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4 types of ungated content to create to engage your audience

Heather Nolan
November 17, 2020
4 types of ungated content to create to engage your audience

How often does your association publish new content? Many associations focus on big annual events, or reports that provide in-depth information several times each year. These signature offerings provide significant value to members, and may even be what your association is known for. 

But these occasional offerings can no longer keep pace with the flood of content that’s published online each day. Bloggers publish at least 70 million posts each month — and that’s just on WordPress. Unless your association adopts modern digital marketing tactics, you’ll risk being lost in the shuffle. 

The Open Garden model provides a roadmap for regularly publishing engaging content that exemplifies your association’s core purpose. 

The key? Ungated, or free, content that is available to the general public. Not only can this content help your association stand out online, but it can also offer non-members a sample of the insights they’d gain by joining.

Here are four popular options for starting your ungated content journey. 

Craft an engaging email newsletter

Email marketing is one of the most engaging forms of content your association can publish. Not only can you share updates about your association’s ongoing work, but you can also quickly establish relationships with a wide variety of readers. 

Take Aetna, for example. The insurance giant offers two newsletter options:

  • A regular round-up of new posts from the Aetna blog
  • A brief that compiles important health care information and events

You don’t have to create all of your content from scratch to publish a great newsletter. Many highly respected newsletters publish links to content that’s curated from a variety of high-quality sources.

Invest in a valuable white paper

If you want to earn media coverage and position your association as a thought leader, white papers are the way to go. These in-depth reports offer original data, research or other unique insights capable of moving the needle in your industry.

While your association may want to reserve most whitepapers for members, it may be worthwhile to offer a few for public consumption. Many organizations offer a white paper in exchange for an email address. It’s a powerful way to earn qualified leads who may be interested in your email newsletter, events, or even full membership.

Publish a public blog

Your association is full of smart, passionate people with big ideas to share. Why not translate those thoughts into a public blog? 

Blogging can help your association build a dedicated audience and can significantly boost your website’s SEO. 

ClassPass publishes a blog that combines timely topics with workout and self-care tips. It’s packed with resources that can help people get the most out of their membership, while still providing value to any reader who happens to scroll by. 

Entertain through video content

Some associations truly think outside the box by offering video and streaming content. In spring 2020, Muscular Dystrophy Association (MDA) launched Let’s Play, a fundraising campaign in the form of a Game-a-Thon hosted on Twitch. 

The event combined influencer marketing, video games and downright fun to raise awareness about MDA’s mission and impact. It also raised critical funds that were invested back into the organization’s core functions.

Of course, these are just a few types of ungated content your association can offer. As you transition to the Open Garden model, remember to be bold, get creative and strive to advance your core purpose through strategic content.

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Heather Nolan

Heather Nolan is a marketing specialist at Sidecar. A former journalist and social media manager, Heather lives in New Orleans with her husband, son, and grumpy rescue dog.

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