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Transition from Traditional Board Meeting Agendas

Posted By Ewald Consulting, Thursday, December 5, 2019

people sitting around table in a board roomThe issue, as anyone who has served on a board or managed a board can tell you, is that most board meetings are boring and ineffective.  They tend to focus on reporting instead of using their time to discuss important matters and to make effective decisions. The International Association of Rehabilitation Professionals (IARP) is no different, with five different sections and several committees that all want to ensure their work toward ongoing objectives is shared with the other board members.  As a result, this reporting took approximately three-quarters of each meeting—leaving little time to work together to solve issues or to further develop their strategic plans.

The leadership and staff spent a great deal of time discussing how to more effectively use staff and volunteer time before, during and after board meetings; so in June 2018, they began utilizing a standard report template that each board member would upload onto their Higher Logic folder/file system.  A file system had been built within their Board of Directors folder system with a folder for each board meeting and within those, folders for an agenda, board reports, financials as well as additional items.  Each month, a reminder email would be sent to the board 5-7 days prior to the meeting that included the directions on how to upload the file.  This process has worked extremely well and has saved staff many hours working to obtain, compile and deliver board reports. This process was well received and has had very positive feedback

With the standard report process in place, the leadership decided to take things a step further and proceeded to re-organize their board agenda.  In June 2019, they eliminated reporting items and requested from board members agenda items that would drive discussions.  They worked with staff to build a new agenda template and new processes which included requiring board members to read through all of the uploaded reports prior to each meeting to be prepared. 

The first step that was implemented involved staff working with the board to establish a roll-out timeline to coincide with one of IARP’s three in-person board meetings where a full explanation of the reasoning could be shared, and a complete review of the materials and processes would be communicated.  The reason for the in-person explanation and directive was to ensure that each board member understood the purpose and the new process, which would then lead to greater participation.

The second step included developing thorough explanations and directions for the new process and tools.  Many board members were unsure about their ability to work within the new system—but with consistent messaging and patient assistance, we have been able to ease them into the new process.  We have worked closely with our volunteers for the first few months to coach them how to think differently and to establish timelines and consistent directives.

The final process included a reminder email sent by staff 5-7 days prior to each board meeting.  The reminder included directions on how to upload their reports as well as a request for discussion/decision agenda items no less than 3 days prior to the board meeting so the agenda could be uploaded with plenty of time for review. 

As a result of implementing this new agenda, the IARP board meetings now consist of meaningful dialogue and effective decision making.  We have received very positive feedback as the board has been able to focus more time on strategic plans, future objectives and necessary discussions/decisions.  They have seen less wasted time and consequently feel more involved and capable of leading others.

To manage ongoing effectiveness, the board will assess the process annually and will correct course as necessary.

Tags:  association management  board  Case Study  meetings 

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Analytic Trends in Associations Part I: General Trends

Posted By Mei Li Brown, Thursday, August 8, 2019
Updated: Tuesday, August 6, 2019

Analytics can be confusing, but they don’t have to be. As we learned in our previous post, “How associations can use analytics to boost membership,” web analytics are vital to associations when it comes to retention and recruitment. Once you are utilizing your analytics to help retain and grow your membership, the next step is to determine if your association’s site is performing well.

According to Neil Patel, measuring the success of your webpage’s analytics will vary due to several factors including your business type, industry, and audience. To get this data, you need to consistently monitor your analytics to set your sites baseline averages and then work from there.

We conducted our own case study on association websites to help us measure association analytics. We pulled analytics from a sample of 42 associations from July 2017to August 2018 to gain insights into what the baselines were and gain perspective on trends. Here is what we discovered:  


association analytic trends


Users vs. New Users
We discovered that, most web visitors are new to the website and have lower engagement than returning visitors. It is important to keep in mind that a new visitor is counted as someone who accesses your site from a new browser or device. Visitors will also be counted new again if they clear their cache and cookies. While determining if a visitor really is “new” is not completely accurate, this data indicated that associations needed to focus on being more welcoming to non-members on the site instead of only advertising to members or people familiar with the association.

Sessions & Pageviews
The case study showed that most web visitors will only visit once or twice, but they engage in multiple pages per single session. Considering most web visitors are new, the session to visitor ratio was not surprising and roughly correlated with a ratio of 1:1. Pageviews, however, demonstrated that the average visitor engaged with the site since they are visiting multiple pages per session. This was a great data point and an indicator of drive on the websites.  

Avg. Session Duration & Avg. Time on Page
Throughout the study, we found that web visitors who stayed on the site have terrific time durations of engagement. For average durations and times on page, we recommend aiming for least 1 minute, 30 seconds per session and 30 seconds per single page. These time stamps created a nice baseline that indicated some sort of interaction occurred.

Bounce Rate
A hard truth was confirmed by the study, associations tend to have higher bounce rates.
In the Brafton 2017 Content Marketing Benchmark Report, they calculated the average bounce rate across sites to be 58.18%. In their data sample, they found that B2B had higher bounces than B2C. Our study calculated that the sample websites were averaging a bounce rate of 55.12% –very similar to the findings of Brafton.

So why do association sites have higher bounces? In general, these sites are loaded with multiple calls to action (CTAs) meaning they require the web visitor to have a strong actionable item (e.g. Read our Blog, Register Here, Join Today). Not many associations are selling products outside their events and membership, unlike most B2C websites, so visitors will either decide to engage with what that they see or leave if it’s not what they’re looking for in the current moment, thus creating a bounce.

What does this all mean?
Don’t let all of the options and metrics overwhelm you so nothing is measured. Start with a few analytics, understand the implications and expand into deeper data after starting with key metrics.

One of the first places a potential member will look for information is on the website, so it is critical the website layout & content is reviewed and updated on a consistent basis.

Remember less is more! You don’t have to take away the feeling of exclusivity of your members. There are ways to make both groups feel catered to, including consistently refreshing your content to be relevant and simplifying the user experience. A confusing website will discourage people from exploring the site and can turn off potential and existing members if the messaging is not clear. We encourage you to utilize the baseline data from our case study to analyze your association’s website performance and discover where you can make improvements for your visitors.

TAGS: Analytics, Associations, Content Marketing, Marketing Strategy, Case Study

Tags:  Analytics  Associations  Case Study  Content Marketing  Marketing Strategy 

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