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5 tips to create the perfect member survey

2 min read

Surveys can be sent to current, prospective and lapsed members to gather useful information for your association. Understanding your target audience leads to more strategic marketing and better growth prospects for your association.

Marketing sometimes runs the risk of being based on opinion instead of fact. Surveys help uncover facts that will lead to sounder marketing choices. Understanding what makes your audience tick and what they’re thinking means that you know what motivates their decision to purchase a membership, leading to stronger marketing results.

Poorly written surveys can result in misleading or even false information, so it’s important that your survey is easy to understand and doesn’t introduce accidental bias to your results.

Here are five tips for putting together an effective member survey.

1. Keep it short

The rule of thumb for a good survey length is ten minutes or less. Respondents tend to lose interest and focus after ten minutes, boosting the number of incomplete responses and potentially skewing your data.

To keep your survey concise, you will need to do some up-front planning to determine what is essential to know, and what would be nice to know. The best way to make the distinction is to ask yourself how you will use the information – if you don’t know, it’s not essential.

2. Keep it simple

Respondents only need the smallest excuse to stop doing your survey. If it’s too hard or complicated to complete, they will simply move on. Your aim is to keep the respondent thinking ‘this is easy, it won’t take long’, which will provide you with better results and information.

3. Use plain English

Simple English will allow the respondent to understand the question and ensure there is no misunderstanding as to what type of information you are looking for. Language is an important part of survey writing as it can introduce misunderstanding, bias and even create skewed responses.

4. Test it

It’s better to catch a problem with a survey during a test rather than after it has been published and can’t be changed. There are two ways of testing a survey – send it out to a small group of people in your office, or send it out to a small sample of your audience. Sending the survey to people in your office will allow you to test technical aspects of the survey (for example if the ‘submit’ button works and if the coding in the backend is correct), and sending the survey to a small sample group will help identify problems with the way the survey is written (for example, if the language is easy to understand and if certain questions are misunderstood).

5. Incentivise

An incentive doesn’t have to be a tangible prize, although prizes can be a strong motivator for completing a survey. One great intangible incentive to offer is to share a summary of the information gathered. Respondents will be more likely to give their opinions and information if they get a little bit in return.

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