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What’s the Hullabaloo about Content Hubs?

Posted By Anna Wrisky, Tuesday, August 27, 2019

 

 

You keep hearing the phrase “content hub”, in articles and maybe even from your marketing communications team, but what is the hullabaloo about, isn’t it just a library? The answer is yes, and no. First things first. What exactly is a content hub?

According to Neil Patel, co-founder of Neil Patel Digital“A content hub is a destination where website visitors can find branded, curated, social media, user generated, or any type of content related to a topic.”

Content Hubs are a great way to manage all your phenomenal content in a user-friendly manner. A well-designed content hub can neatly and aesthetically display your cumulative pieces in one location. They help you avoid the headache of multi-located content such as training videos only on YouTube, blogs on your WordPress site, and articles residing only in your journal or newsletter. Through content hubs, all these rich pieces that represent your brand become accessible in a single place! 

How is this different from a website? A website contains all the information a user may need to know about your brand and organization, including specific calls to action. A content hub is a resource area of a website, a one-stop shop to finding articles and media regarding a specific topic or by topic area. It’s also more encompassing than a blog, because there are multiple authors and different media formats, including articles, blog posts, webinars, podcasts, and videos.

Some great examples:

Ewald Consulting is also working on content hub strategies and launches with our nonprofit clients using different technology platforms. We will be expanding our content hubs across our clients to better share resources, thought-leader articles, blog posts, enews, webinars, video, discussion forums and more.

One example is the Product Development and Management Association Knowledge Hub (kHub) which just launched. This is an example of offering member value by granting permission-based access to content and a discussion forum alongside the more typical Content Hub collateral such as articles, webinars and books.  

Now that we have a basic understanding of what a content hub is, let’s talk about the benefits of having one.

 

Brand Authority:

You work hard on the content that represents your brand. We have learned in past blog posts that carefully curated and tailored content communicates to your target audience that you are a thought leader in your industry. A content hub strengthens your brand, identity, and your authority in the field. By focusing on topics, your site becomes more relevant in search engines.

 

Building Connections and Engagement

It’s a community! When you have multiple authors and a multi-media hub it generates a following from audience members who prefer social posts, or podcasts, or people who like to comment on blog posts. A content hub can reach all of these audience members. Content Hubs promote engagement. Instead of an article living in a newsletter that’s read and forgotten, users can directly interact with the piece. A content hub is ideal for reading, commenting, sharing, tweeting, buying and so on.

 

Analytics

By now you know that your website analytics are a treasure trove of information that can break down how people are coming to and interacting with your website. Content hubs can help you further understand your audience’s interest! By tracking the performance of different pieces on your hub, you can discover which topics interest your audience, what’s driving traffic to your site, and preferred content types, then use this information to further tailor your content to meet the demand!

Take it from us, content hubs done well are complicated and need to be mapped out carefully within the right technology platform, site architecture and taxonomy. Without a clear plan from the start, things can go awry quickly. So now that you know what content hubs are and how they can help you elevate your organization, here are some quick ways you can get started:

  1. Define your goals: Be clear about how you want to utilize the hub and how you will measure the use of the platforms.  
  2. Define your audience: Examine your analytics and your target audience profiles. Create a hub that will fit the styles of communication preferred by your audience.
  3. Assess your content and your access to new content: What content do you have now that should migrate to the platform and what can be left behind? Determine a schedule and responsibilities for the creation and posting of new content.
  4. Create a strategy to organize your content: Make sure that you organize the content in a manner that is understandable, the best way to do this is usually done by topic and/or by the type of media.
  5. Determine which platform suits your needs: Maybe it’s your current website, maybe it’s a sub-domain, whatever it is use the above evaluations to help you determine the best fit for you.
  6. Design and Launch: Create your design layout and go for it!
  7. Maintain it! Determine how you will continue to add new content on a weekly basis at a minimum to keep the site fresh and vibrant. Don’t forget to track your analytics to fine tune your content to your audience’s needs.

Content hubs can give your organization a strategic advantage with your customers and stakeholders and a new way to drive engagement, community and conversation. 

