Tim Ebner is communications director and press secretary at the American Forest & Paper Association in Washington, DC. He is a member of ASAE’s Communication Professionals Advisory Council and a former Associations Now senior editor.
Identify your problem and establish set goals before developing an onboarding plan.
At the Radio Television Digital News Association, members don’t have the luxury of time. After all, these are busy journalists chasing story deadlines. So in setting up a plan for onboarding new members, Karen Hansen, RTDNA’s membership and programs manager, knew she needed to keep her outreach simple and direct.
She created a yearlong onboarding program that reaches members with one email per month. The first month is an introduction to benefits; month two asks for profile information; by month seven she’s asking them to volunteer. The program has helped to boost retention by 3 percent in the first year. Here’s how she did it.
1. Identify your problem first. “The common problem was a revolving door of membership. People would join but not renew,” Hansen says. “Part of the problem was that they didn’t know all of the benefits to membership.” To address that knowledge gap, she created a series of emails that deliver valuable information on highlighted benefits.
2. Offer on-demand value. At each touchpoint, RTDNA supplies bite-sized information and asks members for their feedback. Look at each opportunity as a moment to continue the conversation, Hansen says. That means both talking and listening.
3. Tweak the plan. Since the campaign’s start in 2015, Hansen has made small improvements, such as adding bigger call-to-action buttons and creating a mobile and responsive email template. “It’s the little details that can make the onboarding process easier for your members,” she says.
[This article was originally published in the Associations Now print edition, titled "Onboarding Blueprint."]