March 30, 2016

Onboarding: The First Step to Membership Success

Onboarding: The First Step to Membership Success

When association executives think of their main priorities, member recruitment and retention probably come to mind. It’s important for your organization to not only generate consumer interest, but keep it. In order to recruit and retain members, associations must start early. It may come as a surprise, but onboarding new members is one of the most important steps of the membership process.The onboarding process gives associations the opportunity to create a relationship with new members, and make a great first impression. A thorough onboarding process is the first step in showing value in your membership. This presumed “miniscule” step sets the tone for the member experience. Don’t you want to start off on the right foot?

Importance of Onboarding New Members

When members decide to join an association, they choose to actively participate. During this process, associations can educate new members about their membership, and what the organization is all about.

  • The onboarding experience sets the tone for their member experience. It is important for associations to make this process as seamless as possible. This can be achieved by using advanced technology to efficiently onboard new members.
  • As time goes on, the likelihood that members will remain engaged decreases. Therefore, it is imperative for associations to engage members early. Associations that actively communicate with new members have a greater chance of engaging these members than those that don’t. By personalizing welcome efforts to new members, associations show their commitment to connecting with each member.
  • If done properly, onboarding new members can increase member retention. Associations that make it easy for new members to join are more likely to retain these members. Display the value of your organization to your new member early on. It will get them engaged in your various programs and it makes the case for them to renew their membership in a year.

Create an Onboarding Program

Gone are the days of just sending a welcome email to new members. It’s crucial for associations to create and implement an onboarding program. This initiative should not be viewed as optional, but rather compulsory. As associations continue to evolve, their onboarding programs should be adjusted to satisfy the needs of members.

Tips to Improve Your Onboarding Program

The more personal associations make their onboarding initiatives, the more interested and engaged members will become. Rather than hoping that new members will find their way around your organization, you should guide them through every step of the way. Below are tips to improve your onboarding initiatives.

Welcome Packet

We’ve all heard of a welcome packet, but are we doing them right? These packets should be a one-stop-shop for new members, including all the vital information they will need up front. If possible, welcome packets should be as personalized as possible.This small gesture will show new members that they are just as important as lifetime members. New member welcome packets should include: calendar of events, contact information sheet, AMS information, recap of membership benefits and association swag.

Meet and Greet

Who doesn’t love an event thrown in their honor? A new member meet and greet allows new members to meet established members, association staff, the membership committee or board members. This is a great opportunity for new members to ask questions and find out more about the organization. Associations should create name tags stating whether they are a new member, a legacy member, or board member to ensure conversation. This initiative will let new members feel welcomed in their new community.

Online Community

Almost everyone is on some form of social media today, as it is quickly becoming one of the easiest ways to access individuals. A great way to connect with new members is to create an online community specifically for them. This creates a safe-haven for new members to ask questions, express interests and get to know each other.

Personal Welcome Call

It may not seem like much, but a personalized phone call to a new member could change the way they view your organization. This not only shows that they are wanted, but that they are appreciated. Whether it’s the association president, or a member of the membership committee, the new member will know that they are receiving an individualized experience. As stated before, making the onboarding process personalized is key.

Everyone loves making a good first impression, and your association shouldn’t be any different. Onboarding new members isn’t only exciting, but extremely important. This vital stage sets the tone for your members’ new experience. By using these tips, you can showcase how much you appreciate your members.

To learn more about keeping your old and new members happy, take a look at our whitepaper, What Good Is An Association Without Members?