Digital Marketing Channels and Effectiveness in Australasian Associations

30 May 2024 2:08 PM | Sarah Gamble (Administrator)

In the ever-evolving landscape of digital marketing, associations are strategically employing various paid and unpaid digital channels to enhance member engagement, drive event attendance, and achieve broader organisational goals. The latest survey of Australasian associations provides a brief look at the current state of digital marketing within this sector, shedding light on the most used channels, the metrics employed to assess effectiveness, and the perceptions of these efforts.

Unpaid Digital Marketing Channels

Unpaid digital marketing remains a cornerstone for many associations, with direct emails (91%), LinkedIn (89%), and EDM’s (84%) being the most widely used channels. Associations leverage these tools to maintain direct and personal contact with their members, ensuring high engagement and effective communication.

Facebook (76%) and Instagram (59%) also play significant roles, particularly in community engagement and raising the association's profile. YouTube (33%) is used to a lesser extent, likely due to the resource-intensive nature of video content creation, while TikTok (4%) and other platforms (9%) have minimal usage, indicating a cautious approach towards newer, perhaps less proven platforms in the association sector.

Paid Digital Marketing Channels

When it comes to paid digital marketing, the survey reveals a diverse array of strategies, albeit with a notable reliance on more traditional platforms. Facebook (41%) and LinkedIn (30%) are the most used paid channels. These platforms offer targeted advertising options that are effective in reaching specific member demographics. Few associations used Instagram paid advertising (11%).

Search engine marketing (19%) and marketing automation platforms (18%) are used to a lesser extent, reflecting less interest or success in leveraging broader web traffic and automated workflows to drive engagement.

Of note, a significant portion of respondents (39%) reported not using any paid digital marketing channels, suggesting either budget constraints or a preference for unpaid methods.

Assessing Digital Marketing Effectiveness

Effectiveness is key to any marketing effort, and the associations surveyed employ a range of metrics to evaluate their digital marketing initiatives.

Email marketing metrics such as open rates and click throughs (82%), member engagement and participation (81%), website traffic metrics (81%) and social media engagement (78%) are the primary measures used. These metrics provide tangible data on how members interact with digital content and the overall reach of marketing efforts.

Surprisingly, marketing effectiveness is less commonly assessed using outcome measures such as membership growth (44%) and return on investment, possibly due to the complexity of tracking and attributing these outcomes in a multi-channel environment.

Perceived Effectiveness of Digital Marketing Channels

The effectiveness of various digital marketing channels is a crucial consideration for associations as they allocate resources and refine strategies.

Direct emails (90%) and EDM’s (89%) are perceived as the most effective channels. This underscores the value of direct, personalised communication in driving member engagement. In the words of one association executive, “consistent communication not only keeps our members informed but also fosters a strong sense of community and loyalty, contributing significantly to our overall engagement and retention efforts."

Both unpaid (82%) and paid (79%) LinkedIn activity also score highly, indicating its utility in professional networking and streamlined communication. One respondent suggested that “in terms of profiling and community engagement, LinkedIn has been effective in creating a sense of FOMO for non-members and increasing the profile of the association and our activities." Another indicted that “LinkedIn carousels and polls (generate) high engagement."

Among the small number of associations who use it, Instagram paid advertising (80%) is also perceived as an effective targeted outreach channel, with one association indicating that “Instagram stories always work well for us."


The survey data offers a comprehensive overview of the digital marketing landscape among Australasian associations. It highlights a strong reliance on traditional, proven channels like email and LinkedIn, while also pointing to areas of potential growth and innovation, such as video content and newer social platforms. The insights underscore the importance of tailoring digital marketing strategies to the unique needs and preferences of association members, as well as the value of continuous engagement and content relevance.

As associations continue to navigate the complexities of digital marketing, we hope these insights will be invaluable in shaping future strategies and ensuring continued member engagement and organisational success.

The Australasian Society of Association Executives (AuSAE)

Australian Office:
Address: Unit 6, 26 Navigator Place, Hendra QLD 4011 Australia
Free Call: +61 1300 764 576
Phone: +61 7 3268 7955

New Zealand Office:
Address: 159 Otonga Rd, Rotorua 3015 New Zealand
Phone: +64 27 249 8677

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