How to utilize the data you’re already collecting to expand and improve marketing opportunities.

By Gretchen Kast

When it comes to increasing your association’s non-dues revenue, there are many different ways of going about it. Sometimes all it takes is a more dedicated sales approach of your existing opportunities and other times it requires a full shake-up of your strategy.

Nimble organizations that are ready to grow are always on the lookout for new revenue and partnership opportunities. Oftentimes, associations already have all the information they need at their fingertips to point them in the right direction of where to expand. By paying close attention to your existing resources, you can start developing new communications methods, publications, educational verticals or meeting tracks that will better engage targeted audiences—and open up new opportunities for affiliate companies to connect with your members. 

It’s All In The Data

The first step to developing meaningful revenue opportunities is to have systems in place to evaluate what you’re already doing. Well-maintained web traffic reports, email marketing analytics and thoughtful post-event surveys can all provide you with valuable information about your audience—who they are, where they’re coming from, what they’re most interested in and  what keeps them up at night. Having a reliable reporting procedure in place can help you track larger trends that may be occurring under the radar.

By anchoring your brainstorm sessions with real data, you will have a clearer picture of what is already connecting with people—and that will allow you to leverage that interest in ways that feel organic. People can always tell when a new program was designed purely to generate new sales without consideration of what else it offers the audience or user.

Digital analytics tools offer unprecedented insights at little to no cost to you. As do many email marketing platforms. With these tools, you can pay close attention to the kinds of topics and resources your audience is most interested in. What are the most popular posts on your site? What websites and social platforms are driving the newest users to your site?

If you’re looking for more nuanced information, you can always ask your audience directly. Send out a short survey to members after an event. Or, set aside some time to sit down with a few of your biggest sponsors to pick their brain. What are they hearing from your members and conference attendees and how does that fit with what they might be seeing across the industry?

You Have The Data—Now What?

In collating all of this information, you may find that you’re actually connecting with an entirely new segment or category of your community that you haven’t really considered before. That could lay the groundwork for a new communications strategy, email newsletter, publication or meeting track—all of which would open up new sponsorship and advertising opportunities and even new prospects. 

If you have the manpower, don’t be afraid to try something new for a little bit before it becomes profitable. Sometimes new ideas take time. It can be hard to immediately secure a full slate of high-paying sponsors or advertisers straight out of the gate. But just because something doesn’t bring in the dollars right away, that doesn’t mean it won’t down the line. Allow your audience to build and your content team to improve. Set yourself a benchmark to review your progress: take a look at audience growth and engagement rate, what pieces of content were the biggest hits? Use this information to fine-tune your approach – then set yourself another benchmark goal. Once you have built yourself a steady audience and consistent schedule, you should have no problem filling those advertising, marketing or sponsorship spots. If after all that you’re still not getting any traction—then it may be time to shelve the idea for now. Sometimes, getting more concrete insight on what doesn’t work with your audience can be just as valuable as see what does.

In some cases, you may already be doing something that could be monetized. Perhaps there’s a page of your site that is much more popular than you realized—that page could be a good place for a paid placement of some kind. Regularly evaluating data has additional benefits too. Using it to figure out what is popular with your audience will help you better advise already existing advertisers about how to effectively reach your readers, attendees and members.

There will always be core assets and events that are essential parts of your non-dues revenue: an annual meeting exhibit hall, an email newsletter or print publication. But simply relying on those outlets without question could mean leaving money on the table. By taking the time to really monitor and evaluate all the data that’s at your fingertips, you are setting your organization up for ongoing success.

Want to learn more? Get in touch today.