The Vanguard View: Insight for Association Websites

5 Personalization Pitfalls to Avoid in Your Association Website Strategy

Posted by Chris Bonney on Tue, Nov 15, 2016



Ready for a statement from Captain Obvious?

Online users want more customized, personalized online experiences.

But, here’s the twist: they don’t want you to know too much about them.

According to one survey, 78% of users said that they appreciate customized offers and would be likely to buy again. 71% of them claimed that they would be likely to buy again if they received personalized offers based on their location. However, 13% of users said that they don’t agree to give up personal information.

Sounds tricky, right?

How can you provide a personalized experience to your association members without access to personal information?

Unfortunately, there’s no “one size fits all” marketing strategy that you can use to connect with your members a personalized way. You need to find new ways to connect and market to digitally savvy users in ways that are meaningful, personalized, and relevant without being intrusive.

Because personalization is still a new practice, it’s common for association professionals to make mistakes along the way.

Below, we’ve identified five common personalization pitfalls and some strategies on how to overcome them.

1. Relying on Profile Data Instead of User Intent
Most association websites use demographics to connect with members. But, studies have shown that organizations that rely solely on demographics risk missing on more than 70% of prospects.


That’s because understanding user intent is a better more powerful way to target the right people than demographics alone.

Studies show that brands that understand and respond to intent are better positioned and are considered more useful. That is because brands that focus on intent are better prepared at understanding their prospects’ needs and delivering targeted and personalized experiences.

Quick fix: Focus on recognizing your visitors’ intent and use this information to align your marketing objectives with their intentions. That way, you can create more connections tied to their intent and use that knowledge to grow your association.

2. You Use the Wrong Type of Data
One of the most common personalization pitfalls is using the wrong type of data to personalize website experience. Facebook is, probably, the best example of large amounts of data that can give you inaccurate or fake information about your members.

For instance, a member might Like recycled art on Facebook, but that doesn’t necessarily mean they're interested in sustainability, and they’re not going to attend your e-Waste event if you advertise it to them.

Quick fix: Use behavioral data to understand what your members want.

3. Boxing
Boxing is a marketing strategy used to channel users’ vision based on their digital behavior and history. For instance, if you only read news about politics and tech, websites might narrow down their content automatically based on what they believe your interests are. But, maybe, sometimes you don’t want to be limited to tech and politics and want to read news about business, entertainment, or travel. By limiting your choice, websites can affect your online experience instead of providing personalization.

The same stands true for your association website. It’s OK to make a couple of recommendations based on your members’ digital history, but don’t limit them to that.

Quick fix: Think “discovery” instead of “boxing.” That way you can help members find things they didn’t know existed, making them come back for more.

4. You Limit Your Personalization to the Web
Your website is probably your most important channel, but it’s not the only place you interact with your members. People nowadays increasingly rely on smartphones and social media to discover and research brands and products. However, despite the rapid proliferation of mobile, social media, and email, most associations still rely solely on their website when it comes to online personalization strategies.

Quick fix: The online experience has become an omnichannel affair in the digital age, and you need to adapt if you want to survive. You need to think about personalization as an exhaustive marketing tactic to integrate several different channels.

5. You Creep Users Out
Most users are used to getting personalized recommendations, and many claim that they enjoy it. However, there’s a fine line between making a relevant recommendation and creeping your members out.

Here’s an example: If you call Domino’s Pizza with your registered mobile number, they will know your address as well as your favorite side order. You don’t have to repeat your address or your phone number again and again. Customers are accustomed to that, so they aren’t creeped out with the customer rep doesn’t ask for their home address. On the other hand, users are sensitive when they get recommendations they don’t expect based on information they didn’t know you had.

Quick fix: Don’t surprise your association members. Use patterns that are familiar to them to provide personalized experiences.

In Closing
Personalization is an opportunity for those who want to take their marketing to the next level. Not only that now you can reach more audience, but you have the means to understand how they live and interact with your association website.

Register for our upcoming webinar with ACGI Software:
Web Personalization through AMS Integration
Tuesday, Dec 6, 2016
1pm Eastern


Topics: ams integration, web strategy, personalization

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