Is Your Association Prioritizing Digital Marketing Enough?

 Torriani-Is Your Association Prioritizing Digital Marketing Enough? March 26, 2024 By: Richard Torriani

Associations today face a multifaceted challenge: generating substantial revenue amid declining memberships which leads to the need for diversification in revenue streams. The crucial role of digital marketing becomes evident as we delve into the strategic approaches that have led to remarkable success stories.

A well-planned marketing budget is not just a number but a strategic tool that enables success. HubSpot forecasted that 2023 marketing budgets would comprise about 13.6% of a company's total budget in 2023. It's clear that strategic allocation aligned with industry benchmarks is crucial, yet many associations fall short, allocating as little as 1% to marketing, significantly below the 10-15% industry specific benchmarks. This underinvestment is a barrier to realizing the potential for revenue generation in both membership growth and nondues revenues.

Insights into a Typical Marketing Budget

According to Deloitte’s Annual CMO Survey, marketing was expected to comprise about 13.6% of a company’s total budget in 2023, marking a significant increase from previous years. This uptick, even in the face of a looming recession, signifies the critical role marketing plays in a company’s sustainability and growth.

HubSpot explores how investment priorities are shifting, with traditional advertising giving way to digital platforms like social media, with Facebook and TikTok seeing significant budget allocations.

Leveraging Data to Inform Strategy

The decision to allocate a more substantial portion of the budget to marketing should be data-driven. HubSpot's analysis of marketing spend across various industries provides a benchmark that associations can use to gauge their investment against industry standards. This approach ensures that marketing efforts are not just adequate but optimized for maximum impact and return.

Kabloom’s Case Study: A Testament to Strategic Execution

Kabloom’s success story, where a $16,000 investment yielded approximately $1,800,000 in revenue, serves as a compelling case study. This campaign not only achieved financial milestones but also significantly increased healthcare professional participation at a leading medical association’s annual congress, contributing to record attendance figures. The strategic elements of Kabloom’s campaign—refined database segmentation, optimized strategic platform and channel selection, and dynamic budgeting—can serve as a blueprint for associations seeking to overcome the challenges of insufficient marketing budget allocation and the lack of a well-formulated marketing strategy.

5 Steps to Overcoming Digital Marketing Challenges for Associations

Associations grappling with marketing budget challenges can draw on the insights from Kabloom’s approach and HubSpot’s industry analysis. Understanding the target audience and leveraging digital marketing strategies are central to staying relevant in a competitive landscape.

  1. Strategic budget allocation: It’s imperative for associations to move beyond the minimal marketing investment, recognizing the potential of digital marketing to generate significant revenue growth. This involves allocating budgets strategically across key milestones, ensuring that each dollar spent contributes to reaching new members and driving nondues revenues.
  2. Audience understanding and engagement: Associations should refine their audience segmentation and targeting, utilizing advanced data analytics to enhance engagement. This tailored approach ensures that marketing messages resonate with the intended audience, thereby increasing the likelihood of attracting the right audience.
  3. Optimized channel selection and multichannel marketing: As HubSpot suggests, prioritizing digital platforms is crucial. Associations should select channels based on where their target audience is most active, employing a multichannel marketing strategy that includes SEO, PPC, and social media marketing to maximize reach and engagement.
  4. Data-driven optimization: Continuous optimization based on data insights ensures that marketing efforts are constantly refined for better performance. This mirrors Kabloom’s real-time monitoring and analysis strategy, enabling associations to make informed decisions and adjust strategies as needed.
  5. Comprehensive digital marketing strategy: Ultimately, developing a comprehensive digital marketing strategy that aligns with association goals across various stakeholders is key to long-term growth. By leveraging digital marketing data, associations can stay ahead of industry trends and ensure sustainable success.


The integration of strategic budgeting insights from HubSpot, the empirical success demonstrated by Kabloom, and the targeted strategies for associations form a cohesive blueprint for digital marketing excellence. By embracing these strategies, associations can navigate the challenges of today’s competitive landscape, effectively leveraging digital marketing to drive revenue growth, increase attendee engagement, and secure a prosperous future.


Richard Torriani

Richard Torriani is the CEO of Kabloom, a results-driven digital marketing agency, and the COO of MCI Group for the Americas, a global leader in association management and consulting.