New online marketing research for membership-based organizations was unveiled today by Echo Communicate, a cross-media marketing firm based in Baltimore, Maryland.
“This research is the first of its kind for membership-based or donor-based organizations,” said Jordan Grable, Vice President of Strategic Accounts at Echo Communicate. “It is a comprehensive body of work that uncovers the fact-based ingredients for these organizations to develop their online marketing strategy and an actionable roadmap.”
Grable noted that the specifics of the research are proprietary, but he was enthusiastic to share some interesting and surprising findings with American News Report in this two-part series.
The online 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’s strategy includes deploying cross-media marketing channels, including direct mail, social media and a revamped consumer-facing website. The organization currently has two established websites and is active with social media. Heavy emphasis is placed on online marketing as the means to generate awareness and acquire new consumer members.
The First Step to Winning Online Is Knowing Your Online Footprint
“You don’t know what you don’t know,” Grable said when describing how it is “mission critical to understand your entire online footprint in order to know how you stack up against everyone fighting for the same eyeballs that you are.”
He defined the “online footprint” as being made up of many ingredients; four of which we’ll cover in Part 1 of this two-part series.
“Online marketing is really like cooking where you need the right amount of each ingredient, and if you don’t have all of the ingredients the outcome can be quite disappointing,” Grable says.
Ingredient #1: Site Traffic Analysis
Most organizations are currently using some type of browser-based metric tool to track their website traffic, like Google Analytics, which provides extremely detailed and valuable information about a website’s traffic.
“Most organizations don’t dig any deeper than the basic traffic figures they use to report increases or decreases in traffic over time, and the number of visits and unique visitors a site attracts. But, conducting deep research on a site’s traffic can uncover incredible strategic or actionable opportunities,” Grable added.
“During the last month of measured data, we uncovered that the organization generated a statistically significant increase in traffic due to content placement on a certain social sharing site. The resulting strategy is to include that social sharing site in the organization’s broader social media strategy, which is expected to increase traffic reliably and substantially,” Grable added.
Ingredient #2: Keyword Phrases
Keywords and keyword phrases are the basis for all search engine results. They are the currency of Internet and allow any organization to maximize their organic search opportunities.
“When we conduct keyword research we are really creating a fluid dictionary of words and phrases that represent the organization, its members, and its industry. A mistake many membership organizations make is, they don’t create a robust dictionary, and they don’t add to it regularly,” Grable continued.
“The keyword dictionary we researched and developed included over 100 new keyword phrases, representing an increase of over 20 million searches each month. That’s a lot of missed membership opportunities.”
“The keywords the organization identified were the few and obvious ones, but when we investigated the words that actual website visitors enter into search engines, there was an absolute disconnect. Only one keyword the organization identified was entered into search engines and resulted in their website being found. And guess what? The key word was the actual name of the organization,” he stated.
Ingredient #3: Define Your Competition
Competing online is entirely different than competing offline. Online competition is principally about competing for words people enter into search engines.
“Most organizations define their competitors as other like-minded organizations attempting to attract and acquire the same members, donors, or customers. What our research uncovers is that competition is not for members, it’s for eyeballs, and there are a ton of companies competing for the same demographic,” Grable said.
“Here’s an example. Let’s say the organization is for supporting people with hearing loss. The organization is not just competing with other support organizations; it is competing online with all companies that sell products to the hearing impaired. So typing ‘hearing loss’ into a search engine will result an enormous number of results. Knowing exactly what your online competitors are doing with keywords and content allows for organizations to adjust their keyword dictionary and marketing strategies,” he stated.
“If you can believe it, the competitive research led us to conclude that helping a competitor could create strategic access to the new target membership demographic. Sounds strange, but it’s true,” Grable began to explain.
“Our client does a tremendous job of generating quality, fresh, original content and an extremely frequent pace. Their competitors generate content infrequently, so a strategy to syndicate content was identified. The benefit to the competitor is they now have additional and valuable content for their blog. The benefit to the client is that the syndicated content includes backlinks to their homepage, which drives a highly targeted audience to their website,” he said.
Ingredient #4: Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
The primary purpose of SEO is to return a search engine result on the first page based on keywords a target audience types. SEO is generally split into on-site (on the webpages an organization controls) and off-site (on the webpages controlled by others).
Grable described that the SEO research reviewed the standard protocols, conventions and programs recognized by all search engines, resulting in 15 breaches of On-Site protocols.
He said they also uncovered eight critical Off-Site “opportunities”.
“One of the most basic and critical SEO protocols is to have a meta-description on the home page, and they did not. With no meta-description, the Google search algorithm has a tough time classifying the broad content on the website. You know the description that Google puts below a webpage title and URL? Well, that’s the meta-description, and if you do not have it in place, you just missed the opportunity to tell searchers who you are and why you are relevant,” he described.
In Part 2 we’ll explore social media, content marketing, online news and onsite sales/conversion.