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The Value of User Personas: A Catalyst for Chamber Membership Growth and Development

The offerings of a Chamber are not “one size fits all,” so developing a membership outreach strategy that reflects the diverse offerings is important.

WHAT WE DID

User experience strategy
Persona development
Budgets and constraints
Marketing framework
CRM Implementation
Web design and development
Sitemap creation
Platform determination
Automations

Opportunity

We worked with a local chamber of commerce who was receiving feedback from their members that their website was confusing, disorganized, or unhelpful. Additionally, sales outreach to potential members were sometimes falling flat; the Chamber sales team needed more data about members and their interests in order to customize sales efforts. The complex operation of the Chamber means they have “something for everyone.” This cafeteria of services can be intimidating or overwhelming to non-members. Symposia outlined the path for a more complete vision of the membership journey to lead to increased memberships.

Solutions

An exploration of the user experience was a natural place to begin this process. Symposia’s UI/UX expert custom-designed a process that would invite feedback from key demographics. Working with Chamber staff, Symposia put together a persona and user experience plan.

We began with building the Chamber’s audience personas starting with an invitation for the community (Chamber members and non-members) to participate in the interviews. During the marketing persona interviews, Symposia created a space where the users were able to offer candid feedback about their Chamber membership perceptions or experience. The interviews included a series of questions and were conducted at a neutral, offsite location, and were recorded. Users were also asked a number of demographic and personal interest questions that were critical behind-the-scenes as personas and ad audiences were developed for any future digital marketing efforts. 

The participants also interacted with a card sorting activity. This exercise was designed to see from the user’s perspective on how they interpret the website’s pages and information. They were given a stack of key phrases and website page names and asked to lay them out in columns that made the most sense to them. The takeaways from this activity gave us the ability for user experience changes to the website. 

The Chamber’s website is powered by a proprietary CMS/CRM that requires specific technical customization. All changes or suggestions require an understanding of the system’s limitations and the specific requirements of various staff members. This required of Symposia intensive research and flexibility. Symposia worked closely with Chamber’s staff across multiple departments, as well as directly with the Chamber’s CMS/CRM third-party vendor to determine constraints and all possible opportunities to overcome them. Through many hours working with the vendor’s support team, Symposia produced a framework for website optimization, including improved menu options and navigation to better suit the personas’ user journeys.

Results

The Chamber was able to use the creation of personas in a number of ways including the development of print and digital collateral that echoes each marketing persona, as well as new member sales outreach. 

The Chamber staff also identified current members as having characteristics of each persona. Symposia used that information to create specific audiences of email and digital marketing campaigns. 

Symposia recommended a number of website menu changes and data re-organization based on the marketing personas and users. One landing page for each marketing persona was developed, and these landing pages can now be used in the sales process as part of a custom membership outreach push.