Personalizing the Online Member Experience


Image of a happy association website user with a personalized experience

When your members are looking for information, education, or value from your association, they start with your website.

Associations are a cornucopia of information, overflowing with rich resources, research, experiences, connections, and more.

But what's the most common complaint from members? They can’t find what they need on the website.

It’s a major frustration for members and the association staffers who are trying to serve them. And one of the core issues behind that frustration is that associations serve a multifaceted population—not a single “audience” but instead dozens of personas. And they struggle to make a website that can be “all things to all people.”

A personalized website experience is about putting relevant content in front of the right users—without making them work to find it.

That means that regardless of whether they are members or non-members, publication subscribers or online learners, event attendees or sponsors—all site visitors can easily and instantly find what they came for.

And they are empowered to deepen their engagement because your site automatically presents them with content that is new to them, trending, topically related, next in a sequence, and so on.

The result? They see the association as an organization that’s truly serving them.

Personalization from First Touch

A personalized experience can start as soon as a visitor comes to your site, regardless of whether a user is logged in or not.

We help clients achieve this by first thinking in terms of contextualizing your content.

That means removing your organizational lens and thinking about the context in which visitors approach their interactions.

For example, say you offer Certifications. Using your member personas, internal team knowledge, and member feedback, you can determine key contextual information such as:

  • What people need to know about your offerings

  • How they choose a certification program

  • Steps they take to complete certification

  • How they gain continuing education credits

  • And how they maintain their credentials

Even before someone creates a member account, you can use what you already know about the context that those visitors are operating in to update your:

Taxonomy. A complete and robust system of tagging and classification is essential to enable logical connections across categories and topics regardless of content type or format.

Navigation. Your navigation should leverage a defined UX strategy to empower visitors seeking your certification to recognize themselves, know they are in the right place, and immediately understand how to get to the specific information they need.

Content structure. Certification seekers won’t want to look for information in Events AND Publications AND Courses AND Research AND Articles. Instead, leverage your taxonomy to curate Certification content across all those offerings and provide a centralized resource library or search results filter.

Search functionality. An advanced search function can dynamically auto populate a search field and simultaneously provide related suggestions while surfacing the most contextually relevant matches in the search results.


If you haven’t dusted off your personas in a while, it’s time to revisit them and ensure they align with current member segments and needs. Research cited by HubSpot and Single Grain concluded that using personas makes websites 2 to 5 times more effective and easier for targeted users to navigate.

Big I Illinois AI-powered search

Here’s an Example

Big I Illinois—a professional association serving independent insurance agents—recently redesigned their website employing these principles. Understanding member needs helped them reframe their member journey and implement practical navigation changes. And applying comprehensive taxonomy enabled them to add a dynamic, centralized search solution that enables members to access content on the site and from their integrated AMS and learning platform—from a single location.

Read the Big I Illinois Case Study

Personalization At the Individual Level

By leveraging programmatic and AI-powered solutions, you can automatically surface content that is tailored to each user’s profile, needs, and interests.

Your members share information with you with the expectation of getting something in return.

So imagine how a user’s engagement might change when they log in on your site and see a home page personalized just for them. At a glance, they can see:

  • The newest content, classes or events related to their specific interests

  • Trending topics related to their interests, network, and learning path

  • Updates and posts from community threads they follow

  • Upcoming volunteer and leadership opportunities

  • News about how the association is impacting challenges and causes they care about


Missing some member critical information? Fill in the gaps by posting an open invitation to update their profile, sending a survey, or direct outreach. According to research by Forbes, 50% of customers are willing to share personal information for a more personalized experience.

Image of personalized content recommendations informed by member-provided data.

Here’s an Example

XtremeAg, an education-focused membership organization for agricultural producers, is leveraging user profile details, an AI-powered search and recommendation solution, and live site analytics data to provide members with highly relevant content recommendations about what’s trending, what’s new, and what matters to them—updated in real time, every time they log in. And they provide an open invitation for members to update their user profile any time.

Read the XtremeAg Case Study

How Can AI Help?

Traditionally, marketing personalization efforts have required a lot of manual management of content structures and variants. But new technologies can ease that burden.

AI is really good at aggregating data, categorizing, summarizing, and reframing information. In our examples, that capability empowers users to find information and proactively recommends resources. For other associations, AI could be harnessed to scan a member’s record and recommend upcoming training, events, or recertification.

AI might also surface recommendations for your internal teams, letting you know when someone is less engaged and could use outreach. Or it might show you someone who is more engaged and might be a good mentor or advocate for your organization.


Audit the fields you have available in your member records and be sure they contain information that you can really use. You may discover that a few small changes can empower you to showcase more content or create a better experience.

Start With the Basics

Website personalization establishes a meaningful connection from the first interaction and increases relevance as visitors dive deeper into the site. For any association, personalization is an ongoing initiative that must adapt to changing member needs and organizational objectives.

Start by ensuring your foundational elements are in place. Do you have:

  • Reliable, recent member personas?

  • Comprehensive tagging and taxonomy across all your content?

  • The ability to adapt and change your site structure?

  • Up-to-date member profiles and data?

Then, work with your website partner to select and implement technologies that empower your team to take personalization to the next level.

Expert Guidance Makes All the Difference

As a strategic technology partner for associations, Refactored can help you develop a path to a more personalized website experience. Let us know if you’d like assistance.

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