You’ve done the hard work of recruiting a new member and closing the deal. It was likely a team effort, with effective outreach by marketing, targeted recruitment and follow-up by membership and great experiences planned by events staff. But collecting dues from a new member is just the beginning of the relationship. Once you get them in the door, the same level of effort needs to focus on keeping them.
A diverse and comprehensive new member onboarding plan helps you turn a new member into a long-term one. Here are some strategies to consider when crafting your strategy.
Make sure members can find what they need.
You never get a second chance to make a first impression. The old adage rings true in member recruitment. For many people, an organization’s website is the first place they go for information. Make sure it is simple for them to locate and learn about their newly-acquired member benefits. They should be able to easily search and find content that is directly relevant to their work.
Make registering for events or learning programs as streamlined as possible. Work with your IT, web and content teams to make sure members can easily find their way around your website.
Include members through social media.
One of the primary value propositions of association membership is that it welcomes into a community. The sense of belonging should stretch beyond attendance at networking receptions (or Zoom happy hours).
Make sure you’re taking extra steps to invite new members in. Some people will jump right in and start forming connections, but others may be slower to get involved. Do as much as you can to help new members start engaging on social media and in member communities online. One way to do this is to introduce groups of new members monthly through Facebook, LinkedIn or other platforms your organization uses.
Keep a personal touch.
Many organizations are able to leverage their marketing systems to send curated communications to their members. The result? Tailored content that appeals to each member’s interests. This is a great way to keep members plugged in to the issues that are most relevant to them.
There are other offline ways to reach out as well. You can mail a welcome letter to new members. Your membership department can reach out to greet them with a personal phone call. The digital age has given us a wealth of new tools for connecting, but there’s still a place for mail and phone outreach.
Check in regularly.
Build out a schedule for new member onboarding that involves touch points throughout the year. If your only communication with new members comes when it’s time to renew, you need to rethink your strategy. Consider bringing on volunteers to call members midway through their first year to ask them how things are going. Invite new members to events or professional development opportunities that align with their interests.
The cost of recruiting a new member is greater than retaining one, so it’s important to work on keeping the ones you have. Don’t waste the effort your team puts in to securing a sign-up by dropping the ball during onboarding.
Let new members know that your association’s priority is to provide them with value, not just to collect dues. Nurturing member loyalty starts the day someone joins and your goal should be to keep those members for a lifetime.