Collecting Member Feedback – Membership Marketing 101

Ida Vejzagic
November 29, 2021 10 min read

After a 10-month hiatus, the GRM team are back with a new episode for the Membership Marketing series! 

Curious to see what three different departments have to say about the significance of member feedback? Watch our video!

Or take a look at the transcription below!


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I: Hello, and welcome everyone to our Membership Series on YouTube. We have been very busy lately and we have been discussing and actually debating internally, as well as with our clients about importance of their members’ feedback. So, we thought it might be useful maybe to put this- well, to have this open conversation between three different departments at GRM and actually share this insightful video with you. So, hopefully insightful video. So beside myself on this call, we have Rob who is heading our Digital Marketing Services at GRM. And we also have Hasan, who is in charge of our UX and UI department.

I: So lately, we have been- as I said, discussing about a really good challenge, and that is the importance of your members’ feedback. So, we all know membership organisations live off members and we understand that members are really important, but is their feedback and how- well, is their feedback important is the first question. And if the answer is positive, then how important is that feedback? So probably this question is more tailored to Rob at this stage.

R: Yeah. Thanks, Ida. It’s a good question and I think we’ve seen membership feedback’s always been important but I think it’s fair enough to say that it’s become more important over the past 18 months with the whole COVID effect on membership organisations and the way that they’ve literally had to change and adapt overnight as we’ve seen. I’m going to say that I mean like turning digitally so to speak and delivering their membership value more via digital channels. And I think what we’ve seen with our membership organisation clients is they’ve literally rapidly gone through a digital transformation within like a year- something which was maybe proposed like three to six years down the line. And I think what’s also evident is the ones that have actually gone through a period of listening to members in that digital transformation. They’re the ones that are really seeing value in what they’re delivering to their members right now and I think probably Hasan can explain a bit more because he’s a vital cog in that machine around gathering the feedback in a digital transformation project. But overall, to answer your question and say- it’s become really much more important over the past year or so.

I: So, Hasan, what is pretty much the process then on your end in terms of- for now, let’s say gathering information by the members.

H: Well, let me first say that gathering any kind of information, any kind of feedback of our users is really important. I would say one of the most important things in user experience is design and building up any digital product. So, the stages we actually take when building any digital product and particularly when it comes to user testing really depends on the complexity of the project or membership organisation we are actually working for that kind of project. And it really depends on the stage of the project we are in. So, in the very first beginning stages- starting stages of the project, these user tests are pretty much different than the ones in the later stages because we are actually trying to understand the project itself. We are trying to understand the membership organisation. We are actually building the digital product for- and so this user feedback from those members is really important for us to understand what are actually their frustrations in a way, and how can we help them in a way to build a suitable digital product for them in the in the future, hopefully.

I: Okay. So, in terms of- so that would be the first bit where we try to speak to them or understand. But then, are there- like, what kind of tests do we do and how can we actually collect this feedback as a next stage?

H: Yeah. I was saying about the early stage’s user testing and probably the most common way of user testing at this stage is user interviewing one-on-one where you actually talk to people, talk to members directly and try to gather their feedback and their opinion on the product itself and that’s actually really helpful. Again, like I said for us to understand the product we’re building for them even more. In the later stages, this process is actually in a way repeated again but with a different user testing method. We can actually separate them into a moderate and unmoderate way of user testing. A moderate way would be actually to talk again to some types of user personas or members of membership organisations. In a moderate way by asking them a couple of different questions, gather that kind of feedback. There’s also unmoderate way where you actually- let’s call it- throw a bunch of different questions to different people remotely and you are actually able to put together that kind of feedback afterwards and analyse it over and over again.

I: Excellent.

R: Sorry. Just to answer that as well- like one of the major benefits that I think membership organisations have is the fact that members are often bought into actually wanting to help them and they’re part of the community. So, membership organisations effectively have people that should be willing to give some valid feedback and that goes back to what you were saying there, Hasan, about the face-to-face ones which you’ve done on a recent project. Is that right? You’ve done-

H: Yeah, that’s right.

R: So yeah, I think they obviously bought into that and that is completely different when you’re talking about retail environments or other sort of e-commerce stores and stuff like that where potentially you have to do some sort of giveaway to get people to give you some decent information. But members, you generally get a high-quality amount of data that we can use.

I: Yeah.

H: I’d say the interesting thing here is actually that I’m actually surprised in a way, how happy these people are that we are actually approaching them and asking them about their opinion. Probably because of no one else in the past have done something like that so that’s one of the main reasons why I keep saying that user testing, gathering user feedback and talking to our users is the most important thing in our process, as we’re actually building a product for them, not for us.

R: Yeah, and I think members as well, being listened to and I think that’s why they’re probably really happy when they speak to you as part of the process, Hasan, is because it gives that feeling that the organisation’s actually trying to adapt to what they want. They feel wanted, they feel like their opinions counted, and I think that’s another way for membership organisations to not only improve what they’re doing but to bring the members closer to them.

