September 15, 2021
Updated Nov. 30, 2021
Think back to the last time you joined a new group, professional or otherwise — it was probably a little intimidating. Everyone seemingly already knows one another and what to expect, and the unknown can be a bit scary. It feels a little bit like showing up to a party where you don’t know anyone else there.
Your association’s new member welcome and onboarding process sets a valuable first impression for your recently joined members. A strong start gives you an advantage in facilitating long-term happiness and success as part of your community.
Here are some tips on how to welcome new members to your association or membership-based organization.
Have you ever been thrilled to become a member of a group, only to feel ghosted and lost after signing up? This doesn’t exactly create the best first impression. One major mistake that associations make is neglecting a comprehensive onboarding process for members.
The new member welcome letter may be the first piece of direct communication your members have with your association and is critical for increasing the odds of retaining them in the long run.
Always be sure to include a personalized greeting in your welcome letter, as opposed to a generic one like “Valued Member.” Using a first name in your greeting fosters a friendly and caring atmosphere for the new member to feel comfortable getting to know you more. Being called a “valued member” will make them feel significantly less valued!
Let your new member know how much you appreciate them joining your organization — after all, members keep you running! The earlier you can thank a member, the better they will feel. This is a positive step in building a long-term relationship.
In the same vein as providing access to a member portal early, you want to make sure to highlight any benefits your new members may want to use immediately. This is also a great way to remind them why they decided to sign up.
Show your members how to get engaged right from the start! Include brief, easy-to-understand instructions on how to access their member portal inside the welcome letter. The earlier this is done, the more likely your new member will dive into all of the resources you have available.
Remind members that there’s more to their membership! Let them know what to expect next from you, whether that is a new member packet in the mail or a full onboarding series of content. Let them know of any upcoming events that they may want to attend.
Pro tip: if you know their specific interests, tailor this list to events that you think would be of particular interest to them. You may also want to tell them about special committees or councils they might be interested in joining.
Give your new members a roadmap to becoming informed, established members. However, be sure to keep this list of resources short to avoid overwhelming them.
In case your new members hit any snags while looking through the resources you provided above, provide an easy, straightforward process for where to go for help to avoid any early frustrations with members. You want your members to feel like your association is easily accessible and always there for them.
Now that you’ve provided value to your new members early, take this opportunity to remind them to whitelist your domain so they won’t miss any future emails! Many associations’ emails get blocked by email firewalls, so requesting they save your email address as a contact can help improve email deliverability.
Just in case there is any pertinent information that your email didn’t cover, invite members to ask you questions directly. This is also a good opportunity to ask them to share why they joined your association!
Need some more help getting started? Here is a template for a new member welcome letter you can tailor for your own association or membership-based organization:
Dear [new member first name],
Thank you so much for joining [your association’s name]! We’re so excited to have you on board and can’t wait to get to know and serve you.
We invite you to log in at [website URL] to complete your membership profile with the following information:
Once you log in, you’ll be able to access these exclusive, members-only resources!
[list top resources available in member portal]
To help you get involved, here are a few upcoming events we think you’ll enjoy. Attending our events is a great way to learn, meet other members, and have fun!
[list upcoming events here]
In addition, we want to make sure you’re taking full advantage of all the membership benefits now available to you! Here are a few other things you can get started with right away:
[List primary membership benefits]
We’ll be following up next week with our full membership welcome package, so keep an eye out for that! Be sure to add this email address to your contact list to avoid missing out on any important messages and exclusive content!
Should you need any assistance or have questions about your membership at any time, please feel free to contact us at [phone number] or email us at [email address].
Got everything you need? We still welcome you to reach out and let us know your thoughts on your experience so far!
Best of luck to you, and thank you for being a part of the [association name] community.
If a new member indicated they are interested in a particular member benefit, be sure to follow up and direct them to those specific resources and how to access them. Be sure to do this in the earliest stages of their membership so they can find exactly what they’re looking for, right from the start.
New member socials are a great way to facilitate networking and foster a sense of community among those who recently joined your organization. New members can ask questions and meet each other in a non-intimidating environment. The frequency of these new member socials will depend on your individual association — if you have a lot of new members each month, monthly events might be a better fit.
Checking in on new members a few months into their membership not only provides your association team with insights on your member onboarding process, but also helps you build meaningful relationships with members that will keep them a part of your organization for the long haul.
Your association should have some sort of digital forum where members can connect with one another. This is a great place to introduce new members with a short bio and open the doors for existing members to welcome them into the fold. Another nice touch would be to add a new member’s welcome section to your email newsletter.
A great way to make new members feel comfortable and connected is by creating a buddy system that connects new members with veteran members. This will automatically make them feel like they’re not alone and they have an experienced person to whom they can direct their questions. It’s always less intimidating to attend an event when you know someone who will be there!
It is easy to let communication with new members fall by the wayside once they have completed initial onboarding. However, in order to keep them engaged and happy in the long-term, be sure to continuously make members feel valued and appreciated!
How you welcome new members to your association sets the tone for their overall membership experience, so don’t neglect this important part of the process. To receive tips for association pros directly in your inbox, subscribe to the Sidecar newsletter today!
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Emily Herrington is a New Orleans-based digital marketer specializing in SEO, content, and pay-per-click advertising. She can usually be found at her desk obsessing over data and rankings, or in the kitchen covered in flour.