Rules of Engagement: Build Better Surveys

Three tactics to help you boost your survey response rates.

Surveys can help associations collect direct and honest feedback from members. Every successful survey has a few common elements that result in a higher response rate, says Eric Larson, an education coordinator with the National Automatic Merchandising Association (NAMA).

“With surveys, you’re aiming to open up a conversation with the member,” Larson says. He offers three tactics for getting the most out of your member surveys.

1. Use intrinsic motivators. Too often, organizations try to boost survey participation with extrinsic motivators like gift cards or rewards points, Larson says. When you send members a survey, explain why their feedback is essential to accomplishing your organization’s mission. “I think what participants really value is just knowing that their input is being heard and put to good use,” and that’s an intrinsic motivation, he says.

2. Keep it short and simple. Begin a survey with a few simple, yes-or-no or multiple-choice questions to get participants started, Larson suggests. Also, be mindful about length. NAMA tries to limit most surveys to three or four questions.

3. Finish with an open-ended question. At the end of a survey, give participants a chance to provide narrative feedback. “Open-ended questions generally provide you with the most useful insights,” Larson says. “And be sure to give survey takers the option to leave their contact information, so you can open up a conversation after the survey.”

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Tim Ebner

By Tim Ebner

Tim Ebner is a senior editor for Associations Now. He covers membership, leadership, and governance issues. Email him with story ideas or news tips. MORE

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