Tags:  association management  content hub  content marketing  marketing strategy  member engagement 

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Analytic Trends in Associations Part II: Seasonal Trends

Posted By Mei Li Brown, Tuesday, August 20, 2019
Updated: Tuesday, August 20, 2019
Untitled Document

Analytic Trends in Associations Part II: Seasonal Trends

In part one of Analytic Trends in Associations, we shared the results of a case study we performed by pulling analytics from 24 associations to capture general analytic trends . From the data, we acquired three key takeaways regarding associations:

  1. The average web visitor is new and not as likely to return to the site again after visiting once or twice;
  2. Associations have higher bounce rates due to heavy CTAs marketed on their sites; and
  3. Those who stay do on the site have high levels of engagement as indicated by their multiple page views per session and longer timestamps of web activity.

During the year, it’s important you also understand the trends of analytics during conference season. From the time the conference attendee registration launches to the day after the conference, we expect web traffic and engagement to increase substantially due to the heavy amount of information provided on the sites such as online registration, travel accommodations and the conference schedule.

We conducted another case study to analyze associations’ web analytics two months prior to conference as well as two months after. Data was pulled from a sample of 40 associations from July 2017 to August 2018. We analyzed the overall number of visitors, sessions, pageviews, average session duration, average time on page, and bounce rates to roughly gauge user interaction.

Here is what we discovered:

Total Users, Sessions, Pageviews

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Average Session Duration, Average Time on Page

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Before Event
The case study proved that web traffic and engagement improve leading up to the event. However, the overall average of increase wasn’t substantially large as initially thought. We may have seen a more substantial difference if we extended our data back farther and compared analytics to the main “off-season” month of each association. These associations have at least some sort of marketing plan that advertises the save the date well in advance before the official two-month launch date.

After Event
The post-event web analytics are where we started to see drastic decreases in web traffic. It’s important to note that this is not a bad thing , it just means less people are visiting the site because the main event of interest has passed. As long as the bounce rates and average session durations are decent, the website can still be viewed as performing well. In measuring association analytics, it is not about the quantity (i.e. the number of visitors, sessions, pageviews), it’s about the quality of engagement (i.e. the avg. time on page, avg. session duration, bounce rate).    

Conclusion
So what’s the takeaway from this study? These analytics prove that these associations’ annual events are the main driving force to the websites. While this is certainly not a negative, it helps us examine how we can improve our marketing strategy.

Associations need to be communicating with the membership on a regular basis. Annual networking and educational events should not be the only reason to send emails. Occasional newsletters, topical industry posts on social, and member campaigns are all ways you can engage the membership outside of conference without being overbearing. It keeps the association in the back of their mind and shows that you put effort into staying relevant.

Major event analytics are also a great reminder to make sure you are aware of your association’s analytics year-round. When you see anomalies in your data, you can account it for the annual conference or another large networking or education event. It’s when those anomalies aren’t accounted for by an event or campaign when you should start investigating on what is and is not working.

Tags:  analytic trends  Analytics  association analytic trends  Content Marketing  Marketing Strategy 

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Analytic Trends in Associations Part I: General Trends

Posted By Mei Li Brown, Thursday, August 8, 2019
Updated: Tuesday, August 6, 2019

Analytics can be confusing, but they don’t have to be. As we learned in our previous post, “How associations can use analytics to boost membership,” web analytics are vital to associations when it comes to retention and recruitment. Once you are utilizing your analytics to help retain and grow your membership, the next step is to determine if your association’s site is performing well.

According to Neil Patel, measuring the success of your webpage’s analytics will vary due to several factors including your business type, industry, and audience. To get this data, you need to consistently monitor your analytics to set your sites baseline averages and then work from there.

We conducted our own case study on association websites to help us measure association analytics. We pulled analytics from a sample of 42 associations from July 2017to August 2018 to gain insights into what the baselines were and gain perspective on trends. Here is what we discovered:  


association analytic trends


Users vs. New Users
We discovered that, most web visitors are new to the website and have lower engagement than returning visitors. It is important to keep in mind that a new visitor is counted as someone who accesses your site from a new browser or device. Visitors will also be counted new again if they clear their cache and cookies. While determining if a visitor really is “new” is not completely accurate, this data indicated that associations needed to focus on being more welcoming to non-members on the site instead of only advertising to members or people familiar with the association.

Sessions & Pageviews
The case study showed that most web visitors will only visit once or twice, but they engage in multiple pages per single session. Considering most web visitors are new, the session to visitor ratio was not surprising and roughly correlated with a ratio of 1:1. Pageviews, however, demonstrated that the average visitor engaged with the site since they are visiting multiple pages per session. This was a great data point and an indicator of drive on the websites.  

