Editor’s note: Shanna Cleveland is senior marketing research coordinator at association management firm Innovatis Group, Nashville, Tenn. This is an edited version of a post that originally appeared under the title, “Data tells a story: How to make market research engaging.” 

Market research is data. Historically, market research was about collecting a whole compilation of data and sending it off to a client for them to slice and dice as they saw fit. Today, it has evolved to providing insights alongside data sets. Data tells a story and it takes good market research practices to make data’s story relevant and applicable.

In associations, market researchers have data, insights and engaged members to tap into. The voice of the member is not one-sided. Members care if the community has relevant content, networking, notable speakers at events and meaningful opportunities to engage. In addition, members want their voices to be heard. Unlike other industries where engaged respondents are hard to come by, association research is sourced from advocates willing to provide quality feedback. It is music to a market researcher’s ears.

Effective market research builds customers up, listens to them and utilizes their feedback to inform decisions about the community. In user groups, market research takes capturing the voice of the member to a whole new level.

Prioritizing the voice of the member, making data-driven recommendations, creating customized quantitative and qualitative engagements, as well as strategic multi-phased campaigns and actionable insights, are critical elements of a market research campaign.

User groups are powerful communities full of rich insights. But, how do you best leverage all the community has to offer? Research should be productive, engaging and strategic and can follow this five-step process.

1. Captivate. Make market research a regular and valuable experien...