Attracting new prospects and keeping existing members engaged are top priorities for associations, with events playing a central role in membership retention and growth. However, the association member journey spans various channels and tactics such as: email marketing, website, print, social channels, owned apps as well as PR, and even OOH (out-of-home) advertising.
With the growing multitude of channels, it’s vital that associations implement an omnichannel marketing strategy to compete in the incredibly noisy world of marketing and advertising. But what is omnichannel marketing? And why is it such a business-critical opportunity for associations?
Frost & Sullivan define omnichannel as “seamless and effortless, high-quality customer experiences that occur within and between contact channels.” Simply put, this means taking a holistic view of all online and offline touchpoints (or channels) that customers have, and utilising these to provide a consistent brand experience to enrich the connection between the brand and the customer. For associations, an effective omnichannel approach is a powerful strategy as it provides a much greater breadth of coverage and message penetration – making marketing efforts far more effective and helping to improve membership attraction and retention.
Let’s explore four key elements of an omnichannel marketing strategy that association planners and marketers can use to create a stronger customer experience:
A crucial first step to developing an effective omnichannel strategy is to define and understand your target audiences. By leveraging the right technology, you’ll have the tools to gather and segment your data based on a range of demographics, as well as build comprehensive audience personas to create more personalised, targeted messages at every touchpoint. Designing omnichannel campaigns around your audience’s interests will boost engagement, drive new membership and encourage retention.
Consistent campaign messaging and brand identity is paramount to provide a seamless experience. Start by clearly defining your campaign’s core messaging and objectives to use as a central point of reference. Seek input from key stakeholders managing the channels you want to use to better understand the best methods for communicating the message in each case.
Events must be a part of the marketing mix to create stronger customer experiences. For associations, bringing members together to network and learn face-to-face builds a deep connection and fosters brand engagement and loyalty. For many prospects, an event represents a point in the journey that can often be the defining factor in purchase decisions such as joining a membership.
Understanding member/prospect behaviours is key to growing your omnichannel strategy because with the right data, you can analyse which channels are working and re-allocate resources accordingly to optimise results, enhance the event experience and measure return on event. Working with the right technology partner can ensure you have the technical expertise, as well as the digital engagement tools, and fully integrated solutions required to support not just the planning and marketing of your events but the robust reporting needs as well.
In short, events can be a key contributor to a successful omnichannel strategy, while the right omnichannel strategy can enhance your events. It’s a win-win! Developing a comprehensive omnichannel framework that includes events allows association planners and marketers to achieve the best possible results.
AUTHOR: Karen Carter, Director Enterprise Marketing Europe at Cvent
Supported by the Union of International Associations (UIA), the International Association of Professional Congress Organisers (IAPCO) and the Interel Group, the global public affairs and association management consultancy, Headquarters Magazines serve the needs of international associations organising worldwide congresses.