Avg. Session Duration & Avg. Time on Page
Throughout the study, we found that web visitors who stayed on the site have terrific time durations of engagement. For average durations and times on page, we recommend aiming for least 1 minute, 30 seconds per session and 30 seconds per single page. These time stamps created a nice baseline that indicated some sort of interaction occurred.

Bounce Rate
A hard truth was confirmed by the study, associations tend to have higher bounce rates.
In the Brafton 2017 Content Marketing Benchmark Report, they calculated the average bounce rate across sites to be 58.18%. In their data sample, they found that B2B had higher bounces than B2C. Our study calculated that the sample websites were averaging a bounce rate of 55.12% –very similar to the findings of Brafton.

So why do association sites have higher bounces? In general, these sites are loaded with multiple calls to action (CTAs) meaning they require the web visitor to have a strong actionable item (e.g. Read our Blog, Register Here, Join Today). Not many associations are selling products outside their events and membership, unlike most B2C websites, so visitors will either decide to engage with what that they see or leave if it’s not what they’re looking for in the current moment, thus creating a bounce.

What does this all mean?
Don’t let all of the options and metrics overwhelm you so nothing is measured. Start with a few analytics, understand the implications and expand into deeper data after starting with key metrics.

One of the first places a potential member will look for information is on the website, so it is critical the website layout & content is reviewed and updated on a consistent basis.

Remember less is more! You don’t have to take away the feeling of exclusivity of your members. There are ways to make both groups feel catered to, including consistently refreshing your content to be relevant and simplifying the user experience. A confusing website will discourage people from exploring the site and can turn off potential and existing members if the messaging is not clear. We encourage you to utilize the baseline data from our case study to analyze your association’s website performance and discover where you can make improvements for your visitors.

TAGS: Analytics, Associations, Content Marketing, Marketing Strategy, Case Study

Tags:  Analytics  Associations  Case Study  Content Marketing  Marketing Strategy 

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4 Marketing Tools You Need to Elevate Your Content

Posted By Rebecca Wegscheid, Tuesday, August 6, 2019
Updated: Monday, August 5, 2019

If the image above is overwhelming, you are not alone. It is no secret that in the last few years there has been an explosion of marketing technology available. It is estimated in 2011, around 150 tools existed for marketing; in 2019, according to Chief Marketing Tech more than 7,040 marketing technology solutions on the market.


With such a large number of resources available it would be impossible for an organization to test them all, especially considering the multiple facets of marketing. Looking at the first image, you can see that there are generally agreed to be six areas of marketing technology: advertising and promotion, content and experience, social and relationships, commerce and sales, data, and management, all feeding into each other. If you have a strong data tool, you can then create better content and advertising for your target audience. If you have good content, you can build a social presence and create meaningful brand/client relationships online to inspire brand loyalty. No piece of marketing stands alone, but some need more attention than others to get you started, especially when it comes to content marketing. A content marketing strategy can establish your brand as a key resource and authority in the field, inspiring brand loyalty and driving membership. The cornerstone of this strategy of course is strong, relevant content that catches the reader from the start and draws them in. For many, the task of creating the content is daunting and overwhelming.

To help, we have curated some of the top content tools to help you get started. With these tools you can research hot trending topics and even make sure your headlines are optimized to drive traffic, shares and search results!

Quora
Quora is a question-and-answer website where the public will ask and answer questions. Users can collaborate by suggesting edits to answers. It is touted as “a place to share knowledge and better understand the world.” For content creators it is a great starting point to see what questions are being asked about a topic or keyword. For example, a quick search for “content marketing” on the platform returns hundreds of results including “what are some common beginner mistakes in content marketing” that could drive your next blog post, white paper or podcast.

HubSpot Blog Topic Generator
Similar to Quora, marketing and sales behemoth HubSpot has a blog topic generating tool. With a quick search of a noun, for example “analytics”, you can get a week’s worth of blog ideas.

Answer the Public
This search query data visualization tool is a little tongue-in-cheek with a repeating image of a man waiting for you to type right on its home page. Even with this humor, Answer the Public can be immensely helpful in finding the questions you want to answer with your content. Simply type in a keyword or topic in the search field and sit back as it crawls search results for the top questions asked related to your search. The results are then categorized into 5 areas: questions, prepositions, comparisons, alphabeticals and related.

