Why Associations Should Pay Attention to Digital Marketing

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Olivia Hook Cropped Photo

Olivia Hook


I am a big fan of continuing education, so when I received an invitation to attend a digital marketing training hosted by RevLocal and Google, my desire to learn took over. I must admit that though digital marketing is a component of my job, I was not sure how this training could directly benefit my client.

The morning began with a light breakfast and the opportunity to network with other attendees. I was amazed by the diverse industries and local businesses that were in attendance. Of all the people I spoke with that morning, I was the only one from the association world.

After an introduction from the RevLocal leadership team, Brendan Jacobson from Google explained the partnership between the two organizations. RevLocal is a digital marketing company that works exclusively with local businesses to boost traffic to their sites, and in turn, their profits. Jacobson went on to show several short emotionally powerful videos that Google creates annually. The interesting thing about the videos Jacobson shared is that they are created from Google users’ search terms.

There were many startling digital marketing statistics I learned that day. Here is some food for thought while considering your client’s digital marketing strategy (courtesy of Google):

  • 15% of Google searches have never been done before
  • 47% of businesses do not have marketing knowledge
  • 50% of businesses in the US do not have a website
  • 98% of consumers leave your website without doing what you want them to do (Include a call to action on your site!)
  • 51% of all digital time spent is via mobile devices
  • We look at our phone 150+ times/day for ~177 minutes (Mobile is important!)
  • 80% of people are using another device while watching television (I know I’m guilty of this one)

Good news! If your client has a mobile-friendly website and working knowledge of digital marketing, you are ahead of the game.

Lesson learned: Mobile is important! Mobile is driving “near me” searches more than ever before. Top Google searches include “coffee shop, gym, etc. near me”. Despite the overwhelming demand for mobile-friendly sites that continues to grow, there is a discrepancy between the amount of money spent on digital versus the number of searches done on mobile. Most businesses, associations included, spend only a tiny amount of their budget on digital marketing. I wouldn’t suggest spending 100% of your marketing budget on digital, but it is definitely important to consider your options. There is a huge benefit to incorporating multi-channel marketing strategy.

If you are looking for a business or a service, what is the first thing you do? I tend to do a quick Google search.  If about half of US businesses don’t even have a website, but are spending marketing dollars on other marketing channels (i.e. radio advertisements, commercials, newspaper/magazine ads), they are paying to send customers to their competitors. Associations aren’t selling a product, but we have services that we provide to our members, and oftentimes, our members provide services for others. Without a website, especially a mobile-friendly one, how will our constituents find us?

The biggest takeaway from the day was a better understanding of remarketing. Remarketing or retargeting has gained popularity in recent years. It is the process of connecting your website visitors to your site by positioning ads on other sites after they leave yours through the use of website cookies. The repeated image of your product or brand increases brand awareness and makes consumers more likely to revisit your site. Have you ever been looking at a pair of shoes on one site, to them find them in ads on the sides of your screen days later on another site? This is retargeting. I can think of several instances where retargeting got me to purchase something I was “just looking” at online. Not much research has been done on the effects of remarketing for associations, but I would be interested to learn more. I know it works well for retail stores!

Olivia Hook Cropped Photo
Olivia Hook
Research and Digital Communications Coordinator

Olivia Hook is a former AMR Team Member

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