Serve Your Event Survey in Bite-Sized Pieces

Serve Your Event Survey in Bite-Sized Pieces
Post-event surveys are a must if you want to continue to grow attendance in future events. They can be simple and once you have a general template, you can adapt and reuse them to save time. Plus, if you’re using a good online event registration software, you probably have a built-in event survey feature that will enable you to quickly create and distribute it to participants.

The trick to getting good response rates is to keep your event survey short and accessible – and to make it obvious up front that participating will only take a few minutes.

If you want to collect more information than you can get from 10 questions or so, think about gathering feedback from attendees in chunks throughout the event, rather than through one long survey at the end. There are some natural times during your event when it makes sense to ask your participants what they think …

At the Time of Registration

Get some quick feedback at the time of registration just by adding a couple of questions at the end of your form, or including a link to a short survey in the registration confirmation that your participants receive. Include questions like:

While Your Event Is Happening

Take advantage of technology, and use a real-time mobile polling app like Zwoor or QuickTap to collect feedback from your attendees throughout your event. Not only will it give you a true picture of what they’re thinking right then and there, but it will also keep them engaged and remind them that you value their opinion. Here are a few ideas of what to ask while your event is actually taking place…

After Each Workshop, Session, or Activity (for Conferences and Conventions)

On the Last Day of the Event

If You Don’t Use Mobile Polling at Your Event

Be sure to put an event survey out as soon as you can after your event. By incorporating mini-surveys while the event is fresh in the minds of your participants, you’ll increase your response rate and get a more accurate picture of their opinions.


Paper, Phone or Web Survey: Which Do I Choose?

Paper, Phone or Web Survey: Which Do I Choose?
Web surveys have surged in popularity in recent years, and for many associations, they’ve become the go-to tool for measuring member engagement.  So when and why is it appropriate to choose good old paper or phone-based surveys over electronic?

A lot of organizations automatically opt for the cheapest and easiest method, but it’s more important to consider which tool will help you get the information and insights you want to get out of your survey.

Response rates and the size of your membership are two of the key factors to consider when choosing your survey tool. In a recent 123Signup webinar with Matt Braun of Loyalty Research, he estimated that response rates for phone interviews are the highest (50-60%), paper surveys tend to get a response rate of around 20%, and web-based surveys get the lowest response rates of 8-12%.

A web-based survey sent to 10,000 people with a response rate of 10% gives you 1000 responses – a big enough sample size to give you good insights on your members’ attitudes and behaviors. But sending the same survey to 100 people would result in only 10 responses, and that’s just not enough to give you reliable, actionable data.

(Read The Right Questions to Ask on Your Next Membership Survey for ideas on putting together an effective questionnaire.)

For smaller organizations looking to get more detailed information, a phone survey may well be the way to go – there’s more to think about before choosing your methodology. Here are some of the pros and cons of each survey tool to help you choose the right method for your next research project.

Paper Surveys


  • Easy to design as a Word document.
  • Can be easy to collect by mail or if handed out at an event.


  • Entering data from the back end can be time consuming and result in error.
  • People can write in answers that are difficult to interpret and categorize.
  • May get a lower response rate among younger members.

Phone Surveys


  • Information quality is the best of all the methods because it captures the true voice of the member. Phone interviewers have the ability to probe respondents and get them to expand on their answers so you get more in-depth answers and insights.
  • Better participation than paper or web-based surveys, and a good choice for smaller memberships.


  • The most difficult method to get right.
  • Cost is high as it may require that you higher an external company to help to design and implement it.
  • It takes longer to collect information.
  • Can be difficult to reach people at a convenient time for a 10 to 20 minute survey.

Web Surveys


  • Highest value for the cost.
  • Inexpensive applications make it easy to design and collect information.
  • Can be distributed through various channels, including email, social media, and on your website.
  • Many applications offer basic analysis and reporting tools to help you get insights from your data.
  • Gives every member with access to the web the ability to participate.
  • Allows for longer surveys, and give respondents the ability to save and continue.
  • Gives you the ability to assign a unique identifier to each respondent for tracking purposes.


  • Have lower response rates than paper or phone surveys, which may not be ideal for smaller organizations.


Organizational Assessments For Associations: A Step-By-Step Guide

Organizational Assessments For Associations: A Step-By-Step Guide
Assessing your organization’s strengths and weaknesses along with the barriers to achieving your goals is an essential – yet often overlooked – step on the path to growing your membership. Be warned: you won’t like everything you see. That’s a good thing because it will help you identify where you need to improve.

