websites-associationsEarlier this week I was in Seaford demonstrating some WordPress plugins perfect for association websites.

It was the last of the Digital Enterprise Programs run by the Federal Government, which I believe were invaluable to many small businesses and associations and I hope the government can find a way to resurrect them for the community’s sake.

For this article, I will highlight four plugins of particular note and why they might be useful to a club, organisation or association.

Of course, I am assuming you are starting with the world-leading content management system, WordPress, as the basis of your association website. If you don’t have one yet, chat to our Adelaide WordPress developers and take advantage of our WordPress Website Package.

Business Directory Plugin

The Business Directory plugin is a ‘free’ plugin that allows you to build an online directory of businesses.

However, for associations, it is ideal for displaying lists of members and/or members’ businesses, as an invaluable way of helping members get benefit from their involvement.

I put free in inverted commas before because there really are two or three premium modules that many associations would benefit from using to get full value from the plugin:

  • Google maps plugin – this creates live, interactive Google maps of any listings appearing on a page, either a group of listings from a category page or a single listing on a single page
  • Postcode search plugin – this plugin is invaluable for associations with a wide geographical footprint because it lets visitors search for listings within a radius of their postcode
  • PayPal payments plugin – this plugin enables associations to charge members for listings and even set up their site for renewals and self-management of listings

All of these premium modules are US$50 each but they combine to create a powerful directory engine.

Google Calendar Events

The Google Calendar Events plugin is a free plugin that simply connects events from a Google calendar to your WordPress website.

Events can be listed as mini calendars or as lists.

These event listings can appear in the sidebar of your website and/or on a main page. I would suggest showing a handful of upcoming events on a sidebar list while designating a full page as your main events calendar for people to wander through and browse.

A nice management aspect of this is that you can share access to your Google calendar with association executives and trusted members without having to train them in using the website because anything added to or updated in the Google calendar automatically appears live on the website.

WP-Members

WP-Members is a free WordPress plugin that lets you hide all of your site, or some of it, behind a login form for members to use.

For example, you might have your association pages all free to the world but use your blog for sharing helpful resources.

By using WP-Members, you can set it to hide all your blogs and this is what will happen. Your blog titles and opening line will be available for non-members and Google to see (this is great for piquing interest) but when they click to read more they will be prompted to sign in or join.

Mailchimp for WordPress Plugin

If your association is small with less than 2,000 members on your database, it pays to explore using Mailchimp as your email newsletter provider.

Mailchimp has a Forever Free plan if you have less than 2,000 members, which gives you plenty of breathing space for building your list and one day having a large base of members that will let you pay for the extended service.

Apart from having membership data in Mailchimp with extra fields to help you segment e-newsletters to executive, new members, members of particular categories or locations, etc, Mailchimp also has a free WordPress plugin to let you let people add themselves to your mailing list right from your website.

The plugin is easy to install and takes a moment to authenticate and connect with your Mailchimp account.

After that, people can sign up to get news from your association and then unsubscribe themselves when they choose to.

Plus you get interesting reporting on who is in your list, what emails they are reading and which ones are prompting them to click through to your content or share with others.

Of course, there are myriad ways to use WordPress for your association or business so chat to your webmaster about experimenting with these tools, or contact Baker Marketing to see what special package we can put together to help you exploit these online tools without spending a fortune.

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