Welcoming Members: A Switch From Print to Digital

Rules of Engagement Associations Now November/December 2017 Issue By: Tim Ebner

See how an association welcome went from print to digital, saving time and money while deepening engagement.

The Ontario Trial Lawyers Association wanted to increase engagement with first-time members but also save time and money on its welcome kit. It wasn’t an easy challenge, especially when one-in-three OTLA members typically will not renew, says Membership Development Coordinator Jeff Hanlan.

The solution: Go digital. Hanlan stopped mailing welcome kits and opted for email. “Our members were immediately interested in the e-kit, mainly because it was timely and relevant,” he says. “After year one, we had about a 50 percent open rate and a 40 percent click-through rate, about twice the industry average.”

Here’s what goes into the welcome e-kit:

1. Message from the president. A personalized note from OTLA’s president talks about the value proposition of membership. “Keep that message short and concise to let the member know you’re here to help,” Hanlan says.

2. Link to top benefits. New members want access to the best benefits. OTLA’s e-kit links to the four benefits that members have said are most valuable: a member listserver, a lawyer directory, continuing legal education courses, and a dashboard for news and information.

3. Provide a direct phone line. Switching to email doesn’t mean you cut off other communications. Hanlan lists his phone number at the bottom of the e-kit. He also follows up with each new member on a check-in call one month in, which is followed by a one-on-one call from a member volunteer. —T.E.

[This article was originally published in the Associations Now print edition, titled "Rules of Engagement: A Digital Welcome."]

Tim Ebner

Tim Ebner is former senior editor of Associations Now in Washington, DC.