Are your members missing out on your association’s CE content?

Your learning content is one of your association’s key value propositions. But to take advantage of your educational courses, your members need to know about them. Here’s how to get the word out.

Valuable learning content is one of your association’s key value propositions. But even though you’ve spent time and effort building great learning courses for your members, that’s not enough.

You must promote the courses. After all, if members don’t know about your continuing education offerings, they might miss out on a key member benefit – which means they might not renew in the future.

Don’t wait for members to become dissatisfied and walk away – especially when you have valuable courses just waiting for them. Here are five steps to building a marketing plan that will make sure your members are in-the-know about the great learning opportunities your association has to offer.

Step 1: Identify your goals.
What are your goals and objectives? And, how will you measure success? You can begin to answer these questions by articulating quantitative and attainable goals. For example:

  • Generate an increase in X amount of new learners by [date].
  • Increase enrollment of [course type] by X percent by [date].
  • Increase certification rate from X percent to Y percent by [date].

Step 2: Identify your audience.
Who is your audience? How are you going to segment them? How are you going to make things more personal for them so they have a great member experience? Answer these questions by segmenting your member database based on your goals. For example:

  • Goal: Generate an increase in X amount of new learners by [date]. Audience: Pull a list of members who have never enrolled in any course.
  • Goal: Increase enrollment of [course type] by X percent by [date]. Audience: Pull a list of members who have never enrolled in courses within that course type.
  • Goal: Increase certification rate from X percent to Y percent by [date]. Audience:Pull a list of learners who haven’t completed their certification path.

Review your audience segments and think about any other commonalities between them. For instance, are they of a certain industry or career stage? Knowing more about them will help as you develop targeted, personalized marketing messages.

TIP: The Community Brands Digital Evolution Study shows that the number one interest when it comes to personalized content among members is recommendations on continuing education based on interests and needs. It’s crucial for associations to communicate with their members like they’re important to them. Personalizing content shows that you’re listening and paying attention, and that you value them.

Step 3: Identify your messaging and call to action.
Your messaging is what you are trying to communicate to members. Your call to action (CTA) is what are you asking them to do – such as download, watch, view, or submit.

Be mindful of your audience, and appeal to them based on what you know about them (such as their career stage) and their interests (such as course topics). Also, be sure to personalize what you send them based upon past actions they’ve taken.

Your messaging can be written in various ways, and you have the power to make your audience pay attention and take action based on how you write it. Here are a few tips:

  • Use positive language. Delivering bad news? Spin it. There’s always a “plus side” to every topic.
  • Tell them about the benefits of your learning content. And be excited about it – if you’re excited, it will show in your messaging.
  • Leverage data. People are drawn to numbers. Use subject lines like “Get X times more job opportunities by getting Y certification“ Or “X% of employers are looking for this certification”. You can even use data and statistics from your own association systems, such as your association management software (AMS), learning management system (LMS), and online career center.

TIP: Once you attract non-members to take your courses, be sure to promote the additional value of becoming a member. You’ll have a better shot at converting them to members after they receive something tangible of value. And here’s the kicker, you won’t have to sell them on your continuing education courses because that’s what brought them in the door in the first place.

Step 4: Identify your channels.
Now that you have your messaging decided, how do you plan to communicate and convey those messages? Which channels will you use? Think about what resources you have available and use as many of them as possible for a broader reach. Some channels to consider:

  • Marketing automation platform (to streamline the sending of emails)
  • Social media accounts
  • Google Ads account
  • Website

Step 5: Create a communications schedule.
And finally, establish an appropriate cadence for your marketing messages. It’s important to reach out multiple times, but also not over-communicate. One way to avoid communication overload is to include messages about your courses in communications that are already on your organization’s schedule. Also, work with others in your organization to make sure your messages do not overlap with those from other campaigns or initiatives.

Here are some suggestions:

  • Include course information in your member email newsletter​.
  • Post course details in the in the “calendar / what’s new” section of your website when new content is available.
  • Send regularly scheduled, dedicated emails to members with relevant course information​.
  • Schedule regular social media​ posts, such as “course of the day”​ or “course of the week”.

Now that you have your marketing plan in place, it’s time to implement, analyze, and adjust as needed. It’s a sure-fire way to make sure your members are aware (and taking advantage of) one of your most attractive member benefits.

Take your professional education program to the next level.
Community Brands offers learning management systems to help you make the most of your online learning content. Learn about Community Brands’ award-winning learning management systems, Freestone® and Crowd Wisdom®.

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