Are you one of those associations whose website shines but the Member Area is a second fiddle with an archaic interface? Does your Extranet look like a Dump box where none of your members like to go (unless they are forced to)?
You are making a governance mistake, and more importantly, a business mistake by ignoring the user journey of your most important stakeholders/your members.
Websites are important but at the end of the day, it is just a visiting card, a window. And you cannot constantly disappoint your members by having a shabby house (= member area).
The member area is the place where exclusive Business Value should be created. That is why we, at Symantra, provide NextGen Extranet to drive the growth of associations: Member Experience Platform.
What is a bad Extranet? The frustration Checklist.
We have compiled a list of the most common frustrations of an Extranet. If you tick 3 points in this checklist, it to time to seriously rethink this key strategic asset.
1. Your Extranet is a User Experience Disaster.
The truth is that your Extranet is… a pure design non-sense, while all your favorite web and mobile apps are so user-centric and elegant! Your member area has a bad-looking interface. At the login page already, the onboarding workflow is a disaster. The file repository looks like a “Dump box”. The Calendar and Who’s Who features date back from the prehistory of the Internet. You do not have any advanced features that best-in-class associations have to drive better member engagement, better online business services, better member satisfaction.
Having Forum-like features are more of time-waster: it sounds cool the first month, then you need to spend too much effort to push the people to login and to comment. At the end of the day, you will need to invest in another "webmaster" staff to justify your investment in that wrong digital solution. Pure time and money waste again.
By the way, Yammer and Facebook@work or similar kinds of digital gadgets failed many years ago already in the private sector. So don't make the same mistake with this style of "gadget" extranet.
Does your Extranet reflect your brand quality and ambition?
2. None of your members like to go on the Extranet unless …
… you forced them to enter there: meaning only when they have to attend a meeting to find the agenda-related documents. Or when they have to download a key document on your Extranet. Or when they get a link to your "Sharepoint" after quite some struggle from your IT team. Sharepoint is not an extranet - it' is merely a system to share docs inside a company - and it badly hits a wall when you have to collaborate smoothly with externals.
Come on, tell us the truth: do your members really enjoy fiddling in that Extranet ditch?! Is your member area an optimal digital experience in comparison to what you experience yourself online on top web platforms, eg. great e-commerce? No, of course not.
3. An Extranet living in a SILO is a dead Extranet.
Digital transformation, in the context of associations, is about unifying your digital ecosystem and creating huge productivity gains for your staff.
Your current Extranet is not interconnected to any of your current digital tools (distribution lists, event tool, survey tool, contact database, …). Today, when there are so many possibilities of smart automation and NATIVE interconnections with your digital tools … and, in contrast, your Extranet is standing alone in a SILO with no interface towards the digital tools you use every day. All you data are scattered around in different tools, different Excel sheets. You are certainly not GDPR compliant for a while.
Sounds like a joke, ugh! It is time to deliver more quality for your members.
Time to maximize automation of internal processes in your association management.
4. Cybersecurity & GDPR— what's that again?
Did you know that Wordpress, Joomla, or Drupal are extremely vulnerable to cybersecurity attacks?
The truth is that most traditional Extranets for international associations offer a full party for hackers. This is because often the wrong IT framework has been chosen and the "web designer" did not have the right technology capabilities. Most often extending the CMS used for building Websites such as Wordpress, Drupal, Typo3, Joomla with plugins that create many security loopholes. Many times also the IT guy uses bad plugins or connectors to create non-native integrations that expose critical data to the world.
We see many cyber-attacks happening out there (particularly in Brussels) or data being exposed "accidentally" because of IT illiteracy, negligence, or a blind trust in "the IT department" or the the "IT provider". This is key to understand, especially if you work in public affairs or in a sensitive policy sector. These traditional CMS frameworks (CMS= content management systems) are OKish to build public websites (though they are not the best anymore if you want intelligent websites, and not the usual copy-paste static websites ... that is another discussion we can have together). These CMS are certainly not the right tool to build and host your most strategic asset for your members: your Extranet.
For associations' websites, security is anyway not such a major issue as all the information is public. But this is a total governance mistake for Extranet, a place where you are storing strategic business intelligence, critical insights on your European sectors, or your member database.
For your Member Platform, it is a huge mistake to put all your strategic information on a weak IT framework that can be stolen even by a high school hacker.
So: NEVER use website CMS to create a Member Area. Just don't.
5. Analytics that makes no sense.
Yes, you have a Google Analytics access that shows you the number of visitors on your website. Yes, you have the Twitter ego KPIs and the Mailchimp campaign data, as everybody has indeed…
Wow !…Seriously ?!
What can you do with these metrics in terms of strategic and data-driven decision-making when it comes to Member Relationships? Do you have any meaningful KPIs to show the impact of your Marketing campaign, your activities on all communications channels for the Growth, the conversions, the business impact inside your organisation?
Very unlikely. Nothing.
Does it tell you which member really likes and consumes for real your content? Which member is on the verge to leave your association? Which member is engaged in x working groups and could have more interest in w and y policy groups? Which members attend your W.G. meetings and how often ?...
We have a full list of KPIs that matter to associations.
What if you could see and enjoy a 360° view of each member's activity on all the activities and platforms you currently have, individually, in real-time?... All real-time and super-granular, on all dimensions, with Symantra's unique 360° Association KPIs Dashboard.
If your current Extranet scores 3 out of 5, talk to us.
Want to have a free demo of Symantra's Member Platform/NextGen Extranet for Association? Discover all the modules and stunning features of a great Extranet. We can also tell you about the work we do with top-of-the-class associations.
Get in touch now: firstname.lastname@example.org