Guest Author: Ashley Uhl, ASAE
Member retention starts the day someone joins an association. Having an effective onboarding strategy not only helps new members feel welcome but increases the odds of them renewing.
Any membership professional knows the three Rs of membership: recruitment, retention, and renewal.
But there is some debate on when exactly member retention begins. I believe it starts the moment a person clicks “join now.”
Individuals do not typically join to be passive members. They are ready to get involved and get the most out of their purchase, so your onboarding program should be ready to engage them immediately. And by the times its complete, your members should be wondering why they waited so long to join.
Avoid the Onboarding of Yesteryear
It used to be that onboarding rested solely on the shoulders of the membership department. That’s not the case anymore. Get your entire association staff team and a dedicated corps of members involved.
“In a previous position, I put out a call to the full membership for individuals to serve as ambassadors to new members. The response was overwhelming,” said Robin Muthig, director of membership for the Biotechnology Innovation Organization. “Members experience the association differently than staff, so they can provide invaluable insights to new members.”
Meanwhile, Nancy Burke, vice president of membership at the Direct Selling Association (DSA), cautions against providing too much information at the onset, which can feel overwhelming.
“There was a welcome binder with more information than they could ever want, a welcome phone call from a volunteer, save the dates for the annual meeting and other events, a member pin, and then silence [from the member].”