Boosting Membership Retention from the Start: Your Members’ First 3 Months

Editorial note: the following is a guest blog from Callie Walker of MemberClicks

Does membership retention really begin the second a member joins your association?

It should! The better you onboard, the more likely your members are to renew.

So the question then becomes…how do you effectively onboard your new members? What should you be doing in their first few months? Here’s a breakdown:

Month 1 – Welcome

When a member first joins, it’s important to reach out to them in a timely manner. Be proactive and extremely responsive (you want to start off on the right foot, after all!). That said, you don’t want to come across as spammy, so spread your communications out, at least a little bit.

  • Send a welcome email with login credentials to the members-only portal.You want your new members to login ASAP, so make it easy for them by giving them all the info (links included!) they need.
  • Post a hearty welcome on your website.Not only will this promote your new members, but it will give them content to share on their own social media channels as well.
  • Follow up with a phone call. Within a week of sending login credentials, contact all of your new members who have NOT accessed the members-only portal. (You want to make sure they’re not having login difficulties.)
  • Use social media to welcome your new members.A quick tweet or Facebook post garners the attention of your new members and gives them that “VIP” feeling. (Who doesn’t love a shoutout?!)
  • Prepare to welcome your new members in your next newsletter.Keep a running list of all your new members (particularly as they fall between newsletters) and make SURE you don’t forget anyone.

Month 2 – Connect

This month is all about deepening the connection you have with your new members and strengthening their sense of belonging within your organization. Take some time to create personal (and unique) touch points for your new members.

  • Write and mail a personal note.Among all the emails, texts, and letters with digital signatures, a simple handwritten note can really stand out. Be authentic here – your members will appreciate it.
  • Schedule a ribbon cutting, open house, and/or other celebratory events.Market the event(s) on your website, social media channels, and via email. Your goal should be to introduce your new members to as many current members as possible.
  • Set up a forum or other personalized area just for new members.Every week, engage your new members in conversation, answer their questions, and share announcements (via a new members-only circle). The more you initiate conversation, the more they’ll likely partake.
  • Introduce them to a member ambassador.If possible, match your newbies with current members who have similar interests and/or expertise. This kind of mentoring can help your new members get acclimated (and engaged) at a quicker pace.
  • Make a special delivery.Surprise your new members with a special delivery! If you hosted an event (for example, the ribbon cutting), bring a framed photo or a special plaque. Other ideas: A branded mug filled with candy or free tickets to an event with a welcome note from the president.

Month 3 – Engage

To boost retention, it’s crucial to engage your new members as soon as possible. Use month three to make sure your first two months’ strategies were successful. By the end of month three, you should have welcomed, connected, and engaged with new members in a way that’s meaningful to them.

  • Post pictures from your celebratory events.If you hosted any new member celebrations, post about them on social media! This is a great way to keep that excitement (and engagement) going.
  • Follow up with your member ambassadors.Call or email your member ambassadors to see how things are going and if there’s anything you can do to help them engage your new members.
  • Send a postcard of upcoming events.Send your new members a postcard with a calendar listing of upcoming events. This will be a great resource for them to reference in the future.
  • Reach out.Call your new members to discuss – one-on-one – how their membership is going so far. Mention upcoming events, referrals, and specific ways to get involved. (If they haven’t attended a new member orientation yet, this is the perfect time to sign them up.)

Got the first three months down? What should you be doing after? When should you start encouraging members to renew? What should you sayto encourage members to renew?

MemberClicks can help! In our free Membership Retention Kit, we explain how to demonstrate your association’s benefits, how to create an effective membership retention webpage, when to send renewal reminder emails (plus templates for each touch), and more! Click here to check it out!