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Blog: How to Get More Actionable Insight with an Industry Pulse Survey

How to Get More Actionable Insight with an Industry Pulse Survey

Fueled by rapid changes in workforce, industry, and consumer behavior, your members rely more than ever on access to the latest data for fast, sound decision-making. This is where pulse surveys are proving to be an invaluable association trend.

These brief surveys capture the “pulse of an industry” within a few questions. Their strength is in their brevity, as they can be used to provide regular insight on critical business needs as factors evolve in real-time.

Association Trends
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What is a pulse survey?

In general, a pulse survey asks only a few multiple-choice questions. They may be sent out weekly, biweekly, or monthly, and generally take less than five minutes to complete. Their strength is in their narrow focus.

Pulse surveys typically come in one of two forms:

  • Opinion-based: These surveys aim to capture association members’ sentiments on key issues. An opinion-based pulse survey might ask for opinions on labor challenges or advocacy issues, for example.
  • Data-based: These surveys capture member-submitted sales or other benchmarking data. A data-based pulse survey might ask how sales have been impacted by a specific event or for details about work backlog.

Despite their brevity, pulse surveys provide your members with valuable, up-to-date information on the issues that matter most to their industry, peers, or customers. They provide timely insight into how companies compare against the industry at large. These brief surveys also provide a sounding board in between more in-depth association reporting that often drives decision-making.

Who to survey to get the pulse of your industry

Because pulse surveys should take only a few minutes to complete, associations may find they get responses from a wider than typical range of their association members. This proves valuable in providing a strong data set to track over time. However, it also helps to build up engagement that can translate into greater member participation in future events and research opportunities and dictate future association trends.

Given their brevity, pulse surveys also open up the possibility of seeking input from a diverse group of individuals, capturing a broader perspective of industry issues. In fact, these surveys are an excellent opportunity to reach out to stakeholders who may be adjacent to your typical audience. This might include different people within the organizations you already work with, as you look beyond engagement with senior leadership to include sales reps, marketing, and mid-level positions. This may also involve distributors, supply chain partners, and even customers. A tracking study among consumers, with monthly or quarterly information, can identify purchasing and other trends that can inform association members’ decisions. 

The value of the pulse of the industry

Although brief, pulse surveys pack a powerful punch. These short, quick-hitting surveys can also promote the issues essential to the success of your industry over time. In fact, pulse surveys’ value tends to increase over time due to the ongoing accumulation of historic data that identifies trends in data points. The historic data contained in these surveys can provide members with insight that can help them plan how best to weather industry challenges. This supplemental data can also help guide members’ decisions in between your association’s larger-scale surveys. For associations, pulse surveys offer a more regular opportunity to engage with members than annual research projects.

The narrow focus of pulse surveys also tends to prove attractive to members of the media. These surveys are shaped around telling a very specific story, and many associations find they can build a brief narrative around their surveys to provide context to historic association trends.

The Electronic Components Industry Association (ECIA), for example, has built a robust story around its monthly survey on product delivery lead times. The ECIA narrative connects this single data point across several product lines to the challenges that impact elements of the supply chain. With this information, ECIA issues regular press releases that are carried out by several industry publications, while also tying the quick poll to a more complete members-only sales report. ECIA demonstrates how, with only a few targeted questions, associations can extend their reach and drive greater value for their industry.

Ready to take the pulse of your industry? Vault Consulting can help craft and send your survey in support of a robust research program. To learn more, contact Vault today.

Mike Hayes, MBA
Mike Hayes, MBA
Mike Hayes is a Principal and Managing Director at Vault Consulting, LLC. He has 20 years of experience serving the nonprofit industry, providing survey research and highly complex data analysis. He works closely...
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Laura Clark, IPC
Laura Clark, IPC
Laura leverages nearly 20 years of market research experience to design custom market research for each client. Clients come to rely on Laura as she places them first and never fails to deliver...
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