CHASE: Elections as an opportunity

Posted Thursday, March 3, 2016 - 15:25

CHASE is a two day event boasting a range of speakers and topics, connecting charities and associations, enabling them to share best practice examples and network.

ERS are proud to say that this is the second year we have been invited to speak at CHASE. Having successfully presented a session on social media and elections in 2015, we wanted to build on this theme and make sure our 2016 session was just as engaging and relevant. With this in mind we decided to focus on broader election communications, going on to explore and demonstrate how organisations can successfully analyse election communications. Specifically we wanted to highlight how election communication insights can be used to address voter apathy and help increase member engagement.

Many of the themes this year tied in very neatly with the election specific points we were making - this article picks a couple of key conference themes and exemplifies how they may also be present within your election process.

Member experience

Member Engagement has been a significant topic for membership organisations over the past 5 to 10 years, a couple of the reasons for this are an increased focus on accountability and a push towards ensuring organisational decisions are made with stakeholder input. An interesting point discussed at CHASE this year was how people’s expectations have been significantly raised by improving customer experience. The dynamics of shopping, healthcare, banking has changed. Innovations such as “1-click” shopping and experience focussed sales environments have led people to expect a richer content experience.

Member voting experience

Most membership organisations will ballot their members and it is a key event in the calendar of engagement. Inviting members to have their say in how an organisation is run, be it  voting on resolutions at the AGM or electing trustees to make decisions on their behalf is incredibly important time for an organisation. It’s important to get it right.

Traditionally members have had the opportunity to vote by post and for the past 16 years electronic voting has also been an option. In recent years ERS has introduced additional election tools such as mobile optimised voting with supporting websites hosting online nominations forms, video statements, integrated social media and discussion tools, eLearning modules for candidates and a sophisticated back end reporting dashboard - all to make the election experience for voters as well as organisations as seamless as possible.

While the value of providing a positive member experience can often be a difficult one to measure. I thought it was put well with the example that a positively engaged member will more likely become an ambassador for your organisation. If you provide a member with an excellent experience it follows they will remain with you as well as encourage others to join.

How to improve your member’s experience?

Modelling a membership can be a good way to understand different needs and preferences of your members. Typical classes for a membership model include new recruits, leavers as well as migrations. Members who join while young will eventually migrate to an older category, are you confident that your member communication preferences are up to date?

Another technique to ensure a positive member experience is journey mapping. This plots the processes a member goes through and the communication touch points as a part of that process.  Having a clear content strategy will also help improve your members’ experience, are you reaching your members in the most appropriate and engaging ways?

Some practical tips around content include:

  • Consider your audience and their preferred communication channels
  • Ensure you connect with your organisations aims visually as well as within the content
  • Use the voice of your stakeholders to appeal to the members
  • Be clear about the intended action you want your members take from a specific communication and make that action easy to do

How to improve your member’s voting experience?

Understanding your electorate’s preferred communication methods is key to providing a tailored experience. A good starting point for this is to look at wider communication trends. In general the trend is to online with a focus on mobile devices. You can read more on the digital channel shift an election processes in a recent article for Memberwise.

At ERS we can capture a wide range of membership insights as part of the election process. At a top level this can be whether a member prefers to receive posted or emailed voting instructions. Beyond this we can also highlight areas within your membership which are underrepresented, this could be geographical regions, age, gender or ethnicity.

Benefits of a better member voting experience

Organisations tend to seek to address their voting process and improve the experience in order to increase levels of participation. Improvements to the digital voter experience also has benefit of encouraging migration from the traditional postal process to digital, which has the potential to reduce the cost of elections as part of a longer term strategy.

Learn more about Electoral Reform Services, digital voting strategy and the @ERSvotes range of digital democracy solutions.

Luke Ashby - Digital Consultant

Luke Ashby - Digital Consultant

@Luke_Ashby

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