8 Tech Survival Tools Every Association Marketer Needs

Associations // Find out which tech tools association marketers like you are using to work more efficiently and creatively.

Beth Arritt
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If you want to take your work from “good” to “fantastic,” you need the right tools in your toolbox. That’s why the technology you use to power your association’s marketing is so important — whether it’s for managing projects, designing graphics, scaling event management, or training your volunteers.

I sat down with Annie Henderson, Marketing and Communications Manager at ASBO International, and Katie Cammer, Senior Manager at Healthcare Businesswomen’s Association (HBA), to talk about how they’re using tech to handle what’s next for their associations.

This was just session 3 in a three-part series on what’s next for associations. Listen to the session on-demand or read the recap for session 1 on post-pandemic marketing and session 2 on value propositions.

8 TYPES OF TOOLS EVERY ASSOCIATION MARKETER NEEDS

Pen, paper, and even Excel spreadsheets are so twentieth century. In today’s digital landscape, so many of the tools at our disposal have gone online. Here are some of the tools we talked about that make our lives in association marketing much, much easier:

1. Scheduling Tools

You probably already know about Calendly, a scheduling tool that can be connected to your Google, Apple, or Outlook calendars, as well as Zoom and GoToWebinar.

But the HBA found a unique way to utilize this tool. Like most of you, they transitioned from in-person to virtual events nearly overnight. With 50 chapters scheduling webinars, HBA struggled with duplicate speakers, topics, and times.

“We instituted Calendly so everyone can get the benefit of our educational programming, no matter what chapter. We managed over 600 webinars last year with hundreds of volunteers and we couldn’t have done it without this tool.”

– Katie Cammer, Senior Manager, Healthcare Businesswomen’s Association

Automated scheduling makes operations so much easier, whether you’re looking externally toward volunteers or members to schedule events or internally for meetings.

2. Screen Recording

One of the most underrated marketing tools out there is screen recording software. There are plenty of options to choose from, like CloudApp, Loom, Vidyard, and Screencastify, and they have similar capabilities, so you’ll want to see which one works best for you. Most allow you to record your desktop, an open tab, and/or your webcam.

“This is super helpful with customer service. If you don’t have time to meet with somebody who’s having trouble doing something on the website, or a volunteer who’s having trouble running a report, you can create a 30-second screen recording that walks them through the process. This has been so helpful for us as we build out our volunteer resource center so we can more easily onboard our volunteers.”

– Katie Cammer, Senior Manager, Healthcare Businesswomen’s Association

All the screen recording tools we mentioned are free, and most have Chrome extensions so you can easily record directly from your browser. I’m a big fan of this, even for internal meetings, because instead of setting up a meeting with multiple people if there are scheduling conflicts, you can send out a 15-minute video for everyone to watch and discuss via Teams or email thread instead.

3. Video Marketing Tools

No matter how many members your association has, investing in solid video marketing will help you attract and retain them. Video is captivating, garners attention, and ultimately showcases your association in the best possible way.

Using a platform like Animoto, Vimeo, or Biteable makes video marketing much, much easier. It’s a little like having a mini pro video department in your back pocket and helps you pull in your audience much more easily.

“What’s so great about this is that if you have a stockpile of conference photos just hanging around on your work computer and you want to pull them together into a captivating video, you can use these tools to do that for your next conference with the call to action of ‘Register Today.’”

– Annie Henderson, Marketing and Communications Manager, ASBO International

Video is a flexible marketing format, especially to build your brand. Use B-roll (extra footage) to introduce your brand, embed videos for online conferences or for your website, or make a commercial for social media advertising. Oh, and pro-tip: Many of these tools offer non-profit discounts.

Back when I worked at the American Association of Airport Executives, we used Vimeo to pull together stock footage, images, music, and B-roll into templates for video-based holiday cards for our members, which was a really cool way to engage our members and made them feel special. With easy tools like this at your disposal, you can unleash your inner creativity for member engagement.

4. Graphic Design Marketing Platforms

Not every team is able to have a creative designer on hand. Creating free accounts on Canva or PicMonkey won’t replace a great graphic designer, but it can help you make social images, reports, or other easy templates quickly.

