Chambers of commerce have a variety of tools to choose from when building a chamber website. Some chamber of commerce platforms require chambers to use one of their website templates. Other chamber membership systems enable chambers to use a popular website builder like Squarespace, WordPress, Weebly, Wix or Duda. If you are looking to build a new chamber site or undertake a redesign it’s a good idea to examine your choices and limitations before proceeding.
In this guide:
- What do the best chamber websites have in common?
- Best chamber of commerce websites
- What features do chamber websites need?
What do the best chamber websites have in common?
The best chamber of commerce websites deliver on these top four priorities:
- Promoting the community, its events, and its chamber members.
Economic development and tourism play an important role in building strong and resilient communities. For smaller towns, a chamber-sponsored community event calendar can play a role in driving tourists to visit. Members can also gain leads from the chamber through their directory listings. Chambers are in a unique position to provide a comprehensive directory of members in different industries such as lodging, dining, tourist attractions, services, and more.
- Showcasing networking opportunities for current and potential members.
Chambers that encourage networking among members reap the rewards of higher member retention rates. Chambers can accomplish this by listing events where chamber members can gather, and also by providing an online directory where members in the same or complementary industries can seek each other out. Selecting website images that show members gathering can quickly communicate that attending events is a good way to get involved.
- Communicating member value.
Chambers communicate the value of membership by showing members that non members have to pay more to attend events and don’t have access to all of the information that members do. Member only ticket pricing, member only events, and member only content assist with retention in this way. Additionally, member testimonials are a powerful endorsement of chamber membership.
- Making it clear and easy for members to join and renew.
Chambers should have a join button or link in their main navigation. In addition, a primary navigation link to a renewal page or member login page will help prevent current members from trying to join again. Chambers that get this right will have better numbers for new memberships and renewal rates.
Best chamber of commerce websites
Here are a sampling of chamber sites we admire.
- The page for new members to join is available in the top navigation bar and doesn’t require multiple clicks to reach.
- Renewing members have multiple ways to reach the login page to renew their membership.
- A list of chamber initiatives is listed on the home page in a graphical way that helps members and potential members quickly grasp the chamber’s priorities.
Chamber Website Builder and Platform: WordPress with MembershipWorks
What we like:
- The Manly Chamber does a great job of helping website visitors get where they need to go. They have a great intro video that communicates the benefits of belonging simply and directly.
- They have a page dedicated to member deals where members can offer coupons and other incentives to visit their business. Members can add and edit their deals themselves.
- Contact information is easily found in the website header area.
Chamber of Commerce Site Builder and Platform: WordPress chamber site with MembershipWorks
What we like:
- The Weston Missouri Chamber of Commerce website’s primary focus on tourism and community is evident through their promotion of community events such as a holiday candlelight home tour, Ghost Tales of Weston; and inclusion of their tourist guide on the home page of their website. The theme of Stay, Play, Shop, Eat and Drink is showcased on the home page as well as in their site navigation.
- Top level navigation is clear and doesn’t overwhelm the visitor with too many choices.
- This chamber offers a local job bank. Chambers, especially those in smaller communities, are well positioned make connections between businesses and employees.
Chamber of Commerce Website Builder and Platform: Squarespace website with MembershipWorks
What we like:
- The Penrith Chamber website greets visitors with a fun photo of a chamber event that immediately draws the viewer in with a huge group of smiling faces. This image sets the tone of a chamber that’s fun to belong to and welcoming.
- The chamber features a “Top 5 Reasons to Join” video near the middle of the home page for visitors who prefer to digest information in that format rather than read. This promotes the chamber’s innovative Chamber Collective program that pairs members with other members in a small group where members serve as a mini advisory board for each other. This member benefit sounds like a great retention tool.
- Member testimonials are featured on the home page to prove member value in belonging to the chamber.
What features do chamber websites need?
- Chamber member application with online payment – It’s important to make it as easy as possible to join the chamber. Chambers can offer a number of payment options including automatic recurring credit card, one time credit card, checks, and/or an invoice request. Chambers also need a payment gateway to process these credit card transactions.
- Chamber membership directory – A member business directory is an important tool for chamber members to promote their businesses to the community and out of town visitors. The directory is usually populated from the chamber member database and can allow members to create and edit their own profiles.
- Event calendar – Chambers have their own events to promote, but in some cases they also provide a centralized community calendar to showcase events that tourists and locals may want to attend.
- Community calendar – MembershipWorks offers a community calendar feature where chamber members can be empowered to add their own events.
- Job board – Small chambers of commerce can further serve their local community by offering a job bank where members can post jobs. Chambers can earn non-dues revenue by charging non members to post job listings.
- Chamber dues renewal form – Chamber members can login to manage their own accounts where they can see payment history and can also easily make an online payment to renew. This takes work off of the chamber staff and allows payments to be collected quickly.
- Reporting – It’s important for chamber leadership to identify trends in membership growth or decline. Robust member reporting helps chambers look at trends for both new and renewing members. Separate from your chamber platform’s reporting features, a website analytics program like Google Analytics can help the chamber track the number of website visitors, how long they stay, and what pages are most popular.
- Members only content – Some chambers offer special reports and other data only for members. MembershipWorks helps chambers offer this password protected content.
A chamber website builder or chamber software can provide all of these features. You can opt to only add the features that make sense for your community. Some providers like MembershipWorks allow you to add these features to an existing website while other systems require you to rebuild your website in a custom content management system (CMS) that further lock you into using their chamber database program.