4 Tips for Your Association’s Data-Driven Marketing Strategy

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Gabrielle Perham, MBA - Guest Author


Whether your association aims to raise cause awareness, boost event attendance, or increase membership, a narrowly focused marketing campaign is the key to inspiring action.

Using data to inform your marketing strategy leads to higher enrollment, greater event turnout, and improved membership retention. According to Deep Sync’s guide to data marketing, organizations that use data-driven marketing strategies experience a five to eight times greater return on their initial investment than those that don’t, demonstrating the power of data-backed campaigns.

In this guide, we’ll explore four ways that data can fuel your outreach efforts so you can effectively promote your association to current and potential members.

1. Update membership information through data enrichment.

The United States Postal Service (USPS) estimates that nearly 25% of all mail contains address errors, such as a missing apartment number or an incorrect ZIP code. Inaccuracies like these make it more difficult to reach your members and may cause you to miss out on meaningful support.

To revitalize your campaigns and effectively reach your member base, consider investing in data enrichment. Data enrichment involves using a third-party source to update existing member data and add new information to your association’s records. This process ensures you’re sending messages to the right people.

Partnering with a data enrichment provider gives your organization access to a variety of data types, such as updated and accurate:

  • Demographics, such as age and gender
  • Contact information, such as phone numbers and email addresses
  • Net worth
  • Employment status
  • Lifestyle information

The data you choose to append should align with your larger marketing goals. For instance, if you’d like to run an SMS marketing campaign, enriching your database with updated phone numbers would be beneficial.

2. Segment member data for greater personalization.

As Double the Donation’s digital marketing guide explains, generic outreach—such as emails that start with “Dear valued member” or another similar greeting—isn’t enough to grab your audience’s attention and engage your members. Instead, you must rely on segmentation to personalize your communications.

Using your clean and up-to-date membership database, segment supporters based on shared characteristics to better understand their preferences and interests. Associations often segment members based on factors like:

  • Geographic location
  • Membership duration
  • Member journey stage
  • Engagement history
  • Demographics
  • Communication preferences

Once you segment your members into relevant groups, use them to target and personalize your outreach. For instance, if you have a large portion of members who live abroad, you can send them an email that expresses your gratitude for their support from across the world and invites them to explore your virtual involvement opportunities. This level of personalization helps build rapport and encourage loyalty to your association.

3. Leverage omnichannel marketing.

After segmenting your members, it’s time to appeal to their interests and solicit their support. An omnichannel marketing approach involves using data to meet members across online and offline channels and provide a unified, personalized experience that drives results.

Here’s an example of how the process could work when targeting members up for renewal:

  1. You onboard your first-party data to use for social media advertising, allowing you to reach members who are up for renewal with ads. 
  2. You send a renewal email to existing supporters whose memberships are about to expire, encouraging them to click through to the renewal page on your website.
  3. When members click on the link, complete the renewal form, and pay their dues, they receive an automated “thank you” message prompting them to explore other involvement opportunities.
  4. If a member navigates to the event registration page on your website but abandons the page before pressing the submit button, you can use the phone number you have in your database to send them a text message reminding them to register.
  5. When members register for an event, they receive another automated “thank you” message from your organization.
  6. Finally, you can send personalized save-the-date cards in the mail to keep your association’s event top of mind.

Remember to maintain consistent branding across your print and digital materials. If your audience can recognize your brand across different channels, they’ll be more likely to remember, trust, and invest in your association.

4. Collect marketing metrics to measure ROI.

Once your marketing campaigns are up and running, measure their return on investment (ROI) through data analysis. Collecting the following first-party marketing metrics can help you determine your campaigns’ effectiveness and understand which content resonates most with your members:

  • Email open rate. Find the percentage of recipients who opened your marketing emails. To ensure your emails don’t fall into the spam or trash folder, write compelling subject lines, and keep the frequency of your emails consistent.
  • Social media engagement. Measure how many likes, shares, and comments your posts receive. To boost engagement, tailor your messaging to each social media platform’s specialty. For instance, Instagram is ideal for images while TikTok is meant for short-form video content.
  • Website traffic. Evaluate how many people visit your association’s website, how they get there, and how long they stay. If you notice a low engagement rate or session length, you may need to update your web design, prioritize quick load speed, or include more compelling content.
  • Response rate by source. Divide the number of recipients who responded to your promotional materials on each channel by the total recipients. If your response rate is low, reconsider your target audience and fine-tune your messaging.

These metrics only scratch the surface of the data you can collect from your association’s marketing campaigns. Focus on the information that aligns with your goals and paints a clearer picture of your target audience. Then, use this data to make informed decisions about your current and future outreach efforts.

For instance, if your campaign is centered around recruiting younger members, you should track where this demographic engages with your association—whether through email newsletters, social media announcements, or online ads—and focus your efforts on the high-traffic channels.

Data-driven marketing is an ongoing process. To maximize your results, regularly collect, assess, and update information about your members. If you stay consistent, you’ll create highly targeted campaigns that grab your audience’s attention and foster long-term partnerships with your members.

Cropped Photo of Gabrielle Perham
Gabrielle Perham, MBA

Gabrielle is the Director of Marketing & Sales Operations for Deep Sync. She joined the organization in 2017 and brings 20 years of experience in strategic marketing, branding, communications, sales enablement, and digital marketing. With a roll-up-your-sleeves-and-get-it-done attitude and a big-picture mindset, Gaby loves solving marketing and business challenges. She earned both a B.S. in Marketing and an M.B.A. in Marketing Management from the University of Tampa. Gaby enjoys spending time with her fiercely outspoken daughter; hiking and kayaking; rocking out in the first row of a live show; and giving back to her local community.

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