New Member Engagement Plans Help with Retention and Renewal

New Member Engagement Image

Right after new members join your chapter, you’ll find many asking themselves some of the same questions they asked before they joined: 

  1. Is your organization really worth my time and money?
  2. Will I be able to make meaningful connections?
  3. How can I get involved?

Organizations with engagement plans answer these questions early on, better engaging these members and their entire membership. And that engagement leads to increased retention and renewal rates. Those who don’t have a plan to engage early or who wait too long to start, risk losing members, new and old.

A 2017 study by Dynamic Benchmarking and Kaiser Insights showed that renewal rates rose an average of 6 percent after an organization implemented a plan. And, don’t be concerned that your chapter is too small, i.e. you don’t feel you have the budget or the volunteers to spare, to implement an effective plan. This study also showed that demographics –budget, size, staff size, location, type of organization, etc. – aren’t connected to renewal rates.

Members who were highly engaged early on felt those initial experiences drove them to stay.

It’s not enough to have a plan and hope for the best. Successful plans take time, strategic planning and input from your board and your members. They also need to be flexible, to adjust frequency, tactics, and message targeting as the needs of your new members change.

All of your members benefit when these plans include:

Clear goals. Is your goal to keep members from leaving and joining another organization? Do you have young professionals considering starting their own chapter? Or would a plan help you deliver immediate value to all of your members, for an overall increase in retention? Keeping in mind why you want a plan will help you create the right structure for that plan.

Multiple channels.  Your members’ inboxes are probably overflowing. A good plan finds the best ways (as more than one touchpoint is needed for success) to engage that don’t focus solely on email. While email is vital, consider other communication avenues, like phone calls, snail mail letters, in person events for new members, and even videos.

Scripts and templates. An engagement plan (which you’ll also hear called onboarding, orientation or welcome programs) that includes scripts and templates is more effective than one that does not. They allow you to provide the same information, direction, and details, regardless of who delivers the message.

Early engagement (but don’t end early). Start right after the new member submits his or her application and pays the dues. And, don’t assume that connecting early means you can stop after a few communications. The Dynamic Benchmarking and Kaiser Insights study showed that five to 12-month engagement plans are most successful.

Sending out information in chunks. Members can be overwhelmed in the beginning, when they’re learning their way around your chapter and simultaneously receiving a lot of details. Release information in digestible amounts, not in one or two brain dumps. You’ll know from talking to your existing members what new members need to learn, when and how, to best reinforce the answers to their burning questions.

Engagement plans deliver multiple benefits:

In addition to increased engagement and renewal, engagement plans can give you a deep view into what your members think and feel about your organization, allowing you to see where you can best help them.

New Member Engagement Study

Dynamic Benchmarking & Kaiser Insights LLC. (2017) New Member Engagement Study Retrieved from https://www.dynamicbenchmarking.com/new-member-engagement-study

New member engagement programs work, and they don’t cost a lot. Members who engage early are more connected to an organization than those whose connections grew organically. They can easily articulate the value of your organization, and they’re confident that their “why did I join?” questions continue to be answered.

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