4 ways to localize your association's content

For associations, local content is the bridge to the future—and more business value—when it comes to member engagement.

BY Adam Wren
Executive Editor, Imagination

All news is local, the old dictum tell us.

In an increasingly globalized world, where we can monitor trends and developments from the device in our palm or on our wrist, appetite for local content is increasing. Hyperlocal content has long been touted as a potential savior to journalism. But associations, for their part, have overlooked its importance.

The problem: Members are leaving associations in droves. According to Potomac Core, an Arlington-based association consulting group, “Members leave [associations] when they perceive insufficient value, insufficient connection to their business/personal objectives, [and] insufficient opportunity to have an impact.”

The solution: Associations can derive business value from local content. Your members have little time to connect the dots between national and global trends and their local context. With the right local content mix covering issues that resonate, your association can connect those dots for them.

For association and nonprofit members and supporters to feel engaged, they need relevant, high-impact information they can’t find anywhere else. Local, actionable content is as relevant and high impact as you can get, and it can help you increase membership engagement, retention and satisfaction.

Here are four starting points for crafting hyperlocal content for your association.

Design and mine studies and whitepapers

Designing and commissioning studies with local hooks makes it easier to target your thought leadership content for local coverage.

For example, if yours is a national association focused on consumer advocacy, a national study with a state-by-state analysis of the most consumer-friendly economic environments gives you local hooks. For even better results and more coverage, slice and dice even further by highlighting trends at the city level. And when you do develop data, don’t forget there are numerous ways to present the results, from article to ebooks to infographics.

Localize your subject lines

Localized subject lines can increase open rates and click-through rates by several percentage points. By developing hyperlocal content for one major national association, Imagination increased average open rates by as much as 62 percent.

To make your national content more relevant, localize it by using a specific state or city name to engage your members in that region. That’s an easy way to distinguish your content from the clatter of newsletters crashing into your members’ mailboxes.

Tout your experts and local expertise

Make your subject matter experts available to your content creation team—whether that team is internal, external or both—to comment on relevant state and regional news. By doing so, you can give your thought leadership increased local traction.

By pegging your association’s views and research to the news of the day, you can increase member engagement around issues that matter to them. In our own work with a national association that deals with state issues, we have found that articles with states mentioned in the headline routinely perform better than national articles—proving that members crave local content.

There’s an added bonus: boosting your association’s search performance. Sites with low domain authority can gain a boost with a strategic focus on local topics.

Create a content culture in your local chapters

“To build a culture of content, associations need to realize that all marketing is content and all content is marketing,” says Imagination’s Rebecca Rolfes, executive vice president of association strategy and author of the book, The Competition Within: How Members Will Reinvent Associations.

Enlisting your association's boots-on-the-ground as content creators—or at least story idea generators—can help you find local news pegs to keep your content fresh. This is especially important when it comes to rapid-response content. Want to take advantage of a trending topic? Create a process that allows your subject matter experts to comment on these trends at the speed of social media.

Associations often focus on targeting content for age and niche, but fail to target for geography. In doing so, they risk leaving a crucial variable on the table. It’s time for your association to meet members where they are—literally.

published: April 10, 2017