Insights from our Digital Maturity in Associations Webinar Series

Insights from our Digital Maturity

in Associations Webinar Series

Exempla’s collaboration with digital experts Belly & Brain combines expert views from association and for-profit perspectives and provides fresh insights for the association community. Recently, the main topic has been digital maturity, focused on a study of 100 associations and their digital presence.

Boardroom magazine published an overview of initial findings and to follow up on the article, three interactive webinars with small groups of association professionals discussed the implications, opportunities and challenges presented.

Laurent Goffin, Managing Partner at Belly & Brain led the online presentations, highlighting observations from the Digital Maturity Scan study:

  • As digital value propositions and communications become integral to the association business, another level of maturity is required to ensure return on investment and business continuity
  • The “rules of the digital game” apply equally to all organisations – for profit or not-for-profit – with customer centricity, quality user experience and data driven approaches especially important
  • Associations – even relatively small ones – often have a complex multi-stakeholder audience so there are potentially big gains to make with better segmentation of (digital) communications

Shared in the ESAE Newsletter in June 2021


Want to evaluate your digital maturity ?

  • Currently, association brands are often acronym driven and struggle to convey the impact of their mission (especially considering the diverse audience)
  • The rich content libraries and ability to continuously develop new, expert content is a real strength of associations – being able to function both as a “news channel” and an “encyclopaedia” gives great potential for SEO (Search Engine Optimisation)
  • Currently, associations over emphasise “hot” content with a short lifespan and are especially active, or even over-active on social media

Senior association staff from both professional societies and trade associations attended the sessions, and a range of business, industry and scientific sectors were represented. Exempla partners facilitated the Q&A which led to fruitful discussion around the topics presented.

There was a broad consensus that associations have much to gain from improving their digital presence – especially those that only really started in earnest when “forced” by the COVID-19 crisis. For those seeking improvement, several issues were raised which can need careful consideration:

  • Brand consistency is a challenge with so many “spokespeople” across staff, members and volunteers, and the wide range of channels
  • The data driven nature of digital can present cultural challenges for organisations not used to very specific measures of success (or failure)
  • A careful balance is needed between “influencer driven” marketing and “mission driven” marketing
  • As digital is applied horizontally across the association, traditional/siloed structures can hold up, or negatively impact successful adoption

Together with Belly & Brain, Exempla will continue to explore this key area for association strategy.

We are also developing specific tools and training which will directly assist associations who want to assess their own digital maturity and compare it to our maturity scan findings, or to improve staff knowledge and skills in key areas.

If you would like more information, feel free to contact


June 2021

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