New member onboarding is one of the most important aspects of any business building an online community.
Whether you’re just starting your online community from scratch or going into your next year, solidifying a clear new member onboarding process will create a sustainable, engaging community experience.
Ahead, we’re exploring why member onboarding is so important, and eight ways to improve your member onboarding process.
In this article...
Why new member onboarding is so important
When someone becomes a member of your community, they become an active participant in your community’s mission. New member onboarding is an important first step for you to take in educating people about your community and starting them off on the right foot.
Think of your member onboarding process as the gateway for setting newcomers up for success. Why? Because your onboarding experience sets the tone, expectations, goals, and opportunities for your members.
Imagine yourself starting a new job. While there are some people who will thrive no matter the situation, many will feel lost or isolated if they aren’t provided any guidance. Just like onboarding at work provides employees the tools to succeed, so too should your new member onboarding process for your community.
An effective new member onboarding process will help ensure you don’t just take a member’s money and leave them to their own devices. These processes are the guardrails for your members to propel them to be active participants in your community.
Principles of great new member onboarding
So we’ve talked about why new member onboarding is so important: it sets your members up for success in your community. Now let’s delve into the key pillars for creating a stellar member onboarding process for your community.
While there isn’t one answer that will work for every community, these principles of new member onboarding are a great approach to developing your own.
Answer technical questions
One of the most common reasons for member inactivity in an online
community is technical issues.
As your community grows, you’ll attract a wide swath of people who all have varying levels of familiarity with the software and technology needed to interact in your online community.
A key part in combating this confusion is factoring in these technical questions into your new member onboarding process. Consider creating a short video guide, article, or email that gives people a walkthrough of the most important features and how to use them.
Quickly provide value
Another element of great member onboarding is your ability to quickly provide value to new members. This is the time to give them incentives to be drawn further into your community ecosystem.
Provide new members with a free online course or event, why? Because this propels them to meet other people in your community, learn more about how amazing your content is, and provides further moments for them to learn how to interact with your community’s features.
Integrate members into your community
As we explained earlier, every new member will need some help getting their ball rolling in your community. It can be an incredibly daunting feeling to join a new space and see all of the posts, comments, and interactions happening in the community.
Your newest members might be unsure if it’s okay for them to post and comment. Creating a few posts, emails, and resources in your new member onboarding that facilitate ways for new members to integrate into the community is important.
There are many ways you can do this simply. A great way to get new members to start posting right away is having a pinned “Introduce Yourself” post that has a running comment thread of introductions from every member in your community. This not only allows new members to introduce themselves, but it also gives them a head start in seeking out people with similarities to them.
Reward their achievements
Finally, your onboarding process should reward new members for their efforts in interacting in your community. While it’s easy to focus solely on creating a new member onboarding process that increases the member activity in your community, it’s important to remember that people respond well to positive reinforcement.
Within your member onboarding process, consider creating milestones for new members to reach for and help propel them to continue engaging in your community. Consider making badges members can earn, a weekly celebration post where you acknowledge individual members achievements, or something else!
These four principles are great rules to build your new member onboarding process in your community. With these principles in mind, let’s explore some concrete ways to improve your member onboarding process.
9 ways to improve your new member onboarding process
Welcome email drip for new members
When a new person joins your community, welcoming them with an email drip campaign is a great way to start their journey off.
A welcome email drip can function in a number of ways. First and foremost, it should make the member feel excited about the decision that they just made to join your community. Second, it should provide them with the most essential introductory information they need to get started in your community.
The most important thing to remember about email drips though is that you need to keep them up to date. It’s easy to create your new member email drip and then continue using them forever, but that’s not a very effective tactic. Consider updating it from time to time as new and exciting content and experiences become available in your community.
Highlight new members in a monthly newsletter
Supplementing your welcome email drip with a monthly newsletter is a great way to highlight new members joining your community. If you don’t currently have a newsletter, it’s worth incorporating into your marketing efforts going forward.
A newsletter is a quick and easy way to keep members up-to-date on what’s happening in your community, as well as remind people who may have gone silent that your community still exists and is thriving.
New member orientation
Member onboarding is a key part of orienting new people in your community. If you have the capacity for it, holding a monthly or quarterly new member orientation is a great way to quickly connect new members with each other and you.
As your community grows, there will be less opportunities for you to make one on one connections with your members. However, an orientation not only remedies it, but is a great way for you to drum up excitement in your community and allow members a more personal connection to the awesome things you’re building together.
New member resource packet
Creating a resource packet is a great way to get your best content in front of your new members’ eyes as quickly as possible. This packet could be coupled with your orientation, your email drip campaign, or even your monthly newsletter and updated as new content is released.
A wide variety of people will join your online community, some will be more receptive to written content and others will learn more from video.
Creating video tutorials that go over how to navigate your community website, as well as utilize the various features is a dynamic resource you can use on a variety of marketing campaigns. Additionally, video tutorials are a great way for you or your community manager to get in front of the camera and connect with your members.
Ask for feedback
Another great way to use member onboarding to create a thriving community is to ask your current members what’s working and what isn’t.
Creating a safe space for your members to provide you with open and honest communication is important. When your members feel comfortable telling you what’s on their minds, then they will be much more likely to stick around and stay active.
Asking for feedback doesn’t need to be a grand affair either. A simple post within your community will suffice. On a Mighty Network, you can create polls and Q&As to get detailed information from your members about what is working quickly and easily.
New member mixer
A fun addition to any new member onboarding process is to hold a virtual mixer over Zoom for newcomers to meet each other. This is a great opportunity to forge some concrete bonds between members that will help sustain member engagement after the event.
Another way of making this event a success is to loop in some of your most engaged members to come and be ambassadors for the community. They can help lead small groups in the mixer and help members ease into the flow of your community so you’re not doing all the work.
Make sure they know who to ask for help
When you jump into a new community, it's important to know where to turn to is you have any challenges. This is where you can make sure your members know who to contact, especially if you have multiple Hosts or mods.
And let them know you're always happy to hear from them!
Sneak peaks of future content
One of the best ways to reinvigorate old members and excite your most recent members is to provide them with a glimpse of the future. Whether it’s monthly, quarterly, or annually, giving a sneak peak of future content you’re working on is a great member onboarding practice.
Ready to launch?
Mighty Networks is the best place to grow your online community
Your new member onboarding process is a vital step in creating a lively online community for your brand. When your new members feel welcome and informed they’ll be more likely to interact with others and engage with the variety of content you post.
If you build a community on Mighty Networks you will gain access to the tools you need to make your online community more than just a place to market your content. In addition to industry leading community-building tools, you also can offer paid memberships, and design online courses. You also get a powerful website builder that gives you the tools you need to deliver your awesome content.
On top of that, with a Mighty Network, you’ll be able to offer all of these pieces together under your own brand, instantly available on web, iOS, and Android. Don’t underestimate the power of your members being able to access your brand wherever they are.
Sounds pretty great right? All that’s left to do is to get started.