How to Increase Membership: 3 Nonprofit Website Best Practices

A well-designed association website can help your organization reach potential members and keep your current members engaged and eager to renew their membership year after year.

Everyone knows the value of a website that offers a positive user experience and makes site visitors want to stick around. As a user you want a streamlined experience on any site you visit, and as an association professional you want to provide the information your members need when they need it. A well-designed association website can help your organization reach potential members and keep your current members engaged and eager to renew their membership year after year.

Without a website built with your conversion goals in mind, you’re at risk of losing prospective members and current members. At this point in time, incorporating best practices into your website is table stakes for building a digital presence. For instance, with over half of web traffic coming from mobile devices, optimizing your site for mobile is one of these must-haves.

We’ll dive into these nonprofit website best practices so you can ensure your members and any potential members have positive experiences when they engage with your organization.

1. Optimize your CTAs

A call-to-action, or CTA, is a brief line of text that links out to a desired action, like signing up for your newsletter, registering for an upcoming event, or filling out your membership application. Typically, these will appear as buttons that contain hyperlinks to relevant web pages. It’s important to create CTAs that are focused on funneling site visitors through the member journey so they know exactly how to get involved and further engage with your organization.

When designing CTAs for your website, keep these best practices in mind:

  • Keep the language concise: A brief CTA clearly articulates the purpose of the button and is more likely to grab your site visitors’ attention. It also needs to be actionable, and contain a verb, to drive users to take that action. For example, you might create a CTA that reads “Apply for Membership Today!” or “Apply Now!” This straightforward and urgent language can motivate prospective members to click your CTA and fill out the corresponding application.

  • Place CTAs in strategic locations: Consider displaying a CTA that directs site visitors to apply in your navigation bar. This way, no matter what page your site visitors are on, they can clearly find how to apply. You can also create CTAs that point users to apply after relevant sections on your site, such as blog posts that discuss the perks of membership or on an event landing page for your upcoming hybrid conference that is members-only.

  • Make your CTAs visible: To help your CTAs stand out from the rest of your content, consider using bold font or a different color within your brand guidelines. This will catch your site visitors’ eye or ensure your CTAs don’t blend into the background. Make sure you are following accessibility guidelines for your color choices, so that it is readable even for those with color blindness and other disabilities.

To assess whether your CTAs are effectively converting site visitors, website analytics software, like the free Google Analytics platform, allows you to dive into web traffic data and understand how people interact with your site. Within the platform you can set up goal conversions, which allow you to track which CTAs people engage with and how they navigated to your site. Goal conversion tracking can inform you of drop offs in your website traffic and help you identify roadblocks to completing membership applications.

2. Create a testimonials page

A testimonials page provides powerful social proof that your association is meeting its purpose and providing existing members with a satisfactory experience. To build out a well-designed testimonials page, use these top tips:

  • Be selective with the testimonials you highlight: Quotes from existing members should be relevant, impactful, and informative so prospective members have a better idea of whether your association would be a good fit for them, too. You’ll also want to select testimonials that highlight a variety of your association’s offerings including those related to conferences, workshops, and networking opportunities.

  • Provide bios for your featured members: Include details like how long each member has belonged to your organization, their membership tier, and their personal background where applicable, such as their professional title. This helps prospective members judge whether they’d be a good fit for your organization and have similar interests as existing members.

  • Include high-quality visuals: Visuals, like photos and videos, can help make your testimonials page more engaging. For example, you might include headshots of your featured members to put a picture to a name, or create a video interview of your members talking about their experiences at your association to elevate your page. It’s important to ensure any visuals are aligned with your brand and optimized for your website. Keep your imagery consistent across the site and avoid generic stock photos or pixelated images. When you upload visuals to your site, make sure they’re the right size so big files don’t slow down your site speed, tanking your SEO or user experience.

To gather testimonials, consider sending out a survey in your next email newsletter with targeted questions about members’ level of enjoyment at your organization, favorite events, and other relevant questions. Offer incentives to encourage people to submit a response, such as free association merchandise or discounted tickets to your next conference.

Once you’ve gathered testimonials, you can even repurpose this content by using it for your offsite marketing materials, such as your social media content or direct mail.

3. Develop a user-friendly application form

One of the important ways to ensure your site visitors complete your membership application is by creating a user-friendly form. If your form is over complicated, too long, or has technical issues, it’s much more likely that users will abandon signing up for membership altogether. Here are some nonprofit website best practices to help you optimize your forms:

  • Ask for only the most essential information: Keep your application form simple by asking for the most important information, like members’ name, contact information, and payment details. If there are other details you want to request, consider making some of your prompts optional and only requiring the prompts that are essential to considering their candidacy for membership.

  • Offer clear instructions: Your prompts should be as straightforward as possible so prospective members aren’t confused and know exactly how to answer each field.

  • Optimize for mobile: Many of your members will be navigating through your website on their phones and will want to complete their application form via their mobile device. As you make changes to your form, make sure you test the experience from your phone. This will help you identify any issues and ensure the form works well for anyone who wants to submit it.

The best nonprofit and association websites prioritize user-experience and keep their audience in mind with every design choice. By making it as simple as possible for prospective members to apply to your organization, they’ll have a positive impression of your association and will be eager to contribute to your growth.

With a strong website that implements nonprofit website best practices, your association can turn site visitors into applicants and applicants into satisfied members. Once you’ve motivated site visitors to apply and successfully onboarded them as members, you can then focus on encouraging member upgrades and providing opportunities for deeper engagement. Continue to leverage your website to keep members tapped into your association and eager to renew their membership year after year.

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