It’s easy to think of updating your website as a nice-to-have rather than a need-to-have. Other tasks with harder deadlines may feel more important. You may keep telling yourself: I’ll get to the website later.
But is anything really more important to your association than having a website that is current, easy to use and an accurate reflection of the value you bring to members?
Here are the top 5 reasons for putting your website at the top of your to-do list.
1.To keep members
Out of site, out of mind. In other words, your website needs to continually feed members information and resources on important events, trends, potential legislative changes, international developments — anything that can impact their professional lives. No one is as well positioned as you are to offer this invaluable content.
2. To attract new members
According to researchers at Stanford, 75 per cent of visitors will make judgments about your association's credibility based on your website. If it doesn’t display well on a mobile device, or if you haven’t posted to your blog or news section in six months, you’re likely pushing potential new members away. An untended website seems to be saying: we don’t take ourselves seriously.
3. To engage new members
Your website is where new members go to become part of your community and benefit from the unique resources available only to them. Invite them in and make them feel welcome. Ways to do this include video testimonials from long-time members, a quick guide on how and when to use resources like professional development or certification programs, a preview of your upcoming annual conference and a section on ways to start networking.
4. To reflect your brand
If your association sees itself as innovative but your website design was cutting edge a decade ago, you have a problem. You want the design, content and navigation system of your site — especially of your homepage — to match how you want to be perceived as an organization. Aim for simplicity, clarity and intuitive navigation. And don’t make the mistake of having a homepage that puts you — your mission and vision statements, for example — front and centre. Instead, start by talking about members and potential members — what their challenges are, and the specific ways you can help them overcome those challenges.
5. To get ahead of competing associations
If belonging to another association instead of yours is an option for your members and potential members, you need to build a website that’s more valuable than your competitor’s. Find weaknesses in their site and then do a better job on yours. For example, if they have no videos on their homepage, create videos for yours (a member testimonial updated every month, for example). This will give you a real advantage. People browsing the web have short attention spans and they’re far more likely to engage with video than with static text.
Sounds like a plan!
If we’ve done our job in this post, you’re convinced its time to roll up your sleeves and get to work on your website. But not so fast: first you need a plan. It doesn’t have to be long or detailed. You just need to set priorities, identify resources and develop schedules with hard deadlines. If you don’t have enough internal resources, consider getting help from a digital marketing agency.
About the author
Jamie McIntosh is president of Ottawa-based inMotion, a full-service agency offering marketing strategy, messaging and branding, digital and video marketing and web development. Since 1979, inMotion has helped dozens of professional and industry associations recruit and retain members, influence policy and open new markets and other opportunities.