Wow! What a year 2020 has been with everything going on. For many, the global health pandemic affected our ability to reach the 2020 goals we set. With only three months left until the new year, now is a good time to assess.
The biggest thing that happened this year is the speed at which Chambers and their members had to move from in-person events and transactions to a more digital approach. Everything went virtual since face-to-face had health risks, which lead to many professionals scrambling.
Looking forward to next year, what tools do you currently have and what tools do you need that will help make 2021 a more successful year? Now, we know that not all businesses suffered. Some have even prospered but either way now is a good time to assess your current and future digital needs.
For Chambers of Commerce, the biggest goal they have is to help their members grow either through marketing, networking and/or legislative opportunities. When it comes to the digital space, here are some questions to ask yourself when assessing your needs to meet your 2021 goals.
The first place you should start is your website. It is your biggest digital presence, especially in a virtual world. Here are a few things you should look at for your protection.
- Is your website secure? Did you know that if your Chamber doesn’t have a secure website, that search engines like Google and Edge ding you in search engine optimization? They do! Well, how do you know if you have a secure site? Do you have an https:// in front of your website URL? Here is an example of one Chamber website that is not secure. See the highlighted area? Google is letting visitors know that this site is not secure.
- How fast does your website load on your desktop and mobile phone? Do your visitors see a spinning symbol before your site loads? Right now, the Dulles Regional Chamber website loads in three seconds using Jag’s page builder. What affects load speeds?
- Optimizing photos or we should say not optimizing large photos
- For WordPress users, it’s too many widgets and plugins
- Bad webhosting. A lot of hosting and member management solution companies will put a ton of websites on one server throttling web traffic which sometimes leads to server crashes. At Jag, we don’t do this. We make sure a limited number of websites are on per server. We want to see you grow and we want all your traffic to come through. We pride ourselves on security, mobility and load speeds. We are even Google verified for security!
Membership Management Solution:
One of the biggest goals that Chambers have is to help their members grow. With COVID-19, Chamber teams had to get creative to keep the networking possibilities going. Here are some questions you should ask about the solution provider you are currently using:
- MEMBER BENEFITS: What digital features are available to your members? Do they offer?
- Online shop for both the Chamber and your members. Members can sell their products and services on the Chamber site and the Chamber can charge a percentage of sales and increase non-dues revenues. This has actually been a popular feature during COVID-19 since many businesses were without a means to sell online, especially restaurants and small retail shops.
- Purchase event sponsorship through their member dashboard.
- Post blogs, press releases, events, jobs and member to member deals using their member dashboard.
- Ability to sign up and unsubscribe to Chamber newsletters through their member dashboard.
- Pay for all invoices through their member dashboard either through credit card, ACH bank transfers, PayPal or offline means of check or cash.
- TIME: How much time does your solution save you?
- Is membership renewal invoicing automated?
- Is the welcome letter and ability to sign into the member dashboard automated? Meaning no longer needing to send username/password.
- Want to ask your new members specific questions, like do you want to sign up for a committee? Why not ask them when they sign up with a customizable online membership application.
- Ability to purchase sponsorships online and have their logo automatically be added to the event page! No more uploading it!
- Create an event, job, press release, blog and shop product and have it automatically shared to your social media sites. No more needing to post in two places!
- No double entry needed for events or any other content for your website and member management solution.
- Mobile webview app for your members to access the Chamber site on their phone easily. No more typing in the Chamber URL.
- One login for all your solutions including website, email campaigns, project management, surveys, etc.
Debbey Ryan, CEO of the Lafayette Women’s Chamber of Commerce says, “Jag has saved her 33 percent more time!” That’s more time to network and grow your Chamber!
Video Conference Faceoff
Video conferencing services have probably had the biggest growth during 2020 with all meetings and events going virtual. Many Chambers use Zoom but it is the best? Here’s a PC Magazine article that rates Zoom, Microsoft Teams and Google Meets. Which one do you think wins?
Then of course there is budget. Many member management solutions will require Chambers to upgrade when new services are added or existing features modified. Many Chambers may need to cut budgets due to event revenues decreasing with virtual meetings being offered for free for members. You may want to check with your provider or research other providers to see if there is a software product that meets your budget.
Our biggest hope is for the well being and safety of all Chamber teams and their members. As you look forward to 2021 with goals and budgets, we believe that things do get brighter. Our mission is to connect community and business leaders with their largest audience using a digital means. If you have any questions here for us at Jag, please don’t hesitate to email us at [email protected].