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How Can You Create an Effective Membership Onboarding Sequence?

Onboarding transforms customers into engaged, retained members. A structured onboarding sequence introduces your membership, builds habits, and conveys ongoing value.

This comprehensive guide covers proven tips to craft a membership onboarding sequence that delights new members. Let’s start with why onboarding matters.

Why new member onboarding is so important

Before diving into the specifics of creating an effective onboarding sequence, let’s first understand why member onboarding is so crucial. The onboarding process is the first interaction that new members have with your membership site, and it shapes their overall experience. A well-designed onboarding process not only helps new members familiarize themselves with your site but also creates a sense of belonging and fosters a positive relationship with your community.

Effective onboarding sets the tone for your members’ entire membership journey. It helps them understand the value they will receive from your site, ensures they know how to navigate and access the resources available to them, and ultimately increases their satisfaction and engagement levels. When members feel supported and connected from the start, they are more likely to remain active, participate in your community, and renew their membership.

Principles of great new member onboarding

Before we delve into the step-by-step process of creating an onboarding sequence, let’s explore some essential principles to keep in mind:

1. Welcome email drip for new members

A welcome email sequence is a powerful tool for laying the foundation of a positive onboarding experience. When new members sign up, they should automatically receive a series of emails that introduce them to your membership community, provide information about accessing member-exclusive resources, and offer guidance on how to navigate your site. Personalize these emails by addressing new members by name and include a warm welcome message that expresses your excitement about their decision to join.

2. Highlight new members in a monthly newsletter

Incorporating a monthly newsletter into your onboarding process allows you to keep new members engaged and connected with your community. Designate a section in your newsletter to showcase new members, including their names and a brief introduction. This not only helps new members feel recognized and valued but also encourages existing members to reach out and offer a warm welcome. It’s a simple yet effective way to foster a sense of community and belonging right from the start.

3. New member orientation

Consider hosting a new member orientation session to provide a comprehensive overview of your membership site and its features. This can be done through a live webinar or a recorded video. Use this opportunity to explain how your site works, highlight key benefits, and answer any questions that new members may have. By offering this orientation, you ensure that all new members start their journey with a clear understanding of what your membership site offers and how they can maximize its benefits.

4. New member resource packet

Create a resource packet specifically tailored to new members. This packet can include various resources such as ebooks, guides, templates, and any other materials that new members may find helpful. By providing this curated collection of resources, you demonstrate your commitment to supporting your members’ growth and success, right from the beginning.

5. Video tutorials

Video tutorials are an effective way to guide new members through the key features and functionalities of your membership site. Create short, easy-to-follow videos that demonstrate how to navigate the site, access different sections, and utilize various tools. These tutorials allow new members to familiarize themselves with your site at their own pace and increase their confidence in using it effectively.

6. Ask for feedback

To continuously improve your onboarding process, it’s essential to gather feedback directly from your new members. Shortly after they’ve completed the onboarding sequence, send them a survey or request feedback on their experience. This not only shows them that you value their opinion but also provides you with valuable insights into any areas that may need improvement. Actively incorporating this feedback into your onboarding strategy will help you refine and enhance the experience for future new members.

7. New member mixer

Hosting a virtual new member mixer is a fantastic way to foster connections and networking opportunities within your community. This can be done through a live video call or an online forum. Encourage new members to introduce themselves, share their goals, and engage in conversations with other members. By facilitating these interactions, you create a welcoming and inclusive environment that encourages new members to connect and establish relationships with their peers.

8. Make sure they know who to ask for help

In your onboarding sequence, clearly communicate who new members should reach out to if they have any questions or require assistance. Provide contact information for your support team or community managers and assure new members that they can rely on them for guidance. Feeling supported and knowing there is a designated point of contact can significantly enhance new members’ trust and confidence in your membership community.

9. Sneak peeks of future content

To keep new members excited and engaged, offer them exclusive sneak peeks of upcoming content or features. This can be achieved through teasers in your welcome emails or dedicated sections in your onboarding sequence. Giving new members a glimpse into what’s coming encourages them to stay active and look forward to new experiences within your community.

The Importance of Member Onboarding

Many membership sites neglect robust onboarding beyond initial registration and payment. But onboarding plays a vital role:

Reduces Churn

Onboarding establishes membership benefits, directs usage, and builds affinity. This retains members longer through positive early experiences.

Accelerates Time-to-Value

Proactively guiding members eliminates self-serve confusion. They gain value faster through focused onboarding.

Encourages Habit-Forming

Onboarding sequences familiarize members with platform navigation, key features, and usage cadence to seamlessly build habits.

Allows Personalization

Tailored onboarding pathways based on attributes like role or goals create relevant first experiences that bond members.

