11th February 2020

The house that engagement built

Simon Wakeman
Chief Executive Officer
Housing plans

Let’s say you’re building a house (bear with me). The house is for a family you’ve never met before - you’re just that generous sort of a person - and you want them to spend as much time as possible in it.

So you draw up plans, gather your tools, assemble a crack-team of whizzy builders and architects, find the ideal location (countryside, commutable, close to good schools) and you build the house: it is glorious.

Every brick a gleaming red; sweeping marble staircases and waterfall showers as far as the eye can see. It’s taken years, your life savings and so much hard work, but it’s finally ready to show to the family.

Only, when they walk in, they reveal that they’d really rather have lived in the city, don’t have kids and harbour a life-long fear of slipping down smooth steps. Poof - there goes all that time, budget and years of hard work.

The family aren’t terrible ingrates, they just had expectations that weren’t met. And because they were never consulted on any of the project detail, it ploughed ahead never really stopping to find out what they wanted.

See where I’m going with this? It’s the same with big projects in large membership organisations.

Somebody says, ‘Let’s generate engagement’, everybody agrees and then sets to work overhauling this and redesigning that without sitting down to work out what their audience wants and what good engagement looks like in the bums-on-seats, memberships-renewed real world.

You had me at objective data

It all starts with data; doesn’t it always?

At Deeson, we don’t just want any data - we want the numbers that give us the nitty gritty. So, instead of turning on the Google Analytics firehose of information, we get tactical, setting measurement frameworks for your each and every goal.

We break it down objectively, finding out what your organisation’s core needs are.

Let’s say it’s increasing member sign-up. Based on that, we’ll work out what needs to happen on your website to attract those extra members. We’ll then set KPIs around that, constantly checking in to make sure everything’s on track. It’s a right-brain, foolproof way to ensure that every small action contributes to the bigger picture.

Build, measure, learn, repeat

Instead of building the entire house for a ta-da moment, we like to keep things small, agile and easy-to-tweak. This means never assuming we know the answer to anything before we get started.

So, we’ll begin by building or prototyping something small, then testing it in the wild before reviewing the data to rebuild and re-tweak, until the system is working its hardest for your organisation. It keeps things nimble, scaleable and - crucially - doesn’t plant your whole budget in one huge pot with no certain outcome.

It’s something we’ve successfully integrated for many of our membership clients, from the Chartered Institute of Builders to Bond - the UK network for organisations working in international development.

Bond were ready to scrap their existing website as part of a bid to foster more collaboration in their network.

Not only were we able to save their recent investment in a relaunched website with some technical expertise, we helped Bond understand and improve their digital performance through a series of improvements to UX, navigation, visual design, infrastructure, integrations and accessibility, delivering strategic and targeted benefits for a number of their audiences.

Simon says…

If you’re looking to drive digital engagement, I have three handy tips to get you started before I suggest calling us to kick things off in earnest:

1. Understand what engagement is for you
Not because you’re daft, but because it changes from organisation to organisation and from member group to member group. Being able to put measurement frameworks in place is the best starting point for a stable digital strategy.

 2. Measure what matters
You can make data say pretty much anything, so it’s crucial to understand what you’re looking at and why. Are your uniques up a million year on year? Well, that’s great, but without knowing what they’re doing and why, it’s kind of beside the point.

3. Build with your users’ needs in mind
You might want to up the engagement on your website, but your user - and I cannot stress this enough - does not care about your heat maps or dwell time. To paraphrase Field of Dreams: if you create a need or an emotional pull for them to engage, they will come.

There are so many ways we can help your organisation get its digital on-track. Drop us a line to find out how; let’s build a house your members will never want to leave.