What should you look at when assessing your association’s competitive landscape? It may be surprising but in addition to looking at direct competitors, we’ve discovered that associations can take a broader approach when answering this question. We’ll explain exactly what we mean by that statement and how your association can remain a top resource for members in the following article.

Associations often have best-in-class content. That said, for many audiences the association website is a blocker to accessing content. In our research, we have consistently found that for association members and non-members alike the highest value is finding content immediately (speed to access). Surprisingly, many value speed over credibility or authority.

Take for example the typical association solutions architecture:

  • Website Content Management System (CMS)
  • Learn Management System (LMS)
  • Association Management System (AMS)
  • Publications Website CMS
  • Education Website
  • Websites Generated for Grants
  • Community Website for example

Consider you are seeking the associations’ best-in-class content. You would probably expect that the association’s website search box allows direct access to all the content available. In most cases however, this is not what you would get. You would get six or more search boxes across several websites. This is not a reasonable way to search. If this is “how you have always done it” it is time to consider non-traditional competitors when assessing your association’s competitive landscape.

1. Traditional Competitors

  • Organizations providing academic peer reviewed content

2. Non-traditional Competitors

  • Google
  • Wikipedia

These non-traditional competitors offer people, whether they are a member of your association or not, any easier, friction-free way to find the information they are looking for. Good site search is also an indicator to google that you are providing your audience with a good experience on your site. Google rewards websites for this by bumping up their place in organic search.

If you are looking for more resources on site search, check out this webinar. It addresses user expectations when visiting your site and includes key takeaways to ensure your association website provides a site search experience that keeps your members coming back.