It’s a good feeling when your association recruits new members. But it’s important to remember that retention and engagement are what will build your organization’s long-term success.
MemberClicks, a software company that makes tools for association management, recently held a webinar offering tips for member onboarding, delivered by marketing expert Scott Oser. (You can watch the recorded webinar here.) Oser shared the statistic that a good onboarding process can improve member retention and renewals by 10 percent.
This makes sense. Members want to feel valued—otherwise they’ll spend their time and energy elsewhere. Therefore, your association should have a fully-fledged onboarding program. Allocate resources as needed and set clear, measurable goals for your communications. One idea is to create membership ambassadors within your organization; these individuals can help keep conversations relevant and productive.
Begin communicating with a new member as soon as they turn in an application. Your initial outreach—as well as all future communication—should be personalized. This means using names and titles. It also means targeting and segmenting your boilerplate emails. For example, if your new member will be part of a student chapter, have a different message than you would for a corporate member.
Keep the member’s point of view in mind when creating your onboarding program. Your initial welcome letter should not ask too much or inundate its recipient with information. Follow-up communications should be frequent but not overwhelming. It’s also important to avoid the pitfall of using insider-speak. Particularly when speaking to new members, be approachable and have the right “voice.”
Use multiple media channels for onboarding, as you would for other outreach. While old fashioned newsletters and mailings may be appropriate in some cases, it makes sense to incorporate other formats that are being adopted in your industry. You can collect and use data to your advantage—what e-news gets opened the most? What social posts get liked and commented on?
While a robust onboarding process is key to retention, and ultimately to an association’s success, any onboarding routine is better than nothing. So if you don’t have a structure in place to make your new members feel valued and welcome, the most important thing you can do is begin today, even if your road map isn’t fully developed.
Read AOE’s related blog on Engaging your Association's Membership here.