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« Back Post Date: Thursday, July 10, 2014
The Importance of Two-Way Communication
Engaging in two-way communication with your club's online guests and members is a vital component of building a tightly knit community. Read on to find out how you can implement best practices in two-way communication online.
By Alyssa Montgomery and Amy Sand

This is article four of a five-part series on implementing Digital Marketing Essentials in the private club market. In article one we looked at how private clubs can effectively use social media to drive success; in article two we covered the benefits of implementing a targeted email system to communicate with members; and in article three we discussed how to use cross-promotions to drive member awareness and participation.



When was the last time you picked up a brochure? Perhaps it was in a hotel lobby, housed in a tiered wooden display. There were endless options but a particular horseback riding pamphlet looked interesting, and so it was plucked and read. Contact information was found, an appointment made and then the brochure was consequently recycled and never thought of again.

What if your website was viewed the same way? What if it was simply a way to gain information before disposal? Members would log-on, find what they needed, and then log-off with no intention of ever visiting your site again. This is not the purpose of a website. A website should never be the equivalent of an online brochure: users should want to return to the site again and again. They want a dependable place for up-to-date and evolving information.

So what separates a digital brochure from a website? The key is dynamic, interactive content that is not only updated frequently, but also allows for two-way communication. Here are some of the best tools for easy and effective communication.



Communicating with Public Users
Not only do you want to digitally engage with your members, but public feedback can be a crucial aspect of gathering leads and converting them into new business.

Forms



A form is a useful tool for collecting information from anonymous site visitors, and subsequently building a database of prospects interested in your club.

Some tips to help you benefit the most from forms:

•  Collect information from non-members who are interested in hosting an event or becoming a member.

•  Keep it short: internet viewers have a short attention span. If you ask 30 questions they become bored and navigate away. Only collect the essential information at this point.

•  Once you have their basic contact information, reach out and gather more information. This is your chance to establish a personal connection and sell your club.

•  When it comes to feedback on the internet, indifference doesn’t exist. If someone takes the time to complete an inquiry form, they are looking for a response.



Communicating with Members
Interacting with your members is easier than you think: It’s about choosing the right tools, placing them in strategic locations, and then reconnecting with users.

Call to Actions



A “Call to Action” (hyperlinked text, image, or graphic) is used to prompt website visitors to go where you want them to go within the website. This powerful tool allows an admin to choose not only a user’s end destination, but also their stops throughout their website visit. It allows a site admin to view how a user interacts with your site.

Following are some considerations to make when you’re planning using Call To Actions to gather feedback:

•  Attention spans on a website are often very short, 2 minutes or less: pair short pieces of text with action items in order to not lose interest.

•  For example: Add a “Click here for more information” link that takes users to a form where they can tell you more about the type of membership they are interested in or charity golf event that they may want to host at your club.

•  This same idea can be applied when trying to draw attention to a video or document that you would like users to download.

Reservations



It’s no secret that utilizing an online reservations system is the most effective way to drive traffic to the website. Online reservations are not only convenient for members, they also streamline operations and communications for the staff because:

•  Online reservations systems are accessible 24/7 from any device.

•  Reservation information is stored in one central database, allowing simultaneous reservations. This allows all parties to view, update or cancel a reservation in seconds.

•  Once the reservation is made, the club communicates back to the member through the automated confirmation email – not only relaying their reservation details, but also including cross-promotions for other events the member may be interested in. These confirmation emails receive a higher readership rate than any other kind of email sent by the club.

Member Profile & Directory



The member profile within a directory houses specific information about a member. It’s important to keep contact and preference information current, because the more accurate information you have, the more effectively you can communicate with your members.

To persuade members to proactively update their profile information, be sure to:

•  Create a first impression page/splash page directing the user to update his contact information or email preferences. This page should display the current information on file after the member logs in, but before the user views the private home page and starts moving through the site. It can be a great tool for grabbing the user’s attention from the moment he logs into your site.

•  Put opt-in plug-ins on pages with corresponding interest areas. When a member visits the golf page and opts to join the “golf mailing list,” reach out to him or her immediately with upcoming events.

To learn more about the power of member interests and email organization read “Implementing a Targeted Email System.”

Polls


 
A poll is a quick, informal device used to elicit feedback for a single question. Utilizing polls, clubs can quickly gather the opinions of members, thus giving them the opportunity for their voices to be heard regarding club matters.

Some example poll questions include:

•  “Would you like to see the menu changed seasonally?”

•  “Do you like the proposed renovations to hole #18?”

•  “Was this article helpful?”

If you’d like to target all members with polling questions, add the poll to the member homepage; if you’d like to focus on frequent diners, add a poll at the top of the dining reservations page to capture all visitors’ attention. You can, and you should, add polls to all pages that are frequently visited by members.

Surveys



Unlike polls, surveys can contain multiple questions. While surveys can be formal or informal; long or short; it is important to stick to one area of interest, such as dining or golf.

A couple of tips on how to best use surveys:

•  Use your event management system to target a group from the attendee list. Email a survey to that group to gather feedback and learn what can be improved for next year’s event. Once the survey feedback has been collected, send a personal email thanking them and inviting them to future, similar events.

•  Add a page to your site navigation, under the golf section, such as Greens & Grounds Feedback. Allow your members to jump online and quickly fill out a survey about their last experience on the golf course.



Conclusion
Enabling two-way communication on your club site will attract repeat visits from guests and members. It takes dedication to keep your content fresh and your website novel. Remember: dynamic means ever-changing. It should always be obvious to your members that you are asking for interaction.

Keeping an up-to-date site is also important for Search Engine Optimization. Crawlers (or internet bots) regularly read and index your site. They are always on the lookout for new content, and give preference to sites that stay fresh. This means the more dynamic your site is, the higher it will rank in search engine results in addition to driving usage. Keep an eye out for the next article in our Digital Marketing Series that will take a deeper look at Search Engine Optimization and Marketing.



Co-Authored by:
 
    ALYSSA MONTGOMERY

As a senior interactive marketing & SEO consultant, Alyssa has used her 5+ years of industry experience and technical knowledge to propel her clients to the top of the club market.
    AMY SAND

As a marketing associate in the Digital Marketing Agency, Amy enjoys taking complex technical language and transforming it into clear, engaging information.