Generates Advocacy

Members who successfully onboard become vocal advocates. They provide testimonials, refer friends, and cement loyalty.

Identifies Usage Barriers

Monitoring member actions during onboarding uncovers friction points like features with low adoption, platform flaws, or UX issues to address.

Improves Data Quality

Prompting members for key profile data ensures you collect accurate, complete information to personalize experiences.

Creates Satisfaction Benchmarks

Happy members who understand and utilize benefits report higher satisfaction. This positive sentiment fuels viral growth.

With those benefits in mind, let’s break down tactical elements of effective onboarding sequences.

Key Elements of Member Onboarding Sequences

Onboarding encompasses both automated and personal touchpoints across media. Core elements include:

Welcome Email

Send an immediate automated welcome email upon signup confirming registration, outlining next steps, and building excitement to start the relationship positively.

Confirmation Email

Follow quickly with a confirmation email containing login instructions, membership details, and links to explore the site and member profile portal.

New Member Orientation

Host a webinar, behind-the-scenes tour video or live Q&A where new members can engage directly with you and each other.

Site Walkthrough

Provide a self-guided visual tour of your site, pointing out key sections, content types, tools, and navigation to get acquainted.

Usage Tutorials

Release weekly tutorials briefly demonstrating one platform feature or content area so users gradually learn instead of information overload upfront.

Success Roadmap

Plot the optimal member journey with milestones, achievements, and habits over their first 30/60/90 days to provide structured goals.

Calls/Messages

Proactively reach out via email or phone to confirm membership satisfaction, ask questions, and solve any usage issues through personalized assistance.

Cohort Community

Group new members into private social cohorts starting at the same time to foster connections and camaraderie during onboarding.

Motivational Content

Send a pre-defined sequence of lessons, challenges, and encouraging messages spaced across the onboarding period to build momentum.

Feedback Surveys

Solicit member feedback through quick pulse surveys on their onboarding experience, platform usability, content helpfulness, and areas for improvement.

With the framework built, let’s optimize the delivery and sequencing.

Structuring Your Onboarding Sequence

Onboarding spans an extended period, not just the first day. Organize touchpoints strategically:

Pre-Onboarding

Send a series of pre-launch emails previewing the membership benefits, your expertise, and value members gain to prime prospects once they sign up.

Signup Day

Immediately deliver the welcome email and introduction video to start things off on a helpful, exciting note.

Week 1

Offer the orientation webinar/tour. Prioritize platform walkthrough, profile completion, and exploring available resources.

Week 2

Start releasing bite-sized tutorials to gradually build knowledge without overwhelming members. Spotlight your best content here.

Weeks 3-4

Send motivational tips and guidance to form habits. Encourage posting introductions in community forums, sharing experiences, and networking.

Week 5

Host a Q&A session to let members ask platform questions and learn more about you. Send the first feedback survey.

Month 2

Resume motivational content drips. Assess usage data to see who is highly active versus less engaged for personalized nudges.

Month 3

Send a re-engagement email to lapsed members with tips for getting more from their membership. Offer assistance.

Ongoing

Continue sending platform tips, motivational content, community spotlights, and shared member success stories.

Onboarding never truly ends. Consistency and variety keeps members engaged across the customer lifecycle. Let’s optimize with personalization.

Personalizing Onboarding Experiences

One-size-fits-all onboarding misses opportunities to tailor first experiences. Consider personalization tactics:

Role-Based Sequences

Develop unique sequences that progress based on the member’s role like coach, educator, manager, programmer etc. that reflects their interests.

Usage-Based Journeys

For members not as proactively engaged, craft automated flows that recommend content and tips based on actual usage data and behaviors.

Tags and Segmentation

Tag members with attributes like demographics, interests, and goals to segment messaging addressing common needs and pain points.

Pathway Recommendations

Suggest preset content paths, member checkpoints, or success journeys based on stated goals like “Get Certified”.

Lifecycle-Based Touchpoints

Evolve messaging to guide members through key phases like the 30/60/90 day milestones, renewal reminders, and loyalty status achievements.

Location-Specific Content

Members in certain regions appreciate local references. Adapt examples, images, references, and offers accordingly.

Behavior-Triggered Outreach

If a member comments, refers friends, or hits a usage milestone, send a tailored email celebrating progress to reinforce the behavior.

Challenges and Courses

Move members through gated, interactive challenges and courses where completing sections prompts the next relevant step based on their participation.

Polls and Surveys

Prompt members for direct input on interests, habits, and goals. Use responses to serve personalized content recommendations.

Dynamic personalization makes onboarding feel more purposeful. Next let’s discuss optimizing deliverability.

