

email-marketing-for-your-home-businessAs some of you may know, Event Garde sends a monthly e-newsletter. So every month, I jump into Constant Contact to look at stats.

Admittedly, I’m a word nerd, but I find the stats and data fascinating. I get excited when the click and open rates increase. And I use those – based on the popularity of certain topics – to decide what to write the next month.

Email marketers: Does this sound familiar?

According to most reports, email is the No. 1 tool for marketing among associations. But do email campaigns work?

A new report by Informz may help marketers decide.

The 2016 Association Email Marketing Benchmark Report analyzes nearly 2 billion emails sent by associations in 2015. According to the report, email volume rose nearly 12 percent from 2014.

We’ll delve into the findings shortly, but first, Informz points out marketing automation technology has transformed the way associations communicate. For example, it allows senders to more easily segment audiences, allowing for topical, personalized responses.

“Associations are making a purposeful shift to integrate and maximize their digital marketing reach, utilizing all their data assets,” Informz says. “Websites, email marketing programs, account management databases and online communities are no longer perceived as separate functional entities. Taking a holistic approach means moving away from a single communication strategy to a tailored, one-to-one communication approach.”

click-460In addition, the report revealed email relevancy is top of mind for subscribers. As such, marketers are moving away from mass emails, instead sending customized communications to members – which translates into more meaningful member experiences.

And now the findings from the Informz report:

  • The average email metrics for associations include a 98 percent delivery rate, 36 percent open rate and 16 percent click rate.
  • More than 70 percent of email subscribers were sent one to five emails per month.
  • Emails containing eight or more links represent 77 percent of the email sent volume.
  • Audiences between 5,000 and 50,000 accounted for 63 percent of all emails sent; however, the smaller the audience, the higher the open and click rates were.
  • For the second consecutive year, emails sent during midday hours accounted for the largest percentage of emails sent, as well as the highest click rates.
  • Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday had the highest email volume with an average open rate of 35 percent.
  • Friday had the highest weekday open rate at 37 percent.
  • Subject lines with fewer than 40 characters had open rates that exceeded the 2015 benchmark of 36 percent.
  • More than 60 percent of opened email had engagement for more than 10 seconds, which is an increase from last year’s metric of 62 percent.
  • Mobile readers engage with emails longer than desktop readers, with 67 percent of mobile readers spending longer than 10 seconds.

So…what are your thoughts? How does your association use email?

Remember that newsletter I referenced? We’re always looking to feature examples of success so if you’ve developed an email campaign that works, please send information to Kristen Parker at Kristen@eventgarde.com.




meet aaron

Association learning strategist & meetings coach. Founder & president of Event Garde. Passionate about cooking, running, blogging, old homes, unclehood & pet parenting (thanks to Lillie the pup).

meet kristen

Writer, editor, public relations professional. Digital content manager. Proud mom of three. Total word geek. Spartan for life.

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