Value or Not?
Value draws members into your website and generates revenue. However a perceived lack of value keeps people away. Value adds continuity helps membership continuity and relieves strain on retention and new member recruitment. How many times have you heard someone say “I’m not attending the conference this year, so I’ll just renew next year?” Defeat that kind of serial on and off membership by creating an indispensable resource on your website. The right website policies create incentives for your members to keep their membership active while reducing the strain on your limited resources. Keep reading for my top five value added suggestions.
1 – For Your Eyes Only
It seems obvious but restricting your website content to members creates the most direct incentive to keep memberships active. Also known as a paywall, requiring paid membership to view your latest updates or a document repository creates strong incentives to avoid lapsing membership status. We built a website for one legal association that had two separate legal document libraries. The website allowed users to index uploaded content for better search results. The association staff told us that their work load evaporated almost overnight. That change allowed the staff to focus more strategic issues instead of researching and sending documents.
2 – Pick Me!
Even websites targeted to members attract viewers searching for referrals. For example, professional associations often rank high on searches for the profession they serve. That results in visitors looking for a professional. Whether you serve plumbers or attorneys, a “find a professional in your area” link on your landing page can refer new business to your members. It’s a great way to send business to members. Just appearing on a list (or a map show distances to members) makes a strong impression. Members who “don’t need exposure” still pay to appear on the right list, especially if a colleague or competitor maintains a listing.
3 – Show and Tell
People love pictures. Nice stock pictures look great, but photos of members or their work draw eyeballs. Artists compare portfolios. Writers share poems and stories. Members who attend meetings (and those who don’t) look at pictures of attendees. Who’s standing with that award? Everyone wants to know and your members will share, especially if it’s a picture of them. Don’t limit yourself to photos of members and their work. Use your smartphone to make a quick video demonstrating new techniques or shared problems. Your trademarks and logos should also be available to members. It serves no purpose to hide those important images away from the public, especially when those images can draw eyes and traffic back to your own website.
4 – News
Publish your newsletter content to your website. Busy people move faster than bulk rate mail. When the printed newsletter or magazine arrives, they recognize the content faster. That means that important points get reinforced in two media. It also provides an opportunity for members to share content with their peers. This simple gesture solidifies the importance of your website in their minds.
5 – Be the Hub
Sometimes we want service. Sometimes we want other things. Online registration, membership directories, and meeting calendars make part of the list. What tasks can you automate? What tasks are you sending to outside providers which you would rather have at your fingertips? Don’t spend staff resources performing tasks that your members can do better for themselves. If your members come to your website for information (often in less time than calling or emailing your office), they feel empowered and happy about their membership. Happy members use the websites they find indispensable.
If you find yourself asking, “why do we have a website?” Try some of these ideas to make the website more valuable. It feels great when your readers and members value your website. Don’t wait any longer make your website better today. If you need a hand, contact us today.