2014 Association Marketing Benchmark Report

Resource Overview

In a November 2014 study sponsored by HighRoad Solution, Demand Metric collaborated with HighRoad to conduct a survey to find about the current state of association marketing.



The marketing function exists in many companies under a stigma. Most know that marketing is important, but the value of what it does is hard to measure, so the function is often viewed as an expense. The result of this perception is that marketing often struggles to justify its existence, and frequently finds itself scrapping for the minimal funding to do its work.

In organizations where resources are constrained, marketing is often one of the first functions to bear the blow of budget cuts and force reductions. Nowhere does this seem truer than in the world of associations. Association marketers, therefore, are a special breed. They are capable of doing more with less and are as resourceful as they come. Despite this, many feel that their efforts can’t rival the quality of marketing work seen in the corporate world. At the same time, they clearly have a great deal of pride in their work.

When the search is on for marketing role models and examples of marketing excellence, how frequently do associations look within their own ranks? Conventional wisdom is that the best marketing exists in the corporate world, in organizations like Zappos or Amazon, not within the ranks of associations. The truth is that some associations are beacons of excellence for marketing, but it’s also true that for others, marketing amounts to the regular sending of emails. What’s also true is that there has been, until now, little data to provide insights into the overall health and state of association marketing.

Thanks to HighRoad Solution, the sponsor of this research, a set of benchmark data now exists. Demand Metric collaborated with HighRoad Solution to develop and conduct a survey to determine the current state of association marketing. How strategic is marketing within associations? What is the highest-ranking marketing role? What marketing approaches are associations using and which ones are producing the best results? How do association members perceive the marketing communications that associations emit? These are the questions this study attempts to answer. The data collected and analyzed through this study provides associations with the ability to compare and improve their performance.

Table of Contents

  1. Introduction
  2. Executive Summary
  3. The Status of Association Marketing
  4. Association Marketing Capabilities & Tactics
  5. Strategy, Execution & Measurement
  6. Market Understanding
  7. Digital Marketing Portfolio
  8. Tasks & Skills
  9. Metrics & Analytics
  10. Budget & Resources
  11. Analyst Bottom Line
  12. Acknowledgements

  13. About HighRoad Solution
  14. About Demand Metric
  15. Appendix - Survey Background


Research Methodology

This Demand Metric Benchmark Study survey was administered online during the period of October 13, 2014 through November 10, 2014. During this period, 470 responses were collected, 200 of which were complete enough for inclusion in the analysis. The data was analyzed using SPSS to ensure the statistical validity of the findings. The representativeness of these results depends on the similarity of the sample to environments in which this survey data is used for comparison or guidance.