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Blog: Strengthen Member Engagement with Effective Member Research

Strengthen Member Engagement with Effective Member Research

Associations are facing stiffer competition than ever for members’ attention. After all, today’s professionals have access to a greater wealth of free resources and information than ever before. Many associations recognize that they must adapt in order to keep benefits relevant and member engagement strong – but not all are sure how to move forward.

Research has long been central to associations’ value proposition. However, research isn’t just valuable as a member benefit. Member research can help organizations pinpoint the reasons behind key challenges, such as declining engagement and membership. With the insight gleaned from member research, associations can develop targeted strategies to enhance value and strengthen member participation.

3 ways member research can unlock new value

Research has always played an essential role in engaging association members. Well-targeted research can provide value to members in their business roles and foster a sense of community within the association. It’s when that research isn’t appropriately targeted to members’ needs or preferences that associations may be misled or have a false sense of security and find that membership declines.

Through member research, associations can better understand members’ motivations, intentions, and behaviors. They can also begin to better tailor their member engagement strategies to deliver benefits like these:

As the association landscape continues to evolve, many organizations are finding that their members are looking for different types of content, delivered across different channels, than they may have used in the past. Members have more communication options than ever before. If associations are not reaching out to members across these channels, or using members’ preferred communication channels, engagement may wane.

Research can help identify member communication preferences (such as email, text, social media, etc.) and preferred content types (articles, videos, etc.). By conducting regular research on their members’ needs and preferences, associations will find they can connect with members in a more dynamic and personalized way.

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Many associations are finding that members increasingly expect personalized benefits tailored to meet their unique needs. Through member research, associations can uncover their members’ true needs and motivations.

This valuable data enables associations to tailor benefits, programs, and communications to remain relevant and attract members’ attention. It also allows them to offer more personalized experiences and cater to more diverse member segments. This may range from interactive dashboards that can personalize reports to smaller cohorts organized around shared member goals. Member research is essential for shaping these personalized experiences.

Associations often operate with big goals and limited resources. Member research can help organizations prioritize action on those initiatives that resonate most with members. By collecting data, associations can ensure that their resources are directed toward the programs, activities, and benefits that will most effectively drive member engagement and satisfaction.

Tools and strategies to support member research

Member research doesn’t have to be complicated. In fact, keeping research brief and frequent may increase your response rate. For example, associations may find that a quick poll sent via text message or social media is more likely to get a response than a longer emailed survey. Focus groups can also be a good starting point for gathering member insights. 

In addition, associations have access to tools today that can simplify the process of member research while unveiling greater value. Artificial intelligence (AI) driven tools offer exciting new possibilities for associations seeking deeper real-time insight into their members’ needs and goals. 

Among other things, AI tools can be used to gather a wider range of data to help associations craft survey questions or pose suggestions to members about potential future offerings. Because AI can analyze vast amounts of member data – including website activity, event registrations, and social media interactions – these tools can help identify trends and patterns in real time. This allows associations to pivot quickly to meet member needs and preferences.

By analyzing historical data and member behavior, AI tools can also help predict future trends and member needs. This enables associations to proactively develop programs, content, and communication strategies that resonate with their evolving member base.

Better yet, emerging AI tools can automate many of the time-consuming tasks associated with traditional research. Associations can reduce their costs while enhancing their value.

Because these tools are evolving, it’s important for associations to consider confidentiality and security when they consider how best to apply AI. Many associations may find they are best served by using survey platforms that are equipped with AI-driven tools or by working with a consultant who can help position member research outreach.

This is an area where Vault Consulting can help. For support in positioning or applying your membership engagement research, contact Vault today.

Karen Taylor, CDMP, CDMS-S
Karen Taylor, CDMP, CDMS-S
Karen’s passion for the nonprofit community spans nearly twenty years. As a mediator for the Vault brand, Karen maintains a cohesive personality for Vault as a driven, collaborative, and innovative organization, across all marketing channels.  ...
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