How your association welcomes its new members is crucial, not only to fostering long-lasting relationships but to ensure that you retain association memberships over time.
The key is to fashion a friendly, warm, and welcoming environment – that includes a digital environment. In doing so, it will be easier to engage your new members early on, encouraging them to become involved from the start and setting them on a path toward a strong and long-lasting relationship with your association.
Why is this so important?
Because, in the long run, it is those strong relationships will lead to increased membership retention.
With that in mind, we’ve come up with five ways to establish early solid relationships with new members of your association so they will truly feel welcome and want to stick around for the long haul.
1. Polish Your Association's Welcome Letter to New Members
Every organization’s first step in welcoming a new association member should be a welcome letter and, when it comes to a welcome letter for new members, personalization is critical.
It may seem like a minor thing, but just using the new member’s name in a welcome letter’s salutation can go a long way to making them feel welcome. We suggest taking it even further.
Consider letting the new member know about any specific characteristics or contributions you think make them a great asset to your organization.
Make sure to thank your new member because, without members, you wouldn’t have a successful association. Letting your members know how valuable they are to your organization is essential right from the start.
Finally, your new association member welcome letter should include some next steps. You can include any information about an upcoming event or volunteer opportunity that may be available. You certainly don’t want them to feel overwhelmed, but you want to let them know how they can get involved right away.
2. Acknowledge a Newcomer's Reasons for Becoming a Member
Every new member that joins your association is a unique individual, and if you treat them that way, they are more likely to stick around. Ask them to address why they joined your association in their welcome letter but also in all your initial communications.
When you understand why the person joined your association in the first place, you will be able to cater to the newcomer’s unique interests and needs moving forward.
3. Introduce Newcomers to the Association's Online Community
Be sure to point your association’s new members in the direction of your existing online community. Make it even easier by giving instructions or providing them with a video that walks them through any of your association’s platforms.
Don’t forget to make an offer support to answer any questions they may have once they review the instructions you provide.
Include newcomers in your association’s social media ecosystem by adding them to Facebook groups, group chats, or other private channels that your association uses to engage members. You should also encourage new members to like and follow any of your association’s public social media channels and connect with current members.
4. Build a Comprehensive Newcomer's Welcome Packet
The best way to give new members of your association the welcome they deserve is to present them with a welcome kit upon joining. Your welcome package should include all of the items we outlined in steps one through three.
Your association’s comprehensive welcome package might look something like this:
- A new member welcome letter
- Instructions on joining your association’s online community
- Promotional merchandise, such as notepads, t-shirts, mugs, or pens
- Instructions on paying dues or other related costs
- A calendar of your association’s upcoming events
- Details on how new members can add personal information to your association’s membership directory
Think about how you will present this information to your association’s new members. Consider using fun, exciting, branded packaging that is social media-ready and share-worthy. Make it Instagrammable, so new members will be proud to show it off!
5. Use Your Digital Platforms to Highlight Your Association's New Members
A great way to welcome new members to your association is by spotlighting them in a welcome post on your website, blog, social media channels, or inside your association’s email newsletters. Don’t forget to mention something personal and specific that makes them a great addition to your organization.
Each new member should complete a Q&A upon joining. This way, you can learn what made them join your association in the first place, what they are looking forward to the most, and then tailor engagement based on that information. Ask for personal details, such as their hobbies and interests, so that existing members may connect to them on a more personal level. You can use this information to create their spotlight piece for your newsletter or other digital channels. Just don’t forget to get their permission first and let them know how you will use the information.
A Warm Welcome is Important for Retention
Once you have these tools in place, you’ll be able to easily extend warm welcomes to all of your association’s new members. When you understand a new member’s unique needs, you’ll be able to create a great welcome kit that includes essential materials to help them hit the ground running, and ultimately, boost your association’s retention rates.
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