Ways to engage blog image

“Thank you for putting me in touch with people who live and breathe the same challenges as me” – The role of market research in the Member Engagement matrix

Many membership organisations grapple with how to encourage more of their members to engage or interact with them. This is a challenge we hear again and again from the organisations we work with – most evidence of members interacting with their professional association comes from an ‘engaged minority’ and the challenge is how to find a way to encourage engagement with the ‘silent majority’.

Whether it be attending events, being involved with a network or special interest group, interacting with online communities, attending training/CPD offerings or engaging with social media, there are many avenues open to members to engage with a professional community.

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The role of market research within this mix is interesting.

When members are invited to take part in market research, often they will regard this as a means of engaging with their professional body. According to research undertaken recently on behalf of an international membership organisation, one third of its members suggested this as a way that they ‘would like’ to engage via this means with their professional association in the future.

Responding to a survey; taking time to answer the questions and share their thoughts, opinions, frustrations and aspirations is a great way for members to feel they are being given an opportunity to contribute. On average, we see 20%[1] of members from professional associations respond to an invitation to take part in online surveys sent out by their association.

20%. That’s one in every five members. That’s a lot of evidence of member engagement.

We carry out quantitative (typically surveys) and qualitative (depth interviews, focus groups, online focus groups) research on behalf of our clients, both of which are a direct call to action for members to engage with their professional association.

Qualitative research in particular offers us first hand opportunities to see and hear in their own words, how much value they get from having the opportunity to share their thoughts in a safe and friendly environment, surrounded by people who work in the same field as them and can therefore relate to the challenges that they face. Although not as robust as reaching out to your whole membership database with a quantitative survey, qualitative research offers an opportunity to give members the chance to talk about what matters most to them and express this in their own words. It also allows them to listen to how others are feeling.

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Here’s a flavour of some of the things we see and hear during and after focus groups for membership organisations….

“I’ve never been asked my opinions before; I didn’t think they cared what I thought.”

“Moderator: Do you feel part of a professional community? Respondent: I do now! [to the group] Shall we go to the pub after this?”

“It [the focus group] gives you a voice, I do feel there’s a bit of an opportunity for a voice which is why I was pleased to come today.”

“Today is a real positive, they [the membership organisation] obviously do recognise we’re out there.”

“I’m definitely feeling closer today [to the organisation] than I have in a long time.”

So, when you’re deciding whether or not to gather insights from your members via a programme of market research, it is important to consider that it is not just insights you will be gathering, the benefits are wider than that. Conducting market research amongst members facilitates an engagement opportunity that could strengthen the relationship that your members have with your organisation and enable the ‘two-way communication’ that many organisations strive for. 

[1] Source: Research By Design membership norms

This entry was posted in Membership, Surveys, Market research, tagged Membership, Consumer, Surveys, Online surveys, Qualitative, Engagement and posted on May 15, 2018

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