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How to Make Your Website Your Association's Top Member Benefit

Written by Julie Dietz on June 9, 2016 at 8:30 AM

3 ways to make your association's website your top member benefit.

Association members are like business customers, they come to your organization for help. They want to solve a problem, to learn, to grow in their industry, or to find ways to contribute to a cause. And, similar to a business, that's what your association is built to do – help members by providing benefits.

For associations, their portfolio of member benefits is the foundation of their product strategy and value proposition. Member benefits are the reasons people join and remain members, and associations adapt their member benefit strategy as needs in their industry shift and members' behavior changes.

There are two primary parts of a member benefit – the benefit itself and the delivery. You need stellar value and a way to get that value to people so that as many members as possible can take advantage of it.

These elements form the foundation of the challenges that associations face as more people find industry information online. Associations need to adapt and provide their benefits online in a way that's easy for members to access.

Many associations have been slow to find ways to efficiently deliver member benefits online. What tools should they use? What benefits do members want online? With multiple variables to consider, it's a tricky problem to solve.

Fortunately, there is one obvious answer: your website.

As one of the most common member-facing tools at your disposal, your website can and should play a primary role in providing valuable member benefits. It's accessible 24/7 from anywhere in the world, and should be easy for members to use on a variety of devices including computers, tablets, and smartphones.

This type of well-thought-out website can play a pivotal role in delivering benefits to your diverse member segments. Use these three tips to turn your website into a member benefit that showcases the value in your association, and keeps them returning to your site.

3 Tips for Turning Your Association's Website Into Your Number One Member Benefit

Tip #1) Be More than a Website

Websites aren't just places people visit for basic information anymore. They include many different resources and engagement opportunities.

Start building your website with information about your association, what you do, and how to contact you. Then, build stronger relationships by incorporating your engagement tools like an online community, resource library, self-service options, and event registration. Any engagement opportunities that your members want should be available from your website.

Member directories, for example, are popular tools that help members find peers and network. Directories often work off of member profiles, so give members the ability to create, change, and update their profiles with relevant personal and professional information. These and other engagement tools such as surveys and gamification give members and prospective members an actionable next step after visiting your website, and help you deliver value.

Tip #2) Provide Killer Content

Content has consistently proven to be one of the best ways to get found and demonstrate your value to both prospects and members.

Content should be timely, consistent, and relevant to your members. A few options to get you started are best practices, expert answers, event information, and news updates. To get members and prospects to engage, diversify with discussion forums and media libraries so there is a variety of ways to participate.

Some of this content should be made publicly available to showcase your association's value and entice prospects to join. The majority of your content, however, should be behind a login so that it's an exclusive member benefit.

Tip #3) Make It Easy to Use

No one wants to struggle to find information or participate, so make it easy for your members to find the benefits they want and engage with your association as well as other members. Making your website easy to use means two things:

  1. Make it the one and only place members visit to get everything they need. Members should only need one login, and they should be able to use that login for everything from reading blogs to watching videos, and participating in discussions.
  2. Make your website navigation clear and simple. According to the Online Marketing Institute, up to 50% of visitors never return to a site because it was hard to find and use the content. That means clear navigation is essential, as are member and vendor directories that help members can find the content, experts and services that they need. A fully-indexed site with a robust search also helps.

Takeaway: Transforming Your Website into a Top Member Benefit

General information about your association is important, but your website should do more than scratch the surface. It should be the center of both the benefits you provide and the way you get members to take advantage of them.

To turn your website into a dynamic, must-visit place for your members to congregate and receive value, follow these tips. Provide engagement tools such as events and online communities that give members access to peers and experts, along with easily-accessible content. Take advantage of your website's 24/7 availability, along with its device flexibility to deliver your value to your members wherever, whenever, and however they want.

With clear benefits and an easy way to access them, you'll showcase the value not only of your website, but of your entire association.

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Topics: Communications, Associations, Member Experience, Member Engagement, Online Community

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