First, start off by asking yourself questions like:

Resist the urge to jump to conclusions based on what you think you know about your association. Making assumptions can create disconnect between what you believe is valuable to members, and what actually is valuable.

Understanding how well your association is meeting the needs of its members and fulfilling its mission requires time, research, objectivity, and long-term commitment.

Assessing Your Organization: How to Perform a Thorough Evaluation of Your Business


1. Write out your mission statement.

This will remind you of your organization’s core purpose. Later, you will compare how your mission statement aligns with the benefits and programs you offer, and your members’ needs.

2. Make a list of all of your current services, programs, and benefits.

Rank the most valuable benefit as “#1” and continue from there. What is the unique selling point for each of them? What sets your organization apart from your competitors? Note the answers to these questions next to each benefit.

3. Audit your information management processes.

All the things that happen behind the scenes can have a huge impact on your customer service and overall performance.

For a week or two, every time you feel yourself getting frustrated by a time-consuming task or you’re having a hard time accessing needed information, write it down. Get all of your staff members to do the same. When you put all of the information together, you should be able to see some obvious aspects of your processes that need improvement.  Issues with finding information about your members quickly, or needing to update the same information in several different places could mean you may need to improve your membership management process.

4. Crunch your numbers.

Good data should be the foundation of your decision-making process. If you have decent member management software, you should be able to get the information you need fairly quickly. If not, you may need to estimate for the time being.

5. Analyze your Membership Stats.

Compare your membership statistics from the past two years. You could go back even further if you have access to significant historical information. Looking at trends over time can be very useful. For starters, record the following data segmented by membership type:

6. Research your competitors.

Go through this process as a prospective member would. Search online for other competing organizations as well as employers or companies that offer similar products or services for free or at a lower cost. Compare benefits individually and also consider how your packages stack up to your competitors.

TIP: Track and compare benefits and costs on a spreadsheet. Determine your 3 to 5 most valuable and unique products. If you discover that some of your products don’t seem as valuable as those offered by your competitors, make a note of how you can improve or enhance those products.

7. Define your business objectives.

Once you have a better understanding of your strengths and weaknesses and how you stack up to your competitors, you can define your goals and objectives. Are you looking to expand your market share? Expand into new markets? Increase your revenue? Increase participation and engagement?

Your objectives will ultimately guide the way you shape your membership structure, pricing, and marketing efforts. For this reason, carefully assessing your organization with your business objectives in mind is undoubtedly worth taking the time to do.


Data Rules, Assumptions Drool: Keeping Your Email Marketing Relevant

Data Rules, Assumptions Drool: Keeping Your Email Marketing Relevant
Contributed by Mary Byers, CAE

Email marketing has long been the mainstay of an association’s marketing plan, but is it still effective? The popularity of smartphones and tablets has made email readily accessible but has also created some challenges. To be most effective you’ll need to do a little research to determine how and when your members read their email, and what type of content is most likely to engage them.

Lori Ely, Marketing Manager at Informz, Inc. says, “Behavior is huge and understanding what your individual members are doing in your emails, both on desktop and mobile, will help in creating the right strategy.” You can accomplish this fairly easily using analytics technology offered by most email marketing systems.

Ms. Ely offers the following tips for keeping your email campaigns relevant and effective:

Many associations are taking notice of Ms. Ely’s advice and revamping their email marketing to meet the needs of their members. Here are a few examples of associations that made significant changes to their email marketing strategy to become more effective:

Toy Industry Association, Inc. – revamped their weekly newsletter through testing, re-engagement strategy and design.

Satellite Broadcasting and Communications Association – transformed their monthly newsletter into a mobile-friendly version based on utilizing data to identify those who read on a mobile device.

The American Political Science Association – improved their customization of messaging by utilizing behavioral marketing.

The success of any email marketing strategy begins with understanding your members’ preferences and how to best engage them. Tracking and analyzing your email campaigns and utilizing behavioral marketing concepts will help to achieve a better response rate and more effective communication with your members.

– See more at:

About Mary Byers

Author. Speaker. Facilitator. Consultant. Provocateur. All describe Mary Byers, CAE.

Mary Byers helps associations gain clarity and focus through leadership conference training and facilitating strategic planning retreats, assisting task forces and work groups, and helping association staff and volunteers talk through tough issues. Visit

Blog Category: Industry Trends & News, Marketing, Technology


What Are Member Personas? And Why Do You Need Them?

