We all know the importance of those first few months when a new member joins. That’s when engagement - and retention, essentially - begin. But what should we be doing in those first few months? Amy Bean Napier, Chief Information Officer and Vice President of Partners in Association Management, explains:
All we hear and see right now on the news (print, online and social media) is about President Trump’s first 100 days in office. We hear versions of what has been accomplished from both sides (pro and con) and see statistical comparisons of Trump’s first 100 days vs. past presidents. This non-stop news blasting now has me thinking about our new members and their first 100 days with the association.
President Trump’s first 100 days equals only approximately 1/14th of his presidency term. For most associations, memberships are billed annually so when a new member joins, they get 365 days of membership. A new member’s first 100 days is basically 1/3 of their first year (term) as a member.
What are some tips that can ensure the first 100 days for a new member is positive?
On Day 1: Day one for the association is usually the day we receive that new member’s application and payment. These payments are received online, over the phone, by email, fax and by mail. And in today’s world, everyone expects an immediate response when making payment. Most associations have their websites set up to automatically send a receipt of payment and usually a thank you immediately upon receipt of payment online. We need to make sure we do the same for all other types of payments. Emails, texts or even a phone call are a great way to quickly welcome a new member on that first day. A simple first day acknowledgement of their participation in the association will go a long way in ensuring that they continue their membership into year two and beyond.
By Day 25: Two to three weeks after the member application and payment are received and the welcome communication is sent, the member should receive some type of follow up introduction to the association and what their membership entails. This could be a one page cheat sheet that encourages them to check out your website and social media pages. Or a one page brief of the many member benefits that they now qualify for. Many of our associations also send the latest magazine or newsletter issue that the member missed. These materials could be emailed, messaged or mailed and basically serve as the first course of the association smorgasbord.
By Day 50: Most associations send out some type of member kit to new members. Contents of these kits run rampant with information and materials about the association and the industry. Electronic or cloud based member kits can include access to members-only sections of your association website and a file sharing site where you can download new member materials, invitations to online chat groups and RSS feeds and links to blogs, online directories, etc. Most associations still also mail out some type of new member kit that may include a membership certificate, plaque or banner, marketing materials from the many different member benefit providers, association swag like shirts, hats, mouse pads, decals, lanyards and any other physical items that we think our new members might want, need and enjoy. These member packets give the member a tangible benefit that helps show the true ROI from their membership in the association.
By Day 75: Our new member has hopefully checked out our website, joined our social media sites and reviewed the member kit materials. And they have been receiving regular association communications through email and other communication tools. Now is the time to follow up with a personal invitation to the upcoming meeting or conference. Put together an eye-catching email that includes all the details of what is going on, where and why they will not want to miss it. Give them a few days and then call and personally encourage them to attend what could be their first association event. If you are going to be onsite, let them know and tell them that you are looking forward to meeting them in person. This personal touch can go a long way in making a new member feel important.
And now we’re finally near that illustrious 100 day mark. Most members won’t have the continual bombardment of inquiries, questions and news stories from the press asking how their first 100 days have been. But it’s an important question for the association to ask. If a member’s first 100 days of membership are positive, there is a great chance that they will continue their membership to year two and beyond. If a member’s first 100 days of membership is not positive, we probably will not retain that member. Utilize surveys through email, online or by phone to find out their satisfaction rating. If their first 100 days were not as stellar as you would like, ask what you can improve on and offer an incentive for them to continue their membership.
Associations don’t usually have the luxury of a 4 year term (1461 days) like President Trump to get their members approval ratings. So it’s really important in that first 100 days to make that new member feel important. Bombard them with information and materials showing what their new association can do for them and why it’s vital to stay involved and engaged. Let’s make that first 100 days of membership shine!