Hack the Member Onboarding Code: Retain More Members with These Proven Strategies

Download the Member Onboarding Guide

Use this to hack member onboarding for member retention and engagement at your association

Did you know that 70% of new association members drop out within their first year due to poor member onboarding? But it doesn’t have to be this way.

An Effective member onboarding will benefit more than just your association’s bottom line. It will help you build stronger connections, boost engagement, and retain valuable members. Let’s talk about how you can hack the system and turn onboarding into a powerful tool for member retention and engagement.

Why Member Onboarding is Important

Member onboarding is about welcoming and guiding new members into the association, helping them understand what the organization stands for and its benefits. 

A smooth onboarding process sets the stage for lasting member engagement and satisfaction and a well-crafted onboarding process helps new members:

  • Understand your association’s mission and values.
  • Navigate the benefits and resources available.
  • Build connections with other members and feel a sense of belonging.
  • Identify ways to contribute and get involved.

Optimizing this process isn’t just a luxury, it is a necessity if you want to lay the foundations for meaningful relationships and a thriving member community.

Challenges and Misconceptions Around Member Onboarding

Member onboarding brings various challenges and misconceptions that can hinder its effectiveness. These obstacles include resource constraints, technological limitations, organizational inertia, and communication barriers. 

Additionally, misconceptions like viewing onboarding as a one-time event rather than an ongoing journey can diminish its impact. 

However, by recognizing and tackling these issues directly, associations can adjust their onboarding approach, leading to improved member engagement and retention opportunities.

Assessing Your Onboarding

You need to assess your current onboarding practice before you start a revamp. You should map your current process, track engagement, and gather feedback from new, and existing members, and staff. 

While doing this, it is also important that you look at your strengths (e.g., clear info) and weaknesses (e.g., low event engagement). This feedback will help you identify areas to improve and how you can tailor your onboarding for maximum impact.

Here’s how to identify strengths, weaknesses, and areas for improvement:

  • Map your journey: Track every step, from welcome to integration. Look for clear, concise communication and valuable touchpoints.
  • Measure engagement: See how new members participate in activities, events, and online spaces. Compare different groups for insights.
  • Gather feedback: Ask new and existing members, plus your onboarding team, for their experiences and suggestions. Look for patterns and hidden issues.

Now that you’ve diagnosed your member onboarding process, let’s equip you with powerful strategies to transform it into a member engagement powerhouse.

Member Onboarding Must-haves

Show You Care from the Start

Begin your member’s onboarding with a genuine demonstration of care and interest. You should make their first interactions warm and welcoming by showing new members that they are valued from the outset. Simple gestures like personalized emails, hand-signed welcome letters, or acknowledging their specific interests can go a long way in giving them a positive initial impression.

Creating Compelling Welcome Packets

Beyond the welcome letter, you could make the welcome packs more interesting. You can offer a resource guide, member directory, and personalized recommendations based on their needs. Include details about upcoming events, membership benefits, key contacts, and resources they can access. Ensure the packet is visually appealing and organized for easy navigation.

Hold a monthly onboarding webinar with new members

Organize special events or activities specifically aimed at welcoming new members into the association’s community. These events could range from orientation sessions and networking mixers to guided tours or webinars introducing them to the association’s programs and initiatives.

Get Feedback

Actively solicit feedback from new members about their onboarding experience and areas for improvement. Encourage open communication through surveys, feedback forms, or one-on-one conversations to gain valuable insights and continuously refine the onboarding process based on member input.

Member Onboarding Should-Haves

Personalized Welcome Experience

Make your onboarding experience tailored to each new member or group of members whenever possible. Personalization adds a special touch, making individuals feel recognized and appreciated. 

Use their name in communications, reference their interests or reasons for joining, and offer personalized recommendations for getting involved within the association.

Creating Compelling Welcome Packets

Beyond the welcome letter, you could make the welcome packs more interesting. You can offer a resource guide, member directory, and personalized recommendations based on their needs.

Include details about upcoming events, membership benefits, key contacts, and resources they can access. Ensure the packet is visually appealing and organized for easy navigation.

Create Onboarding Video Tutorials

Offer short, engaging video tutorials that guide new members through various aspects of the association, such as navigating the website, accessing member resources, and engaging with online communities. This self-paced learning format caters to diverse learning styles and provides easy access to information.

Create a Buddy System

Implement a buddy system where seasoned members are paired with newcomers to provide guidance, support, and answers to their questions. Buddies can help new members grow a sense of belonging, reduce feelings of solutions, and accelerate their integration into the community.

Make Your Welcome Content Evergreen

Make sure to create evergreen content that remains relevant and valuable beyond the initial onboarding phase. Update resources regularly, add new tutorials, and provide ongoing access to valuable information to keep members engaged over time.

Lead from Your Story

New members need to get connected to what drives your community. This is why it is important to share your story with new members as it will help them connect.

This might be your personal story, a brand story, or your organization’s story. What is most important is that you are real about the work you do and why you care so much. It works wonders to help members know it’s a community they want to belong to.

Invest in Membership Management Software

Automate tasks, track engagement data, and personalize communication using membership management software like Member Lounge.

A robust membership software platform like Member Lounge can help you centralize member data, facilitate online registrations, and allows you to tailor your onboarding experience for each member.

Have a Welcome Committee

Establish a dedicated welcome committee who are passionate about helping new members feel at home. The welcome committee can coordinate outreach efforts, organize welcome events, and serve as the human you’re necessary to give your onboarding a special effect.

Give a Sneak Peek into Future Content

Offer new members a glimpse into upcoming events, programs, and initiatives to pique their interest and encourage ongoing engagement. Providing previews of exciting content or exclusive opportunities can motivate new members to stay involved and explore all that the association has to offer.

Improve your member onboarding with Member Lounge

Member onboarding isn’t a destination, it’s a journey. By investing and implementing these strategies, your association can make members feel valued and right at home from the beginning.

You can hack your member onboarding process with Member Lounge, a user-friendly platform tailored for associations. Member Lounge helps you streamline member communication, provides helpful resources, and helps you seamlessly integrate members while growing your association.

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