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Are associations failing members by failing to embrace the internet?

Every association knows that having a digital presence is essential, but many are not fully exploiting their website’s potential for helping them provide the services members want. A website is more than an advert for the association, a cost centre, or a way of creating revenue; it should build long-term relationships.

Linked to a back-end database, and set up to gather data across member activities and services, the website can help provide associations with a clear and comprehensive picture of members’ interests. This will highlight ways to provide added value, and tailor and target services in a more focused way.

Engagement can also be developed by integrating the website with social networks, and holding open, relevant and interactive discussions with members there. The association’s ‘official’ LinkedIn group or Facebook page can be made accessible directly from the website via a link. Twitter feeds can be incorporated into the homepage.

Connecting with systems like PayPal and Worldpay to automate processes such as renewals increase trust by making transactions secure, as well as saving time and money for the association.

The website can also be used to reinforce trust by putting members in control of the way they interact with the association. For instance, allowing them to update their personal details themselves by logging in directly in to the database.

Making content such as white papers, research, and opinion articles readily available on the website is another powerful engagement tool. These position the association as an authority on key topics and turn the website into a powerful digital knowledge hub.

With the right open platform, proper planning and integration with a well-designed database, the website can become a fully-functioning digital gateway to services, resources, discussion and networking that builds on the basic relationship between visitor and website. This encourages members to engage further and more deeply.

Article published first in the TAF Forum Website

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