CoSchedule Headline Analyzer
Once you have written and edited your piece, it is a good idea to run your headline through a headline analyzing tool like CoSchedule has created. You have spent the time to make sure your content is perfect — now make sure it has the perfect headline with a balance of keywords, power words and characters while measuring the sentiment of the headline.

Many content marketing tools are available to associations today; these four only scratch the surface of what you can find online. Take them as a starting point on your content marketing journey and go create!

Tags:  association marketing  content marketing  marketing strategy  marketing technology  marketing tools 

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Using Technology and Creativity to Drive Association Marketing Strategies

Posted By Kathie Pugaczewski, CAE, CMP, CRP, QAS, Thursday, August 1, 2019
Updated: Wednesday, July 31, 2019

Associations have a long history dating back to the 1800s. They are the original communities and influencers for professions long before social media became prevalent. This marks my 30th year in association management and I currently am the Vice President of Marketing Communications & Technology for Ewald Consulting.

When I started my career with the Builders Association of Minnesota in 1989, our technology tools were a fax, typewriter, pagers, lots of file cabinets for paper registrations and membership applications and a DOS database with the blinking bright orange text on a small screen, big box computer. No email, no website, no cell phone, no Microsoft Office – they hadn’t been created for the mass market yet. We launched the association’s first-ever website in 1996.

In 2005 when I joined Ewald Consulting, my first major initiative was to find us a new database and migrate our clients to Affiniscape 24/7. After researching limited options, we chose a custom database built in Microsoft Access. Every Friday, I would export the client data into 24/7 so they could have searchable directories and see their data online. A few years later, Affiniscape launched its M360 platform which integrated the website with a database providing a dynamic experience for our members.

A few years later, Affiniscape was bought by YourMembership (YM) and we proceeded to transition our clients from Affiniscape to YM. A few years later, Community Brands bought YM and several other platforms to have a suite of offerings for associations. Which summarizes the current platform environment of technology platforms – thousands of options plus mergers and acquisitions is now the norm.

The marketing technology landscape is one of my favorite graphics that demonstrates the extensive proliferation of tools over the past 8 years. In 2011, there were 150 platforms. As of April 2019, there were 7040. There are plenty of tools to choose from now. So unlike the 1990s, options, access and affordability are no longer barriers to entry for associations.

Choosing a limited set of tools, learning how to implement them creatively and executing value are critical for associations to remain relevant. We are at a critical junction of technology and human behavior that will create our future depending on how we strategically implement our choices effectively with simplicity and clarity key for our customers.

With a plethora of platforms to choose from, our Marketing Communications Team is focusing on executing relevant and measurable marketing strategies for our associations. Key strategies include:

  1. Building out a content marketing strategy for the long haul. Content marketing is a marathon, not a sprint. It takes time to build awareness, generate interest from new audiences and expand our base. Our volunteers are our Subject Matter Experts (SME) for content for our conferences, blogs, social media and have a wealth of insights that are core to building our community. Generating content with context and driving conversations will keep the association vibrant and the go-to resource for professions. Going beyond conference and membership promotion is critical to drive the value proposition of being a part of the association.
  2. Reviewing the business models and clearly delineating the value proposition of being a member and buying offerings from our associations;
  3. Conducting website audits to ensure clarity, clean and creative design and coding for mobile responsiveness and effective Search Engine Optimization;
  4. Creating strong landing pages for our home pages, membership and conference pages to  have a strong and clear Call to Action, concise benefits, bullet points for scanning, original photography and call out buttons to prompt action;
  5. Implementing marketing automation to build awareness and convert prospects to customers and ensure a clear customer journey;
  6. Using an event mobile app platform for our clients’ conferences. With the technology development of Progressive Web Apps (PWA), we are looking at developing year-round mobile apps for our clients in the next year to connect our  members year round.

Other initiatives we are working on include business intelligence, data collection and analysis and the implications of AI (Artificial Intelligence) for our clients. We are excited about the tremendous opportunities that nonprofit organizations now have access to and to implement best-of-class strategies to ensure their success.

We are excited to be implementing our own content marketing strategy based on our research and experience with our clients. Please email me if you have any questions at kathiep@ewald.com.

