Quality engagement is crucial for any thriving online community. This is the reason community managers strive for a smooth onboarding experience for newcomers to fulfill the goal of retention.
Initial interactions can be tricky. You need to put your best foot forward to make new members feel like they belong to the community. It heavily depends on personal outreach and interaction. If you’re just starting out with your community, it may not be as difficult. But with hundreds and thousands of new members joining every week, it can get a bit hectic.
In this post, we are going to explore ways to welcome new members to ensure greater engagement. Let’s get started!
The Significance of Member Onboarding in an Online Community
Just because you gained some members in your community doesn’t mean you can leave them on their own. You work hard to promote your community and gain new members. But what after they join your community? Are you just going to leave them on their own to figure out what they are supposed to be doing?
Think about your long-term goals. Why did you acquire new members in the first place? Here’s the answer: to convert them into loyal buyers and increase your ROI.
However, the purpose of your community will not suffice unless they participate in your community. This is why the onboarding process is significant.
A smooth onboarding process can help your new community members to-
- Get clarity on your community goals
- Set clear expectations and roles
- Gain access to essential tools and resources
- Get information on how your community adds value
- Discover like-minded people to expand their network
4 Ways to Create a Better Onboarding Process for Newcomers
An onboarding journey that doesn’t excite your target audience can send all your efforts down the drain. Instead of handing over a list of dos and don’ts to newcomers, try some interactive ways to make their onboarding experience fun.
If someone is joining your community, they probably already know what they can expect from you. You need to win their trust by delivering value to them. This is why enabling a smooth onboarding experience matters even more.
Following are some ways to enhance the onboarding process for new members of your community-
1. Welcome Them With Personalized Emails
Curate a warm email that addresses them with their first name and welcomes them. Even better, send your new community members a series of personalized emails. To make their onboarding journey smooth sailing, you can curate a series of emails like-
- 1st Email: Getting started Email + Sign up for the ‘new members group’ (include CTA).
- 2nd Email: Check out our resources for beginners and buzzing topics handpicked by our experts.
- 3rd Email: Share your specific interests or challenges you’ve faced so far (can add a survey or questionnaire form).
- 4th Email: Connect with our super members (curated according to their interests).
2. Create and Share ‘Getting Onboard’ Guide
Cover the basics first by offering a detailed documented guide to newcomers. You can create a document and make it available to everyone by pinning it on the top of your community as a highlight. It will provide a detailed code of conduct, FAQs, resource library, etc. Once your members get familiar with the basics, they can move forward with further activities like commenting, participating in polls/surveys, curating content, etc.
3. Share Community Details and Guidelines
After covering the basics, it is now time to offer ‘what happens inside’ information. This document will typically contain the workflow, communication flow, how the community works, how moderation works, typical community activities, the role of members in the community, and so on. A simple document file can be boring, but you don’t want your new members to skip this crucial step. So, try making it more interesting using visual content like interactive videos, blogs, infographics, memes, GIFs, and a lot more.
4. Give Them a Walkthrough of Your Community’s Invaluable Assets
Most importantly, show them the benefit of joining your community. Start with showing off various sections of your community and navigate them to other resources like blogs, daily updates, newsletters, and exclusive content like mentorship programs, webinars, etc.
To retain new members, it is important for you to offer them a sense of belongingness. Thus, before pushing them to participate in your community, make them feel welcomed and valued. An elaborate onboarding journey can help you achieve that.
Engaging Members Post the Onboarding Process
You’ve successfully onboarded newcomers. What’s next? It’s time to nudge them to take action on the community platform. Use the following tips to encourage engagement within new members-
- Buddy Program: It’s never too early to encourage them to participate in the community. It’s natural for them to be hesitant at first because they are new. You can create a buddy program, where they get an experienced member to ask beginner questions and offer assistance. It is a great way to make them feel welcomed and bond with other members of the community.
- Chat Threads for New Members: Another thing you can do is create a ‘new members’ group. We recommend offering the possibility to post anonymously. This way they will feel more comfortable while getting to know the platform, members, moderators, etc.
- Regular Check-Ins With Newcomers: You need to measure the efficacy of your onboarding process. One surefire way to do this is by regularly checking-in with newcomers and evaluating if they are on the right track. Try NPS (Net Promoter Score) to evaluate and improve your onboarding process. It can help you compare the survey results with the actions and days spent by each member of the community. You can do this weekly, monthly, or every three months.
- Meetups, Calls, CTAs to Give Them Direction: Go beyond emails and offer them one-on-one interactions through chats, meetups, calls, and more. You need to learn why they’ve joined your community and add value to their experience by carrying out personal interactions.
Just because you’ve successfully onboarded new members doesn’t mean your work is finished. You need to ensure post-onboarding engagement to maintain the momentum. As a community manager, you need to keep looking for innovative ways to keep your community coming back for more.
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