When I talk to association executives about their member research, they usually rhyme off a familiar list: the annual satisfaction survey, a follow-up after every conference, event, or networking opportunity, possibly a needs assessment every two or three years. If your organization produces more than two events per year, that’s a lot of surveying, and without a healthy dose of advance planning, your research program may not be performing as well as it could.
The best way to maximize member participation in your survey program is to plan the series in advance. You don’t have to decide the specific questions, but you should lay out your goals for each set of data, and space the surveys at regular intervals.
Here are six tips to help you along the way:
1. Plan your surveys in time to start your fiscal year. Talk to all the departments involved, to make sure you gather the information they need to keep your members satisfied.
2. Reach out to your members before launching a major survey to let them know it’s coming and why it’s important to participate. You won’t have time to phone them all, but consider announcements on your website, over your private member network, and in your newsletter. Tell them what you’re looking for and what you will do with the information you gather.
3. Take a close look at whether you can combine questions or whole surveys to reduce the load on members.
4. Be careful about survey timing. Try to send one every few months, to give your members a break from providing their feedback.
5. Share your results, in as much detail as possible! For bonus points, tell members what you’re doing as a result of the information you gathered. You can distribute survey findings as a downloadable resource attached to your e-newsletter, or send out a special email to thank people for participating. Either way, surveys are a great source of current, compelling content that can help you keep your members engaged.
6. If you can offer an incentive for survey participants, even a small one, you’ll probably get a higher response rate in return.
What are your favourite tips for making surveys shine and combatting survey fatigue?