Associations: Integration of your AMS with HubSpot


The trend of adopting an integrated marketing platform, like HubSpot or Eloqua, is going strong with associations. And to great results, just check out these compelling case studies:


newtonscradleAssociations use a lot of technologies, most businesses these days do. It usually takes several tries for a client to give us a list that is complete. If your organization is next to adopt a marketing platform, besides congratulations, I have to add: to integrate or not to integrate with your AMS, that is the question.

There is a lot you can and should do to get the best bang for your buck from HubSpot or Eloqua right away that doesn’t require a time-consuming or costly integration with your AMS.

Consider waiting on the integration. Save your money, instead focus on the fast gains in measurable results and, perhaps more importantly, the insights you will soon have about your audience. That will inform the real scope of your integration needs.

Learn inbound marketing, marketing automation and the technology you have chosen first. Then make an informed decision about when you should integrate. Or, even, if you should. (But, more on that later.)

But I bet this perspective raises some questions, like these:

Why am I being advised by others to integrate?

Are you being advised by firms that provide integration as a service? I am not accusing them of being deceptive in their advice, rather they are not inbound experts. Their service is the integration and from their perspective, it might look like integration needs to happen first. But let’s look at this closely.

We provide inbound marketing services to associations and nonprofits and I can tell you, in many cases an organization is not ready to fully leverage the integration when they first start to learn inbound and marketing automation. So why pay for it right away? Or even overpay because you don’t yet know – in fact no one knows – the level of integration you will really need.

What is the purpose of a platform like HubSpot or Eloqua anyway? Here are three powerful uses:

  • Learn about your audiences through their content consumption
  • Automate what doesn’t need the human touch, so you can engage on a human-2-human level where it matters, aka where it pay$ off.
  • Automate the segmenting of your audiences so your marketing will be more measurably effective. Not all members are created equal.
  • Automate the nurturing of people who are just aware of you to people who are considering buying from you.

OK, that was four. And there are a lot more too. But suffice it to say, there are a lot of moving parts and there is a lot to learn in the strategy of what should be done first, second, third, etc. So we suggest you master the tool and the philosophy of inbound marketing first. After you have developed an expertise you’ll know what level of integration you need.

And, further, the second the handsome check gets cashed for the integration between HubSpot-to-Aptify or Eloqua-to-Abila netFORUM, you’ll be ready to fully leverage it.

If you’re paying $3,000 a month for HubSpot, there are many uses for this powerful tool rather than sitting on it for 7+ weeks while an integration happens. Not to mention the costs for integration that commensurate with the scope of the integration.

Aside: Know about Zapier? With two of their “Zaps” and about $10. we integrated HubSpot with PayPal and EventBrite. It took about 5 minutes and didn’t require an IT pro. And they just as quickly and inexpensively integrate HubSpot with GoToWebinar, GoToMeeting, SalesForce, Shopify, LinkedIn… well, just look over the exhaustive list here.

What are the benefits to associations to integrate with their AMS?

It’s all about the closed loop marketing.

If you’re new to HubSpot or Eloqua, you are about to make a huge leap. You’re graduating from the novice approach of measuring open rates and click thru rates to the expert level of being able to measure and connect your marketing tactics with the bottom line gains.

Bye, bye to vanity metrics like how much an article was shared or how many times a link was clicked on. Hello to: “X” article brought us 23 attendees, 10 of these are first time attendees, each came to that article through one of two posts on LinkedIn, and we lowered our cost of acquisition for those attendees by 25% within 6 months.

That is closed loop — making the measurable connection of your marketing tactics to the bottom line gains. Now that is what we call “learning/proving what is working.”

And sometimes you do need to integrate with your main database to get the full gains. But not always. And maybe you only need to integrate with the CRM but not the CMS part. Learn first, integrate when you know.

Should all associations eventually integrate their AMS with their marketing automation platform?

I hate answers like this, but the real answer is maybe.

For one of our clients that has a small well-defined member base that contributes most of it’s revenue, the cost-reward isn’t there to integrate. Not yet. They have many revenue opportunities that can be pursued and improved without the integration. They have a workflow that separates the shopping and marketing from the final commerce. And it works.

Bottom Line

Get HubSpot or Eloqua working for you first. Master it, and learn what you have always needed and wanted to know about your audiences.

Integrate once you fully understand what integration means to your bottom line and when you are ready to immediately leverage the benefits of doing so.

That’s our advice. But, check in with HubSpot or Eloqua, with tens of thousands of users, they can each give you great advice. (Happy to connect you with the right person too, if interested email us.)



Consider this organization: members are their lead source of revenue, they have multiple membership levels, they sell products, offer online and f2f events, have a print and online magazine, and more than a few enewsletters. Would it surprise you to know that this member-based organization is one of the best known companies in the world? And they do not use any technologies that are commonly used by associations.

What’s the point here? Technologies that market to associations have big time competition and those competing technologies would not market to associations alone, yet they are well-suited and within the reach of a world-class membership organization as well as a smaller association – or even a small business, like Bussolati.

Technology has exploded, I know you know this. What matters these days in a technology – right after its performance – is how many other technologies it integrates with at little or no cost to expand the functionality. That should not be confused with how many technologies should it integrate with to CREATE its functionality, that’s not what we mean.

Ask HubSpot about the technology suite that other HubSpot users have adopted to achieve the functionality that is similar to what your association needs. And ask them how many of those technologies can be integrated in 5-10 minutes for very little money.

Outside of the association space, you’ll find great examples to complete your understanding of what to expect and demand from your technology providers these days.

By the way, that example member organization I mention above is Costco. But it could easily have been Amazon. Or REI, or a local restaurant, or a design marketing firm. You get the idea…

Happy inbound marketing trails to you!

by Monica Bussolati



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