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Gabrielle Wathen

Gabrielle is a Content Specialist at Higher Logic with a background in journalism, film, and marketing. When she's not writing about online communities or marketing automation, you can find her cuddling her cats Harvey and Wilbur, traveling the world, or storytelling in any way she can. Favorite food: All things cheese. Favorite place: Black Rock City, NV.
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Recent Posts

Email Marketing vs. Marketing Automation [Explained]

Written by Gabrielle Wathen on January 10, 2020 at 8:30 AM | 12 minute read

A well-informed association communications strategy requires a comprehensive understanding of the differences between old-school email marketing and modern marketing automation. If you need help wrapping your head around the nuances of these technologies, you’re not alone–and you’ve come to the right place for clarity.

Did you know that 87 percent of associations consider marketing automation an important component of their current strategy? 

Yet, according to Naylor’s 2019 Association Communications Benchmarking Study, associations are increasingly struggling to effectively leverage technology like email marketing and marketing automation to deliver the customized experience members (especially younger generations) have come to expect, noting that:

  • Less than 20% feel they are effectively leveraging their career center, content management system, learning management system or marketing automation system to deliver a customized member experience
  • 3 out of 5 respondents feel they could improve their member engagement with their communications by improving their ability to customize for different subgroups
  • Nearly half (44%) of respondents agreed with the statement: “We could do a better job of promoting our communications as a member benefit”—up from 41% who felt this way in 2018

These stats reveal opportunities, and the need for some additional knowledge.

Visual learner? For maximum understanding of the differences between email marketing and marketing automation, be sure to read on and watch our featured video below (which breaks this all down in a super simplistic way).

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Topics: Marketing, Email Marketing, Marketing Automation

2020 Association Tech: 3 Expert Tips to Guide Your Planning

Written by Gabrielle Wathen on December 19, 2019 at 11:51 AM | 7 minute read

Good news: Four association experts sat down to share their favorite trends and lessons learned from the newly rebranded ASAE Technology Exploration Conference (TEC) and their valuable conversation can help guide your association’s 2020 planning strategy for success. 

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Topics: Member Experience, Collaboration Tools, Marketing Automation, Online Community, Integration

6 Email Deliverability Pitfalls and Best Practices

Written by Gabrielle Wathen on December 5, 2019 at 8:15 AM | 7 minute read

If you want your marketing emails to earn a home in the right inbox, you’ll need more than brilliantly crafted content and personalization working for you. Those factors have the potential to pay off when your email hits the inbox and is opened, but what if it doesn’t make it that far? It’s important to understand what goes on behind the scenes after hitting send.

If you’re up against poor email deliverability rates, or simply need a refresher on deliverability best practices, assess your strategy for these common pitfalls then get busy making improvements to impact how you’ll send emails moving forward for maximum exposure.

If you were at our recent Super Forum conference, you may recall these tips from an engaging breakout session on deliverability presented by Amanda DeLuke, Higher Logic Deliverability Analyst, and Dean Canellos, Manager of Deliverability Operations.

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Topics: Email Deliverability, Email Marketing, Marketing Automation, Super Forum

Association Growth Strategy: 6 Tech Tools to Drive Member Recruitment + Retention

Written by Gabrielle Wathen on November 12, 2019 at 12:48 PM | 4 minute read

For associations focusing on strategically attracting new members (and keeping them engaged for the long haul), it’s important to package your tech stack for ample growth and retention

Association membership in the modern age is all about providing people with real value on their terms, and strategically leveraging technology is an effective way to attract and retain those members who you’ll transform into your trusty advocates. Give people indisputable reasons to renew.

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Topics: Engagement, Volunteer Management, Associations, Member Retention, User Group Management, Member Engagement, Collaboration Tools, Marketing Automation, Online Community, Learning Management Systems

3 Add-on Tools to Drive Association Revenue + Amplify Member Engagement

Written by Gabrielle Wathen on October 17, 2019 at 2:07 PM | 7 minute read

Is your association leveraging technology to its fullest potential? You can elevate the success of your online community and marketing automation activities by integrating solutions that fuel long-term engagement, like data collection, mobile apps, and volunteer management programs. 

If you know data exists within your online community and marketing automation activities, but you aren’t leveraging it to inform your ability to provide a targeted, valuable member experience, well - it’s as if Charlie Bucket found a golden ticket then decided he didn’t feel like going to Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory that day. 

Magical experiences are earned on the other side of diligent courage and execution. Embrace change. Identify what you need to deliver the member experience you want, and learn how to make the data work for you.

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Topics: Member Communities, Associations, Member Experience, Member Engagement, Marketing Automation, Online Community, Integration

2019 State of Community Management: What Now? 5 Stats with Action Items for Executive Stakeholders + Community Leaders

Written by Gabrielle Wathen on June 26, 2019 at 1:08 PM | 5 minute read

The data published in The Community Roundtable’s 10th Annual State of Community Management report was collected from 325 community programs between January and March 2019. ICYMI: We shared a collection of 39 nitty-gritty stats from the report in our first blog recap.

