5 ways to get more out of your membership content

In membership publishing, more communications channels don’t necessarily mean more content creation. What you need is an integrated content strategy. Time to follow our five publishing Ps…

In short

  • A flexible annual calendar will align your content strategy with your organisational objectives
  • With a 360-degree approach to commissioning content, your resources and ideas will go further
  • Promotion is key. Great content is only great if people can find it

1) Plan: Plans can, do and often should change, but, by setting out a flexible annual calendar of activity, you can make sure that activity is in line with your organisational objectives and priorities. What do you have to say? Where do you need to say it to get results? How often do you need to say it? What does success really look like? Are you putting your energy in the right place? And do you have a single content team ready to bring all your communications strands together?

2) Produce (or reproduce): You’ve got a plan. Now, you’ve got to populate it. First question? Is there content in the archives that you can repurpose for little (if any) cost or do you need to commission or write copy? Then, think about using 360-degree commissioning to develop content that can be used across all your channels. This doesn’t mean using the same content in the same format everywhere, but starting with an idea and then looking at how it can translate into an online blog, print feature or an authoritative white paper with an eye-catching infographic ripe for social sharing. Our biggest piece of advice: however much or little you produce, focus on quality and make what you have to say worth sharing.

3) Position: Quality content needs a good home. An audit of your communications output will give you an idea of the channels that work, the ones that could work harder and the ones that don’t need to work at all. It’s all about impact. Your members will grab your print magazine off the mat if it has arresting coverlines. They will also ignore the page-turner or app version if they find it doesn’t provide that satisfying sit-down read (that’s if download speeds and constant updates haven’t already put them off). Put your resources into the channels members value and ditch the rest. And, if it’s online, make it mobile-friendly.

4) Promote: Great content is only great if people can find it. Hide the best stuff behind a members-only firewall and you hide it from the search engines, so think carefully about whether you’re after acquisition, retention, or both. Open-access content means you can enhance your profile – and members have one less password to remember. And don’t forget those social channels and e-newsletters (and promoting the same material across each one). Online, people need to be nudged into action (time and time again).

5) Perfect: If you know what’s working, you can do more of it, and do it better. So, measure, measure, measure – and act on what you learn. The obvious first step is member research, which 50% of organisations do at least once a year, but 9% don’t do at all (!). But we know survey fatigue is a factor, and happily there are analytics tools available to help you create relevant and interesting content with – literally – no questions asked. Finally, if you’re not using focus groups to test content, and A/B testing to fine-tune emails and webpages, you’re missing out on great opportunities to make every touch point with your members a moment of authentic engagement that they will remember all year.

And one for luck:

Mind your Ps and Qs: If you’ve mastered the Ps, it’s now time to focus on those Qs (or queues). If approval by committee or tech teams with endless bug fixes are stopping you getting that message out there fast, find a way to take control. Otherwise, you might just find you miss the story and the deadline!

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