Associations and membership organizations exist to group like-minded individuals together; to share knowledge, encourage learning and provide an identity.
The concept of these groups is as old as the professions and specialisms they represent, dating all the way back to 1660, however the new digital landscape presents a common predicament – how to attract the next generation of contributors and customers in a time of ageing membership.
The landscape for these groups and associations has changed significantly over the past 10 years. But whilst methods might have changed, human nature to be part of a group with shared interests has not. Just look at Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. So how do membership organizations make sure they not only survive, but thrive in a new digital age?
Firstly, like any business they must convince their prospective members that the cost of membership is good value, by offering information such as job listings, expertise, industry news, event listings and key publications available through a single point of access.
However, breaking down internal silos is only the first stage. If you are looking to attract users who have grown accustomed to the ease of use and navigation on sites such as LinkedIn, Facebook and Amazon, you need to present a coherent and engaging offering.
Creating a seamless user journey across your information is key. This is where site search can help.
Increasingly membership groups are realizing the need to offer a more personalized experience for their members and the benefits this can bring to both user experience and conversions.
Whether this is segmented by geography, specialism, job title or browsing history; your site search can not only offer the most relevant search results to your members, but also offer a personalized view of your content before they even need to search.
As a hypothetical example, let’s take a membership group for veterinary practitioners. When your members login to your online portal, you will already know the field they specialise in – let's say small animal/large animal, the training and professional development they may have already undertaken and the region they are based in. From this information alone, you can show the individual user content which is specialist to small animal veterinarians on your homepage, promote courses or information that they may not have known about in your search results and highlight regional events that are of interest in targeted banner adverts.
Organizations from every sector and industry are already on their own digital transformation journeys, trying to create an offering which meets the expectations of their audience.
Membership groups and associations are no different in this respect and although they will certainly need to adapt and change from their current form as we know them, it is an exciting prospect and opportunity for them to reinvent themselves as a personalized portal, offering a single source of expertise.