7 marketing mistakes you might not know you’re making, and how to fix them

Here are a few important marketing principles to follow that just make sense, particularly for associations and membership organizations.

Nobody does marketing perfectly.

In fact, marketing is often about testing things and seeing if they work, rather than a one-size-fits-all formula.

But there are a few important marketing principles to follow that just make sense, particularly for associations and membership organizations.

We’re calling out the specific mistakes below because they affect things that matter for your business, and for your members. Things like growing your program or event sales, using your time more effectively, and keeping more members year after year.  

And maybe you’ve been beating this drum on these mistakes for a long time, but you just needed some extra help to show your leadership – if so, we hope this guide helps you prove your point that it’s time to do things differently.

Dive into the seven mistakes you might not know you’re making:


Not taking advantage of your member data


Not learning from your member community 


Not using web tracking 


Not using


Not using
engagement scoring


Not personalizing


Not using
dynamic content 

1. Not taking advantage of your member data

You’re not off the hook as an association. Your members expect personalized experiences because that’s what they’re getting everywhere else. And they’re a member of your organization, so you should know them better than, say, Amazon.

You likely have tons of data on your members in your database, like your email plat-form, your events, certifications, web tracking, and online community, if you have one. You should be analyzing that information, looking for trends and then acting on them.

But when time and resources are limited, how can you make this happen? You might think, “There's no point in trying – it’s just not something I can pull off with what I have.” Many association teams find themselves pulling distribution lists manually, trying to send different messages based on time zone, and working on excluding the right members.

It’s no secret: Customers respond to personalized experiences. 

This is where integration and automation are key. Establish patterns with data and then use automation to pull members from an integrated database and act on that data. The integration will save you so much staff time if done properly.

Reason #4,360 connected data is better.

2. Not learning from your member community

Before you can even think about personalizing your marketing communications, however, you have to know what your members need and want – and what each one of them is interested in.

But how do you learn about this? When they have conversations online, are you privy to them, or do they happen in a space you can’t access (or don’t know about)?

Give members a way to gather around you

Building a member community of your own for your members (or even your industry) gives you direct access to what your members want and need. When   you own your online community, you don’t have to wonder what they’re thinking – they’re talking about it right in front of you. 

Use Community Keywords to Personalize

With Higher Logic Thrive Platform, you can easily use powerful community insights to market in a way that’s hyper relevant. Let’s say you’re putting on a big event about security, and you know your members have searched for “security” in your online community. You can pull that data right into your marketing! Drop these members right into an email campaign that’s promoting your upcoming security event or your security certification. The more relevant the content is to your members, the more well-received it will be.

3. Not using website visitor tracking

Everyone knows the classic example of web tracking – you view a pair of shoes on an online store, and then they stalk you around the internet for the next three years, showing you ads everywhere you go. They’re annoying, intrusive, and the exact opposite of what we want our members’ experience to be.

But automated email web tracking is the complete opposite.

Higher Logic Thrive Platform’s web tracking feature lets you provide targeted messaging to known users. For example, if a known user views your events page, you can add them to your next email promotion for that event.  It’s a method of member engagement that allows your association to provide the right information to members without pestering them with emails they aren’t interested in.

4. Not using automations

How many things are you doing that you could be letting technology do for you?When you invest in automated marketing, it’s like having an extra employee on the team. Here are just a few examples of what we mean:

With Higher Logic Thrive Platform, you can use all sorts of automations
(including everything listed above!) to improve your marketing.

Use automation to trigger an email after someone fills out a form

Notify the sales team when a known user visits the sponsorship page

Add a non-member who visits your event registration page to a target group

Notify your membership team when someone unsubscribes

Send a series of welcome emails to anyone who joins your online community

Create a three-part automated marketing campaign that works to win back lapsed members for you

5. Not using engagement scoring

This is typically the communication we see along a member journey:

While this more hands-off and less personalized approach might work for motivated members, it’s a one-size-fits-all approach that doesn’t account for members’
engagement levels. What if there was a way to score members’ engagement to help you identify the right time to reach out? Turns out, there is – and it’s called 
engagement scoring.

When a member joins, the association welcomes them to the organization.

The association spends time with some members at the annual conference.

The association sends members their monthly or weekly newsletter.

When the time is right, the association remind them that it’s time to renew.

Repeat every year.

Engagement scoring helps you measure engagement levels for existing members. How often do they participate? What are they most interested in? For instance, you can group people by tenure, participation in events, contributions to discussions, and involvement with the overall organization, and then communicate to each of these groups differently. 

With an integrated platform, you can also include other activities in engagement, like web visits, email interaction, committees, events and more. The right engagement scoring tool will let you define exactly what engagement looks like for your association.

Engagement scoring might seem like an overwhelming prospect – who has the time to go track down every member’s activity? No one does – that’s where engagement scoring built into platforms like Higher Logic Thrive comes in handy.

6. Not diversifying emails

Your members increasingly expect a personalized experience. If you’re relying on sending batch-and-blast, one-off emails to your whole member base, it may be time to rethink things.

For example, with over 40 diverse member segments, Professionals Australia found it impossible to recruit, onboard, and engage with each email segment in a personalized way. They sent one-off emails where needed and the same content to everyone due to technology and staff limitations.

But they knew they needed a membership communication strategy that delivered a personal and valuable experience to members. So they created a recruitment
campaign, a member onboarding campaign, and a member engagement campaign. Thanks to these campaigns, here’s what they saw:


increase in membership


decline in resignations
(which was the lowest number they’d seen in five years)

Stephen Gargano, Professionals Australia’s former Director of Member Engagement, emphasized that the important thing is personalization. For example, the service you provide for every member could be identical, but the way you communicate it makes a difference. 

For example, your messaging about your annual event changes based on if you’re talking to a member who has been ten times vs the member who has never attended.

7. Not using personalized email content

Do you send your newsletters to everyone with the same content? That’s a missed opportunity! Personalized content, or story-level targeting, is a simple way to show
different content to different members based on parameters you set. This way, you only have to create one email, but you can still send the right message to the right person.

If you’re worried that you send too many emails to your members, use personalized content! It helps you reduce the number of emails you have to send. Brad Hon, digital content coordinator at the Australian College of Nursing (ACN), used Higher Logic’s story-level targeting feature to combine multiple departmental needs into one newsletter. This way, members saw the story most relevant to them at the top. As a bonus, this also tripled ACN's email engagement!

Turn your mistakes into wins with Higher Logic Thrive

If you found yourself making any of these mistakes, it could be that you don’t have the right software working for you. 

Higher Logic Thrive Platform gives you the power to create personalized marketing
experiences for your members.

Sound intriguing? Let’s connect!  


New Epsilon research indicates

are more likely to make a purchase when brands

offer personalized experiences.

Epsilon, 2018

80% of consumers

Higher Logic Thrive Platform is our all-in-one member experience solution, to make creating powerful member experiences easy.

Higher Logic Thrive Platform provides dynamic online community, powerful marketing capabilities, and built-in member management, all integrated. When a member renews, that data goes right back into your marketing so they automatically stop receiving your renewal campaign!

The American Society of Association Executives’ (ASAE) Got Ahead of This Hot Topic with Community Data