Member engagement is undoubtedly one of the most important factors in creating a thriving and successful association membership. Member engagement enhances loyalty and creates value, which then, in turn, boosts engagement even more. It’s a beautiful circle that propels itself when working properly. But, in order to reap the benefits of member engagement for your association, you have to know what your members view as valuable. Of course, there are always metrics to look at to determine where members are engaging, such as event participation, for example, but one of the most effective and simplest ways to determine where your members see value is to ask them.
In true Core Affinity fashion, the goal here is to make this an easy to implement, yet effective process so you can gain insight about your members while also giving them the space to feel heard and provide feedback. Most likely, you will ask these questions in a survey format, but you may also choose to do interviews, or a combination of both. As a bonus, the very act of asking members what is important to them engages them and helps them feel valued and heard.
1. Why did you become a member?
Asking “why” is the beauty of interviewing members because it can tell you so much more than numbers. You can really understand the motivation behind why members are joining and what they value about your association. You can also see trends in the reasons members join, so you can amplify the aspects that are drawing the most members.
2. How did you learn about the association?
Again, you are looking for trends here that can help you make decisions about member engagement. Are referrals from existing members more engaged than other members? Are members from a particular source more likely to attend certain types of events? As a bonus, asking this question not only gives you insight into how to boost member engagement, but also provides useful information for recruitment and marketing purposes as well.
3. What aspects of your membership do you find most valuable?
Don’t forget the obvious! If you want to know what your members value, the absolute best way to find out is to ask them. Even if you are using a multiple choice survey, you may consider asking this in an open-ended format to gain additional insight. What members find valuable may not be what you think, so you don’t want to make assumptions here that may get in the way of the juiciest data. Be sure to give them the space to share freely.
4. What types of events do you love to attend and why?
Rather than asking about their favorite existing events, the wording of this question allows your members to provide their own ideas about events. The types of events that they would love to attend the most may not be a part of your current offerings, so this opens the door to new events that you may not have considered.
5. What types of events would you like to see more of? What types of events would you like to see less of? Why?
Here you are getting to the meat of what you are already offering. Again, attendance metrics are valuable as well, but understanding the why behind what they want more or less of is helpful, too. For example, maybe multi-day events are harder for members to attend because they don’t want to be out of work for multiple days. You can adjust and offer one-day or half-day events that are still value-packed and experience a boost in attendance and engagement as a result.
6. How often do you attend events or meetings? How often would you like to attend events or meetings?
Asking these questions allows you to gauge the success and frequency of your offerings. If you are seeing low attendance in weekly meetings, perhaps they are too frequent and it’s better to adjust to monthly meetings, for example. Low attendance may indicate that members do not view events as high quality or at least they are not the driving reason behind membership. If you are seeing patterns to dive into further, you may consider a follow-up questionnaire specifically on this topic.
7. How do you prefer to hear from us?
Although we often view engagement as event attendance, members engage in a variety of ways. Some members may not be big event-goers but are loyal newsletter readers and feel connected in that way. Understanding how members like to receive communication not only ensures that they receive important information, but is another surefire way to make sure members are engaged.
8. How likely are you to renew your membership?
If a member is likely to renew their membership, then they are seeing the value, which is of course the ultimate goal. This question gets to the core of a member’s overall satisfaction with the membership, regardless of what they tell you. Furthermore, if a member indicates that they are not likely to renew, it can alert a follow-up with that member to try to improve the relationship.
9. Would you renew your membership at a different pricing level?
With all of the insightful data you gather from asking your members about what they value, you may be inspired to add a membership incentive or offering. But, doing so may also cost more money and potentially drive up the cost of the membership. Or, perhaps you might consider bundling benefits at higher pricing tiers, or provide access to events at the higher tier. Asking members about different pricing levels allows you to find the balance between what they see as valuable and what they are willing to pay for it.
10. How likely are you to recommend the association to a colleague or friend?
This is another great question to determine overall satisfaction and also provides potential information for marketing and recruitment. If a high number of respondents indicate that they would recommend the association to a friend or colleague, then it may be worth investing in referral bonuses or gifts.
There you have it! Asking the right questions is the first step to boosting your member engagement, and it should be an ongoing part of your member communication. Although asking is the first step, make sure you use the information you learn to make informed decisions about your membership. When you “walk your talk” and follow up on the feedback your members provide, you are gaining trust and loyalty among your members and building a solid foundation to grow upon.