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4 Easy-to-Use Digital Tools That Will Grow Your Association in 2019

Even though 2019 didn’t exactly turn out the way Blade Runner predicted, there has been no shortage of technological advancements in recent years. And association marketers certainly have not been immune to the wild growth of tech tools. But the basic tenet of marketing for associations remains unchanged: demonstrate the value of your service to qualified people and make it easy for them to sign up. Some modern tools make that job more complicated, and some make it way easier. In this article, we’ll focus on the latter and talk about 4 of the tools we recommend in 2019 to grow your association and events without turning your life into a critically-acclaimed dystopian sci-fi nightmare.

Marketing Technology Landscape

This (now infamous) slide is a scary snapshot of most of the digital marketing tools available today. As it demonstrates, choosing and implementing tools can be a full-time ordeal, especially when they’re not made for the unique needs of associations.

In this article, we’ll discuss 4 of the tools that Feathr and Blue Sky have validated over years of experience, iteration, and improvements that will grow attendance and membership, increase member engagement, and boost revenue in 2019. They are:

  • Retargeting
  • Geofencing
  • Landing Pages
  • Online Event Services

By the way, this article only scratches the surface of a useful few tools. To learn about the complete marketing toolkit Feathr recommends for event and association marketing in 2019, along with specific and actionable use cases for each one, you need to read our newest ebook, The Modern Marketing Toolkit for Events & Associations. It’s a free download and a quick read. Click here to check it out.

1. Retargeting

Retargeting is a form of smart display advertising served to segments of your own web audience. Retargeting only shows advertising to individuals who have already visited your website, a strong indicator of interest in your association and its events. Retargeted ads can display on nearly any website, so your message catches your audience wherever they happen to be online. On average, it has a 10x higher conversion rate than standard display advertising.

Like all the targeted advertising tools in this article, it relies on the principle that marketing performs best when it aligns with the unique interests of those it is served to. It means you’re not wasting money on cold, unqualified prospects. They already know you. They already like you. And as a result, they are significantly more receptive to your advertising.

It’s simple, too: just choose your segments (examples of segments are people who visited your registration page, people who visited your “why exhibit” page, people who visited your “benefits of membership” page, etc.), design a message and a creatives that would resonate with that segment, and a campaign budget. Retargeting is effective, precise, and easily scalable.

You can read about specific retargeting campaign ideas that can boost event attendance right here.

2. Geofencing

Powered by GPS and RFID technologies, geofencing is a tool that enables targeted advertising to a pinpoint physical location, served to mobile devices within the virtual boundaries of that location. Geofencing can serve ads to locations as specific as an individual street address.

When qualified prospects are gathered together in one place, a geofencing campaign will ensure that your message gets seen on mobile devices in that location. It’s an extraordinarily efficient marketing tool, especially for top of funnel/brand awareness campaigns. Association and event marketers have been especially successful when geofencing competing events, aiming membership messaging at college campuses to boost student membership, and for sponsor/exhibitor prospecting, by geofencing the offices of prospective partners.

Learn more about geofencing for events here.

3. Landing Pages

These are simple, custom webpages to which advertising clicks are directed. They are the modern alternative to the common practice of directing email, paid advertising, and referred traffic clicks to either your homepage or a registration page.

Homepages tend to bombard visitors with information. They have menus with links, contact info, membership services, a member portal login, event information and more. And all of that information is useful – for the right visitor.

The strategy behind custom landing pages is to give visitors all the information they need and none they don’t – based on the interest they’ve displayed through responding to a specific ad or email. In essence, a properly designed landing page will include just the information required to drive responders from a campaign through to a particular action.

That action could be to register for an event, sign up for membership, or even just request more information. The call to action is up to you, but the conversion rate will increase. When shopping for a landing page builder, look for one that offers attractive templates and easily scalable production.

Read about Feathr’s landing page builder, optimized for events and associations, here.

4. Online Event Services

One of the most revolutionary impacts technology has had on the association industry is that events no longer require physical attendance to be successful. While traditional gatherings will never go away (they’re human nature), additional options open your association’s services to more people.

Today’s associations are seeing huge success with low-overhead “virtual events” like webinars, webcasts, and podcasts. Online continuing education courses can offer real credits, too. Modern Learning Management Systems are turnkey platforms for associations to not only manage educational programs, but to manage registration, e-commerce, member analytics, and even integrate with the marketing tools discussed above to give you complete control of your messaging, education, and growth opportunities.

Blue Sky’s Path LMS is a great choice for associations of every kind. Learn more here.

Like we mentioned, these are not the only tools we recommend. But they are an excellent start to bring your marketing up to speed, better engage with your members, and continue to meet the lofty marketing goals you’ve set in 2019.

Chris Hillman, Feathr

Chris Hillman is Director of Content at Feathr, the marketing toolkit for events and associations. Chris and Feathr are both based in sunny, swampy Gainesville, Florida.

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