If you’re like most association leaders, you spend a lot of time brainstorming and strategizing how to grow your membership.  You send surveys to try to get an idea of what your members want, you go on scouting missions at relevant organizations and college campuses, and you blast communication, hoping to reach the right people.

There is a better way. 

And you don’t need to bring on any additional competencies to do it. You just need to tap into the data that you’re already collecting in your technology systems. This data is the key to understanding how members, subscribers, and anonymous website visitors interact with your association. If you can understand this data story, you can create a smart plan for engaging the right people with the right messages at the right time, ultimately growing your membership base.

Members vs. Audience 

Members are the people who pay you annual subscription revenue, and are the most dedicated core of your org. 

But your audience is much larger. 

Anybody who interacts with your association, or consumes your content is your audience. Your audience is likely 10-1,000x of your membership size. 

Want to get in front of these people and turn them into members? Of course you do. But how?

Your data can tell you how to meet your could-be members where they are and nurture them towards membership. 

Here are two ideas you might try, using your current data setup and member lists. These ideas assume you have the ability to launch paid social media campaigns, and you have an email platform that can send automated messages. 

Find New Audiences with Lookalike Campaigns

Without data, finding and nurturing new audiences can be like throwing pasta at the refrigerator and seeing what sticks. 

Instead, try a targeted approach.  

You can use your current member list to create a lookalike audience for paid social campaigns.
Start with an existing segment like:

  • Early Career Members
  • Non-Member Subscribers 
  • Members in Chicago

Once you’ve created the segment, you can use it to build an audience in Facebook or LinkedIn to reach more people like them. For example, you could try segmenting your list around early career members if you wanted to attract new Millennial or Gen Z audiences. 

When determining what content to use in these paid social ads, consider what your existing segment is interested in. Do you have a workshop or course that is performing particularly well with young members? Create some ads around that course and see if new but similar are also interested in that offer.

Nurture New Audiences with Targeted Content

Next, create a funnel around nurturing the new traffic that you bring into the fold.  Most email platforms have “journey” features that allow you to put users into nurture paths based on the actions they’ve taken previously. 

Instead of jumping right to “become a member!” or “join ______ today!”, offer something of known value right away, saying, “hey, take a look!”, and starting to build that relationship. Low key, no strings attached.

Once you’ve started a relationship with your new recruits, nurture them further via retargeting campaigns on social media, additional email nurture sequences or on-site personalization built with their specific customer journey in mind. 

As you develop and engage with new audiences based on audience analytics, you’re able to attract new members and nurture existing ones, creating loyal members for years to come. 


Take Data-Powered Growth to the Next Level

Once you try some of the ideas shared above, you’ll start to realize that you’ve only scratched the surface on what’s possible when you use data to grow.  To take your growth strategy to the next level, it’s important to have the right setup.

To launch a unified and comprehensive growth strategy, you need unified data. That means connecting your website, AMS, LMS, marketing tech, and more so you can get one clear look at your organization’s data story. Once you have that, you can create a fully unified approach to growing audiences, improving content, boosting engagement, and more. 

Unifying Data with a Customer Data Platform

A customer data platform (CDP) gives you the tools and strategy to interpret the data you’re already collecting across all of your technology systems. CDPs give you what you need  to accomplish growth goals like: 

  • Finding and nurturing new non-member audiences
  • Growing specific segments of your membership (e.g., “young members” or “international members”)
  • Turning your website visitors or non-member subscribers into members

Hum is an intelligent customer data platform backed by a team of savvy digital marketers hell-bent on helping associations grow. In fact, Hum was purposely built for associations and has helped them build audience strategies that power sustainable membership growth. Don’t believe us? Just ask our clients. 

Ready to kickstart audience and membership growth? Get started with a free 2-hour strategy workshop with our team of digital strategists. After this session, you’ll have a holistic understanding of your association data and analytics and how you can use that intelligence to drive growth. You can expect to leave with realistic strategies and tactics for growing your membership and audience. You can execute this plan yourself or tap us in to do it for you.