For membership organizations, your welcome strategy will be a new member’s first experience with the group. If you do a good job, your members will feel like they’ve made the right decision. And if you really nail it? Your members might be impressed enough to become active members and maybe even volunteer.
But what makes up a good welcome strategy? What are some concrete ways you can engage members from day one? Here, we’ll look at six ways you can welcome new members to your organization.
1. Send a personalized welcome email to your members
Once a member signs up and pays for their membership, don’t leave them in the dark. Send a confirmation email that lets them know you received their application and payment and point them to the next steps.
With the help of a members only website, you can automatically send new members a welcome email. However, be cautious about sending a response that sounds too robotic. You want members to feel like they are hearing from a real person.
Here’s what you can do. First, it’s all in the details. From the subject line to the opening statement, try to personalize the email as much as you can. Address members by their names and pronouns. Open with a sincere expression of gratitude and tell your new members how excited you are to have them onboard. Try to give them a better understanding of your organization’s values and goals too. Let your new member get to know you better through this email.
Next, give your new member a rundown of the membership plan or level they signed up for. Remind them of everything they have to gain from being a member, as well as how they can access and operate the website and get everything they signed up for. Provide them with the login information and step-by-step process for the members only part of your website. Tell them about past and future events and talk about how much you hope that they can attend the next one.
Finally, segue to a tour or tutorial on how to get around your website and/or your club, then provide a clear call-to-action.
What does an effective personalized welcome email look like?
Here is a sample of a personalized welcome email from subscription-based video sharing platform The Set (which is not a MembershipWorks customer).
Welcome to The Set, John!
Ready to get your creative juices flowing? We’re glad to be part of your journey as a professional content creator. The Set is your ultimate creative playground for assembling and sharing videos to millions of viewers around the world. Excited? So are we!
Here at The Set, our goal is to help up-and-coming filmmakers find their niche and connect with an audience. At the Visionary level, you get full access to our site’s offers, from the Editors’ Suite to the Masterclass Corner where you can stream free courses on directing, editing, cinematography, sound design, and marketing and distribution.
To log into the Masterclass Corner go here and use the name and password you provided.
To learn more about navigating the site, watch this video tutorial or click here and we’ll connect you with one of our Set Masters! They’ll give you the full tour and answer any questions you might have.
We’ll send you more updates and goodies in the coming days, so keep your eyes peeled. Meantime, have fun creating!
– Set Master Owen
Hot Tip! Make sure your welcome email is mobile-friendly
According to Google, 70 percent of people read their emails on their phone. And of all these people who use their phones to check their emails, majority say they would delete a poorly formatted email. As much as 15 percent said they would even unsubscribe from the newsletter. With that in mind, you need to be sure that your welcome email is responsive to all devices!
2. Offer a tour of your site/overview of your organization
Before a new member can make full use of all the benefits you have to offer, they have to learn the ropes and figure out how to manage your site or learn your organization’s system. Help them get started by sending a video tutorial that explains everything they need to know. You can also choose to create a committee whose job is to integrate new members on and offline – let’s call these your member ambassadors.
Now, here are some things a tutorial video or a chat with a new member ambassador should shed light on:
How to set up a user profile
If your membership site is fairly straightforward and you have a younger membership base, this might be unnecessary. But if you have an older demographic, you may need to extend a hand to less tech-savvy recruits. Help them input all the important details, put up a display photo and set up their settings just the way they like it with clear and concise instructions.
Where to find important resources
Make sure your new members know where to find things like event calendars, job boards, and online member communities. This action will help members integrate into the organization better and stay up-to-date on announcements, events, and future changes. The Marion County Chamber of Commerce’s website has a whole vertical for a dining, attraction, shopping and lodging directory and another vertical just for events.
How to use the online community
An engaged online community also means that members get to help each other out, exchange stories and experiences and just have fun. Your online communities can be composed of classic forums and message boards or social media pages and Facebook groups they can join. If you want to keep the peace, though, you will have to establish clear guidelines for acceptable and unacceptable behavior in your online communities.
How to change their membership plan
If your membership offers a hierarchy of membership levels, be sure to let new members know when their plan expires, when and how they can change their subscription plan, how much they have to pay and what benefits they’ll receive or give up should they change their minds.
