Digital advertising has been an essential piece of successful marketing campaigns for several years now, but the pandemic has required an even greater emphasis on virtual and digital advertising for all marketers. High demand, coupled with an ever-increasing number of offerings from each digital ad platform, has created an overwhelming field of choices and strategies—typically positioned for consumer brands.
Translating these options for associations and their unique environment and needs can be confusing at best. Associations focus on highly targeted audiences, have engaged member communities, and unique product offerings that can be difficult to translate to ad platforms.
The decision-making process to purchase a conference registration, membership, or certification is much different than deciding to purchase a pair of shoes. So, how can associations adapt these consumer ad products to fit their marketing strategy?
Read on for three ways Smithbucklin clients are maximizing varied ad formats to achieve their goals.
1. Amplifying Member Voices to Build Engagement
Utilizing video in ad content is now available in most ad platforms and is an essential way to help your ads stand out from the crowd. Not only is video more engaging for the viewer, but it also allows the advertiser to explain more information in a digestible way. Whether the video features interviews with members, footage from a conference location, or explaining complicated concepts with diagrams, video is your key to the old adage of “show instead of tell.”
The Association for Nursing Professional Development (ANPD) uses video advertising on Facebook and LinkedIn to show the emotional connection that their members bring to their tight-knit community, particularly when meeting in person has been limited. The theme of their 2021 annual convention is “Aspire to Inclusivity” and the video of familiar faces was a visual reminder of the place everyone holds in their community. When registration for an event means more than just education, but also connection, ANPD used video ads to show the full value of their conference experience.
2. Teasing Conference Content to Encourage Registrations
From conferences, webinars, education libraries, textbooks, content hubs, blogs, and so much more, many associations’ missions are focused on helping members learn. Translating bits of this content for advertising is difficult when your audience’s attention span is brief. When done effectively, though, a teaser can give people a taste of the high-quality education your association provides. Even better: hearing straight from the source can drive a message home faster than any marketing copy.
The Research Chefs Association (RCA) utilized this concept for digital ad promotions for their 2021 virtual conference, RCA+, to help illustrate to prospective attendees why they should register to attend. By placing video ads on LinkedIn of speakers sharing a sneak peek of their session, their target audience received a taste of what they could expect from their event, which instilled confidence in the decision-making process to register.
3. Customizing Ads to Give a Personal Touch
As many of us grow accustomed to seeing advertising in our day-to-day interactions on social media platforms, we are also desensitized to their messages. For associations, this can mean an even steeper hill to climb for your target audience to engage with your ads by reading or clicking through to your website. One way to stand out in the crowd is by customizing or personalizing the ads you’re delivering so they feel relevant and actionable for your target audience.
The Legal Marketing Association (LMA) used personalization in ads to increase relevance and engagement to help their membership goals. One tactic LMA uses for membership acquisition is to send LinkedIn InMail ads, which deliver sponsored InMail messages directly to their target audience. While many users may consider ignoring InMail messages (sponsored or not), LMA improved their likelihood of reaching their audience by creating messages from prominent volunteer leaders to ensure that “the messenger” is a recognizable face and name.
These are just a few ways associations are cleverly leveraging digital advertising to promote their offerings to target audiences. Success in digital advertising for associations will continue to be defined by how we continue to adapt ever-changing ad platforms and products for our unique role.