What is Marketing Automation and How Can it Help Your Association Grow?
Last week we spoke about association email marketing benchmark metrics and promised to follow up with an in-depth look at marketing automation – what it is, why it is useful, and how associations can take advantage of it to improve member engagement. So let’s jump right in and learn more about this essential tool!
What is marketing automation, exactly?
Think of marketing automation as the most efficient marketing assistant in the world. As long as you’ve laid the right groundwork, your marketing automation tool will diligently carry out your important communications, ensuring nobody gets left behind while you surge ahead.
This means your association can stay consistently connected to current and potential members across multiple marketing channels. Marketing automation sets up repetitive communication tasks and tracks the email and website journeys taken by your members and prospects, generating the kind of high-level insights a team of marketers could never achieve on its own (even if you’re all prepared to work overtime). With such detailed knowledge about individual interests and choices, you can automatically segment your database and tailor the messages you send to each person over a designated period of time.
Why is marketing automation useful for associations?
We know that marketing automation creates the right responses without your direct input, but its scope reaches far beyond that. You can use the cleverness of marketing automation to help your association:
– encourage members to sign-up to or purchase additional services offered by your association;
– develop custom content matched to members’ specific topics of interest;
– create personalised member experiences; and
– analyse each campaign’s effectiveness based on member behaviour and prospect actions such as purchases, registrations, renewals, downloads and more.
Still not convinced? Consider the following marketing automation statistics collated by emailmonday:
on average 51% of companies are currently using marketing automation – Emailmonday, The Ultimate Marketing Automation stats (2017)
91% of the most successful users agree that marketing automation is “very important” to the overall success of their marketing across channels – Marketo & Ascend2, Marketing Automation Strategies for Sustaining Success (2015)
79% of users think marketing automation is worth the price – VB Insight, Marketing Automation, how to make the right buying decision (2015)
Practical marketing automation for associations
If you’ve come this far and you’re excited about the theoretical possibilities of marketing automation, you’re going to love the practical applications that could make a genuine difference to your association’s marketing campaigns and ongoing member engagement activities.
Here are some relevant scenarios and potential marketing automation workflow solutions for your association.
New member welcome and follow-ups
How does your association welcome new members? If you want your first impression to be a positive one, set up your marketing automation platform to deliver a personalised welcome email including next steps, membership benefits, relevant discounts and offers, and any other information that showcases what a fantastic decision it was to join your association in the first place! It’s also a good idea to create an automatic follow-up email for new members who have not opened the original welcome email.
Re-engage inactive members
Can you recognise when an existing member starts to engage less with your association than you would like? You need a system that knows when members are not fully enjoying the benefits of membership and responds by automatically triggering alerts to your membership team and/or triggering bespoke email campaigns to each individual member – otherwise you risk losing their interest, and their membership, on a permanent basis. Ideally your marketing automation tool will also be able to trigger campaigns based on the membership renewal dates of at-risk members.
Event registration follow-ups
Let’s say your association organises an event, such as an awards night, workshop or webinar, and you want members who sign-up to also consider registering for similar events in future. With a marketing automation platform, you can set new event marketing campaigns to be delivered to members based on their responses to previous event information emails.
Renewal reminders and win-back campaigns for members
Want your recently lapsed members to come back? It starts by showing them some love. Perhaps renewal simply slipped their mind, or they intended to renew but lost track of time. Of course, there’s also a chance they actively chose not to renew. Whatever the case, your automated nurture workflow should attempt to discover the underlying reasons for the membership lapse and take steps to resolve it.
Marketing automation significantly improves your ability to respond to behaviour indicating a certain interest in your association’s membership benefits. For example, when a non-member opens a marketing email and clicks the Call-to-Action to find out more about your association, your system can trigger an alert to your membership team or an email series specifically designed to attract potential members. The email series might include discount offers, upcoming event information and useful content about your association.
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