Community Member Activity and Churn

Tribes Research 30th March 2017
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What is churn

The member churn rate (or attrition rate), is the rate at which participants in a market research community or panel cease participating and become inactive. This will include members that actively unsubscribe from the community and those that do not but are classified as inactive because they have not participated in any community activities over a long period of time.

The only predictable element of churn is that it will happen. The actual churn rate of a community is difficult to predict at the outset of the community although the shape of attrition is common to most communities and panels.

Activity curve

The chart below illustrates the typical shape of the “activity curve” observed in most communities and panels. The rate at which activity declines reduces over time, hence the highest level of drop off is in the first 3 months before slowing down and levelling off. The lower the level of inactivity in the first 3 months, the more members will remain active after 12 months.

Activity Curve graph

The chart above shows three possible scenarios for churn within a community. In Community A, churn is relatively low (and activity high), with 75% still active after 3 months and 60% after 12 months. In Community B, nearly 40% are lost in the first 3 months with a further 20% becoming inactive in the following 9 months. In Community C, only 50% are active after 3 months and only 20% remain after 12 months.

Minimising churn – Maximising Engagement and Activity

Member churn is a fact of life for all communities. However, Tribes are experts at keeping members engaged and active, and churn minimised.

Here are a few Tribes Tips for minimising attrition and maintaining an engaged, active and vibrant community.

Community recruitment

  • Be clear and honest about the purpose of the community, what is expected of members and what members receive for participating.
  • Don’t make joining too easy. If the community or panel will involve mainly quantitative surveys, then the registration or profiling survey to be completed by new members can be more than just the collection of an email address; it can be up to 15 questions to enable profiling and segmenting of the members. However, don’t make it too long or complex, you want to give new members an easy start.
  • Double opt-in. Always require new joiners to confirm their membership by responding to an auto-mailed ‘confirmation email’ as soon as they complete the registration survey

Maintain contact

  • Regular contact. If the community is primarily survey based, then send regular (at least once a month) survey invites.
  • Vary the contact. Invite members to discussion forums, quick polls and short surveys to give a variety of activities. Upload new polls and forums regularly and respond to posts promptly when required.

Relevant content

  • Try to keep activities, communication and site content relevant to, and consistent with, the purpose of the community

Keep members updated and informed

  • Newsletters are an excellent way to communicate with all members and keep them informed about community events, activities and content
  • Results feedback. Let members know how the research they have participated in has informed decision making. Feedback results from surveys and discussions.

Incentives and rewards

The type of incentive and reward scheme can vary significantly between communities and will depend on budget, activity type and frequency, and the pre-existing interest and engagement with the community owner. However, rewards should typically cover:

  • Membership. All members should be eligible for some reward, usually an entry into a prize draw, irrespective of activity.
  • Project activity. For each project, an incentive should be offered. This could be additional entries into the member prize draw, or a guaranteed sum of money with the amount dependent on the type of activity.
  • Onsite activity. Gamification can be used for onsite activity such as contributing to forums and completing quick polls. That is points are awarded for onsite activities and the points convert to status or ranks within the community – more points lead to a higher status.


Communities are social entities by nature. Therefore it is desirable within a research community to enable members to socialise with each other. This is typically done by:

  • Enabling discussion comments and replies
  • Allowing members to create their own discussions and maintaining a largely hands-off approach to member chats
  • Having a ‘Meet the member’ page on the site, where members who have been especially active or made an outstanding contribution can be featured


The community site and community activities must be easily accessible for all members to join, participate and contribute. This means they must be platform independent; accessible from PC, tablet and smartphones. All Tribes communities are multi-device enabled.

Read more about platform independence here.