What Are Member Personas? And Why Do You Need Them?

Do you know who your perfect members are? They’re the ones who stand to get the highest perceived value out of your organization and are willing to pay for what you are offering. Using information from surveys and research, you should be looking for common traits, needs, behaviors, and motivators for each of your membership segments.

Creating member personas enables you to better understand the needs of the people you want in your organization. This helps you package and price your benefits to provide the highest perceived value for each of your desired member groups – and tailor your messages and communications appropriately.

When members perceive your organization as valuable, they stay. When prospects think the benefits of being part of your organization is worth the investment, they join.

How to Create Member Personas

In our post, Growing Membership By Working Smarter, Not Harder, we explored how to segment your membership according to their needs and the perceived value they get from your organization.  If you haven’t read that article yet, take some time to go back and refer to it.

If you have never surveyed your members – or haven’t in a while – that’s a step you shouldn’t skip. Research in the way of surveys, focus groups, or interviews is essential to understanding who your members are so that you can segment them according to common characteristics and needs.

Here are a few characteristics and themes you may want to explore as you create your member personas:

Once you’ve assigned some characteristics to each of your membership segments, you may find that it’s easier to relate to them and understand what they need. You should keep re-visiting these personas as you create your membership strategy. They’ll remind you which members are getting the most out of your organization – and willing to pay for your services – and where you may need to make some changes to better cater for the segments you’re not connecting with.


7 Rules for Successful Membership Strategies

7 Rules for Successful Membership Strategies
So you’ve brainstormed some exciting membership moves, but are you ready to play them? Here’s a list of things to remember when implementing your membership strategies to ensure they pan out just as you intend …

#1 – Do your research.

Don’t rely on a hunch – test your ideas on your members. Select a sample of current members – or prospects that represent your ideal member types – and conduct informal interviews with them. Once you have their feedback, there will undoubtedly be things you need to change or refine before you launch your new strategies. …

#2 – Plan and document your processes.

How will you administer your new membership structure? If you’re really serious about growing and have limited staff to help you do it, you will need to make your processes as efficient as possible. You may need to look for an affordable online membership management software to help you organize your member data and automate many of your day-to-day tasks.

You’ll also need to think about how you will communicate changes to your members and promote to non-members, what actions members need to take to sign up for new benefits or transition to other membership levels, how you will keep track of the different types of members, who will be responsible for each step of the process, how you will set up reporting to help you track the effectiveness of your strategies, and what systems and technologies you will need to manage your members.

#3 – Include your staff, volunteers, and Board.

Enlisting the help of the people “on the ground” can increase buy in. Go through the processes for each new service or initiative you’re introducing with your team, and assign someone responsibility for it. Do some mock run-throughs with your staff on the new procedures. Once you’ve confirmed your processes, document them so that everyone involved is consistently following them.

#4 – Pilot your programs.

If you’re introducing new programs, identify a sample of members or prospects to test the waters before you jump in – even if it’s just running the high-level idea past them. For example, if you’re introducing a new member portal online, have a diverse group of stakeholders test it out before you make it available to your entire organization.

#5 – Communication is key.

For any new event, initiative, program, or service offering, it is a good idea to create a communications plan that outlines the key stakeholders, messaging for each, time frame for communications, how you will deliver the communications, and overall goals. If you are making changes that impact your members in any way, always let them know well in advance, and continue to remind them as the scheduled changes approach.

#6 – Set specific, measurable goals.

Setting goals helps to create a sense of accountability for you and your staff. The basic metrics to measure will include participation in programs and events, sales and revenue from products, renewal and acquisition percentages, data from member satisfaction surveys, and your return on marketing investment. You may also have more specific metrics depending on your objectives.

#7 – Re-assess.

Make it a point to touch base with a few of your members through informal phone calls every month to get their feedback on what’s working and not working for them. Conduct another survey a year from now. It can be effective to use the same survey from the previous year so that you can make direct comparisons in the various areas. Analyze the data to see if your strategies helped you reach your overall goals, and continue to make adjustments on an ongoing basis.


Choosing Membership Management Software: The Mistakes Associations Make

Choosing Membership Management Software: The Mistakes Associations Make
Membership management software requires not only a financial commitment but also significant time and resources. Your staff members will be taking time out to learn the ins and outs of your new system, and it also takes time to go through the data migration and integration process. There are a lot of things to consider when software shopping, and a lot of ways you can get it wrong.

Here are some of the most common mistakes we see people make when selecting a membership management platform …

They Don’t Plan for Growth.

