How to create the perfect membership website
5 things the best membership websites have in common
Websites for membership organisations are essential to their everyday operation. From marketing member benefits and facilitating registration, to providing up-to-date resources and event booking.
Many organisations have a global membership base, so the website can act as a crucial intermediary between members across the world.
Content Management Systems (CMS) lend themselves to providing a membership website with a multitude of features, benefiting both front end users and administrators.
1. Tailored Content
Joomla CMS in particular has excellent user access control that enables the varying visibility of content for users.
For example one of our clients, the Association for Geographic Information, allow members to choose different interest groups within their profiles so that they can access tailored resources and news via a “My News” section. In this case, Joomla feeds specific content to different users depending on the interest settings they have chosen.
Multilingual features are available with CMS meaning you can manage the content for different languages and make the website accessible for members across the world. There are a number of advantages to providing multilingual translation on your site:
- Broaden your international customer base. Make customers feel important by showing you've taken the time to apply their language requirements. This will make them more inclined to buy your services.
- Build trust. Customers will feel more secure if you can demonstrate that you speak the local language.
- Good for local SEO. In some countries, Google is not the default search engine, with users preferring native search engines instead. These local search engines will only crawl and index your pages in the local language, so unless your site is translated, it will not be found on local search results.
3. An “all-in-one” platform
It is also possible to integrate CMS with a range of online systems. This is where the benefits can really be felt for administrators. Often, membership organisations are run by a team of volunteers or a very small team, and so efficiency of administrative tasks is essential. CRM (Customer Relationship Management) platforms can be an essential tool for managing a membership base.
The Association for Geographic Information manage their members using CiviCRM. As part of their project we integrated this platform with Joomla CMS, as well as their Sage accounting software. This has enabled the AGI team to manage everything, from web content to renewals, payments and event planning, via the same login.
The user experience is also enhanced for members themselves. With everything synced on one platform they too need only login to one place and are not taken to another website or platform for different aspects of their membership. Everything is presented within the same template, providing a consistent user experience.
Where membership is an annual, or monthly, agreement the continuation of such organisations is dependent on members renewing.
For one of our clients ESCP (European Society of Coloproctology), we developed a single custom component within Joomla CMS integrated with the SagePay payment gateway, enabling automatic renewals of memberships.
Automatic renewals make life easier for members, who don’t have to reprocess their membership each year; and for administrators, who don’t have to process renewals manually.
5. Events and Resources
Often one of the key benefits of being part of a membership organisation is access to conferences and events.
The promotion of events can be a critical marketing activity, for example an annual conference which may be the one time in the year when the whole organisation gets together to discuss its activities and future and meet its members.
As such, events should be easily accessible and promoted on the homepage of the website. Where an organisation is sharing multiple events, it should be easy for a user to filter events by date, location and categories so that they can find those most relevant to them.
Once viewing an individual event, a user should be able to see a map showing the location, key information they need to know before booking and a clear call to action to book the event.
There are many different ways of incorporating event booking into your website. It could be using a CRM (and ideally the same CRM you use for managing your memberships!), a custom system specific to your organisation’s needs, or integrating with a 3rd Party event platform such as EventBrite.
In summary, a Content Management System is a great way to manage your membership organisation. If you have a project you’d like to discuss, don’t hesitate to get in touch.
Other membership resources that might be of interest: