A New Member-Requested Microsite Has Many Surprise Benefits

Fulfilling a long-time member request for a new website ended up with lots of unforeseen advantages. The site connected members in a new way, boosted new memberships, and gave consumers information in a digestible format.

In 2020, Window Coverings Association of America Executive Director Renee Gurganus wasn’t traveling because of the pandemic, so there was extra money in the budget. For several years, WCAA members had asked—through the annual survey and in individual conversations—for a separate microsite that would feature their businesses and connect consumers to them. The existing “Find a Pro” tab on WCAA’s main website was antiquated and didn’t incorporate Google Maps, or the ability to search a certain radius within a zip code.

Gurganus decided to put the extra money to good use. She went to her board, explained that members wanted a new site, and the board approved it. The Window and Interior Service Professionals site, which is a click-through from the “Find a Pro” tab on WCAA’s homepage, launched in fall of 2020.

No one had any idea the multiple benefits the new site would have.

Easy Tweaks Lead to Better SEO

WCAA’s main website was primarily geared toward getting new members, but it wasn’t designed with consumers in mind. For example, interior designers or workroom installers say “drapery,” whereas the average consumer says “curtains.” So, when people were searching on Google with consumer-based design terminology, they were not directed to WCAA’s site—or its “Find a Pro” option.

Figuring out what language would be more conducive for better SEO was a collaborative effort among Gurganus’s marketing team, the board’s marketing committee, and the company designing the new site. “We really wanted to home in on how we could make the SEO stronger so our members could be found,” Gurganus said.

Gurganus ran the language by family members and asked board members to check with their clients. “We all realized there was a difference in the language,” she said. So, they made some small shifts in terminology (e.g., couch instead of sofa, and more).

Since the new site is only three pages, it is easy to navigate. With a Google Maps search engine, now users can search for a specific city, industry, interior designer, or workroom installer, and a member’s website, photo, phone number, and other relevant information pops up, making it easy for consumers to find them.

Surprise Networking Benefit

The new site turned out to be very serendipitous. With lots of people relocating because of the pandemic, if an interior designer moves, say, from New York to Florida and loses all her contacts in New York, “now she can go to the site and find other members,” Gurganus said. “They have that instant connection.” WCAA’s slogan is: Where you’re never in business alone. “We’re like a family,” she said.

The networking benefit was a surprise. “We didn’t even really see that happening until they started emailing me saying, ‘Oh my gosh, I love this site,’” she said.

The site has another benefit: It’s been great for attracting new members because they have not been able to connect in person. In the past two years, WCAA’s membership has grown exponentially—40 percent. It’s not all because of the new site, Gurganus said, but it did play a part.

“They have found a way to connect virtually and that has been really supportive in this community,” she said.

(Lesia_G/iStock/Getty Images Plus)

Lisa Boylan

By Lisa Boylan

Lisa Boylan is a senior editor of Associations Now. MORE

Got an article tip for us? Contact us and let us know!