“For one of our events, we recreated social media cards for our speakers in Canva. We inserted an element where they could just drop in their headshot, download it, and blast it off on social media to promote their session. Super easy for them and helped us when we had more than 50 presenters to work with at the same time.”

– Annie Henderson, Marketing and Communications Manager, ASBO International

Using platforms like these make it easy for you to have professional graphics and social cards without a ton of back-and-forth.

5. Project Management

Making projects go smoothly is all about detailed management.

Whether you’re using cloud-based apps like Trello or Monday.com (I’m a big fan of both), a project management tool should include everything you need to stay super organized without lots of copying and pasting between spreadsheet tabs and tracking down files in your email.

“Let’s say I’m building an email campaign. There are so many steps that make it happen, right? It goes from building the email, to our copy editor, then over to design before we schedule the send. This helps streamline the process and answers any questions on status, materials, or whatever our team needs to move the marketing project forward.”

– Annie Henderson, Marketing and Communications Manager, ASBO International

Being able to track the status of your member marketing campaigns, from the shortest email to your bigger programs for membership, recognition, and partnership, is key to a seamless workflow. No matter what’s going on with your team, you can always keep the ball rolling.

It’s also a great way to coordinate external vendors, agencies, or copywriters, because you may be able to bring them into your project management tool. That way they have all the materials they need all in one place, without the need to embed them more fully in your operational workflow or systems. (Thank goodness for fewer emails!)

6.  Volunteer Management

In 2017, the HBA had 15 chapters and approximately 200 volunteers. Today, that number looks more like 50+ chapters, and 780+ volunteers — that’s a lot to coordinate!

With Higher Logic’s volunteer management software (which sits within their Higher Logic online community), they can keep all of their volunteer information in one place, deepening member involvement in the community while making management much easier.

“The biggest thing is that Higher Logic’s volunteer software captures all of our volunteers and all of our applications in one system. So volunteers can come, see what’s open for application, and it integrates with our other systems so we can easily give them access to the right permissions within the community. It takes the burden off both staff and volunteers to manage the application process, permission process, and helps us manage everything as we continue to grow.”

– Katie Cammer, Senior Manager, Healthcare Businesswomen’s Association

7. Online Community Microsites

Higher Logic’s microsites give your community leaders and organization staff the ability to create and manage independent websites inside your community. You can customize design, layout, and site navigation to promote products, events, or association news.

“We have been using the microsite within the community part of Higher Logic. And we thought that this was just a better way to take advantage of what we already had access to instead of going to another platform, especially for our conferences.”

– Annie Henderson, Marketing and Communications Manager, ASBO International

8. Engagement Automation Tools

Automation rules help you automate marketing activities through your Higher Logic community. You can automate engagement tasks that might be tedious for you to do manually, but help increase member participation.

“The automation rules in Higher Logic have really set us up for success. We use so many of them to help people fill out their profile, and I get so many people who respond to me that say they didn’t even know they could add a picture. Our conversion rates are fantastic — it does so much more for us, so we can do more with less.”

– Katie Cammer, Senior Manager, Healthcare Businesswomen’s Association

The possibilities are endless with automation rules, especially when you add in marketing automation tools like Higher Logic’s to make more elaborate campaigns for marketing and member engagement.

“We can identify exactly who downloaded our resource from the community, so we can promote what interests our members. If we know someone has downloaded a resource, we’ll run an automation around it and ride that wave.”

– Annie Henderson, Marketing and Communications Manager, ASBO International

With the right tools, your team will be unstoppable. Want to learn more? Catch the on-demand versions of our three-part webinar series on what’s next for associations so you can succeed in the new normal.

Beth Arritt

Association Strategist

Beth’s marketing experience encompasses more than twenty-five years of marketing strategy and member/customer engagement in various industries, including puzzles and games, training, education and aviation.

In addition to marketing, Beth has worked in event management and web development, wearing a variety of hats in different positions. She has also been an adjunct professor of marketing at Marymount University in Arlington, Virginia.

Beth received a Bachelor of Science degree in Merchandising from James Madison University, a Certificate in Event Management from The George Washington University, and a Masters of Business Administration/Marketing from the University of Phoenix. She has earned numerous awards for her marketing, including two Top Digital Marketer of the Year awards.

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