Most professionals working in the association industry have heard some combination of the following: "Our membership numbers are decreasing and we're struggling to find ways to add revenue."
It makes complete sense. Younger people entering the workforce have grown up on the internet and organizations are having a hard time marketing the value of membership against the seemingly endless supply of information the internet can provide. So, how do we combat decreasing membership and boost revenues in other areas to compensate? Our suggestion is go to where your potential members are - and will be for the foreseeable future - and give them experiences they are used to.
If your organization doesn’t have one yet, an ecommerce website should be considered for any association. According to California State University Stanislaus, by 2020 online ecommerce sales are expected to exceed $1.6 trillion dollars. Yes, trillion with a T. This method of purchasing appeals more to modern customer selection and convenience preferences, so much so that in 2016, 51% of shoppers made their last purchase online. That number has only gone up since then. If you've gotten this far, you've surely asked yourself, "what can I do about this?" so let's get to that.
Here are a few things to keep in mind about an ecommerce presence for your organization:
1. Selling doesn’t have to only mean tangible goods.
I know when most people think of ecommerce, they think of goods: clothes, accessories, hats, trinkets, etc. Maybe those things make sense for your organization, but let's think outside the box. Often, organizations will do some sort of survey to figure out the reasons their members continue to renew. If those results show things like seminars, continuing education resources, events or things of the like, those are resources you can sell to non-members! That premium content is a way to expose non-members to the benefits and educational resources your organization provides, as well as providing your members another benefit in that they don't have to pay for those items.
2. Design with high scan-ability in mind.
You want to do everything possible to create an easy shopping process. It is important to make relevant information appear prominently on your site via your use of design. This means refraining from large text blocks, prominent calls to action and links, and contrasting elements with good use of white space. When browsers are able to process the information on your site more swiftly, it decreases obstacles to find what users are looking for and purchase; hopefully, again and again.
3. Always provide easy check out options.
This really means two things: a simple, intuitive way for repeat users or members to purchase and a guest checkout option for non-members. Think about how easy Amazon makes it to purchase an item you are viewing. Even disregarding the one-click purchasing, you are keenly aware of how many clicks it will take for you to complete check out. That same experience is one you should give your browsers. Help them gauge how quickly they can move through the purchase process with things like how many steps it takes to complete the process and which step your user is currently on. Similarly, allow browsers to purchase without making an account. Guest checkouts give browsers the option to quickly place an order if they value the product more than membership. Then, once customers complete their purchase, you can serve them content that talks about the benefits of membership - like receiving the resource they just purchased for free as a member!
As always, make sure you don't bite off more than you can chew. The task of creating and implementing an ecommerce site within your organization can seem daunting. With the right planning and preparation, coupled with a design focused on ease of use for your web browsers, you can create a nice niche of non-dues revenue for your organization. If you have questions about ecommerce best practices, or how you can begin the development process, contact Americaneagle.com today!
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