Remember! All membership websites should have a page dedicated to displaying the membership options and a call to action for joining. Check out how Chicago Sculpture International does it here.
Where to go for questions and concerns
Whether you’ve set up a chat bot, a form, a phone number or a dedicated email, inform members that there is a place to go for queries and feedback. When you know what members are having trouble with, you can easily troubleshoot and provide a better member experience for everyone.
3. Send new members a welcome packet
After sending your welcome email and giving new members a tour of your website/organization, it is time to put together a little welcome packet. Everyone loves a freebie, and a welcome packet filled to the brim with all kinds of goodies and treats won’t just brighten up a new member’s day, it will give them a sense of assurance that your organization doesn’t skimp on the good stuff.
A well thought out welcome packet isn’t just a random assemblage of branded stuff. It is a personalized gift basket that makes each member feel like they are part of the family. Here are some things you can include in your welcome packet:
A “Swag Bag”
These are your logo shirts, caps, mugs, keychains, bracelets, gadgets and stickers. Here’s a tip – don’t just slap your organization’s logo onto a shirt or a mug and call it a day. Give your members something they can be proud to wear in public. Come up with witty phrases or cool styling ideas that playfully and tastefully represent your brand. Consider giving out swag regularly — it might even boost your membership renewal rates.
Guest passes and referral gifts
One of the easiest ways to get more members is to let your current members do all the work for you. By incentivizing referrals and offering free guest passes to friends and family, you’ll encourage new members to hype up your organization and convince others to give it a shot.
Discounts and coupons
If your organization has a store or organizes events with admission fees, offer discounts and coupons to new members so they have more reason to support the org and its events.
A membership card
A membership card screams exclusivity. Depending on the setup of your organization, your membership card can also double as a special card that entitles cardholders to discounts and promos at certain establishments. MembershipWorks has a membership card that can be added within the Member Manage and Member Sign-Up template so members can access and print it whenever they need to.
4. Welcome new members in the official newsletter
This tip depends on the size of your membership base. If your organization is relatively small and tight-knit, it would make sense to make an organization-wide announcement introducing new people. However, if you are operating a large subscription-based service or a national association, introducing new members is unnecessary as it isn’t likely that all members will get to know each other or interact.
Now, if your organization is the former, you can send out either weekly, bi-weekly or monthly email newsletters to everyone and reserve a section for introducing newly minted members. Why do this? Because most people appreciate getting their “15 minutes of fame.” It gives them a sense of importance and place in your organization. It also gives old members an opportunity to acquaint themselves with new members of their community.
5. Host a welcome party for new members
Depending on the kind of resources that you have, one great way to make members feel truly welcomed into your organization is by putting together an event. With a good member management software, you can easily send out event invites and keep track of attendance and registration.
Your event could be anything from a simple celebratory cocktail night to a full-fledged conference and integration day where members get to meet key members of the organization, mingle among themselves, and learn from their peers and elders.
What does an invitation to a welcome party look like?
Here’s a template you can use when drafting your welcome party invitations:
Save the date!
You are cordially invited to [Membership Organization Name]’s annual New Member Party.
[Date and Time]
Join us for an intimate evening of cocktails, good food, and live music and get to know your fellow members, the Board of Directors, department managers, and more!
[RSVP details here]
See you there!
6. Consult with current members for welcoming ideas
Membership organizations cannot survive without happy members. Thus, one of the most important things a member organization must do is to listen to its members.
Say you’ve gone through several cycles of welcoming new members with the same old strategies. Now you can consult with some long-standing members to figure out whether they were impressed or underwhelmed with their welcoming experience – and whether this affected the way they perceive the organization and the way they engage as well.
At the end of the day, implementing a successful and well-planned welcoming strategy doesn’t just create happier members, it cultivates a more active and engaged membership base.
To do this, you can send a personalized welcome email, provide a tutorial or tour on how to use your site, send a free welcome packet with awesome goodies, introduce new members in your newsletters, host welcome parties, and always consult with your membership base.
And remember: while it is essential to make members feel welcomed the moment they come onboard, it is equally important to sustain the effort to provide an enriching member experience for everyone. Welcoming new members is just the tip of the iceberg. And with the right member management software, you can do all that and more.