The COVID-19 crisis has turned many organizations’ best-laid plans upside down. However, some associations are thriving during this challenging time by providing indispensable value to members and using effective marketing tools to communicate that value.
This is the story of one association that sprang into action at the beginning of the COVID-19 crisis to help its members, its profession, and the public’s health. The results so far are inspiring.
The American Nurses Association (ANA), an MGI client, is the largest association for registered nurses (RNs) in the United States. With 220,000+ members, it serves all 4 million RNs in the country. Its mission is to lead the profession to shape the future of nursing and health care.
At this time, the ANA Enterprise – the family of organizations composed of the American Nurses Association, American Nurses Credentialing Center, and American Nurses Foundation – is focused on informing and supporting nurses during the pandemic. Its basic roadmap over the past few months: understand members’ and the profession’s needs, deliver value, and aggressively continue its marketing programs.
Understand Needs and Deliver Value
Knowing these are critical needs, ANA is keeping nurses informed about COVID-19 and advocating for their protection during the pandemic. The ANA Enterprise quickly responded when the crisis began, taking these actions to help nurses:
- Set up a COVID-19 resource center on its website. This provides information nurses need to keep themselves and their patients safe, gives them a voice in advocacy campaigns, and provides legislative updates.
- Launched a survey to learn more about nurses’ needs and concerns during the pandemic. It shared survey findings on its website and is using these findings to inform its advocacy efforts and the resources it provides for nurses.
- Launched a COVID-19 webinar series. Within a few weeks, it set up its first three webinars, available free and on-demand to all nurses.
- Launched a broad and powerful set of advocacy initiatives.
- Set up the Coronavirus Response Fund to support nurses on the front lines.
- Partnered with Hilton and American Express to provide free hotel rooms to ANA members while they care for COVID-19 patients.
It’s critical now for associations to continue marketing throughout all phases of the membership lifecycle: awareness, recruitment, engagement, renewal, and reinstatement. ANA understands that recruiting and retaining as many members as possible will strengthen its ability to help its members and the profession. The organization has been strategic and effective in its marketing during the pandemic. Here are some highlights:
- Awareness building. ANA wants to reach as many nurses as possible and educate them. The organization seeks to be the go-to resource for nurses. In the past few months, ANA has gotten the word out quickly and broadly about its trusted resources and advocacy initiatives, encouraging nurses to stand together with ANA during the pandemic. It has been able to reach across the nursing marketplace by targeting nurses online and also by using a large data warehouse that the association has built and modeled over the past several years.
- Evaluation, modification, and relaunch of current marketing programs. At the beginning of the COVID-19 crisis, ANA evaluated all of its membership marketing campaigns and programs for relevance, sensitivity, and message appropriateness. It paused its marketing campaigns and moved quickly to modify their messaging before relaunching them. ANA removed the promotional tone of emails, online ads, and mail notices. Its revised messaging includes “We’re here for you” and “We’re in this fight together” messages, expresses concern for nurses’ safety and gratitude for their work, and tells them about COVID-19 resources and its work to protect them.
Channel mix. ANA has continued its marketing efforts in these channels: paid digital advertising (Facebook and AdRoll), email, and direct mail. It has leveraged digital advertising and email not only to reach nurses with valuable information and resources, but also to get quick reads on the sensitivity and effectiveness of messaging.
ANA’s digital campaigns are showing outstanding performance. With fewer organizations advertising online these past few months, there is less competition for ad inventory. Ads are cheaper. People are spending a lot of time online, resulting in increased ad engagement. This improves key digital metrics: cost per click and cost per conversion are down, and clickthrough rates are up.
ANA is seeing record high conversion rates and conversions, and record low cost per conversion in its paid digital campaigns. Email engagement is also higher – the organization is seeing up to 50% higher open rates in its membership recruitment emails.
Content and benefit promotion. ANA has aggressively promoted its COVID-19 resource center and webinar series (free to all nurses) and the Hilton room offer (free to members). Its frequent multi-channel campaigns have yielded outstanding results.
For example, ANA has heavily promoted its free, on-demand COVID-19 webinar series via email and online – organically and through paid digital advertising – to members and nonmembers. This has led to record-breaking results: more than 90,000 registrations in the first 10 days of promotion, with more than 60,000 webinar views within the first few weeks. More than half of the webinar registrants are nonmembers.
- Further benefits from marketing campaigns. ANA’s COVID-19 resources, advocacy, and Hilton free room program campaigns have built awareness and engagement. The ANA website has had a record number of visitors – nearly 730,000 in April alone. Website engagement was up in the month, with 7% more unique visitors, 29% more pages per visit, and 18% longer visit duration than in March. With increased engagement, more nurses recognize the value and support that ANA membership brings. ANA is seeing record numbers of new member joins.
ANA is moving forward with an unprecedented urgency. It continues to develop and disseminate valuable resources to meet nurses’ needs. It seeks to engage more nurses to strengthen its voice in advocating for all nurses’ safety. It builds on what’s working. Along with implementing best practices membership marketing strategies and tactics, these are keys to increasing the impact of ANA’s work as the pandemic evolves.
Want to learn more about what’s working now in membership, virtual event, and product marketing? Need help assessing your members’ or your market’s needs? Want to discuss what marketing strategies and tactics could be most effective for your organization? If so, please email or call me at email@example.com or 703-706-0339.