6 Ways to Use Onboarding to Make New Members Feel Welcome
Onboarding and getting members started with your membership can often be overlooked because, as membership site owners – online business owners, we can be conditioned to think more about securing a sale and getting people through the door.
But once someone’s through the door, we can forget to take time to make them feel at home.
Thinking about ways in which you can welcome people to your membership site is very important for the long-term success of your membership site.
After all, successful memberships are built on member retention, not a high churn rate.
Building a great member onboarding process ensures those first few minutes, hours, and days of your member life cycle are as good as they can be.
We’ve put together six of the best ways you can ensure the first experiences a new member has of your membership site are positive, and will set them on the path to being a happy long-term member.
1) Give members access straight away
The first thing you can do to make your onboarding a success is to make sure you’re giving new members instant access.
If you’re using a purpose-built membership plugin or system, then this should be taken care of for you.
If you have an element of your membership where you have to manually add, approve, or edit member details, then that can be a problem.
The moment when somebody pays is quite possibly their point of highest engagement.
If you’ve just bought an item in the shop, you get to use it immediately. Your membership should be the same.
They’re enthusiastic, engaged, and curious, so give them their login details, automatically log them in, and let them get straight into it.
2) Guide new members through their first steps
Once a new member is signed up and ready to go, the last thing you want is for them to take a look at your site and feel lost.
A ‘Getting Started’ page or email is like a comforting hand to hold at the very start of their journey.
You can share the crucial details of how they can get into your membership – whether that’s introducing themselves on your forum, completing their profile, or taking a tour or tutorial.
A Getting Started guide that is purpose-designed to help new members ease themselves in is a great way of making sure they start on a good note.
If somebody starts well, they’re going to carry on.
If the first thing they do is struggle, well…
3) Have an onboarding email sequence
If a new member signs up and gets a mile-long email full of dos and don’ts, how-to guides, explanations, links to click, and hoops to jump through, your membership will quickly go from being an exciting opportunity to a heavy weight on their chest.
Try to avoid overwhelming members with too much information at once.
Space your onboarding advice out over two or three weeks, drip-feeding that initial information as and when they need it via automated email sequences.
Day one is all about getting their account set up, experiencing the community, and maybe directing them to a specific piece of content.
A few days later, they’ll be ready to learn a bit more.
You could send them some details about your live training sessions, a particular course that meets their needs, or something a little more in depth.
Over the coming days and weeks, you can then introduce more advanced features of your membership or intermediate and advanced tips for using your site.
Automating an email sequence to deliver your onboarding sequence is essential if you want to avoid overloading new members, whilst ensuring you’re communicating the right things at the right time.
4) Take them on a tour
Now, new member tours are another step in this hand-holding, warm and fuzzy welcome process.
They can range from the bells and whistles on-site tours, in which you take new members through every section step-by-step with on-screen prompts, or instead be a more simple video that you’ve recorded of yourself navigating the site, accessing key sections, and making things clear.
It could even be as simple as a welcome video that says we’re here for you, we’re happy to have you, and pointing them in the right direction.
This is all about reducing friction for new members, but the structure and content of each membership site is different to the next, so there cannot be one universal solution.
5) Make it personal
This won’t work for every membership, but a personal welcome video can be a huge hit of value for new members.
If you have the time and your membership numbers are manageable, this can be a great idea.
Even if you just have a personalized intro to a generic video, that can make a huge difference.
If your membership blows up and becomes a global sensation, recording hundreds of videos every day is not going to be a good use of your time.
But if you’re just starting out or only have a few new members joining each week, a personalized welcome video will help you give those early members a great experience that they will, hopefully, share with others.
6) Your membership is a gift, but you can add another
A welcome gift will really show your new members that you’re serious about their success and that you’re happy to have them onboard!
This doesn’t have to be a luxury hamper or a new car, though. Something small and simple, like a branded item that ties in with your membership content.
You could even go with handwriting a letter or note to send to them.
The overriding idea with this is that you really want to acknowledge your new members and give them a warm welcome that makes them feel truly valued.
Again, if you’re gaining dozens of new members every day, you might need to evaluate whether it’s worth the time, but early on, this could be a golden opportunity to create a beautiful membership experience from the get go.
Value your members and they’ll value you
Ultimately, creating a good onboarding sequence comes down to making sure people get what they want, that they feel supported and acknowledged, and that you add a little magic where you can.
As a super-quick recap, the six steps you can follow to make your onboarding sequence irresistible are:
- Make sure your new members get instant access to what they’ve paid for
- Get them off to the right start
- Deliver the key information they need over time
- Give them a tour
- Create a welcome video
- Send a personalized gift to REALLY make them feel welcome
So now you know the key components of an effective onboarding strategy, it's time to take a look at your own approach and consider whether they make new members feel welcome and get them off to the best possible start in your membership.