Guest Post by Angie Karpouzis, Product Marketing Manager at Aptify

Are you worried your online store isn’t providing your membership enough value? Noticing high bounce rates and a decline in online purchases? Maybe you’re getting a few more calls to your membership support team requiring assistance to buy something from the store, or members prefer to just call in instead of using the website? These are all signs that your online store isn’t giving members the easy experience they expect from online shopping.

The fact is, so many online shopping giants are setting the bar really high for membership organizations. The last great experience your member had on Amazon or The Iconic is the new standard they expect from your website. So how can a normal, busy membership organization keep up? Check out my 4 ways to step up your online shopping experience for your membership.

Be More Mobile for Members

You knew this one was coming, so if you don’t already have a plan in the works to make your website responsive for all devices—go ahead and send that email to your web team now. Don’t worry, I’ll wait…

You need to give members access to your site and your online store from all devices. More than ever, members are accessing your site and their membership on-the-go and from their preferred device (in other words, whichever smartphone they own).

If you choose not to heed my advice, you’ll definitely see the impact over time. Bounce rates and online purchases will certainly decrease for your younger members (if not across all demographics) within the next 12 months, if not already.

The irony of not acting on making your shopping cart mobile-friendly is that it is so easy. Every web developer and free website online are now responsive by default. Websites that aren’t responsive are becoming extinct, so don’t be a dinosaur for your members.

Make The Search Easy

Think about the last time you needed to complete a task online. What did you do to find that web page or to answer that question? You Googled it. There is a reason that Googling something is such a prolific part of our everyday vocabulary, and that’s because it speaks to the way we are trained to find information online. So why should your online store be any different?

Make sure the way you search on your website yields the expected results of your end users. If a member searches for a member type, ensure the correct result appears (and quickly). Here are a few quick tasks you can action today to make search easier for members tomorrow:

1. Ensure there is a search bar on every page of your website: On we have our search bar in the top right hand corner so it’s easy to find, where visitors expect it, every time.

2. Get Google Custom Search Engine (CSE) for your website: If you don’t have access to a native search bar on your website you can use the power of Google to create custom search across your website. The service starts at $100 per year, but is well worth it to add ease of use to your site. Check out the CSE site here, and don’t be put off by the message that the service is being discontinued. This only applies to Google Site Search which they are currently transitioning to CSE.

3. Use keywords your visitors would use: The beauty of having search is that everything on your site is more transparent, but be sure that you are labeling your products and articles using keywords your members would use for search so it’s that much easier to find what they are looking for.

Focus on Member Renewal

Forget everything else on your online store. The annual conference, your hoodies, and mugs should all be secondary to your mission to make renewal easy for your members. This sale should have the lowest barrier to entry for your members as you need to strike while the iron is hot.

I would recommend adding some personalization to your site. Your website is smart enough to know when the same people visit the site using cookies. It’s even smart enough to recognize when these people are members (given you have an integration with your database) and when it’s time for them to renew. So why not take some of the data you have been collecting and make website visits even more special for members.

For example, you might have a large button on your homepage that shows members how to renew easily, but this would not be visible to the normal visitor who visits your website. You can do this using smart content through your CMS.

Don’t have the option for personalization? No worries, just make it very clear in your member portal, your navigation, or your homepage, where members need to go to renew and what information they need to provide beforehand.

Make Your Checkout Process Quick and Easy

Research shows that the majority of the top 10 converting online stores use 3 steps or less from product selection to confirmation. How many steps does your online checkout use?

It’s not just about the length of the checkout though. Be sure that you are utilizing all the smart technology available to your membership organization. If your member is already logged in, be sure as much of their information is auto-populated. If they are not logged in, be sure a quick log in is an option, so they don’t have to navigate away from the sale.

Also, make sure all the steps work together. Shipping confirmation should not come before they have even seen the full price (including their member discounts) and at the same time, they should be able to see the value of their membership in real-time. Prompt members to use member-type discounts, or to use their store credit as part of the transaction.

Finally, you’ve got a fair bit of screen real estate with a good checkout process, don’t be afraid to upsell your members on complementary or similar items. This might seem a little much for your normal membership organization, but just remember you’re not pushing a product. This is the experience your members are used to—it will not seem pushy if done right.

I hope my tips above can help you increase sales to your online store. My final piece of advice: if you are ever unsure about what to do, put yourself in the shoes of your members. Think about what they would expect and always follow your gut.

Want to increase member engagement further? Download our 50 Ways to Boost Association Membership eBook.


About the Author: Angie Karpouzis is the Product Marketing Manager located in Aptify Australia’s Sydney office. When Angie is not busy making people uncomfortable by tearing apart their favourite artist/film/tv show she is indulging in Sydney’s live music scene or nerding out over popular culture. Engage with Angie on Twitter to discuss member engagement, how to build a community or email marketing.