How to Make Your Next Member Survey a Success

Preparing your association's next member survey? Here are a few tips to follow.
Preparing your association’s next member survey? Here are a few tips to follow.

“What are the members thinking?”

This is a question that should be top-of-mind for any association executive. If it’s been a while since your association got any feedback — especially negative feedback — it might be time to send out another member survey.

Why? When a trade or professional association only hears feedback from happy members at events or in email correspondences, they don’t know what to improve. How will the membership team know why they’re losing members?

On the flip side, if an association senses discontent among members, the team should ask the members what they do like about their benefits, helping the organization capitalize on what’s actually working.

3 Steps to a Successful Member Survey

1 – Determine What Information is Worth Collecting

Once an association decides there’s a need for a survey, it’s time to figure out what’s worth asking.

So, what general information buckets should a member survey fill? Here’s what Luci Blodgett, member & chapter relations team lead at the National Contract Management Association, suggested for Protech’s e-book, “Association Experts Share the Hidden Truths to Member Engagement.”

  1. General membership information
  2. News consumption preferences
  3. Valuable aspects of membership
  4. Employment details
  5. Demographic information

2 – Questions to Ask

With a general overview of information worth collecting, each association needs to prioritize its key questions.

Of the five suggestions above, try focusing on news consumption preferences and valuable aspects of membership. Unlike the other three categories, it’s more likely news consumption preferences and the most valued aspects of membership have changed since members were last surveyed.

Here are a few questions you might ask:

  • “Where do you typically find the content you’re reading?”
  • “What are your favorite member benefits?”
  • “What are your least favorite member benefits?”

Here are some other areas worth including: event preferences and likelihood of renewal or referral.

3 – Things to Consider

Your member survey questions are most important. But the layout - whether its mobile-friendly - also has an impact on response rates.
Your member survey questions are most important. But the layout – whether its mobile-friendly – also has an impact on response rates.

Once the questions have been written, you’re all set, right? Not so fast.

First, be sure results are easy to track — and ideally, tied to member contact records in your association management software.

According to SurveyMonkey, external surveys (to non-employees) generate a response rate of 10 to 15 percent. One way to improve your response rate, however, is to send a reminder email a few days later.

That said, the chances that those responses are an accurate representation of your membership rises exponentially with a larger pool of responses. So make sure the member survey delivery method and design are perfect. If this is an annual survey, you only have one shot.

Speaking of design, it’s critical to send out mobile-responsive surveys. According to the Pew Research Center, 27 percent of web surveys in 2015 were completed on mobile phones. In the years since, that number has undoubtedly risen.

To plan for any issues in a mobile-first world, Pew suggests sending short surveys with unique URLs that aren’t formatted in a grid.

An annual survey is a fantastic way to assess the overall member experience. By keeping a few of these suggestions in mind, your professional or trade association’s next member survey can be even better.