A new online marketing research report for membership-based organizations was revealed earlier this week by Echo Communicate, a cross-media marketing firm based in Baltimore, Maryland.
This is the second in a two-part series on the research by American News Report. The first article reported on search engine optimization (SEO), website traffic and keyword research.
“This pioneering research is designed to define an online marketing strategy and actionable roadmap for membership-based or donor-based organizations,” said Jordan Grable, Vice President of Strategic Accounts at Echo Communicate.
The research was conducted with a medium-sized, membership-based organization that plans to expand its membership by targeting and acquiring a new consumer audience.
The organization will deploy a cross-media marketing campaign including direct mail, social media and the Internet.
Winning Online Requires Knowing Your Online Footprint
“Bill Gates said it best in his 1996 essay, Content is King. Today’s online experience is the delivery of informative, original content and doing so in a way that facilitates conversation,” Grable said.
“This part of the online marketing research focused mostly on content and the massive distribution potential content has for member-based or donor-based organizations.”
Content Marketing – Original, Valuable and Engaging Information
Content is considered by many as the currency of the Internet. It drives search engine results, and delivers value and information to visitors.
“Like many member-based or donor-based organizations, this client generates a lot of fresh, original content,” Grable described. “Our research found that they were missing significant opportunities to capitalize on their content by publishing it through all of their channels.”
“The client’s process for publishing a magazine article was mainly have the content reside in the printed form,” Grable noted. “They would later tack it onto their website in PDF format, which is difficult for search engines to find. That singular piece of content could have also been disseminated through online news, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and published on an organization’s blog. Each of these ‘channels’ gives an opportunity to point new and existing audiences to the website.”
Social Media Analytics – Efficiency Is Not Difficult
When asked how social media channels are defined and assessed, Grable stated that, “the landscape for social media changes so quickly that brands need to be strategic in selecting which channels they engage, and how they maintain each channel.”
“This client is active on several social media outlets, so we began our research on identifying their Web, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, YouTube and Blogging competitors. The objective was to understand how well or how poorly both they and their competitors were engaging their audiences. This uncovered a best practices roadmap for ongoing social media management,” he added.
“The client managed its social media properties as silos,” Grable described. “So, when they post on a topic of importance on Facebook, they were not carrying that same topic to Twitter or Pinterest. Leveraging content is a simple way to drive engagement in all social media channels. It is good for brand consistency, but more importantly, it is an extremely efficient way to manage content. Now, I’m not suggesting a cut and paste into each social media channel because, obviously, each channel has its own style or file format. But, a YouTube video can be turned into an image and caption for Pinterest, and a short intro and link via Facebook and Twitter,” he explained.
On-site conversion is the process a website takes a prospect through in order to convert the prospect into a donor or member. The process typically concludes at an e-commerce application.
American News Report asked Grable to share the most common mistakes member- and donor-based organizations make in their conversion process.
“The most common mistake is funneling a prospect through too many steps that the prospect does not see as relevant,” Grable replied. “Simplicity is paramount. Think of Amazon.com: They take you to order processing in a single step for a reason.”
“Next, it is critical to continue to brand and message to the prospect during each step in the process, so their purchase decision is reinforced all the time.”
“Finally, many organizations fall victim to letting the e-commerce, or accounting side dictate what the prospect experiences, which is one of the noteworthy and surprising finds we experienced during our research.”
“When our client’s prospects tried to become members, they were placed into a path requiring over ten steps before being able to join. The first step in the process sent the prospect to a differently branded website, which caused confusion. They then had to register on the website, which was a process into itself, before having the opportunity to sign on as a member. The primary reason for this was the organization set the system up according to rules that were relevant in the past, but no longer carries relevance. Our audit delivered a concrete roadmap for accelerating the process in a branded and simple way,” Grable described.
As online marketing and associated channels evolve daily, some organizations are turning to robust research to help navigate the increasingly complex and competitive fight for online attention.