According to Marketing General (in their 2017 Membership Marking Benchmarking Report), the retention rate among new members for individual membership associations averages 64 percent. This is much lower than the overall member retention rate, which averages 77 percent. Therefore, it is important associations engage new members as quickly as possible after they join.
One traditional way of “engaging” new members is to send them a new member a “kit” which explains all their benefits. Given the digital era, some associations have gone to an online kit. Many associations also sponsor new member orientation at their annual conference.
However, given the importance of the personal touch immediately after a member joins in keeping a new member, have you thought about hosting a new member webinar and then posting the information online so those who attended the webinar can review it?
The advantages of a new member webinar are that you can hold the webinar throughout the year, it can occur shortly after the member joins, it offers the member the opportunity to ask questions about the benefits immediately, and it is inexpensive to produce and maintain. Moreover, a new member orientation webinar gives the member the opportunity to actually view the website and try logging into the member portal to ensure that they don’t encounter any problems.
To make the webinar beneficial to the new member, here are some tips about the webinar and what to include:
- Keep the webinar to 30 minutes and allow time for questions. Cover the most important information, because you don’t want to overwhelm members. In fact, you might have a second webinar after the member has been in the association for six months and cover aspects of membership not covered in the first.
- Make sure the webinar includes an introduction to staff. Each staff member who deals with members directly should be introduced (photos included) and the members informed what they handle within the office so the member knows the appropriate staff to handle their questions or concerns. Sometimes, it’s nice to include a picture of the building where the association is located and say, “If you are ever in town, make sure you stop by and see us.”
- Include a brief introduction about the mission of the organization, number of members, and scope.
- Inform them about the publications available (digital and print), and when they can expect to receive these and in what format. Make sure you include photos of the publications. While discussing the publications, you might also inform them how members can get articles, notices, member information, etc. into the publications.
- Tell them about the annual conference – when is it, where is it being held, and when registration opens. Also, tell them (if applicable) when submissions for the conference are due and how they can submit.
- You should also inform new members of any continuing education opportunities available and when/where these will be held.
- Give those on the webinar a tour of the organization’s website. Websites should be easy to navigate, but many of us struggle keeping them up to date. Often, they aren’t as easy to navigate as we would like. Most importantly, take them to the member portal and show them how to get into the portal (telling them in advance that they will need the login information to access the portal). This would be a good time to have them change their password to something they can remember. Often the member portal is where you list all the benefits available to them, but make sure you go over those benefits and most importantly, tell them how to access them. For example, if it is a discount with another organization or company, tell them how to use the promo codes on those sites.
- Tell the new members about the features of the job board. Most members don’t realize that job boards offer a lot more services than job listings. For example, members can post their resumes on the job board and get regular notices of jobs that might appeal to them.
- If there is time, or possibly a second webinar, tell them about your awards program, mentorship opportunities and volunteer opportunities.
After the webinar, send participants a quick survey and then make changes accordingly. Make sure you let participants know how they can access the webinar again if they need to review it and if necessary, tell them about the dates for a second webinar to cover information about membership not covered in the first one.