The first months of membership set the stage for your relationship with new members.
Read on for tips on how to make your members feel welcome and engaged right from the start.
By Michelle Schweitz, Marketing Manager, Community Brands
When you think about member retention, you might think about the 90 days leading up to member renewal dates. But here’s something to consider: Your members’ entire experience with your organization sways their decisions to renew (or not!). That’s what makes your onboarding experience so important.
The first months of membership set the stage for your relationship with new members. So, the first impression you make needs to be a good one.
Here’s how to make your members feel welcome, appreciated, and engaged right from the start:
The first 30 days
- Thank them. Thanking new members for joining your organization goes a long way toward making them feel appreciated right off the bat. At the very least, be sure to provide a “thank you” confirmation page and auto-email once they sign up online to acknowledge their new membership.
But, don’t stop there. Here’s how to take it even further:
- Send a personal email or hand-written note (or even take a moment to call) to thank each new member for joining your organization.
- Send a new member welcome gift. This could include a logo item from your organization, or maybe a book or a professionally printed copy of a key resource that your organization provides members.
- List new members in your email newsletter under a “Welcome, new members!” heading to make them feel even more appreciated.
- Post a weekly announcement in your online community welcoming new members.
- Make them feel at home. Help new members feel comfortable right away by letting them know how your organization works, what to expect, and where to go for information. Provide them with a digital welcome packet that includes:
- A reminder of the benefits they receive as a member of your association.
- Important dates, like your annual conference or meeting, and details about those events.
- A list of the types of communications they can expect to receive from you and how often they’ll receive the communications.
- A list of online resources, such as a calendar of events, your career center, and your online member community, plus any instructions about how to log in and how to set up user profiles.
- An introduction to a volunteer member ambassador, or “buddy,” to help them get to know the organization and feel more welcome. You can make this connection through your online community.
- Information about who to contact at your organization or where to go online if they have questions or would like to give feedback about their member experience.
TIP: If you have a lot of information to share in your welcome packet, create a “welcome” email series. These emails can include the information listed above as well as any helpful tips or recent blog articles – really anything that adds value for your new members.
30 to 60 days
Now’s the time to get new members plugged in and engaged with the organization. Here are three effective approaches:
- Invite them to join in. Get new members involved by asking them to connect with your organization and other members. For example, invite them to a group for new members in your online community. Be sure to ask someone on your staff and a highly involved member to join in the group to prompt discussions and answer questions. Also, include a footer in your onboarding emails that lets members know how to stay in contact with your organization, such as customer support contact information and social media icons.
- Get personal. Personalize the member experience by presenting your members with content that is specific to their needs and interests. For example, offer up recommendations, such as job postings based on members’ certifications or CE course completions. Or, suggest discussion groups they might consider joining on your online community. You’ll win them over by demonstrating that you understand them and that you’re working to deliver value to them.
TIP: Use YourMembership association management software to collect and analyze data about your members’ career stages, interests, and behaviors to provide them with more personalized communications.
- Use your virtual events. Now that virtual and hybrid events and other virtual engagement activities have become more of the norm than ever before, use your virtual events to make new members feel welcome, appreciated, and part of the organization. Some ideas:
- Provide an area for new members to connect before and after the event. For example, set up a new member discussion group in your online community.
- Ask highly involved members to reach out to new members directly to welcome them and offer to answer any questions they might have.
- Offer a networking virtual event where new members can quickly connect with each other and existing members.
60 to 90 days
You’ll still be engaging with new members during this time, but it’s a great point to ask for their feedback. Ask about their experience so far. Find out what they’ve found most useful and what could make their experience even better. Be sure to use their feedback to adjust new member activities for the future, and let them know what changes you’ve made based on their input.
TIP: Use survey functionality included in YourMembership association management software to easily build and send targeted surveys and collect feedback.
Find out more about how to make new members feel welcome and appreciated in a virtual environment. Watch the on-demand webinar: The Naughty and Nice Checklist: A Successful New Member Digital Onboarding Strategy.