Walk among the converted
What if an employee registered a new member for your organization and, as soon as they handed over their money, the employee went silent — he hands them a receipt and then walks away.
He doesn’t mention what happens next. He doesn’t offer to answer any questions they may have or direct them to where they might be able to get the answers they need.
Are you noticing a pattern in these emails?
We tolerate behavior from technological solutions that we would never accept from people.
Technology puts us at a remove from our audience. It makes it easy for us — and I say “we” because I’m also susceptible to this — to gloss over gaps and gaffes in the ways that we support the people we serve.
Today, try to put yourself in the shoes of someone who has just joined your organization through your website.
First, head over to your membership page and pick a nice, juicy membership level — maybe one that promises free tickets to your big annual gala or a business sponsorship that promises to promote the patron’s business through your website or collateral.
Once you’ve picked the option, proceed as if you were going to join online. If you can, complete an actual transaction and refund yourself later. If you can’t do that, then continue as a thought experiment.
What happens next?
Where does your website lead your new member? Are they sent to a custom thank-you page that expresses appreciation and shares how they can take advantage of their new status as a valued member of your organization?
Now, check your inbox. Did you receive a thank-you email with details on how to take advantage of membership benefits?
Ideally, tailored thank-you emails should be automated with specific instructions sent immediately to members once they purchase. If you don’t have the systems in place to support that, create templates for your staff to use and be sure they send those emails out ASAP after the transaction is complete.
If you are automating the thank-you emails, that doesn’t mean you can’t also send a personalized thank you to people later — especially your top members. The purpose of the fast response is to communicate that everything is in order and there’s a process in place to support incoming members. I’m not saying you should try to automate relationships — just separate the process-stuff from any truly one-to-one communications you pursue with the member.
Supporting members during each step of the conversion process will reduce uncertainty for your members. This kind of support helps your organization, too. Your staff will spend less time dealing with one-off, standard questions immediately after people join. Even if you have these systems in place, it's worth taking a fresh look at the process. You might be surprised by what you find.
And if you haven’t yet mapped your members’ journey from a communications perspective, today is the day to get started.
Thanks for reading,
PS. Member-friendly email automation is a huge topic in itself. Please take a moment to hit reply and let me know how you’re handling member communications today. I’d love to help you with this by providing more specific recommendations based on your organization’s approach to member and visitor communication.