New member engagement plans work! (You may recall me announcing this a few weeks ago.) On average new member onboarding, orientation, and welcoming programs increase new member renewal rates by 9.7% or up to as much as 50%.
How do they do this?
The key is in regimented, but flexible planning. Now, wait a minute! How can you have regimented, but flexible planning? Those two things are antithetical, right? Yes and no, but here is how they work in New Member Engagement Plans.
Develop Regimented New Member Engagement Plans
The very best new member engagement plans, as measured by increases in new member renewal rates, rely on detailed planning.
Often the new member engagement program champion will sit down for a day alone or with a small team and map out a plan, including why they are going to engage new members, how they are going to engage new members, when, and with what kind of outreach. They might plan who on staff has which responsibility and how they are going to measure the program’s effectiveness and how long they are going to follow new members.
Typically, once the program’s strategic plan is complete, the champion will seek buy-in from cooperative departments and then move on to the tactical planning.
During the tactical planning portion, we plan out the actual messages. Let’s say that our strategic plan calls for three messages within the first three weeks of joining. Now it is time to write or script those messages. We also planned for an email at one month, an orientation call by 1-1/2 months, and a discount to try an educational product to go out at two months. All of these need scripts or templates too.
New member engagement plans perform far better when the association relies on scripts and templates.
Regimented planning including what type of new member outreach is going out, when, and what it says is the backbone of many successful new member engagement programs.
While regimented planning works, the study results reveal an interesting balance. Our regimented plans must also be flexible.
Introduce Flexibility into Your Regimented New Member Engagement Plan
Set-it-and-forget-it new member engagement plans do not work. Most association professionals must know this because only 10% of the respondents had a set-it-and-forget-it process.
In fact, it takes a few years for most new member engagement plans to achieve optimum results.
Association professionals indicated that planning never really ends. We tend to start our programs small and build as we see success. We also tend to try a tactic and measure it awhile then experiment to improve the poor performers. We play with the message, timing, tone, offer and over time we see what works best.
So, develop a written plan, make it as detailed as possible down to each word on each message, but do not be afraid to get out the eraser and try new things later on.
This article covers just one little piece among a ton of interesting insights in the New Member Engagement Study. Learn from 160 of your peers about what works and what does not. See just what to do to improve or develop your new member engagement program.