Headquartered in Bethesda, Maryland, the Association for Financial Professionals (AFP) is the professional society that represents finance executives globally. AFP established and administers the Certified Treasury Professional and Certified Corporate FP&A Professional credentials, which set standards of excellence in finance. The quarterly AFP Corporate Cash Indicators serve as a bellwether of economic growth. The AFP Annual Conference is the largest networking event for corporate finance professionals in the world and the association manages and maintains a family of websites including:
- Association of Financial Professionals – AFP’s primary global website
- Certified Treasury Professional – The leading credential in corporate treasury worldwide
- Certified Corporate FP&A Professional – The leading credential in corporate financial planning and analysis worldwide
- Corporate Treasurers Council – The executive-level membership of AFP
- AFP Annual Conference – The most important event for treasury and finance providing the very best in original, essential and unbiased content
AFP hired Fig Leaf just as the organization was undergoing a branding change internally. This included significant changes to the association’s logos, color palettes, fonts, and messaging. The branding effort reflected objectives within the organization to create a much more cohesive feel across multiple web properties to revitalize the brand. At the top of AFP’s priorities were the promotion of the two certification tracks the association offers and registration for the association’s annual conference. An additional aspect in promoting the association’s goals was the desire to personalize website content based on site visitor personas and known visitor information. Fig Leaf’s challenge was the recommendation of a site layout and a content management system that would support the association’s goals.
Fig Leaf’s initial meetings with AFP staff and executives enabled our team to better understand the association’s goals and the audiences for each AFP web property. For each site, Fig Leaf created wireframes to indicate necessary content and functionality and to suggest structure and interactivity for desktop, tablet and mobile device views. The visual design based on the wireframes presented a banded approach to the page structure so that content would be grouped visually to be easily scanned by site visitors. The new branding for each site was represented via the use of color, font, and logo changes that are managed through each site’s stylesheets. This structure of the pages also allows for easy targeting of content to the approximately twenty main persona groups with multiple flexible underlying sub-groups.
Key to any member site, and especially to AFP’s data-driven, personalized site, is integration with the member management system. Fig Leaf’s team implemented SSO between the main member site and Abila netForum, AFP’s member management system. Through SSO, Fig Leaf established a synchronization between netForum’s membership database and the website, with the former as the authority for all login credentials. Using a combination of netForum web service endpoints and queries, Fig Leaf enabled the ability for the association to update users’ membership information and profile fields upon every login. Fig Leaf also worked to ensure that any mid-session, real-time changes (such as new purchases or certifications) are reflected into the member profiles, so that restricted content can be accessed immediately after purchase. Based on Fig Leaf’s implementation for AFP, netForum remains the authority for all member data and access roles, integration that is critical for proper CMS access, content access, and also for successful content personalization.
To implement personalization, Fig Leaf hosted targeted meetings with AFP stakeholders to discuss desired approaches. The team decided to personalize content at the block level within a page, focusing content personalization efforts on smaller, more specific areas of high-traffic web pages. Fig Leaf then reviewed who the AFP marketing team wished to target, developing a plan to identify specific personas and allow maximum flexibility and reliability over time. Finally, while Fig Leaf’s content strategist worked with the marketing team to design appropriate content for each persona and placement, Fig Leaf’s information architect and development team worked with AFP to identify the exact data sources and parameters to use in constructing each persona. Fig Leaf’s connected the data available from the member management system and site behaviors with individual user profiles, allowing AFP to deliver personalized content based on the plan that the Fig Leaf and AFP team members had devised.
AFP’s brand is built on engaging members and prospective members. The association uses Progress Sitefinity to put AFP in control of their online experience and liberates the AFP marketing team from IT. With the newly branded family of websites running on Sitefinity, AFP can now:
- Target their message with personalization down to the individual website block level
- Optimize the online experience for any device (phone, tablet, desktop)
- Quickly publish content with distributed editing and publishing rights and user-friendly web based content editing interfaces
- Measure results with deeply integrated Google Analytics and reporting from within Sitefinity