People join associations and chambers for a number of reasons — professional development, networking, advocacy, continuing education, etc. But regardless of why they join, there are a few underlying expectations — beyond the benefits they’ll receive — people have of your organization.
The question is, what are those expectations, and more importantly, is your association or chamber meeting them?
Expectation #1: A seamless online user experience
People are used to interacting with sites like Amazon and eBay — intuitive and highly personalized. That said, when they go to other websites — your organization’s website included — they’re expecting a similar experience.
- Simple and intuitive navigation — Is it easy for your members to get around and find information on your website — on both the public-facing side and the members-only-facing side? Is your main navigation thoughtful and well-organized? (For example, if a member wants to find out what committee positions are currently open, could they easily find that — or how to get to that, rather — in the main navigation? (Tip: Because you’re likely overly familiar with your organization’s website, ask one of your members to do a walk-through of your site. They’ll be able to tell you what makes sense and what doesn’t.)
- A simple and secure online purchasing process — If you accept financial transactions on your website (dues payments and event registrations, for example), members expect that to not only be a simple process, but a secure one too. Going back to the example of Amazon: If you’ve ever purchased anything from Amazon before, you know the next time to go to make a purchase, your name, email address, shipping address, etc. will already be there. Amazon stores that info. All you have to do is enter your credit card information and voilà. Purchase complete! Your members are expecting a similar experience on your website. Do they always have to enter the same basic info when they attempt to make a purchase? The easier you can make it for them, the better. (Note: If this is something your current website lacks, you may want to consider a membership management system. With a solution like that, your database and website are housed under the same roof, meaning you can pre-populate some of those form fields with info members have submitted before.)
Expectation #2: The latest industry news/updates
You’ve likely positioned your association or chamber as an expert in the industry or community — and for good reason. You have the network and know-how to obtain information quickly.
That said, because you are the expert, your members are expecting you to be on top of the latest industry news and trends, and not only that, but relay that information back to them...quickly! If there’s a new industry regulation on the table or even a funny industry-related video that’s trending, your members want to know about that. (And they want to know before their peers!)
So how do you do that? How do you keep your members up to date on the latest news and trends? The easiest way is to send out a weekly or bi-weekly newsletter with curated content from your particular industry (think news articles and blog posts). How do you find that type of info? Follow thought leaders in your industry; like their pages on social media and/or subscribe to their blogs. You may even want to start with people who’ve spoken at some of your events before (and received great feedback). Following industry-related hashtags on Twitter and LinkedIn is another great tactic to try! Once you start to understand who publishes good content regularly, putting together these newsletters will be a breeze.
Expectation #3: A certain level of professionalism
This one seems obvious, but you’d be surprised at how many organizations (unintentionally) get this wrong. Professionalism doesn’t just equate to your organization’s tone. It’s a combination of attributes that gives your organization that professional (or unprofessional) image.
A few factors that affect your organization’s professional image include:
- High-resolution images — Are the images on your organization’s website and social media pages high-resolution? High-quality photos instantly give credibility to your association or chamber.
- Minimal typos — Sure, typos happen. But the more typos you have, the more those chip away at your association or chamber’s professional image. Be careful when writing and publishing.This applies to social media as well! (Tip: When using Twitter, because you’re limited to 280 characters, you may be tempted to abbreviate a lot. But abbreviate with caution — one or two words, max. The more you abbreviate, the more obscure — and less professional — your message becomes.)
- Up-to-date website pages - Are your website pages up-to-date? And we don’t just mean in terms of content, but links as well. Are people getting a lot of 404 errors? Is your 2020 event registration link actually going to your 2019 event page? These are things people pay attention to and that have an impact on your organization's overall image.
Members expect a lot from you, and sometimes, that can get overwhelming. If you need help managing your association (in a way that’s bound to leave your members impressed), check out our Ultimate Guide to Membership Management below! It’s filled with best practices for membership recruitment, engagement, retention, and more!