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Professional Organizations: How to Tell If a Poor Website Experience Is Hurting Your Recruitment Efforts

January 5, 2021

When it comes to professional organization websites, we’ve seen it all: the great, the good, and the, well… not so good.

If your professional organization struggles to recruit new members, it could be due to a less than stellar website. Here are four ways to tell if your website is the cause of your professional organization’s recruitment woes.

4 Ways to Tell If Your Website Is Hurting Your Recruitment

A High Bounce Rate or Low Time on Site

The first step in analyzing your site’s user experience is to look at your Google Analytics (or comparable platform – whatever you use). These analytics platforms can provide you with a host of data and insight into the performance of your website, but two metrics that will help you get to the bottom of your recruitment effectiveness are:

Bounce Rate: The rate at which a user comes to your website and immediately leaves your site. They “bounce off” without clicking through to any other pages or engaging with any content. Anything higher than a 70% bounce rate can signify that your audience isn’t finding your content compelling or your site isn’t functioning correctly.

Time on Site: How long a user stays on the site. Typically, the longer they stay on the website, the higher their engagement and the more content they’re consuming. Aim for an average time on site of at least a minute. Shorter than that, and it could be a sign that your website is providing a less than ideal user experience.

High Abandonment Rate on Conversion Forms

Another metric to track within your analytics platform is the number of form abandonments your website experiences. Many professional organizations allow new members to join through online portals or forms. If you’re tracking a high volume of form starts but a low volume of form completions (less than 80%), this is a flag that your conversion process might need some work.

Common attributes of a poor-performing conversion form include:

All these factors can be detrimental to your conversion effort.

At the same time, a seamless conversion experience can help bolster your recruitment efforts.

Consider these best practices to improve your online joining process:

Low (or No) Conversion Rates on Newsletter Signups

Membership forms aren’t your only conversion points – no doubt your organization’s home page includes calls-to-action to join their email newsletter list or other mailer offering.

Often these “soft sells” are the first touchpoint for potential members. They’ll sign up to see the type of content that you share and dip their toes in the membership water.

If your conversion rates are low (say less than 2%), it could be due to the user’s experience leading to the conversion request.

To up your email signup conversion rate:

One critical note, if your website doesn’t include an area for your potential members to join your mailing list, it’s definitely time to for an update.

You Receive Frustrated User Feedback

All three of the points above relied on quantitative data to assess the user experience of your site, but qualitative data can be even more effective at discerning the major pain points of your website.

In other words, if you’re regularly told that your organization’s website is “bad” or “frustrating”, then we hate to say it, but it probably has a less than stellar user experience.
If you could only be a fly on the way and see what’s happening and hear what the user is thinking. Is the content irrelevant? The navigation confusing? Getting specific will help you understand what you need to improve to address these stated issues.

Not only will these feedback points help to improve your site’s user experience, but they’ll also help make your team more productive. When a user has an issue with a website (say they can’t find a specific piece of content or a registration link isn’t working), their first instinct is to call the organization and take up your staff’s valuable time. Not only is this inefficient, but it also takes your team’s time away from the mission-critical work they could be focusing on.

Pro-Tip: Astriata has proven experience helping professional organizations leverage moderated task-based usability testing to identify the specific insights they need to improve their member’s user experience. Learn more about our usability testing services, including our moderated usability testing protocols, by reaching out to us today.

Drive Recruitment Through a Stronger User Experience

If you’re unhappy with your current return on your recruitment efforts, it may be time to invest in a new website experience. Take the time to analyze your web vitals to identify, understand, and rectify any user pain points (this resource will help). But, be aware that analytics only tell half the story. You still need to take the steps necessary to uncover the rest of the story – the “why” behind your users’ actions. Moderated task-based usability testing can be key tools in ensuring that your site offers the user experience necessary to help drive recruitment and support your organization.


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