How you welcome a new member to your organization, chamber, association or club creates an important first impression. Crafting a well-written welcome email can engage new members, bringing them into the fold of your organization. This letter is one of the simplest ways to help your bottom line; it ensures that they’ll find value in their membership and increases the likelihood that they will renew at dues payment time. Jump to Sample Member Welcome Letter
I’ll outline some of the best practice tips and topics you should cover in your email. You’ll want to make adjustments to align with the needs of your organization and how you serve your members. Make this message count… The Epsilon Email Institute reported in 2018 that triggered emails such as welcome messages have a 63.2% higher open rate than business as usual emails.
- Personalize it.
According to Campaign Monitor, emails with personalized subject lines are 26% more likely to be opened. The open rate for emails with a personalized message was 18.8%, as compared to 13.1% without any personalization in 2016 (Statista). Be careful about subject lines that are too long if most users are checking email on mobile devices — they may get cut off. With impressive stats like these, it’s important to know what options your membership software offers in terms of personalization. Most member management systems will provide tags to embed into your welcome letter. Some tags could include:
- Member name – embed this in the subject line or greeting (e.g. “Dear [contact]”). Example subject line: “John Smith, your Gold Member benefits have arrived!”
- Membership level – mention this in case they need to refer to that information later.
- Login and password – allow them to access the member only portion of your web site and manage their profile.
- Renewal date – Remind them of when renewal occurs. They’ll be mentally prepared to pay dues or see a charge on their credit card statement around that time. (Ex: “Your membership is all paid up through [end].”)
- List your benefits.
Members sign up because they are expecting benefits for belonging to your group. Don’t lose this chance to educate, reinforce and proactively answer the question, “What’s in it for me?” You can hit the high points, link to a page on your website for details or link each benefit to a related page on your website. Communicate any benefits that may only be available to them because they signed up at a specific membership level. Example benefits:
- Member pricing for events such as your annual meeting
- Access to members only content on your website
- Listing in your online directory
- Access to a job bank or other online resource
- Access to member only events
- Mentor or buddy program
- Ask them to take action.
New members are typically receptive to invitations to participate in your group at sign up time. They have taken the time to sign up online, and they are ready to see that investment pay off. Your calls to action should include large asks and small ones so your member can choose how much time to invest. Things your welcome letter might include:
- Ask your your member to log in and enrich their member profile. Let them know that they can add pictures, choose directory categories, adjust their privacy settings, etc. Include a link to make it easy to find the login page.
- Invite them to meet you at upcoming events; include a link to your event calendar page (or even better, also link to a calendar page where just your new member events are listed if your full event list is large).
- Encourage volunteering by linking to your volunteer page or provide contact information for your volunteer coordinator.
- Mention committees that are actively seeking members (this could be a linked page) or contact information for committee chairs. Use chair email addresses that won’t go out of date such as firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Promote your sponsorship opportunities, especially for vendor or affiliate members.
- List ways to reach out.
New members tend to have the most questions. Do you take calls, emails or encourage use of an online forum, Facebook group or chat system for help? List all the ways they can connect with your group, including social media channels. Include ways to reach your new member point of contact.
- Format for skimming.
Readers are skimming these days as opposed to reading thoroughly. Use short sentences and bulleted content to communicate key information. Run your content through an online readability test. Have someone proof your letter for typos, grammar, spelling and punctuation. Keep it short! According to a Boomerang study, best range for email length is between 50-125 words; emails in this range yielded response rates above 50%. The sample letter below clocks in at around 125 words.
- Hyper customization and its potential pitfalls.
- Include timely information
Some organizations update their new member message on a regular basis and include upcoming events, news and/or current volunteer opportunities. As members will not have to take further action to find current information, this could be a successful way to encourage engagement.
- Turnover – In association management we always have to consider what activities are sustainable for staff and volunteers to manage. With inevitable turnover, will information about this practice be communicated to the next person in this role?
- Lengthy Email – Including a lot of current information can be lengthy. Consider instead linking to key topics and ensure that the member is signed up to receive future emails. Most membership management software offers email marketing platform integration (like MailChimp) or offer their own email system. Be sure your software is connected to your email marketing system so new members land on your newsletter email list.
- Use names in the body of the message or email addresses. Although it appears more friendly, consider not signing welcome emails using personal names (e.g. John Smith) in certain cases. This especially applies if you are a smaller organization where people are stretched thin. Never use a no-reply email address. A new member will not feel welcome if they can’t easily begin to engage with your group.
Staff and volunteer turnover occurs regularly. It’s best to have one less place to have to remember to make changes. Out-of-date contact information reflects poorly. In this case, consider generic signature lines that will never go out of date such as: Membership Chair
- Include timely information
- Test before sending, especially for mobile-friendliness.
Be sure to send yourself — and perhaps a coworker/fellow volunteer — a copy of the welcome email before you activate it for your new members. Run your email through a spam checker to see if your subject line or content will cause your message to get caught in spam filters. Check how the email appears in both mobile and desktop environments. You can look for:
- Subject lines that get cut off on mobile phones (and make adjustments accordingly to put key information early). The average desktop email software displays about 60 characters of an email’s subject line; mobile devices show around 25-30 characters.
- Images that are too big for mobile devices (if you added images). If an image is 300 pixels wide or less, it should be safe for mobile.
- Tags populating information correctly. Assuming your membership software will plug in sample data for you, check to be sure your tags do convert into data.
- Consider the full new member experience.
Beyond this letter, think about ways you can reach out to help new members feel included. Here are some tactics to implement or spark your own ideas:
- Autoresponder series – Create a series of emails in your email marketing platform that are triggered to send to a new member in the weeks or months after joining. Each email in the series could focus on a different aspect of your organization or benefits. If your email is too long, move some of that content into this series. Note that you do not want to spam members, so make sure that every email is relevant.
- New member events – Host annual or regular events just to help new members meet others. It can be as simple as a happy hour gathering.
- Mentor, buddy or similar program – Pair up longer-term members with new members to serve as personal guides to the group. They can be a buddy at events and/or serve as mentors.
- Feature your new members – Highlight new members within your organization with a newsletter article, invite them to write guest posts for your website or blog, or have them introduce themselves to the group at events. This helps them feel special and reinforces the benefits of belonging to a community.
- Conduct a survey – Send new members a link to an online survey regarding their needs and expectations.
- Volunteer opportunities – Have your volunteer coordinator personally reach out to see if the new member wants to participate in a committee, event or another idea. Sometimes a personal ask is all it takes to fill empty positions. Offering a range of commitment levels to choose from will increase your volunteer numbers.
- Send them something branded – Give them a T-shirt or specialty item with your logo on it. Offer a member logo to place on their website, email signature or advertising. Branded items provide free promotion for your group.
Sample New Member Welcome Letter
Welcome to <Group Name>! We are thrilled to have you as a Gold Member.
We invite you to login <link> to complete your Online Directory <link> profile:
Also login to:
- Access our salary survey results <link> and other member only content <link>.
- Register for member only events <link to calendar page where just member only>.
- Sign up for a committee <link to signup form>; members say this is the best way network.
- Reach out to potential mentors <link to directory page that is a subset of your larger directory>.
If you haven’t attended an event <link to calendar>, join us at our monthly happy hour <link to calendar where new member events populate> or another event that fits your schedule.
We’re eager to meet you! Please reach out with questions.
Your Member Service Team
P.S. We are always looking for sponsors! We can help you get noticed <link>.