When was the last time you attended a truly extravagant celebration? Perhaps it was an over-the-top wedding? Maybe an outlandish holiday party? Assuming that it was thoughtfully planned, it ought to have been memorable.
Whether or not galas are your pie in the sky, association websites can learn from the flair found in fabulous, formal, first-class bashes. Unconvinced? Read on…
Here are eight ways that you can use the landing page of your association website to give your members and potential members an experience they will not only remember, but also act upon.
Do It Like a Soiree – Eight Tips to Improve the Effectiveness of Your Association Website Landing Page:
1. Provide an Invitation.
An invitation to an event is the stage setter. It tells you what to expect. A well-orchestrated invitation uses carefully selected fonts, graphic elements, paper stock, and ink colors. If the invitation is made of heavy weight, luxurious, cotton paper with deep-set letterpress scripting, you will likely interpret that the event will be formal. If the invitation indicates “black tie,” you are given an understanding of the type of attire you should wear.
In much the same way, it is essential that your association website provides a carefully composed meta description. This is the description of your site that you see when your domain name is listed by search engines such as Google. If you take a moment to Google your organization’s name (don’t type in the full website address, just your name), you’ll most likely see your website in a listing of search results. Take a look at the text underneath your name/website address. The content found here is called the meta description, and it is a powerful tool that should be used to persuade potential visitors to click through to your site.
2. Greet Guests With a Welcome Sign.
Have you ever arrived at an event feeling unsure of yourself, confused as to whether or not you are in the right spot? If so, a welcome sign most likely afforded you the opportunity to breath a sigh of relief.
A clear, concise statement on the landing page of your website serves the same function. This statement is called a “headline.” It gives the main message. It provides comfort and ease that visitors have arrived where they want to be. A headline is a verbal snapshot that tells what your site is about once they have arrived, and gives them incentive to stay longer.
3. Give guests a menu card.
The meal is often the most anticipated element of a special evening. When guests have the opportunity to anticipate the coming indulgences, they stay engaged and enthusiastic about the evening. The menu card tells about the meal. It explains to them what they can expect, and it focuses on what they likely care about the most.
Similarly, the content on the landing page of your website should provide clear, understandable details about your organization. It should tell visitors what you offer. Well-written content should be focused on what members and potential members want. It is succinct and to the point. It entices.
4. Guide guests to their seats at the appropriate time.
After guests arrive they are oftentimes given time to greet one another while enjoying cocktails and hors d’oeuvres. An event host or captain shortly thereafter gives a signal to be seated, and guests move to their dining tables. The guests are given time to become familiar with their setting, find others whom they may know, and then they are directed to the next step.
On the landing page of your website, a “call to action” is a clickable button that directs visitors to take the next course of action. Once visitors understand what your association offers and you have enticed them with well-written content, it is essential that you give them direction for next steps.
Think through what you want your visitors to do. Sign up for a conference? Join your association? Renew their membership? Find a way to communicate clearly how they can do what you want them to do. Give them a button to click and an easy-to-use form to fill out. And then thank them!
5. Have a guest give a toast.
A celebratory toast gives others a chance to connect via an experience or story. It draws emotion and creates a bond. Furthermore, it gives guests an opportunity to see the host or hostess through the eyes of another person.
Using testimonials from members or partners on your website landing page provides a similar experience. It provides character validation and breeds confidence in your association through the stories and experiences of others.
6. Tie the gala experience together with design.
Sprays of orchids and hydrangeas rising to unexpected heights from feasting tables covered by dupioni silk linens…lofty taper candles alongside petite votive candles, sprinkled about…elegant dinnerware…crystal wine glasses…can you see it?
Why does a host or hostess make such substantial effort? Because the aesthetic elements shape the atmosphere.
Using high-quality imagery (photography or video) establishes the same effect on your website. A photograph has the potential to convey an emotion and create a tie to a visitor that is unlike any other single element on the site. Do not overlook the importance of visual appeal.
7. Ensure that guests know where to go to find the essentials.
What are the essentials? Hmm. The bathroom perhaps? Coat check? Parking? Guests like to know where to go when they need to go. They rely on signs to point the way.
Similarly, be certain you are using clear navigation on your website. Remember that what is obvious to you, might actually be quite confusing for a visitor. After all, you probably know where the bathroom is. If a visitor struggles to find what they are looking for, they will probably leave.
User testing is vital to confirm that your site menu (or navigation bar) is easy to use.
8. End it with a bang.
Bananas Foster anyone? Who doesn’t love this crème de la crème dessert show? Flames shooting to the ceiling? Liqueur cooking down into candied syrup? Yum.
Much like a show stopping dessert finale, you need a strong website footer.
You’ve got a meta-description, a clear headline, well-written content, a call-to-action button, testimonials, amazing imagery, and clear navigation. Now wrap it all up with a bow. At a minimum, your footer should include your address, contact information, preferably a contact form, social media connections, a site map to all the other pages on your website, and any legal notices or copyright information.
Those who find joy in entertaining realize that a successful event begins and ends with their guests. So it is with associations, and association websites. We begin our day for our members, and we end our day for our members. And everything in between…it’s for our members.