What Association Pros Are Struggling with and Succeeding at in Content Marketing

Association marketers are succeeding at leveraging data in their content marketing programs but struggling with interdepartmental agreement—that’s according to the American Society of Association Executives’ (ASAE) recent report, “Association Content Strategies for a Changing World.” ASAE surveyed association professionals on their content marketing strategies, and the report provides guidance on how to make content more effective for members.

Here are a few key takeaways from the report:

Budget, buy-in and lack of strategy challenge content marketing programs.

While a clear content marketing strategy is the recommended route for any association, there may be roadblocks on the path to success. The report found the following barriers to a solid content marketing strategy:

  • Lack of budget (20%)
  • Lack of buy-in from staff leadership around content strategy (18%)
  • Don’t know how to begin using content strategy (16%)
  • Lack of staff skills (14%)
  • Lack of interdepartmental coordination (10%)

Consistent style, content planning and data improve content strategy.

There are several tactics that association professionals are using to enhance their content marketing strategy. But there are a few that respondents agreed may be easier to introduce. For example, 30% of respondents said that an editorial style guide was the easiest tactic to implement.

Associations could either adapt a previous style guide used in a different department or borrow ideas from external resources, such as the AP Stylebook. Content calendars and analytic collection also ranked high on the ease of implementation list, garnering 13% and 11% of the vote, respectively.

You can get your own FREE content calendar template and comprehensive guide to annual content planning here.

Disagreement across departments can be a loss for members.

On the flip side, respondents noted that some tactics are particularly difficult to implement. Taxonomy and personas were the most common responses, with each getting 12% of the vote. Both require a high level of interdepartmental communication and agreement.

Taxonomy, for example, has the aim of making content easily discoverable via digital channels. However, content specialists will have to coordinate with every other department in the association that has previously created content to ensure everyone is following the proposed standards. Content must be organized uniformly to truly allow ease of access for readers.

Personas are difficult to create, too, as stakeholders may have different ideas on what the makeup of membership looks like.

Marketing automation and website analytics are popular among associations.

The report also detailed what tools association professionals are using to drive content marketing strategy. Website analytics was the top response to this question, with 87% of respondents saying they rely on this information to support content marketing.

Email/marketing automation, social media scheduling and social media analytics were the other popular responses, showing that automation and data collection are two of the most prevalent strategies being used by associations today.

While these tools can force you to dig deep into your department’s budget, 70% say they still use traditional spreadsheets to help manage their content and data collection, proving you don’t necessarily need to break the bank with your content strategy plans.

If you’re a member of ASAE, you can access the full 70-plus page report for free here.