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Using Data to Improve Your Membership Website Experience

Written by Ray van Hilst on . Posted in Association, Association Best Practices

The number one challenge for every association webmaster or online manager is to find ways to make the website a better member experience  – and convert users into customers and drive revenue.

While it may be tempting to just chuck it and start all over again, the reality is a complete redesign takes many months and a sizable investment. Meanwhile if you aren’t actively managing your site, you are leaving dollars on the table.

(That being said, if your site is seriously out of date or not working a redesign might be in order.  Just remember to consider all your options.)

So where do you start?  David Gammel wrote a post on the subject of Cascading Website Improvement and he outlines an excellent approach of looking at one web page per day and making modest improvements based on a few questions.

But what if your association is paralyzed by the sheer enormity of your site and you don’t even know where to start?  Before you give up, here are some steps to outline a path.

Use the Membership Database to Review Website Driven Actions

The goal of any given page in your website should be to drive a specific action such as registering for a conference, joining your organization or some other action.  Start by taking a look at the data in your association management software for actions originating from the website.

Take a sample of data over a certain time frame – let’s say 30 days – and pull the association data.  How many site visitors logged in with their member ID, registered for an event or conference, bought a product, completed a visitor profile, updated their member profile.  Are the top things that are happening the ones you actually want?  If not, there is your clue as to where to start.

Don’t forget to look at the online sales data in your AMS.  Which products are selling the best and why?  Are they being promoted?  Do they have the right keywords in the description?

Spend Quality Time with Your Website Analytics

Hopefully you have Google Analytics running on your site and you have tapped into this powerful tool.  Take a quick look at your analytics to find places where you can make “quick-hits”.  Here are some ways to identify the “low hanging fruit:”
  • Top Content Pages – Are the pages being viewed the most the ones you want viewed?  What about the pages with the longest average time on page?  If not why?  Are they too hard to find?
  • Navigation Summary – Identify the top action you want from your site and use the Navigation Summary tools to identify how visitors get to that page.  Is there a way to make it simpler?
  • Analytics Overlays – Google’s In Page Analytics is currently in beta but will help you go page by page and look at the analytics for that page.  At a glance you can tell if the page layout works, are users finding what you want them to and are they clicking on the things you want them too.

It can be daunting trying to decide where to start on website improvements.  But if you align your association’s business goals with your website and then overlay that with data from your association membership system and web analytics a pattern will emerge to guide you through the process.

Just don’t forget that at the end of the day, your website is a business tool that needs to work for your association’s business goals.  By making data based decisions about where to put your efforts you will quickly achieve success and optimize your efforts.

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