New member onboarding is evolving across the association industry. Once upon a time, the standard in onboarding was a mailed letter and maybe a welcome kit. Perhaps the new member would be asked to introduce themselves at a chapter event. Without the competition for our member’s time and attention, this self-serve model was sufficient.
As time and attention constrict, associations are moving swiftly from the self-serve model to the tour model. Instead of throwing open our doors and letting new members help themselves, we curate our new member’s journey through the association.
Here are a few more emerging trends in new member onboarding.
Associations are making their welcoming more friendly. They are setting up welcoming teams around registration to smile at, wave to, cheer on, and chat with attendees. We are considering the tone of our messaging and how we want new members to feel after they’ve read our emails, or letters, or received our calls. Staff members are spending more time on one-on-one outreach to members.
Both trade and professional association executives are spending more time listening to new members. Staff teams are conducting listening tours. Some listening tours are face to face visits, i.e., orchestrating visits to 4-5 member sites in one day. Some listening tours happen when staff members are traveling; they pick a new member to visit when they are in that city. Some local associations hand-deliver a welcome packet and chat with their new member. Right now, many listening tours are being conducted via phone, and members still appreciate the personal contact. Associations are even sending quick one question emails to members to hear what they have to say about their experience so far.
Once upon a time, new member onboarding programs were set-it-and-forget-it. No longer. Staff frequently measures the impact of messages and tactics and tweaks them. Content is often updated to reflect new benefits and news that new members need. Associations are trying more communication channels to reach their new members including text, video, and social media.
How are associations like yours structuring their new member onboarding programs? Find out by taking the New Member Engagement Study survey. You’ll spend approximately 10-minutes and in return you will have access to compare your peer’s data to your own. Please do participate today!