I: I think it’s also about- we can go and collect all the data, put all different surveys out there but if the membership organisation is not willing to change and adapt then there’s no point in doing all these surveys. So, if there is enough internal drive to adapt, to improve, to give more value, show more value then I think it’s a win-win. And I’m also pleased that we’ve done such a great job when it comes to interviewing the members and them feeling valued throughout that whole process. So obviously, I know about surveys. Everybody knows about surveys, but Rob, are there any other tools out there that maybe you as a digital marketer have used when it comes to collecting some feedback?

R: Yeah. I think- I mean, there’s multiple things you can do and it is important that you actually still gather feedback as soon as your digital product- whether that be a web build or something goes live. Like some stuff that we implemented on a few websites now. Stuff like heat mapping and session recording where we’ll actually be able to see people browsing around the website, seeing what areas they’re using, identifying stock points and things like that. But when it comes to specific feedback I think- going back to what we said with members actually wanting to help us, we found that feedback tools normally work quite well with membership organisations, And they’re generally the small widgets you see like sort of on the scroll bar or they’ll pop up at a certain part of the website and they just give members the ability to rate the website- not usually, that’s what they do. Sort of like when you get in Ikea, where you’ve got the smiley faces as you walk around, but then also leave comments. And some of them, they even allow the user to pick out a particular part of the website that they might see an error with or that might need improvement and they can actually pinpoint you in the right direction as to where things can improve. But I suppose that’s only- I guess that answers your question but it’s only one side of feedback that’s just specific to a website. More membership organisations should also be looking at ways in which they can get feedback overall about their value proposition. I think that’s probably an area which- we know membership organisations tend to have covered by monthly emails that they send out or quarterly surveys. It’s more that digital product side of stuff that we’ve seen more uptake on in the past year or so.

I: Yeah, definitely. And one thing to keep in mind is that- when we are putting designs together, let’s say we will do them to our best endeavour but then really without any of that feedback and without constant change and iteration, we wouldn’t be able to meet anybody’s needs. So, all the work that’s done out there is best endeavour and based on the current information and feedback. But as we’ve seen with COVID, things have rapidly changed in the last two years, as Europe said something that was maybe planned for six years from now, had to be delivered in a very quick or short time span. These changing needs is something that we need to um think about and always stay in touch with members, just keep trying to see if any of their needs have changed or anything else that could be slightly done better.

R: Yeah, definitely. And I think you can- as marketers and Hasan in the UX area, we can look at stats all day in Google Analytics but you sort of make your own conclusions from them. They’re not always right but if you’re actually getting that real feedback from people whether that be face-to-face or via feedback tools, it’s just so much more powerful than trawling through data and making assumptions. Obviously, the data works as well to back them things up but- I know what I’ve been trying to instill in our team in the past couple of years now is to validate what clients actually want from us. So instead of just saying yes, Mr. Customer will go in and we’ll go and design whatever you want on your website or a new addition, any widget or whatever. We’re actually then looking at the data, installing heat maps, recordings just to try and validate that what they’re doing is the right thing to do. And I think that that’s going to be a continuous process for membership organisations all the time, I think.

I: Yeah. And I think for any business, to be fair like- I think most of our team is led by what we call golden circle. Yes, we can- it’s like how, what and why and this is- sorry. What, how and why and this is like, yeah, we can deliver whatever things Mr. Customer, and this is how we can deliver them. But where things might be slightly different in terms of how we interact with the client is where we’ll try to understand the reason why you want to do certain things. We want to understand whether this is something that is nice to have or is this something that was a feedback from the clients or from the member, that this is their desire or is there a particular business reason for a particular change. Well, I think this is all granular information from my end, really. But I think at the end of the day, understanding data but also having these conversations- if possible, one-on-ones with your members is- I think it’s gonna give you really good insights and will help you to achieve more to have loyal members. And more importantly, it’s not just about acquiring members but it’s also about that member retention. So, I hope-

R: Yeah. And I think-

I: Sorry.

R: Sorry. I think- yeah. Member attention- obviously, we know that’s a major thing that people are- it’s the number one goal, it’s what we know from member-wide survey that they recently did. And I think it was the number one goal for 2020 and 2019 as well. So just listening to members and keep providing that value is going to help with that retention for sure. But at the same time, the membership organisation has got to be willing to adapt and actually want to take the feedback on board and change.

I: Yeah. And I think this was- well, I hope this was a useful conversation for everyone out there trying to learn a bit more about membership and how can you be better when it comes to your digital footprint. So probably a few key takeaways- anything that we do digital is not an event, it’s a process. We have to be willing to change things. And most importantly, we have to listen to our members. So yeah, I hope you find this video useful, and that would be it for today.