Communities are change agents, there’s no doubt about it. The 2019 State of Community Management report reveals that communities are transforming organizations in fascinating (and profitable) ways. Program outcomes can be connected to a variety of complex business objectives like customer retention, innovation, and culture change.

Because communities are complex, adaptive systems, they have the ability to address a variety of complex problems with a multitude of different solutions.

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Topics: Online Community Management, Customer Communities, Member Communities, Online Community Software, Customer Retention, Customer Success, Online Community

Higher Logic Joins Team Rubicon to Tackle Community Disaster Response in Houston

Written by Gabrielle Wathen on June 18, 2019 at 3:27 PM | 11 minute read

HIGHER LOGIC CARES: Through our 2019 Charity Program, we sent a group of nine staff volunteers to Houston, Texas, in May 2019 to assist Team Rubicon in disaster response efforts. This story is about their personal experiences on-site and what it’s like to participate.

Here at Higher Logic, community is our business. The same could be said for Team Rubicon, though their core motto is “Disasters are our business. Veterans are our passion.” While our staff (AKA Higher Logic’s “Orange Army”) utilizes their skills to build and strengthen online communities via our engagement platform, Team Rubicon’s crew (AKA “TRibe”) has the opportunity to build communities in a more literal sense—through vital disaster response work.

Here’s a bit more about Team Rubicon and their mission:

“Team Rubicon is a 501(c)3 nonprofit that utilizes the skills and experiences of military veterans with first responders to rapidly deploy emergency response teams. Founded in 2010, Team Rubicon has deployed across the United States and around the world to provide immediate relief to those impacted by disasters and humanitarian crises.”

All together, nine eligible Orange Army volunteers (myself included) geared up to join the TRibe’s mission for a week in Houston, working alongside a series of military personnel, veterans, and fellow “kick-ass civilian” volunteers to rebuild a home that suffered damage from Hurricane Harvey in 2017.

To say the experience was rewarding would be an understatement. (Just grab a tissue and read the Volunteer Feedback section....)

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Topics: Engagement, Volunteer Management, Nonprofits and Charities, Company News, Culture

4 Ways to Use Events + Conferences to Increase Online Community Engagement

Written by Gabrielle Wathen on June 11, 2019 at 1:23 PM | 5 minute read

There’s something special about attending an event that leaves you feeling invigorated, inspired, and better off for having participated. Making new connections in an environment like this can be energetic, powerful, and truly productive. It can also boost community engagement.

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Topics: Online Community Management, Engagement, Customer Communities, Member Communities, B2B Communities, User Group Communities, Associations, Customer Engagement, Member Engagement, Marketing Automation, Online Community, Events

Listen Up + Level Up: How to Actually Hear What Customers Say

Written by Gabrielle Wathen on May 22, 2019 at 12:14 PM | 6 minute read

Once upon 1995, Lisa Loeb released a song that includes the lyric, “You say I only hear what I want to.” I am telling you this (not only because the song is stuck in my head) but because it might serve you to ask yourself if you are being selective about the customer feedback coming your way. When you peruse customer discussions in your online community, how do you react?

Are you only hearing what you want to, or do you know how to actually hear what your customers (both happy and dissatisfied) have to say? Tougher question: Are you even asking for customer feedback?

There is a clear distinction between simply hearing someone, and active, engaged listening (especially when you’re responding to discussions posts within your online customer community or interacting with folks at live events). Alas, it all starts with y o u, yes, you.

In this piece we’ll tap into the three levels of listening: internal listening, focused listening, and global listening.

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Topics: Customer Communities, Customer Experience, Member Engagement, Customer Support, Customer Success, Online Community

8 Tips to Write Emails Your Association Members Will Open

Written by Gabrielle Wathen on May 8, 2019 at 12:51 PM | 8 minute read

Let me guess – your inbox is overflowing with so much content that you don’t know which way is up, much less which emails are worth your time. What to open? What to ignore? It’s a relatable circumstance for anyone with an email address (and fun fact: active email accounts are expected to hit 5.6 billion by 2019). Keep this in mind when trying to reach your busy members.

A “good” email open rate among members depends on your industry and the end goal of your email.

Recent data shows that:

  • The average email open rate (across all industries) is 16.19%
  • The average email open rate for the Civic/Social Membership industry (e.g., associations, chambers, clubs) is 23.09%

If your target audience has opted into your communications, the open rate should be on the higher end. How do your association’s metrics stack up? Regardless of how great your content is, if your members aren’t opening your emails, your message isn't getting out there.

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Topics: Communications, Engagement, Associations, Member Engagement, Email Marketing

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