Don’t overlook the importance of the Welcome email that you send to new members. This initial email after making the decision to join will set the tone that you cannot do over. The Power of the Welcome Email at the onset of a new member relationship can yield an open rate that is 3x that of a promotional one and will have a 135% higher click-through rate if you do it right.
Put yourself in the shoes of a new member (empathy, please!)
who made a conscientious decision to join your organization, invested in some hard-earned dollars, and is now anticipating on “What’s next?” in the journey of being part of your community.
If new members then receive payment confirmations, messages that provide their log-in credentials and a bombardment of promotional emails, does that create a “red carpet” feel or buyers’ remorse? Is the “Welcome” what they expected and that you planned to deliver? Probably not.
To ensure that your Welcome Email kicks off memorable first-year experiences, avoid these 3 common mistakes of creating bad first impressions and to ensure your new members are happy with their decisions.
1. The “Canned Email”
Using a generic subject from an unrecognizable sender that lacks personalization feels rude and empty. It lacks warmth, appears to be a “one size fits all” approach and makes new members feel “herded.” You can create a warmer experience and one that encourages members to open your emails by:
- Using a meaningful subject line that catches the new members’ attention, like “John, now that you’ve joined, what’s next?”
- Use a recognizable sender name and address rather than firstname.lastname@example.org. Molly@acme.org is more likely to be opened and no-reply emails are not allowed!
- Be mobile friendly since 55% of all emails are opened with a smartphone or tablet. Which is why subject lines should be shorter than 50 characters.
- Get personal and acknowledge new members by name. Write with a conversational feel that doesn’t sound like a robot talking. If you were talking to a new member on the phone or in person, how would it flow? This is the start of a new relationship and it should feel like one.
2. Focus on You and Not the Member
Spending too much emphasis on talking about your mission, strategic plan or promoting additional “things to buy” can make new members feel overwhelmed and the start if this journey is more about what they can do for you than the other way around. Make them feel good about joining and excited about what’s to come and you can do that by:
- Give a sincere “Thank you!”, express how excited you are to have them as a member and emphasize that they are part of something really special.
- Reinforce their decision to join by saying something like, “We’re positive that you made the right move.” You can add reinforcement by providing social proof such as, “You’ve just joined a community of 3,000 leaders who represent over 300,000 professionals in Austin!”
- Remind them that you are working on their behalf and that this is a partnership. Let them know what kind of content you will be sending (i.e., newsletters, updates, invitations) and how often they can expect to hear from you. Encourage them to provide input and to share information with their peers.
- Reiterate their benefits and how they can access them. Since you want to keep the email as short as possible, consider using links to help them learn more. The National Association of Realtors provides orientation videos to help onboard new members and here are a few from the Austin Chamber:
3. No Call to Action
Sending an email, thanking them for joining and giving information is all great, so don’t get me wrong. But telling them about a wonderful party and not extending a direct invitation to do something now is being passive. And you want your new members to get engaged as soon as possible, right? Help them to get off to a good start by giving them a few things to do to get started, like:
- Provide a link to upcoming events/programs to learn more and to register. Feel free to customize the list based on specific reasons for joining (e.g., networking, education, issues-based meetings).
- Invite them to be social by encouraging them to join in on online dialog and provide the social media buttons to get access instantly. Point out if you offer Special Interest Groups (SIGs) or Professional Development Forums so they can self-select communities of peers.
- Ask them to schedule a one-on-one call or meeting with a staff or volunteer who can help them to create a customized engagement plan. Give them a link for who to contact or send an online request.
- Give them an online checklist of things to do to get started with tips from other members.
- Tell them what action you will be taking to follow up with them so they can anticipate your call or next email. And then do what you said!
Don’t miss out on this enormous opportunity to create a triggered email that makes new members glad they made the decision to join and launches them on a successful 1st-year journey. This opportunity only happens once for your new members. Make it count! Now that you know, what will you do?
Cathi Hight helps organizations manage constant change, develop customer-centricity and “work smarter, not harder”. She is President of Hight Performance Group and serves as the SVP of Growth Strategy and Investor Relations for the Austin Chamber. Cathi is the developer of The Member Retention Kit, A New Approach to Tiered Membership and Work Smarter, Not Harder. Learn more at www.hightperformance.com.