Don’t plan for where you are now, plan for where you want to be. If you’re a new-ish association or chapter, you likely have a pretty simple membership structure. Assuming that your goal is to expand, and not to shrink, you need a system that will grow with you.

Picture your organization three to five years down the road. By that time, you’ve diversified your membership levels to attract more members. You’ve put in place some new benefits and programs to generate additional revenue streams. Your membership is growing by the day. When you get to that point, I guarantee you’ll regret settling for an inflexible piece of membership management software that lacks the features you need.

There are several online membership management packages out there that will work within your budget and also support your growth.

They Don’t Consider the Possibilities.

Your membership management software doesn’t have to stand alone – and it shouldn’t. The purpose of investing in software is to cut down on your administrative workload, so you’ll want to make sure that whatever system you choose can integrate with your existing software – either directly or by downloading and uploading csv files.

Make a list of your existing programs, ask your software rep about the possibility of linking them with the membership management system, and see if you can’t get things a little more streamlined.

They Don’t Audit Their Current Processes.

Do you really know what you need? Have you talked to your staff members and had a brainstorming session around the processes that they feel could be made easier. Have you talked to current members about what they need? Get these questions answered first, shop for your software later.

When you demo different types of software, you should have a list of the features you’re looking for – with the most important prioritized on top.

They Don’t Include Users When Selecting Their Association Management Software.

Years back, an association I worked with was looking at putting a system in place and their finance manager decided to skip consultation with staff members and make all of the decisions herself. The staff didn’t know anything about the new system until it was actually implemented. The finance manager ticked all the boxes that were important from her perspective, but after spending thousands of dollars, discovered it made tasks and processes harder for the staff. In the end, all the spiffy new system actually achieved was to make tasks more time-consuming.

The lesson is obvious. The most important testers of your software are the people who are actually going to be using it. Invite them to your demos, ask them what most frustrates them about their processes, and observe how they currently execute their tasks so that you understand their needs.

They Choose a Membership Management Software with the Wrong Price Structure for Them.

Every software company structures their prices differently. Some charge monthly subscriptions, others charge by usage, and some add charges for upgrading features or processing credit cards.

After auditing your processes and talking to your staff, you should have a list of requirements. Being clear on what you’re looking for and asking a lot of questions up front can help you avoid paying hidden costs.

Many companies offer subscriptions that increase in price when you reach a certain number of members. For example, you may start out paying $100 monthly because you have under 500 members, but as soon as you increase to 501 members your subscription jumps to $200. This means you’re essentially paying an extra $100 per month for just one extra member. If you’re growing at lightning speed, this price structure could work. But in the real world, it makes sense to choose a package that lets you pay for only the members you have.

Here’s an idea: compare the total of all costs for each software provider based on the number of members you have now. Then do the same thing based on the number of members you hope to have in three years. Divide the total costs by the number of members, and that should give you a good feel for which solution is most beneficial for your organization.


How to Write a Mission Statement That’s Meaningful

How to Write a Mission Statement That's Meaningful

How much time do you spend thinking about your mission statement? Mission statements are intended to communicate the vision and purpose of organizations. That’s an important function, so it deserves some time and thought. Even if your organization already has a mission statement, it’s important to re-visit it periodically to make sure it still reflects your purpose and direction.

Creating your mission statement (or updating it) is as simple as answering some questions about your organization, then conveying these answers in language that is compelling and succinct.

To formulate your mission statement, start by answering these questions:

Think about whether you want your mission statement to reflect your short- or long-term goals. When focusing short term, you can be more specific. Long-term goals require a more general statement. Think bigger than your day-to-day operations, products, or service offerings. What are the underlying values that drive your decisions and actions?

One of the best things you can do is involve your board, and staff if appropriate, in the process. Have a brainstorming session around the questions above, and distill your discussion down to common themes and key words.

Once you have your top key words and phrases, work on putting them together in a sentence or two. You should be able to convey why your association exists in an inspiring, believable, and relevant way.  And you should be able to convey HOW you’ll deliver on your mission. The most effective mission statements aren’t too vague or too specific, and they use simple language. You’ll want to avoid using complex language or industry jargon.

Come up with three or four options, and test them on your staff. Ultimately, the mission statement you choose should be customer-focused, but should also inspire your staff to get behind the cause. You want the words to be powerful enough to evoke emotion …

Who could resist Starbucks’ mission statement: ” To inspire and nurture the human spirit – one person, one cup and one neighborhood at a time.”