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Tuesday, April 23, 2024

Onboarding for member retention

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THE beginning of the year is usually member renewal time for most associations. This is when associations send their renewal letters to members that include a billing statement for the payment of their annual membership dues.

During a crisis situation such as what we’re experiencing now, associations anticipate members to weigh in their decision whether to renew, delay renewal or not to renew at all. For many associations, renewal time is sometimes stressful but an opportunity as well to revisit the association’s membership lifecycle.

In my March 15, 2017, column entitled “Association Membership Life Cycle,” I described the five stages that comprise the membership life cycle: awareness, recruitment, engagement, renewal and reinstatement. This cycle repeats itself in the same sequence or occurrence over time.

The membership life cycle is a useful tool to diagnose and fix the challenges that face every membership program, which could, for instance, expose a weak link, providing time and effort into making some changes to address this weakness.

One way associations can address member retention is by undertaking a successful onboarding program right from the start of membership. Onboarding is not the same as an orientation, which is a one-time event welcoming members to the association. Onboarding is a series of events (including orientation) that helps understand how to maximize the benefits of membership.

The first months of membership set the stage for your relationship with new members. So, the first impression you make needs to be a good one. Your members’ entire experience with your association sways their decisions to renew or not. That’s what makes your onboarding experience so important. I’d like to share the following tips from Michelle Schweitz, marketing manager, Community Brands:

On the first 30 days:

Thank them by sending a personal email or hand-written note (or even take a moment to call) with a welcome gift as well as listing them in your e-newsletter under, “Welcome, New Members!”

Make them feel at home by letting them know how your organization works, what to expect, and where to go for information. Provide them with a digital welcome packet that includes a reminder of the benefits, important dates, types of communications, online resources, etcetera.

On the 30th to 60th day:

Invite them to join by asking them to connect with you and other members.

Personalize the member experience by presenting them with content specific to their needs and interests or suggest discussion groups they might consider joining.

Use your virtual events and other engagement activities to make new members feel welcome, appreciated, and part of the association. Offer a networking virtual event where they can quickly connect with each other and existing members.

On the 60th to 90th day, continue engaging with new members during this time as well as start asking for their feedback.

Find out what they’ve found most useful and what could make their experience even better. Be sure to use their feedback to adjust new member activities for the future, and let them know what changes you’ve made based on their inputs.

Octavio Peralta is founder and CEO of the Philippine Council of Associations and Association Executives and concurrently, President of the Asia-Pacific Federation of Association Organizations. The views Peralta expressed in his column do not necessarily reflect those of the BusinessMirror.  E-mail: [email protected]

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