Is lead generation as important for associations and professional societies as for any other business? Absolutely! While sales funnels are not often discussed in the context of professional association memberships, if your goal is membership or event revenue growth then your members most likely go through the sales funnel – regardless of what you call it.
The great news is that while organisations in the corporate world need to grow their marketing departments in order to create engaging content to make their sales funnel work, most associations already have an abundance of valuable content and run periodic webinars. And in most cases, it’s only about customising this content and applying existing digital marekting tools for turning this content into a powerful membership lead generation machine.
In this article we’ll go through the basic terminology of lead generation in the professional society membership context and provide 5 actionable items for optimising your association content so it works for growing your membership.
What is lead generation and the sales funnel?
As salesy as it sounds, lead generation is simply a process of guiding a person from a point when they don’t know about your association, to someone who has interest in your association content or event and, finally, to becoming your loyal member and advocate.
Most often lead generation starts with growing the number of subscribers, creating a pool of people who may want to attend your events or become a member. So let’s look into some simple methods for optimising your existing digital assets to grow your database of potential members.
1. Don’t keep your newsletter a secret!
It may sound obvious, but it’s surprising how many associations don’t promote their newsletters or even restrict them to members only! If you provide your audience with regular industry updates, the chances are a lot of people are looking for a convenient and filtered information source.
Don’t hide your newsletter behind the curtains. Let people outside of your membership know how friendly and helpful your community is, how many events you run and what valuable content is available to your members.
And most importantly, make the subscription process as easy as possible — add it to the homepage of your website, promote it regularly through social media and add newsletter sign-up forms after every new article.
2. Make your content work for you
Use as much of your content as possible for lead generation. For example, in addition to putting the latest report or a webinar in your Member Only Library, create a landing page for it, where people can sign up to watch.
What is the difference between a normal page and a landing page?
The landing page helps convert your website visitors into your subscribers and followers. HubSpot’s research shows that businesses with 30 or more landing pages perform best in organic search and lead generation. What are the benefits of creating landing pages for your content?
- Lead generation. The first is very obvious — unlike a normal page, the objective of the landing page is to grow your list of subscribers.
- Direct and to the point. Conversion focused landing pages must include one — and only one — action (for example, don’t be tempted to put several reports on one page or promote your future events). This way you keep your audience focused and it’s easier to analyse what works and what doesn’t.
- Easier analytics. With only one possible action on the page, your analytics becomes simpler. It’s easy to track what content resonates with your audience.
- Increased organic traffic. By creating separate pages with additional content you improve searchability of your website. Landing pages are easier to optimise, for example, use specific targeted keywords and follow other SEO best practices.
3. Nurture your leads
Getting more leads is awesome, but if you don’t nurture those leads with meaningful content, in the best case scenario they’ll just stay in that first stage of your sales funnel. But most likely, they’ll simply hit that unsubscribe button the second they receive an irrelevant email.
Once somebody is in your database, treat them as a member of your community. Look after your list and it will turn into your member generation machine — remember, every person in your list is your potential member, so show off the friendly and welcoming nature of your community!
Don’t rush to send to your new subscribers your general newsletter or sell membership straight away. Instead, with a series of automated emails, tell them about all the benefits of belonging to your community, invite them to your upcoming event, share another valuable resource and, ideally, let them subscribe to topics of their interest.
4. Find other sources of leads
Often associations deal with a high number of people, but it’s no certainty that all the people in a database (which is also not always centralised!) are aware of the content the association generates. Check all points of contact with different groups of stakeholders and make sure you promote your subscription list where it’s relevant.
5. Unsubscribe doesn’t always mean goodbye
Some of your subscribers will want to stop receiving communication from you. It happens and it’s normal. Your task is to make sure that most people who unsubscribe are not your qualified leads and they unsubscribe because the information you generate is not relevant to them. You don’t want to lose people who have a high chance of becoming your members and leave a negative taste from your salesy or spamming communication.
What happens when your subscribers hit the unsubscribe link? Do they unsubscribe immediately from all of your lists and segments? Or do they have a chance to stay subscribed to less frequent newsletters or topics of interest?
It’s clear your association content can lead to new members. The big question is: what will your association do to boost lead generation and improve the sales funnel with the valuable content already at your disposal? The potential is enormous, so don’t be afraid to use the digital tools available for building that membership growth machine. You’ve got the content, now it’s time to take advantage.