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A 3 point action plan for Membership Organisations – how to respond to the Memberwise Website Design Report

A 3 point action plan for Membership Organisations – how to respond to the Memberwise Website Design Report

MemberWise Network Founder, Richard Gott, and his team are to be congratulated on pulling together a thorough, insightful & thought-provoking report on the state of websites serving the membership community.

The report is comprehensive and highlights 21 key findings spanning many facets of traditional Sales and Marketing functions including CRM, email, social media and the integration of these disciplines into one system. But how can this all be achieved at an affordable price? It could all get very expensive.

Membership organisations need practical strategies to address the challenges identified in the Memberwise Website Design Report.

In our view 3 issues are critical:

  1. To achieve a successful digital transformation through website design it is essential to resource the project with a mix of website integration and membership service skills;
  2. The website design team should adopt a mobile-first user/service design approach;
  3. Because most membership organisations are budget limited, we recommend they make the changes in manageable steps and adopt an iterative budget-constrained website development strategy.

CRM Integration and Self-Service are more recent website developments

Artonezero is a website design agency that focuses on the membership sector and custom website design. It is our experience that a majority of membership organisations created their CRM (before their present website) a number of years ago. At that time self-service member services were not an issue, and the CRM solutions did not support the type of interaction now required. Websites have been added later as stand-alone developments and have not been designed for significant integration with the CRM.

In our view, the majority of membership organisations will not get anywhere close to achieving the website goals identified in this report in this calendar year 2016 – there is a significant gap between their wish list hope and reality.

But the fact that only 55% of membership organisations have responsive design shows how far the sector is behind user behaviour – almost 100% of users would expect this service today. This emphasises the need to upgrade as soon as possible from the user perspective. Again the issue is budgetary and how much the user will pay for the member organisations to provide a better service.

The WordPress technology used by 14% of respondents may not be a good choice for a very interactive site as it is a largely off-the-shelf solution and there are unlikely to be suitable off the shelf plug-ins to deliver the custom services. In addition, WordPress developers are unlikely to have the skillset.

Drupal or custom website development agencies, used by nearly one-third of membership organisations, are more likely to have suitable skillsets, but typically the CRM will need to be chosen appropriately.

Coupling this with the report’s finding that “ …the number one website design driver is new member engagement …” means that membership association CEOs are challenged by a fundamental change in their organisation’s processes than simply a change in website functionality –  a process sometimes referred to as “digital transformation”.

A website strategy for moving forward

So to summarise, the 3 key action points which should be incorporated in a membership web design strategy are:

  1. Member engagement requires a mix of bespoke website development skills and a specific understanding of member processes and information management implementation IT skills.
  2. A majority of membership sites need business analysis from a user experience point of view and a new integrated Website/CRM solution to deliver the level of service the today’s members are expecting from their everyday consumer experience –
    especially the mobile experience.
  3. In view of the budget restrictions its essential that membership organisations develop a long-term website and CRM strategy. The implementation may need to take several years and be built in stages.

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