Member engagement is key to success for modern association management. Acquiring new members matters little if these members don’t interact with you and each other, working together to advance the agenda and your association’s mission.
That is true both in an abstract and a very concrete sense. Lower member engagement will mean less membership renewals. Members who are not actively engaged also tend to be less likely to take advantage of your professional development opportunities, or attend events. In other words, failing to get your members to become active participants can actively hurt both your dues and non-dues revenue.
But how do you prevent that from happening? It’s a simple question that too often comes with a complex response. As we’ve highlighted on this blog and in a recent whitepaper, improving member engagement requires a comprehensive strategy. At the same time, it all tends to come back to your website.
The Core Purpose of the Modern Association Website
What do you need your website to accomplish? It’s the first question in any web design and development project, but has never been more relevant. Today’s internet users expect more than just an online billboard and contact form for your organization. Instead, they’re looking for opportunities to engage, take relevant steps, and find helpful information.
That is true for businesses across industries, but also for your association. You cannot get away with simply using your website as a promotional tool. Instead, it should be the digital hub through which the organization communicates with its members, and provides active engagement opportunities that are easy to find and use.
5 Ways in Which Your Website Improves Member Engagement
The above, of course, sounds good in theory. Unfortunately, getting to that point can seem impossible. If that is the case for you, don’t give up. Instead, get ready to improve your website (and, as a result, how your members engage with your association) using these five potential tactics.
1) Build a Real-Time Association Directory
One of the single most important reasons your members join your association is to connect with other professionals in their field. But too often, that goal can be difficult to accomplish. Alleviate that problem with a directory on your website that updates in real time.
Through your directory, members can connect with each other. The more they do, they more they will see the benefits of membership. Of course, maintenance can be difficult on a manual basis. A real-time directory, integrated with your internal member database, can provide significant benefits without significant cost.
2) Host an Event Calendar and Registration System
As covered in other posts in this space, events are a crucial part of both growing your non-dues revenues and increasing member engagement. If you can offer an annual conference or meetings, chances are your members will take you up on taking a few days off work for professional development.
How does your website help to accommodate that goal? One option is an up-to-date event calendar that always communicates upcoming events to your visitors. But when users see events they’re interested in, signing up for them should be just as easy. A comprehensive and easy-to-use registration system can improve attendance, and therefore engagement.
3) Create Exclusive Content From and For Members
We all like feeling like we’re part of an exclusive group. In fact, limited availability and access is one of the most commonly used marketing strategies across industries. And if you use it the right way, the same concept can be used to increase your member engagement.
On your website, you can accomplish that feat through exclusive content. For instance, you can build a members-only section of your website where your most valuable and relevant content lives. Here, you can analyze new legislation, provide helpful tips and tricks, and more.
Most of that content will likely come from you. But don’t underestimate the power and potential of content created by your members, either. This is an opportunity for them to increase their perceived expertise and make it more visible. Building this type of content into your website can do wonders for your member engagement.
4) Enable Grassroots Advocacy
for some associations, it matters more than for others. But ultimately, almost all organizations in this space exist at least partially to improve their profession. Often, that means legislative and governmental advocacy at the grassroots level.
But how easy are you making that advocacy for your individual members? Your website can help, with features such as common contact numbers for relevant representatives. Another option is to use some of the content space mentioned above specifically for legislative analysis and advice.
5) Provide Feedback Mechanisms and Opportunities
Finally, never underestimate your members’ desire to help the organization where possible. Your website is at its best when it’s more than a one-way street of communication. Instead, offer regular and easy to access feedback opportunities.
For instance, a simple feedback form on your website can do wonders. Another option is to enable comments under your content, encouraging feedback and conversation with and between your members. The more you allow your users to chime in, the more natural engagement on a deeper level will become.
Are You Ready to Build a Modern Association Website?
Even outlined in their simplicity above, you still might find it difficult to imagine implementing any of the above five tactics. After all, a simple WordPress website or other common CMS cannot accommodate a real-time directory, grassroots advocacy enablement, and other engagement opportunities.
But that doesn’t mean it’s impossible to achieve. Instead, all you need is the right software. That software, ideally, integrates directly with your association management platform, helping you streamline updates along your digital presence and even your mobile app.
We can offer that software for your needs. If you’re truly invested in improving your member engagement, a long look at your current website and improvement opportunities may just be the perfect first step. To learn more about our platform, and how we can help you accomplish each of the above tactics, schedule a call with us today.