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Automating New Member Onboarding for a Seamless Customer Experience

The member onboarding process profoundly impacts first impressions and long-term engagement. Yet many organizations still manually handle onboarding in ad hoc ways leading to inconsistent experiences. Automating onboarding workflows removes friction for new members while freeing staff resources. This guide covers best practices for delighting members from sign up through critical first weeks in community.

Why Onboarding Matters

A strategic onboarding process is invaluable for:

  • Setting clear expectations upfront to prevent misunderstandings
  • Familiarizing members with community guidelines and etiquette
  • Proactively addressing questions and concerns early on
  • Accelerating member value realization and positive experiences
  • Reducing churn by engaging members from outset
  • Collecting additional data to personalize onboarding
  • Streamlining administrative processes for staff

Onboarding often makes or breaks member loyalty. But manual processes rarely live up to the hype.

Challenges with Manual Onboarding

Typical problems with disjointed manual onboarding include:

  • Staff scrambling when new members sign up, causing delays
  • No standard structure or outline for staff to follow
  • Details and tasks falling through the cracks
  • Inconsistent quality across different handlers
  • Limited personalization and tailoring for each member
  • Difficulty assessing what works or where drop-off happens
  • Suboptimal data collection from members

Automating brings structure and consistency while freeing staff to focus on high-touch interactions.

Mapping the Onboarding Journey

Start by mapping the ideal onboarding journey from the member’s perspective.

  • Initial signup and payment experience
  • Confirmation messaging with next steps
  • Emails or in-app messaging guiding them through getting set up
  • Educational tutorials on using platform and community
  • Meeting or connecting with other members
  • Celebrating “quick win” milestones and accomplishments
  • Surveying satisfaction once engaged

Outline each touchpoint, content provided, calls-to-action and responsibility. These become requirements for automation systems.

Selecting Your Onboarding Automation Tools

Automating requires identifying the right enabling technologies:

CRM and Database

Centralizes member profiles, data, histories and workflows. Examples: Salesforce, Hubspot, Cognito Forms.

Membership Management Software

Manages core signup, access control and billing. Common platforms: MemberSpace, Memberpress, Cognito Forms.

Email Service Provider and Automation

Sets up segmented email sequences and workflows. Mailchimp, Drip, ActiveCampaign etc.

Live Chat

Bots provide personalized 1-on-1 conversational onboarding at scale. Consider ManyChat, Drift, or NativeChat.

Instructional Modules

Self-paced tutorials onboard users on site and tools. Think Wistia, TalentLMS, LearnWorlds.

Integrations unify data across systems to create unified onboarding journeys using the optimal mix of tools.

Designing Valuable Welcome Packs

Welcome packs make first impressions memorable. Digitally deliver:

  • A personalized welcome note or video
  • Quick Start Guide with community basics
  • House rules or code of conduct
  • Directory or org chart of key members and roles
  • “Success path” with milestones and achievement badges
  • Free digital resources like ebooks, courses, or templates
  • Coupons or special gifts for valuable members
  • Next steps and links for engagement

Make welcome packs special while conveying community values early on. Send as email attachments or behind login.

Automating Personalized Email Sequences

Set up sequences delivering a steady stream of value:

  • Welcome sequence immediately after signup
  • Getting started primer the first week
  • Tips and tricks over the first month
  • Progress check-in emails
  • Re-engagement sequence if inactive

Leverage dynamic personalization to address members by name, reference past behaviors etc. Send calendar reminders for key events.

Developing Interactive Onboarding Tutorials

Create multimedia tutorials walking through community:

  • Product demo video or tour
  • Video quick start guides broken into chapters
  • Interactive slideshows with knowledge checks
  • “Ask me anything” chatbot for 24/7 assistance
  • Bite-sized tutorial content library
  • Interactive assessments benchmarking current skills
  • Challenges and quests teaching through fun
  • Assign mentors for live 1-on-1 guidance

Blend digital learning with human touchpoints. Structure content for easy consumption on mobile too.

Facilitating Early Relationship Building

The community itself is a huge draw. Accelerate bonding between members with:

  • Automated introductions to similar members
  • Icebreaker questions when paired together
  • Friend matchmaking based on profiles and activity
  • Chat channels for new members to meet others
  • Comments prompting virtual introductions
  • Online meet and greets, mixers or buddy systems

Seed organic interactions early on. Later engagement is much more likely if members form early connections.

Celebrating Onboarding Milestones

Marking progress milestones makes members feel valued:

  • Badges for completing orientation tasks
  • Unlocking platform capabilities after skill assessments
  • Graduation certificates after finishing courses
  • Recognition for onboarding anniversaries
  • Leveling up based on activity or tenure
  • Leaderboards and achievements
  • Physical welcome swag mailed after 30 days

Gamification taps into psychology to motivate engagement through achievements and status.

Soliciting Member Feedback

Listen closely to new members and solicit candid feedback:

  • Send NPS or satisfaction surveys after sign up and at milestones
  • Prompt social sharing and reviews after positive experiences
  • Monitor forums and messaging for onboarding pain points
  • Ask new members for testimonials and case studies
  • Poll users on what content or features they want next
  • Look at attrition, engagement levels and adoption curves

Continuously fine-tuning onboarding marketing maximizes member adoption and loyalty. Agilely improve based on what members say.

Training Staff on Onboarding

Educate team members involved in onboarding on:

  • Importance of first impressions and tone
  • Mastering automation platforms and flows
  • Personalizing interactions individually
  • Proactive outreach protocols and cadences
  • Spotting onboarding hurdles and intervening
  • Identifying upsell and retention opportunities
  • Following member engagement procedures
  • Handling common questions and objections

Set clear responsibilities and processes that enhance – not replace – human connections with members.

Tracking Onboarding Health Metrics

Key metrics to monitor onboarding program performance include:

  • Member activation rate
  • Adoption curve and engagement escalation
  • Churn and retention after 30/60/90 days
  • Email open rates, link clicks, and unsubscribes
  • Tutorial and course completion rates
  • NPS or satisfaction scores over time
  • Time to first engagement or value realization
  • Sales and conversions from onboarding flows

Analyze metrics to optimize flows and continually improve member adoption. Automation enables easy testing of content and messaging variants.

In summary, automating onboarding gives each new member an amazing first impression at scale. Aligned technology and workflows remove friction, accelerate value delivery, and set new members up for ongoing community engagement.

By Dani Davis

Dani Davis is the pen name of the writer of this blog with more 15 years of constant experience in Content marketing and informatics product, e-commerce niche.

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