The Vanguard View: Insight for Association Websites

5 Urgent Questions To Ask Of Your Association's Website Content

Posted by Chris Bonney on Mon, May 22, 2017

    
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Timely. Relevant. Meaningful. Ideally, these terms
should describe at least some of your association’s website content. 
And while we can all agree that these qualities are key, the real challenge is determining if your content is any of these things. And, if not, how do you make it so?

Here are 5 questions you should be asking of your content today to ensure your staff are not spinning their wheels publishing content that isn't working. 

1. Who is this content for?

The first question to address is “Who is your content being published for?”

A common first response is usually “our members” or “site visitors,” but being too vague could be what's holding your content back. Of course, there will always be the "about us" page that doesn't need too much strategic thought to implement, but to guarantee the majority of your content is resonating and relevant, it helps to ask deeper questions about who might be accessing it.

If you don’t have personas developed for your site audiences, it would be a great exercise for your team. You can see from the screenshot below that a persona is a profile of a potential site visitor. The scenarios indicate what types of actions this potential site user may take on your website.

Persona

Personas allow your content team to focus on the needs of site visitors and help avoid posting erroneous content under the premise that “all collateral should be posted on the website.”

If you’re looking for a quicker fix, make sure your content calendar (you do have one, don’t you?) has an extra column designated for the content audience. It can serve as a nice governance tool challenging a staffer who is requesting content to articulate who the content is for.

If you can determine specifically who the content is for, then you can move on to the second question.

2. What problem does the content solve?

Assuming we now know who the content is for, what problem is the content solving?

Don’t confuse how staff perceives the significance of a certain piece of content with how a member will receive it. Make sure it's meaningful and addresses a need. Your site should not be organized by your internal departments (membership, events, advocacy), but by how the site visitors want to experience your content (learn, share, attend).

So, while posting an annual report may simply be checking a box to accommodate your bylaws, other content like event agendas, blog posts, and learning pieces should all set out to solve a problem your members (and even non-members) are having.

Phi Kappa Phi needed to reach students and parents (with very different messages) so they created audience-specific navigation to solve the problem. The 4-button navigation bar in the screenshot below is a “persistent” navigation bar meaning it stays in the same place when the user scrolls up and down the page – it never leaves the site visitor’s view.

Phi_Kappa_Phi

Organizationally, you should know what the mission of your site is and what your goals are. Then couple that with your audience and what problem you can solve for them and you're in a much better place quite quickly. 

3. What action should be taken?

Quality content converts. The third question is “What action do you want your site visitor to take? Is there something they should do when they arrive on the site? Or maybe before they leave the site?”

Have you defined the points of conversion for your site in your content plan? Before you post something that is actionable, do you consider the path a user must take to find it? Does that path of content make sense?

What types of actions might a site visitor take you ask? Well, they could join, renew their membership, download a PDF, fill out a form, ask for more information, submit an email address or register for an event.

But these are obvious. Let’s open our thinking a bit.

  • Is your content accessible? Can your visitors or members take the same action across devices?
  • Is your content shareable? Could it go viral?
  • Are you doing more than words? Is video, audio or even canned webinars part of your content arsenal?

Diversifying your content helps ensure there is something for everyone in a format they prefer. Beyond sharing your content, you’ll also want to consider if your content could be repurposed. What better way to get the word out about you organization than to have a member repurpose a PDF they downloaded from your site to help their customers?

4. Is the content contextual?

It might make sense to blast the same message across all of your social media platforms. Or it might make more sense to consider the channel (Facebook, Twitter) and tailor the message to fit what your followers at each channel are expecting. You could leverage responsive web design to ensure your site displays appropriately across all devices. Or you could do like our client did as pictured below and modify the mobile version of your site to highlight the areas that your members are most likely to visit from their phone. 

On the left is their tablet view and on the right is a custom view for mobile phones showcasing the areas of the site members said they wanted to access. 

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5. Will Google like your content?

Posting content in the wrong way (redundant words, repetitive keywords, misuse of headings) could actually be detrimental to how Google ranks your content. The four questions above are critical, but don't be misled to think Google rankings don't matter. Even if you're not trying to gain new members from Google results, your content showing up in the right way in Google can lead to member confidence and organizational authority online. 

Learn more about Search Engine Optimization (SEO), if necessary. 

In Closing

Yes, we're all busy and it's hard enough to keep the website going as it is, but without asking these 5 critical questions of your content, it could all just be moot. Spend that little extra time making sure your content is quality and you'll reap the rewards.

Also, check out our webinar replay on YouTube of the 7-step, non-negotiable content formula. It takes this all to the next level. 

 

Topics: content strategy, association websites, association SEO

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