Member engagement should be one of the core goals of any association. Without it, you will likely have a high churn of members who just don’t see any value in paying dues and look to spend their professional development budget elsewhere.
How to get to that engagement, of course, is an entirely different question. It’s not always easy. How can you provide actual value in an age where even the most obscure search terms get Google results in the hundreds of thousands?
Naturally, there is no obvious answer to that question. What your members look for differs significantly based on their industry, expertise level, and even location. What you can do, however, is leverage tools that help you find that answer. That’s where association surveys enter the equation.
We all know surveys as an important opinion collection tool. And yet, too many associations just don’t take advantage of them enough. Used right, these surveys can have a major influence on almost all actions you take within the organization. Consider these 5 ways to leverage association surveys in a way that helps you maximize member engagement.
1) Guide Your Strategic Direction
First, surveys allow you to gain high-level information about the type of association your members are looking for when they join your organization and start to pay dues. Understanding these expectations is absolutely crucial in making sure that your mission and vision align with both industry needs and member satisfaction.
This might take a variety of shapes, which is discussed in more detail below. It’s important, though, to keep this key fact in mind: building your association has to occur with member input. Surveys are a core tool in receiving this input.
2) Gain Inspiration for Future Events
More specifically than your strategic direction, surveys can be implemented specifically to help with your event planning. You likely have an annual conference or association meeting at which officers are elected, business is conducted, and at least some professional development opportunities occur. Chances are these events are built on tradition and intuition. It’s time to move beyond that.
Surveys can help you get there. Explicitly ask your members what they want to see at events. Provide options that are realistic within your organization’s size and budget, from guest speakers to networking events. You can even get input on potential future dates and locations to ensure the maximum amount of attendees.
Another opportunity related to events is the ability to learn about what worked and what didn’t after the event occurred. You likely already have some type of quality assurance mechanism in place; why not move it to a measurable, trackable online survey? Ask about the overall event, specific sessions, and improvement suggestions for the future.
3) Increase Member Satisfaction
Let’s take a moment to talk about the secondary benefits of membership surveys for both associations and any type of organization. When they first arrive in inboxes, members tend to appreciate the fact that they’re being heard. Asking for their opinions and guidance can help raise satisfaction among them.
Keep in mind that these are members of your association, not customers. They have a tangible stake in the success (or failure) of the entire organization. This means they’ll be likely to answer a survey, helping to improve it by providing their input.
One important caveat on this point deserves mention: surveys can only consistently increase member satisfaction if those members perceive they’re actually being heard. Questions that never result in improvements won’t have much of an impact. A survey followed up by a summary of the results and a list of actions taken as a result of these answers can be a powerful tool in your effort to improve satisfaction.
4) Collect and Leverage Member Expertise
As we’ve discussed in other blog posts, associations are unique in that, in some way, every one of their audience tends to be an expert in their field. Because they are focused on one industry, they can tap into some of the most thoughtful and expert opinion related to that field.
That’s a powerful tool to use throughout your association. Imagine, for instance, being able to survey your members on industry trends, then selling that report to companies interested and willing to do research on the exact industry. As an alternative, simply building the report into a whitepaper can help you attract leads and convert more new members in the same field.
Leveraging the expertise of your members naturally requires consent on their end. But once you have it, this practice can become a core piece of how you reach out to both potential members and industry forces outside the association. The survey can become your core tool in how you get there.
5) Improve Your Communication Streams
Finally, don’t underestimate the potential power of surveys to improve your everyday communication with your members. Periodically, it makes sense to send out a questionnaire that asks a few questions like:
- Are we communicating often enough with you?
- What are your favorite communication channels?
- What would you like to hear more about?
- What’s a topic that you don’t need to hear more about?
- And others similar to these.
The results from these surveys allow you to maximize your opportunities of outreach to each member, which in turn maximizes engagement in its own right. And of course, you can also use this information to customize your communication streams. If a member segment is most interested in industry trends, perhaps a few additional resources about that topic, specifically for these members, is appropriate.
How Are You Leveraging Surveys to Improve Member Engagement?
Let’s be honest, almost every association uses some form of survey to get opinions from their members. But it’s only the strategic use of these surveys that allows you to truly improve member engagement.
For that, you need a survey tool that’s easy to build and connects directly with your member database. We have that tool for you. Visit our website and schedule a tool to learn more. Let’s work together on building a platform designed to maximize your membership engagement.