Association Management

Surveying to Increase Engagement

By Larissa Flores • November 1, 2022

Information collection has become an art form in the modern business world, and it is practiced by organizations in every industry in the form of surveys. As an association, collecting insights through surveys can reveal the best ways to engage with your members. Whether it’s what content your audience responds best to or why members aren’t attending in-person events, surveys are a pragmatic and incredibly useful tool that uncover new pathways for engagement and growing non-dues revenue.

Why should your association conduct a survey?

Surveys can be used in a wide variety of scenarios to collect different types of important information. They should be a common practice among associations that occurs at least once per year.  Surveying to gauge members’ needs and overall happiness with your association will help association members feel heard and understood. Likewise, this allows the association to establish a baseline for their engagement and fine-tune their strategies to best fit their current members. 

What should your association include in a survey?

While in-person surveys and interviews will most likely yield the most results, online surveys allow you to get the widest array of responses. When creating an online survey, there are multiple steps that are needed to ensure its success. From asking strategic questions to properly promoting the survey, it is crucial to follow these steps to increase the success of your survey. 

The first thing to include in any survey – especially an open survey advertised on social media – are qualifying questions. To ensure the validity of the results you find, make sure that you are analyzing the data only your members are filling out. One way to be sure only members are filling out the survey, promote it via an email campaign. 

When creating an emailing list for this campaign, getting a diverse group of responses is critical for the validity of the data as well, as it will allow associations to see the change in needs across different demographics. A couple of examples would be new members vs. tenured members and senior-level members vs. entry-level members. 

Another important step is selecting a surveying tool that can be customized to your brand, as members are much more likely to fill in a survey that is branded rather than generic. Also, selecting a surveying tool you are familiar with will help you analyze the responses after the survey is complete. 

Tip: Create a valuable giveaway that will incentivize members to not only fill out the survey but give more responsive answers as well. This can be anything from a gift card to an entry in a giveaway or even a free year of membership if you are feeling generous. 

How should your association promote its survey?

There are numerous ways to promote your association’s survey that will help it collect quality information. For starters, post your survey on LinkedIn or other applicable social media channels that your members will see. While this might attract the most impressions, be sure to include qualifying questions so that you are only allowing the correct users to submit the survey. 

Tip: Thank members on social media after filling out your survey. This will help them feel important and heard by your association. 

Another way to spread the word about your survey is by creating an email campaign around it. This allows you the most control over who can view the survey as you put together the emailing list and can manage who sees the survey. In-person events allow you to easily attract people and exchange survey information for a piece of swag.

What do associations do with surveys once they’re complete?

Once your survey is complete, you should immediately close the link to the survey so no additional information can be added and manipulate your data. Next, look at how many people filled out your survey to ensure that you have a wide array of people who filled out a form. 

Tip: A good percentage to aim for is a 10% response rate from your list. 

If it is not a number of responses you are happy with or close to 10%, you may need to go back to the promotional drawing board and find new ways to promote your survey. If you are happy with the numbers, begin analyzing the results of each question and see if you can find commonalities across the answers. From there, you can form data points and generate a presentation that is more readable than just questions and answers. It would be best to collaborate with key stakeholders to evaluate these data points and create actionable steps to improve member engagement. 

From brainstorming to analyzing data, surveys can take quite a bit of time and effort, but when done correctly, the information collected from them can be crucial for the association to thrive in the future. Not only will it allow your association to adjust its strategy, but it will also help your members feel heard and understood, thus increasing their engagement. 

If your association needs help conducting or analyzing a survey, reach out to one of our experts to help get you started.

About The Author

Larissa Flores is a senior marketing services manager with Naylor Association Solutions.