Optimizing Onboarding Delivery

How you technically coordinate onboarding communication also influences results. Dial in these factors:

Automate Where Possible

Schedule autoresponder sequences through your email platform, membership plugin, or CRM for consistent deliverability without manual effort.

Make Mobile-Friendly

Ensure emails render cleanly on mobile with simple design. Mobile apps should also convey onboarding guides and notifications.

Test Cadence and Frequency

Send more frequent early touchpoints, but don’t overwhelm. Assess open rates to find optimal contact intervals for inactivity-triggered nudges and ongoing training.

Ensure Cross-Channel Consistency

Weave in consistent branding, messaging, and visual styles across email, in-app, sms, push notifications, and other channels you use.

Coordinate Internally

Get insight from your support team on common member challenges. Collaborate on crafting proactive onboarding guides that alleviate these pain points.

Integrate With Your Tech Stack

Connect your membership platform to your CRM and email service via APIs to unify data insights for intelligent orchestration and personalization.

Make It Measurable

Track goal completions, content engagement, and conversions within your onboarding sequences. Continuously refine content performing well.

Check Deliverability

Gauge inbox deliverability, spam filtering issues, and opt-outs. Refine messaging cadence, content formatting, and lists based on bounce rates.

A/B Test Variations

Try slightly different sequence structures, visual formats, and content offers to determine what resonates most through split testing.

Refined delivery and sequencing removes friction during critical early experiences while ensuring educational touchpoints resonate.

Onboarding New Members at Scale

For growing memberships, onboarding becomes challenging to manage manually. Consider outsourced assistance:

Hire Dedicated Onboarding Staff

Bring on additional team members focused exclusively on personalized member onboarding at scale.

Add Virtual Assistants

Virtual assistants provide affordable managed services to handle routine onboarding tasks like emails, data entry, and tracking.

Use Chatbots

AI-powered chatbots offer 24/7 automated onboarding assistance via messaging to handle common questions at scale.

Enable Community Support

Train members to volunteer as onboarding mentors supporting a fixed number of new members monthly through forums, messaging, and comments.

Create Help Centers

Expand FAQs, guides, videos, and community forums to enable member self-service so staff focuses on complex issues.

Develop Courses and Tools

Structure onboarding education into segmented courses featuring video lessons, slides, worksheets and other tools members work through independently.

Offer 1:1 Onboarding Calls

For high-touch onboarding, charge premium add-on rates for 30-60 minute dedicated video calls walking new members through your platform and services.

Automate Reminders and Tracking

Use automation rules to schedule and deliver reminders and to monitor goal progress at scale freeing up manual hours.

With ample planning and creativity, you can onboard new members consistently at any membership size.

Ready to launch?

Now that you have a clear understanding of how to create an effective membership onboarding sequence, you’re ready to launch your community and start growing your membership! Remember, an effective onboarding process is an ongoing and iterative process. Continuously analyze and evaluate your onboarding sequence based on member feedback and evolving needs. By prioritizing new member onboarding, you’ll set the foundation for a thriving and engaged membership community.

Key Takeaways

An orchestrated onboarding sequence drives satisfaction, retention, and advocacy. Key tips include:

  • Onboarding establishes value, builds habits, encourages usage, generates testimonials, surfaces barriers, improves data quality, and creates benchmarks.
  • Essential elements include welcome emails and confirmations, orientations, site walkthroughs, tutorials, roadmaps, motivational content, surveys, and ongoing training.
  • Sequence onboarding across the customer lifecycle from pre-launch through the first 90 days and beyond. Personalize based on attributes and behaviors.
  • Automate sequences, ensure mobile optimization, test frequency and content, coordinate internally, integrate platforms, track metrics, and A/B test variations.
  • Scale onboarding through dedicated staff, virtual assistants, chatbots, community mentors, help centers, courses, 1:1 calls, and automation.
  • A positive onboarding experience cements member habits and loyalty long-term. Continually refine your strategy.

First impressions matter. Guide new members across the customer journey with tailored, consistent onboarding that imparts platform proficiency and lasting value. Nurtured members become your best evangelists.

Welcome to the world of membership sites! If you’ve recently launched a membership site or are planning to do so, it’s crucial to understand the importance of creating an effective onboarding sequence for new members. Member onboarding sets the tone for their entire membership experience and plays a significant role in member retention. In this article, we will explore the principles of great new member onboarding and provide you with a step-by-step guide to creating an effective onboarding sequence that will leave your new members feeling valued and excited to engage with your community.

Creating an effective membership onboarding sequence is essential for the success of your membership site. By following the principles outlined in this article and implementing a thoughtful onboarding process, you can ensure that new members feel welcomed, engaged, and supported from the start. Putting in the effort to improve your onboarding experience will not only lead to higher member retention rates but also foster a sense of community and belonging among your members.

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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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