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Case Studies

GSAE Case Study: Enhancing Member Engagement Through a Strategic Website Upgrade 

GSAE’s Story

The Georgia Society of Association Executives (GSAE) is a key player in professional development and advocacy within the association industry.

The updated 'Upcoming Events' section showcases GSAE's dynamic schedule.
The updated ‘Upcoming Events’ section showcases GSAE’s dynamic schedule.

Recognizing their members’ changing needs, GSAE identified a strategic opportunity to update their website to enhance functionality and member satisfaction. Although they were already using a MemberClicks AMS version, it was clear from member feedback that GSAE needed to make some changes. GSAE fully embraced MemberClicks’ resources and staff expertise to complete a comprehensive website overhaul.

Wendy Kavanagh, CAE, President, shared insights into their original decision to select MemberClicks back in 2019: “We ended up joining MemberClicks, because we were looking for a system that was intuitive, with great reporting features and a CE-tracking platform. We felt the sales team understood both our pain points and how small staff associations operate. The support department also had a strong reputation in our community.” MemberClicks AMS offered a solution tailored to their needs and membership engagement criteria.

The Challenge

GSAE’s website had areas of weakness, notably in mobile optimization and accessibility. Wendy W. Kavanagh, CAE, President of GSAE, acknowledged the need for change, stating, “While we had been very happy with our original decision, we realized that our website needed to evolve and improve to meet our members’ expectations.” The strong existing relationship with MemberClicks laid the groundwork for a deeper collaboration to address the website’s shortcomings.

    • Mobilization – GSAE’s electronic e-newsletter, the GSAE Update, had shown a rapid increase in the number of subscribers accessing content on a mobile device. Removing the mobilization challenges meant GSAE could engage members and attendees seamlessly from one communication vehicle to the other.

    • Accessibility – With the help of a GSAE Board member and the MemberClicks’ staff, GSAE identified several barriers to the effective use of assistive technology – from pop-up windows, to menu order, to consistent alternative text in logos and images.

    • Design Optimization – Staff also identified barriers for older users (including their own CEO) who had trouble seeing hyperlinks and menu buttons clearly due to previous design choices. The site was very pretty, but not as user-friendly as it needed to be.

The Solution 

The website upgrade journey was marked by a strong partnership between GSAE and MemberClicks, with a focus on mobile responsiveness and user-friendly accessibility. Wendy mentioned that the smooth transition, facilitated by the MemberClicks’ in-house services team, enabled GSAE’s staff to efficiently manage the new system with little downtime. “The transition to our upgraded website was smoother than we anticipated, thanks to the diligent staff support and process provided by MemberClicks.” A critical aspect of this upgrade was ensuring time for effective training on the features and a seamless operational transition, allowing GSAE’s daily activities and member services to remain unaffected.

Before beginning the project, GSAE staff used several online audit tools to pinpoint problem areas for assisted technology use. According to the 2023 WCAG Checklist Guide, organized by four main principles, content must be perceivable, operable, understandable, and robust. They are often referred to by the acronym POUR. These principles can be applied to any kind of digital product or service, no matter the underlying technology.

Trouble spots for included barriers to assistive technology use such as embedded re-targeting code, missing alternative texts in images, appropriate hyperlink language, using style guide headers appropriately, as well as challenges to keyboard versus mouse usage. GSAE staff worked with MemberClicks to design better visibility for older users by comparing gradients and options within its existing color palette.

Upgrading also allowed GSAE to revamp the home page to highlight some of its highest member engagement areas such as the event calendar, volunteerism, e-newsletter, and advocacy. The mobilization of the website was built into the upgraded MemberClicks AMS platform and was a seamless piece of the process.

The Results 

The launch of the upgraded website marked a major step forward in improving the member experience, as shown by the immediate positive feedback received. By focusing on making processes easier and boosting engagement, the key outcomes below show the important advancement after the relaunch:

    • Immediate Positive Feedback: The launch of the upgraded website significantly enhanced the member experience, receiving immediate positive feedback.

    • Enhanced Registration Time: Notable improvements in registration time for GSAE activities, indicating a more efficient process.

    • Increased Member Responsiveness and Engagement: Members are more responsive and engaged with the website, as evidenced by quicker response times to calls for action like meeting registrations and surveys.

    • Mobile Engagement Surge: Mobile engagement with GSAE’s e-newsletter almost doubled, increasing from 5.8% to 9.6% since the website’s relaunch.

    • Improved Click-Through Rate: The re-targeting click-through rate for GSAE’s FEATHR campaigns reached a new high of 1.09%.

    • Better Mobile Usability and Accessibility: Enhancements in mobile usability and accessibility have significantly boosted member interaction with the website across various devices, ensuring a better overall website experience.

Meeting members where they are, on the device they choose to use to engage, has made for a better website experience.

The Future

GSAE is looking forward to the continued evolution of their partnership with MemberClicks, especially with the upcoming launch of their CommUnity platform. Wendy expressed excitement for the upcoming project: “We have plans to launch our CommUnity platform later in the year. The functionality that CommUnity brings is going to enhance the experience of our Shared Interest Groups (SIGS), which foster strong peer to peer connections.” This vision for the future shows GSAE’s commitment to leveraging new technology to foster a more engaged and interactive community.

An added caveat from accessibility experts GSAE consulted reminds associations that doing regular accessibility audits will ensure their website is keeping up with technological changes and will prevent a huge backlog of updates from piling up. GSAE does an annual audit for broken links and out of date pdfs, as well.

The Conclusion

GSAE’s strategic decision to upgrade their website has led to significant improvements in member satisfaction and engagement, serving as a compelling example for other associations seeking to improve their digital presence. Through listening to member feedback and partnering with the right technology provider with in-house services, GSAE hopes to help other associations improve their digital engagement and member experiences online.

If you’re interested in exploring how MemberClicks can support your organization’s goals, book a demo with our team today, and let us show you the difference the right software can make. Together, we can create a seamless and engaging online experience for your members from the first click!

Helpful Resources 

    • Color Contrast Accessibility Validator, WCAG 2.1 AA SC 1.4.3 Test for Color Contrast – 

GSAE thanks member Samantha Evans, CAE, ICE-CCP, MBA, Certification Manager, International Association of Accessibility Professionals (IAAP), a division of G3ict, for all her assistance in helping us understand how to improve our processes.