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How Small-Staff Associations Can Get People to Come Back to their Websites (Without Extra Work)

Written by Julie Dietz on June 22, 2017 at 8:30 AM

Small-staff organizations can use this research to get people to come back to their websites.

Do more with less.

That’s what associations and nonprofits are often tasked with, especially when a small staff is doing website work on top of events, benefit programs, and membership management. Putting your staff in charge of web management means they’re also tasked with attracting more new visitors to your website and convincing everyone – from new visitors to current members – to come back for more.

Getting members and prospects to come back to your website daily, weekly, or monthly is a challenge. It may even be tempting to chase the latest tactics and user experience fads to draw people back, but you can’t do everything and chances are those efforts won’t drive loyalty. They’ll just take up valuable time and resources, without benefiting your organization in the long run.

You need to focus on strategic tasks that move the needle for your association instead. Focus on what matters, and you’ll not only cut down on your workload, you’ll be more effective and increase your website’s return visitors.

3 Initiatives that Get People to Use Your Website Regularly

According to data from Clutch and Brave UX, there are three key areas where you should invest your time and resources to make the biggest impact on website loyalty.

1. Develop Valuable Content and Services

Ninety-four percent of respondents in Clutch and Brave UX’s research listed valuable content, services, or goods as important or very important in determining if they revisit a website. For small teams that are frequently strapped for time and resources, this means you should spend less time producing large quantities of content and more time producing quality content.

To begin, relax your content creation schedule. You don’t need to publish a piece of content every day. Instead, focus on creating meaty resources and services like online mentoring programs or professional development eCourses that provide more benefits to members.

These large offers are the backbone of your website, but you can also keep your site updated with helpful articles and announcements about ongoing projects. For example, if your legislative advocacy program is making progress, write a short news blog about the latest accomplishments. This takes very little time, but is valuable to members and prospects who follow your work.

2. Design for Ease of Use

Only slightly less important to building website loyalty – coming in at 93 percent – is a simple, easy-to-use layout. Website visitors want to browse your site, find what they need, and move on. They don’t want to struggle or spend time digging through menus and files to find what they’re looking for.

So instead of jumping on new design ideas, focus on creating a website that’s simple and easy to use. Here are five ways to get started:

  • Simplify Menus and Navigation – Map out your website and get rid of extra navigation links that are no longer needed. Group similar items together into one menu, and keep your most important content links in menus or footers that are accessible from any page.
  • Consolidate Related Information – Cut down on the number of pages members need to look through to find information.
  • Choose Clear, Easy-to-Read Fonts – Use fonts and text sizes that are easy to read on mobile, then pair your font with an attractive color scheme that compliments text instead of being distracting.
  • Opt for Simple, Descriptive Labels – It might sound fun to say you have a dozen “Mini Exposés” on your site, but most people won’t know what type of content you’re pointing them to. “Articles,” “Blogs,” or “Case Studies” are easier to understand.
  • Provide Clear Next Steps – Always give members and prospects something to do so they have a reason to stay on your website and come back again later. To do that, include calls-to-action to donate, volunteer, take an online course, join your association, or log into your online community.

3. Beat the Competition (By Focusing on Your Mission)

Associations used to be the centers of their industries, but they’re no longer untouched by competition. That challenge comes to the forefront in Clutch and Brave UX’s research, which found that 83 percent of visitors return to a website because “there is no better alternative for the function it serves.”

While there are most likely alternatives to your association’s website, you have an advantage over many other websites. You have your association’s mission, and in the study 73 percent of website visitors said they continue to use a website because they appreciate its mission or vision.

Associations have some of the most socially responsible, philanthropic, and powerful professional missions, which they can use to convince people to return to their website. Build your mission into your content, website copy, and imagery. Focus not on how great your association is, but on how you help your members or your industry. Emphasizing how your work benefits your audience and field will help you break through the noise of your competition.

Pick Your Projects Based on Member Needs

Staying up to date on the latest in web design is a good practice, as is hiring professional agencies for help, but even small-staff associations can build repeat visitors by focusing on the right projects. You simply need to create a great online user experience—starting with the research-backed ideas in this article.

You shouldn’t forget, however, to ask your members what they want as well. Send an email survey or open a discussion forum in your online community to find out what content your members find valuable and what website elements could be cleaned up to create a better experience. The best results will apply to the largest amount of people.

With member feedback to help you find the right projects, you can make a great impact on how valuable your website is and how often people use it.

Nine low-cost member engagement strategies for associations.

Topics: Associations, Member Experience, Nonprofits and Charities, Online Community

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