Is your club’s website effective?

Your website should give you the edge over your competitors, but too many golf clubs seem to be stuck in the digital dark ages, writes Eddie Bullock. 

First impressions are vital; they display the nature and culture of the business, you gauge an immediate reaction whether it is professionally operated, if those running it care. Do they really want to engage with me as a customer? The website is the first port of call when carrying out any research on a club business – this is the central hub of general information to entice you to the destination, or at least it should be!

It baffles me when I observe club websites that have failed to move with the times, that still have the same drab appearances with little thought, many designed by a member that was in the office an eon past. The club business website is the official ‘calling card’ yet on numerous occasions I have experienced out-dated information, photographs that are not relevant or will mean very little to the audience that the club wants to attract. Lack of consistency just creates frustrating emotions, which doesn’t start the journey of a club connection off in the right direction.

Have you considered whether your website is connecting with the people you wish to appeal to? For example, the font typeface design may need changing, images that are not relevant should be changed, the menu is too complicated to navigate, and yes in this day and age I have experienced clubs without the relevant post code! If this is the case then it’s reasonable for the current and potential new members to assume that the club business fits the same image profile, out of touch and we don’t give a dam! It is critical to have a website that fits into today’s society and directed to each of the demographics that will be attracted to the club.

websites

Actions that can be taken to attract new audiences to your club:

• Use images that are relevant to what the customer can expect. Feature real people within a natural environment – replace the stock photos with the cheesy smiles!

• Have images with actual employees doing their job and having fun. Those leading the business are the main contacts, not the Captain, President, etc. They need to be included in the members’ only section – potential new members or golf days are not interested initially in who the officials are.

• Videos are a perfect way to market your club business. These can be used as educational platforms with contributions from the Club Manager, Golf Professional, Course Manager, and Food & Beverage Manager. It is all about delivering invites to create the opportunity of consistent memorable experiences.

• Include all the social networking sites such as Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn, all channels to promote online group communities and whereby you can connect with likeminded associates.

• Create a simple and entertaining introduction about the club – include information that is quirky and will resonate. Feature a 90 second film pitch to whet the appetite and convert the prospects into members.

• Validate the club ethics; values will be attractive, especially if you have your own team putting their own personalities across. This also acts as a powerful tool to create future career talent to the club’s business

• Start employee blogs – make it interesting, make it fun, make it different from the club down the road. Be unique and allow the team employees to share their passion.

The real beauty about optimising the web is that you don’t have to be the big cheese Golf Club with deep pockets to achieve results. The website should be key in developing a connection with your potential customers either by creating the trust or simply gaining their loyalty. Another important function is the opportunity to collect relevant data; this is all-powerful for the Club business to build a connection with their members or visitors. You also get the immediacy of being able to measure the results with applications such as Google Analytics and remember, ‘What gets measured – Get Done’.

The workplace is changing at a truly rapid pace and the golf industry will come to depend on younger workers answering questions and shaping the customer experiences with younger members hopefully being attracted to the golf community. We have to be prepared to learn new ways to get better, hence make the club’s website work for you to attract and increase participation at your Club. Sadly some clubs are worrying less than some of their competitors, who have invested wisely into their websites and find the rewards are being delivered cost effectively while differentiating them in a golfing growth market.