Kathie Pugaczewski is the Vice President of Marketing Communications and Technology. She has more than 30 years of association management experience with a focus on technology platform strategy, marketing communications, conference management, continuing education and certification programs. She joined Ewald Consulting in 2005. Previously, Kathie worked for the Midwest Association of Association Executives (MSAE) as Marketing Director and the Builders Association of Minnesota as Executive Vice President. She has a Bachelor's degree in journalism from the University of Minnesota and completed the Institute for Organization Management at the University of Notre Dame. In 2003, she earned her CAE designation. In 2009, she earned her Certified Meeting Planner (CMP) designation. In 2019, she earned her Certified Recognition Professional (CRP) designation and her Qualified Association Specialist (QAS) designation.

Tags:  association management  associations  content marketing  marketing  marketing strategy  marketing technology  technology  value proposition 

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5 Must-Do Content Marketing Strategies for Associations Creating Awareness, Driving Value Proposition

Posted By Rebecca Wegscheid, Thursday, July 11, 2019
Developing effective marketing strategies that drive measurable results can be tricky. It requires analysis, critical thinking and clear Calls to Action (CTA). This is vitally important for associations in an ever-increasing and competitive marketplace.

 

Associations often focus their marketing efforts on conference and event promotion without establishing the organization as the thought-leader in the profession. Before marketing events, webinars and conferences, we need to communicate the Value Proposition of the association to establish credibility and broaden our base and grow our community.

 

While for-profits have much big budgets and financial resources, content marketing can still be effectively executed for non-profits. And associations have a unique advantage when it comes to content marketing – Subject Matter Experts (SMEs) in the membership who can share their expertise and drive collaboration, conversation and community.

  

One of the biggest challenge’s associations face today is answering key value questions, like “Why should I join?” or “How will this association benefit me today?” As a large portion of our association base of members are nearing retirement which underscores the need to gain early and mid-career member base to remain relevant.

One key marketing strategy that organizations are effectively using is content marketing which can take many forms. With access to SMEs, associations can utilize this strategy to drive membership value and drive engagement. A content marketing strategy will be unique to each organization or association, but they share the same foundation.

 

5 Must-Do Content Marketing Strategies:

  1. Fill in the “gaps”
    Before marketing conferences and product, provide context by creating awareness of the organization with relevant content through the website, webinars and highlighting the expertise of conference presenters. This will prevent a knowledge gaps and drive conversions. Associations provide value to members and stakeholders by being the “go-to resource” through sharing industry articles, writing blogs, developing newsletters, and sparking conversations on discussion boards and choosing speakers who are presenting on the most important relevant topics.

  2. Meet members where they are
    It’s important to keep in mind that not all audiences are active on the same platforms. In order to provide useful, meaningful content and a valuable experience for members, associations must use platforms that are relevant to the audience and adopt a multi-faceted content approach by utilizing different mediums such as social, email, and direct mail.

  3. Be adaptable and flexible Change is constant for our audiences. By listening and adapting to member needs, associations can provide value, creating a better experience that is appropriate for the audience.

  4. Cater to the audience – personalize!
    A crucial part of providing value is understanding who the members are and tailoring to their specific needs. Use a style, language, tone, and even content that is familiar, meaningful, and relevant to them. By giving the audience exactly what they need, associations can show the members their value.

  5. Be consistent
    Consistency is key in content marketing. When content is scheduled and shared frequently, associations can start to build a following. Not only that, but they also gain trust and are seen as a reliable source of information. By consistently posting content, associations both build brand authority and provide value to the audience by sharing useful and meaningful resources.

Through all five of the rules, there is a common theme: a focus on the members, both current and prospective. In order to provide the best, meaningful experience to the audience, associations can adopt this holistic approach to membership. So it is time to refocus and watch your association grow for the better.

 

Tags:  Association Growth  Associations  Content Marketing  Marketing Strategy  Membership 

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KNOWLEDGE & RESOURCES

MANAGEMENT | View all Management articles
A Successful Year Starts with a Solid Budget by Bill Monn
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MARKETING | View all Marketing articles
9 Marketing Ideas for Your Organization by Kathie Pugaczewski
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MEMBERSHIP | View all Membership articles
A Holistic Approach to Membership Recruitment by Darrin Hubbard
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VOLUNTEERISM | View all Volunteerism articles
Three Ways to Stronger Volunteer Engagement by Paul Hanscom
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