Some days it may feel like you run a website or a technology operation instead of an association. Keeping up with new technology can seem like a full-time job for an association professional. There’s always some new company, service or integration available.
You probably feel like you’ll be left behind if you don’t try out everything. To help you sort through all the information out there, here are the 4 major themes for association technology we see for 2014.
If your association’s website still offers the same information as it did when you launched it, it’s time for a change.
In 2014, a “brochure-ware” website is simply not going to be enough. Your association’s website must serve as an up-to-date resource for your members and your target audience.
Your team must produce and share content that your members value. At a minimum, update each main navigation page on your website at least once a year. Even small updates to statistics, industry information or new benefits can show your members that you're staying active in delivering value to them. And, those updates are picked up by Google and other search engines to help make your website rank higher for searches.
An easy way to provide regular fresh content is to start or re-start a blog. A regular update is an effective way to create a steady stream of new, valuable content. It doesn’t have to be an earth-shattering contribution each time. And, you'd don't have to write something every day. Start with once a week and build up your content.
Use your website and blog to:
- Answer member questions
- Provide member updates
- Profile members and industry experts
- Share useful information from around the industry
For more tips on creating content – including 25 ideas for blog posts – read Top Questions about Content Marketing for Associations.
Mobile internet usage is expected to surpass desktop internet use in 2014. That means more of your members will access your content on the go. Is your website ready?
To meet the demand for mobile-optimized content, associations should consider creating a responsive website. Responsive means the website technology automatically provides the best user experience for any device: desktop, phone or tablet. All menus, navigation, images and content automatically adjust to make accessing the site and reviewing the information easy - without the need for pinching and zooming. The site uses the same content, so there’s no extra work there but it adjusts to give mobile users the best experience.
If your site is not mobile friendly, information is harder to find. That could frustrate members and cut into event signups and other non-membership revenue.
It also leaves the impression that your association is lagging behind the times and doesn’t value members’ ability to access information. Your members want to be a part of a leading organization that is helping them grow their business. Having a responsive website show your members that you are staying current with technology trends and working to deliver valuable content to them at all times.
Find more tips for creating a mobile friendly website here.
Associations continue to focus on social media to engage current members and find new ones. Forward thinking associations are leveraging their entire staff and multiple social media properties to extend their marketing efforts and boost their word of mouth advertising.
Here are some key tips from our recent webinar on social media strategies for increasing retention and member sales.
- Create goals - You'll always wonder how you're doing without something to gauge your progress.
- Develop a content calendar to support your goals - Having a calendar helps you stay disciplined and on target.
- Listen to your members’ interests and concerns - Ask them questions via social media and be sure to respond when they ask you questions.
- Don’t be afraid to show a little personality - Have some fun and bring some energy to your posts. Your members will respond better to information that has some personality, rather than straightforward facts.
- Go beyond Facebook and Twitter - Explore how you can use YouTube, Google + or LinkedIn to extend your social media efforts. To learn how you can used LinkedIn to engage members and find new members, download 4 Simple Steps To Growing Your Membership On LinkedIn.
- Give your members something to talk about - The best part of social media is that it's SOCIAL. By providing your members and followers valuable information, they will share that information with their networks and grow your association's reach.
Analytics and Information Technology
Keeping your membership data safe is only part of the job. Making use of that data and learning from it—via business and member intelligence —will continue to be critical for the growth of associations. Your association management software must offer you multiple ways to review and analyze your data to help you make better decisions.
Understanding your website analytics is just as important as knowing your members. How are your members and site visitors viewing your site? What content is being viewed most often? Are social media sites helping drive traffic to your site? By monitoring your website traffic data, you can make better decisions for additional website content or technology changes for your association. For more information, view this post on Google Analytics for Association Websites.
To help you keep up with the rapid pace of change, create regular technology-focused evaluation brainstorming meetings with key staff. When a new idea or service comes up, table the discussion until the next meeting. That way you won’t feel like you’re always “chasing” the latest idea and it will give you a framework for making good decisions.
When you’re evaluating technology, focus on two key questions:
- Will this technology help us better serve our members?
- Will this technology improve our association’s bottom line?
What technology challenges will you face in 2014?