We know that one of the main reasons companies join associations is to increase their business. Yes, individuals may join for training and certification, but ultimately they want to improve their skills and help them grow their business. Plus, businesses join associations for the networking and business exposure opportunities. And, the exposure your members gain via your website is perhaps the best way you can promote them and drive traffic to their business.
The value that members receive from exposure on - and traffic from - your association's website often justifies their membership renewal each year. And, that value can be used to acquire new members, improve retention and generate non-dues revenue through website advertising or additional sponsorships.
With association websites clearly being a critical communications and member promotion vehicle, any association executive who is serious about promoting their members and their industry must ask themselves two questions.
- Is our website doing all it can to promote our members?
- Who is competing with our organization and taking credit for promoting our members?
Is our website doing all it can to promote our members?
Association websites have certainly evolved over the past few years, but the time has come for a major leap forward.
Consider this: about half of all search engine queries are done with local intent, meaning some city name, place name or local term is included. If your site is not search engine optimized, you’re missing a huge opportunity to capitalize on your association's and your members’ local presence - even if you're a national association. After all, your members are already LOCAL, so if your members' listings on your website are not showing up for local searches, you’re missing out (and so are your members).
Perhaps the single largest asset your organization has is your members and their collective marketing power via your website. Associations must leverage this information to maximize their exposure to search engines. A search engine optimized website lets Google and other searches engines realize the relevance of your website (and your association) and helps you create additional exposure for your industry or community.
Is your website optimized for mobile viewing? If not, your members are again missing out on being seen by visitors to your site using smart phones and tablets. Mobile internet traffic is expected to pass desktop internet traffic sometime in 2014. (If it hasn't already!) Your website needs to be mobile friendly to keep delivering value to your members.
For more details on making your website valuable to members, review these recent posts:
- Top Questions About Websites That Disappoint Your Association Members
- 4 Ways To Prevent Your Members From Finding Value In Your Association
Who is competing with our association and taking credit for promoting our members?
Online directory sites such as ShopLocal, Yelp, CitySearch, TripAdvisor, Yahoo Local, Angie's List, YellowPages.com and dozens more are all competing with your association for providing exposure to your members.
If these sites come up higher in searches for industry terms or for local businesses in your community, they will get the credit for driving traffic to your members, not your association. Eventually, business owners may question what value they are receiving from your association if they aren’t receiving referrals or traffic from your site. When they don’t see enough value from your organization, they will drop their membership.
Plus, all these sites sell advertising of some kind. If your members find those sites more valuable for promoting their businesses, they may purchase ads on those sites as well, thereby taking money away from your organization. That money should be going towards dues or advertising on YOUR website where you can use it to strengthen your industry or community.
Associations have long been concerned about how to gain new members, increase retention and generate non-dues revenue. A well-designed, search and mobile-optimized website helps you accomplish all three!
Decide today that your website is critical to your success and dedicate the resources needed to make that happen. Do an evaluation of how well your site is indexed by Google. What changes can you make to improve your ranking? Do you need a new website? Do you need help? Determine what you need and go do it! Your online relevance is eroding – but you CAN reverse it and take control of your association's local online presence.