How to Build Membership Websites that Help Grow Associations

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For associations, it is important to have a professional website that’s built to attract new members and convert them. Membership website design can’t be approached the traditional way, which is to say that only a well-designed and functional website won’t make the cut.

A membership website should be indicative of the association’s mission and its benefits to the members.

In this post, we’ll take a look at how to build a membership website that helps grow associations.

Assessing Your Current Membership Website

But first, let’s look at some questions membership website owners should ask if they already have a website.

Are You Getting New Members?

If your website is underperforming in terms of getting new members, it might be time to investigate. Is it the members page? Is your website designed to convert visitors into members? Does it have your association’s mission and vision statement clearly visible?

It could also be the signup form. Having to fill out too many details could be a huge detractor. Simplifying the form, and having members fill details once they’ve signed is a way around this challenge.

And don’t think visitors who don’t sign up aren’t of any use to you. You should look for ways to capture visitor information even if they don’t sign up.

Are Your Goals Being Met With The Current Membership Website?

Your website could be underperforming not in terms of members, but in terms of its objective. For example, if your association relies on member donations to run effectively, one of the goals could be donation collection.

If your donation collection goals aren’t being met, it could be for the simple reason that your donation module is too cumbersome to use. If your site is on WordPress, this plugin is an easy way to integrate donations on your website.

Modern Website with Excellent User Experience

Any association should know that in the era of smartphones, anything less than a stellar website user experience will reduce the number of new members it generates.

A great way of making a website that provides great user experience is by taking feedback from your current members. How do they feel about the current website? Is it unpleasant to look at? Is the mobile version of the website cumbersome to use?

Take note of the current frustrations of members, and take these into account when upgrading the association website. An unprofessional looking website will not look very trustworthy for prospective members. It’s a sign that your association doesn’t care about the details.

Iterative Website Design

Instead of going all-in with your budget and blowing it all at once, focus on an iterative approach to website design. An iterative approach encourages improvement over time, so you don’t have to set unrealistic goals when the website first launches.

An iterative approach allows you to assess website performance at different stages, so you can make changes and be agile. Build the minimum amount of features at launch, ones that will satisfy members. As time goes on, you can add new features and test their effectiveness at achieving website goals.

This is of course a time-consuming strategy that requires a lot of patience, but it pays off in the long run.

Take Help from Website Analytics

There are numerous tools available these days that help website owners figure out where the problems in their website lie. Tools like Hotjar can actually map a user’s journey through the website, where they click and where they decide to leave the website.

If users are dropping off before accomplishing some sort of goal, you get pinpoint information of where that happens. This can help you focus efforts on certain parts of the website, rather than leaving you scratching your head to understand the underlying reasons.

Keep Website Updated As Association Grows

It is important to view an association website as the focal point of every marketing goal. The messaging and content should be clear and should show the current state of the association.

Each passing month can see a shift in the association’s goals, and the website should accurately reflect this information. Neglected content on your website will negatively affect trust amongst not just prospective members, but current members as well.

At the very least, associations should reevaluate their website every year to make sure it matches the current goals of the organization.

Essential Tools

Does your website have the tools that members need and value the most? You might have a professional looking website but if it doesn’t offer the functionality your members are after, it’s kind of pointless.

If members want a way of connecting with other members, have a feature that makes it easy for them to find other members and connect with them. Your tools should provide this functionality in a seamless way, and the members shouldn’t have any trouble using them.

If you have other features planned which you think might be more useful for members, keep them for future updates. Prioritize the essentials first.

Don’t be afraid to improve your existing tools as well. There’s always room for improvement, so keep in touch with members and get feedback on how existing tools can be improved.

Easy SignUp Process

There are a variety of ways to get user information (consensually of course) these days. Consider using services like Google accounts for the signup process to make it faster.

SEO Strategy

Every association should have an SEO strategy of some sort in place to get more new members in the long run. SEO by its nature takes time to bear fruit, but it’s worth it. It is very cost effective and often improves the quality of websites as a side effect as well.

Reach out to several SEO companies and have them audit your site for SEO. Avoid SEO agencies that promise fast results or ‘guaranteed’ rankings.

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