Member Satisfaction vs. Engagement

Chris Scavo

Member satisfaction versus member engagement, which is better?

I’d like to introduce you to Mary. Mary is a young nurse that has been in the field for a few years now. Earlier this year she needed to renew one of her licenses. Mary found that the medical association her hospital works with had all of the continuing education resources she needed. She never considered joining before, but certainly had a need now and decided it was worth it.

Fast forward to today. Mary completed all of the requirements for renewing her license and is very satisfied with her association membership. While satisfied, she is not engaging with the association in other ways. She rarely opens emails she receives, isn’t interested in attending any events, and doesn’t follow them on social media channels or visit their website regularly. Satisfaction versus engagement. It is a fascinating topic that was discussed during one of the sessions I attended at the American Association of Medical Society Executives (AAMSE) 2016 Annual Conference in Baltimore.

For years, many organizations gauged membership based on its satisfaction with the organization. The idea is that if a member is satisfied it implies happiness, and happy members are loyal members. In reality though, satisfaction is a passive acceptance of an experience. “Were you satisfied with your meal?” “Are you satisfied with your television service?” “How satisfied were you with our repair team?” When asked these questions you may answer yes, but that does not mean you are more likely to return or less likely to switch providers.

On the other hand, engaged members are more involved members. They express a genuine interest in the association by their actions. Satisfied members may intend to do more with your association, but there is not that sense of urgency. They don’t prioritize your messages the way engaged members do. Think about how connected to your favorite restaurant you feel by liking them on Facebook, or following them on Instagram or Twitter. You see daily special updates, you are the first to know about events, in short you feel like you are a part of the business in a small way and you enjoy supporting them. The member relationship is no different. It is wonderful to have satisfied members, but it is important to recognize this within your membership and formulate a plan for increasing engagement.

A powerful way of doing this is by developing engagement scoring models. Engagement scoring is one of the most powerful tools you have for measuring true member engagement. It helps you identify where improvement is needed. Not only can this be beneficial when evaluating membership, it can provide valuable insight into potential members or leads.

Steps to Build a Member Engagement Scoring Model

  • First and foremost, every organization determines engagement differently. Some may not leverage social media channels or hold events, so trying to use a “one size fits all” approach can be difficult. Determine how your organization defines engagement and start there. Is it simply email metrics, or do other aspects such as number of web pages visited, resources downloaded, or social shares need to be factored in? This can be challenging, and time consuming, but once you have this defined you will have a much clearer idea of how your audience interacts with your organization and what you should be evaluating.
  • Once you understand what activities your organization uses to define engagement, it is important to prioritize, or weight, each activity. Not all activities hold the same importance. For example you may view form submissions as holding more value than, say, sharing a story on Facebook. Assigning a value to each activity will give your scores more accuracy and help you understand your organizational activities as much as the engagement of your constituents.
  • As with most things, scoring is not a one and done process. You need to evaluate how your membership is falling within each score, their performance, and develop ways to move members along their life cycle and increase their engagement score.

When approaching the process of creating engagement scores, start small and simply get the first couple of scores defined. As your membership changes and your marketing plans shift, adjust your scores to reflect these changes and remain accurate. An engaged member is a member that will likely renew their membership!

Ready for more tips on encouraging members to participate and collaborate? Check out our guide, Online Community Engagement With Marketing Automation.

About the Author
Chris Scavo

As a Product Marketer at Informz, Chris provides thought leadership through content generation, market analysis, and research. Outside of work, Chris participates in a number of dart leagues, enjoys golfing, and spending time with his wife and dogs.