By Chelsea McClain

An association marketing plan should address how to develop your brand, deepen and broaden member relationships, increase or maintain your position in search engine results pages, create a personalized user experience, address problem areas, collect data, and report KPIs and metrics as integral parts. Your marketing plan should incorporate your website, social media, content strategy, videos, static images, emails, podcasts, and more.

Chelsea McClain

This is the first of a series of articles regarding different aspects of Association Marketing. In this article, we will look at just one aspect of the association marketing plan, the User Experience (UX)

UX (User Experience)

The user experience must be focused on keeping existing members while working to attract new members as well. Did you know it costs 5x as much to bring in a new member as it does to retain one? The best members truly are the ones you already have. Happy, loyal members make great brand ambassadors and can influence the reputation and awareness your association.

Exceptional UX is the #1 online demand right now. Make it easy and enjoyable for your site visitors to search, purchase, and learn, and they will return again and again. According to the current research data, customers need: Efficiency, convenience, knowledgeable and friendly service, and easy payment options. Also important: Up-to-date technology, personalization, an easy mobile experience, brand image, and design.

What are your members’ pain points and how do you address them? Talk to those on your team who field emails and phone calls to find out the frequently asked questions. Search your competitors’ social media to see how they are addressing their visitors’ pain points.

What do you want your member’s journey to look like? Run through different pathways that would be optimal for them. What does success look like? How much time should it take to go from one journey point to another? Now compare these journey paths to your Google Analytics to map actual paths. Where are members dropping out? Are refund requests tied to any journey points?

Google now prioritizes mobile optimization over desktop. This means that your search engine results page (SERP) placement will consider how your site performs on mobile devices before its performance on desktop computers. Check out your UX on phones and tablets to see if you need to make adjustments.

Another consideration is to optimize your content for voice search/smart assistants with longer keyword phrases. People are searching by voice a lot more now with Alexa, Siri, etc. Slant your content to serve queries that are longer and more conversational. This also helps with landing a “position zero” on a Google SERP (search engine results page). (See also: Branded Skills --  https://www.adweek.com/performance-marketing/how-personalizing-voice-skills-can-give-your-brand-a-digital-boost/)

And finally, while you may still be serving members from the Baby Boomer generation, Gen Z is now the largest generation in the consumer pool. It is also the most diverse generation and they have grown up in a completely digital world. In order to reach them for our clients, we need to study their needs and wants, which include things like responsible consumerism/sustainability, current and emerging technology, personalization, real value for dues, and possibly rethinking how dues are structured. You might consider keeping the dues options you have now and adding a-la-carte options so members can pay only for what they want instead of just all-in-one. This can help attract the Gen Z members (born 1996-2012) as well as Millennials. Together they make up 48% of consumers.

Regardless of generation, people are spending more time doing their own research, so it’s vital you have an understanding of what you want them to see when they land on your association’s website. The customer experience begins when the first Google search is made, make sure you are ready to provide an all-encompassing experience. Continually research your competitors, study your users, and make changes to your website to improve your user’s experience.