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Engaging First-Time Conference Attendees

Engaging First-Time Conference Attendees: 4 Tactics to Try

Of course you want to provide an exceptional experience for ALL of your conference attendees, but ensuring that happens for your first-time attendees is particularly important. Their decision to attend future events (and possibly even renew their membership) depends heavily on that first experience, so going the extra mile for those folks, in particular, is certainly worth it.

What does “going the extra mile” for your first-time attendees look like? Here are a few tactics worth trying:

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[Guest Post] Retaining New Members Through a New Member Orientation Webinar

Posted by Callie Walker

New Member Orientation Webinar

The following blog post was written by the Indiana Society of Association Executives, whose mission is to support and strengthen the success of association professionals and the associations they serve.

According to Marketing General (in their 2017 Membership Marketing Benchmarking Report), the retention rate among new members for individual membership associations averages 64 percent. This is much lower than the overall member retention rate, which averages 77 percent. Therefore, it is important associations engage new members as quickly as possible after they join.

One traditional way of engaging new members is to send them a new member welcome kit, which explains all of their various member benefits. Given the digital era, some associations have even gone to an online kit. Many associations also sponsor a new member orientation at their annual conference - to further engage new members.

However, given the importance of a personal touch immediately after a new member joins (and how that can have a major impact on retention), have you thought about hosting a new member webinar and then posting that information online so those who attended can later review it?

The advantages of a new member webinar are that you can hold the webinar throughout the year, it can occur shortly after the member joins, it offers the member an opportunity to ask questions about benefits immediately, and it is inexpensive to produce and maintain. Moreover, a new member orientation webinar gives the member an opportunity to actually view the website and try logging into the member portal to ensure they don’t encounter any problems.

To make your webinar beneficial to new members, here are a few tips about how to host the webinar and what type of information to cover:

  1. Keep the webinar to 30 minutes and allow time for questions. Focus on the most important information (at least at first), so that you don’t overwhelm members. In fact, you may want to have a second webinar after the member has been in the association for six months and cover additional aspects of membership then.
  2. Make sure the webinar includes an introduction to staff. Each staff member who deals with members directly should be introduced (photos included) and the new members informed what those particular staff members handle (so they know who to go to if a question or problem arises). Sometimes, it’s even nice to include a picture of the building where your association is located and say, “If you’re ever in town, make sure to stop by and see us!”
  3. Include a brief introduction about your association, including your mission, number of members, and scope.
  4. Inform your new members about the publications available (both digital and print) and when they can expect to receive those publications. Make sure to include photos of the publications for reference and appeal! While discussing the publications, you might even want to inform your new members how they can get articles, notices, member information, etc. published.
  5. Tell them about your annual conference – when is it, where it’s being held, and when registration opens. Also, if applicable, tell them when submissions for the conference are due and how they can submit.
  6. You should also inform new members of any continuing education opportunities available and when/where these will be held.
  7. Give those on the webinar a tour of your organization’s website. Websites should be easy to navigate, but updates can be challenging, and often, they aren’t quite as easy to navigate as we’d like. More importantly, take your new members to the members-only portal and show them exactly how to login. (This would also be a good time to have them change their password - if it was preset for them and a little difficult to remember.) One more thing: Often, the member portal is where you list all your member benefits, but make sure to take some time to walk through those benefits, letting your new members know exactly how to access them. For example, if you offer a discount with another organization or company, let your members know how to use the promo codes on those various sites.
  8. If you have a job board, let your members know about all the different features available. Most members don’t realize that job boards offer a lot more than just job listings. For example, members can often post their resumes on the job board and get regular notices of jobs that might be appealing to them.
  9. If there’s time (or a second webinar down the road), let your new members know about your awards program, mentorship opportunities, and volunteer opportunities.

After the webinar, send your participants a quick survey and then make changes accordingly. Make sure you let them know how they can access the webinar again, if they need to review it. And if you are planning to host a second webinar, let them know (at least roughly) when that will be held.

Want more tips for engaging your new members early - so they'll want to stay with your association? Check out our free guide, 6 Tips for Onboarding New Members, below!

7 Musts for New Member Onboarding  How to make your new members feel right at home Download this guide

Topics: association management, member engagement, membership management, Small Staff Chatter

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