Earlier on the Member365 blog, we wrote at length about the difference between Qualitative and Quantitative questions on membership surveys.
While understanding these two types of questioning is critical for getting the most out of your various surveys – they are not the only type worth knowing.
Qualitative and Quantitative questions is all about insight into your members and their behavior. Asking them allows you to capture data on whatever it is you’d like to know about your audience.
However, when it comes to organizing this data – you need the help of a different kind of question. All the quantitative/qualitative data in the world won’t mean much if you can’t analyze it, which is why it’s so important to ensure your surveys include questions and fields that can help you build reports and extract useful insight from data.
Why Demographic Questions?
When it comes to analyzing data from various surveys, membership managers can sort out demographic considerations the hard way or the easy way.
The hard way is to pour through dense reports of your collected data, and manually organize survey participants into groups. This tactic is hard, time consuming work, and introduces a lot of uncertainty into data. With only your judgement, it’s impossible to sort out the age, gender, profession, etc. of survey respondents with real confidence.
The easy way is to include questions on your survey that allow software to take care of this work automatically. By giving respondents the power to self-identify the group they belong into, you can not only skip the process of organizing them manually, but enjoy significantly more confidence in the insights that your data delivers.
What Kind of Demographic Questions Should I Be Asking?
There is no one-size-fits-all answer to determining the relevant demographics of a given audience. Ultimately, the way you organize an audience based on demographics is a matter of understanding the needs of your organization, and the nature of your audience.
That said, there are a few standard criteria for organizing demographics that can be useful to any membership manager, such as:
Collecting data on the age of survey respondents can expose tremendously powerful insights into the motivations and behaviors of your members.
For example, perhaps you saw a recent awareness campaign produce a minor spike in registrations for an upcoming event. With the help of demographic questions designed to sort out the age of survey respondents, you identify that the majority of this engagement came from millennial members.
Without the help of demographic questions, you might have missed out on the insights this spike could deliver. While the spike was minor, this could indicate that a similar campaign – with a bit more investment – could help you capture elusive millennial members for your organization!
While it might not be true that men are from mars and women are from venus, gender plays an important role in human behavior, and including gender-based demographic questions lets you understand the role it plays for your members.
Beyond helping you sort out how your efforts impact the behavior of men and women among your audience, gender-based questioning can also deliver invaluable insight into the experience of those surveyed that hold alternative sexual identities. Providing space on your surveys and forms for Trans and non-binary responses is a small, but important, step towards promoting the inclusion that member-driven organizations are based on – and can help you identify other opportunities to cultivate a member experience enjoyed by all.
For professional associations – this field is a must have.
Even in a very specific field, allowing your members to identify their special niche can prove instrumental in sorting out how you can reach others like them. Once survey data has been captured, running reports based on professional demographics gives you powerful vision into the needs, wants, and expectations of given segments.
Looking to target a particular kind of professional for membership acquisition or your next event? Having data on-hand about how others like your target have historically responded to your attempts to reach them gives you a powerful platform on which to start. You’ll be able to see the lessons you’ve already learned, confidently avoid what hasn’t worked , and focus on what has.
Sometimes audiences are too diverse to usefully sort into groups based on only standard criteria like age, profession, gender, etc.
In these cases, it can be helpful to think in terms of behavioral criteria as well. Questions like “Did you attend our last event?” can give you the information you need to organize your data usefully as well.
Think about the important actions your audience takes, and consider adding demographic fields to your surveys that allow you to sort respondents based on whether or not they’ve taken them.
In concert with other demographic, quantitative, and qualitative questioning – behavioral questions can help deliver insights like:
- Baby-boomer males are significantly less likely to respond to email invites to your events.
- Millennial females who attend one event are very unlikely to attend another.
- Male marketing consultants engage significantly more than female marketing consultants.
What Demographics are Important to You?
Every member-driven organization will organize their members, event attendants, etc. based on different criteria. What is important to your organization won’t be to another, so it’s important to work out the demographic considerations that are important to you, and ensure they are reflected on the surveys you send to your members!