Communication That Works

A new survey reveals what information members want from their associations and how they want to get it.

Associations spend plenty of time trying to understand what information members want and how they prefer to receive it. But it's still an imperfect science, as a recent MemberSuite survey shows. Among the findings from a 2011 survey of 1,600 association members:

Social media hasn't replaced old-fashioned email. Not even close, actually. Email is members' strongly preferred method of contact, at 89 percent; social media was preferred by only 8 percent of respondents. Age demographics don't change matters much: 13 percent of those aged 24-34 list social media as their first preference, but email still leads the way for that group at 87 percent.

There's a communication gap between associations and members. A majority (56 percent) of respondents who prefer to receive e-newsletters say they don't receive them from their associations, and 40 percent who prefer direct mail say they receive no such communication.

By and large, associations get the content part right. Members prefer breaking news, industry trends, and educational materials from associations, in that order, and they say they receive that content in similar proportions.

Actually, you may not be bombarding your members with too much information. Seventeen percent of respondents said their association communicates with them more often than they'd like, but 24 percent say they prefer to receive information from their association more often than they currently do.