Community onboarding is a crucial element of building a successful online community. It's the process of welcoming new members and helping them get started with the platform and the community. A great onboarding experience can help boost member engagement and retention, while a poor one can lead to frustration and disengagement. In this blog post, we'll explore the key elements of a great community onboarding experience and offer tips and examples for creating one that sets your community up for success.

Go Beyond Welcome Emails

While a welcome email or page is an important part of the onboarding process, it's important to remember that a great onboarding experience goes beyond that. To truly engage new members, you need to offer a series of onboarding emails that provide unique opportunities for involvement and encourage immediate action. By providing a series of onboarding emails that offer value and encourage engagement, you can help new members feel welcomed and invested in the community from the start.

Three onboarding emails you could try: 

  1. Personalized welcome. Offer a personalized welcome message that highlights the benefits of being a member
  2. Group invitation. Follow up with an invitation to join a new member group where they can connect with other new members.
  3. Guided platform tour. Next, offer a guided tour of the platform, highlighting key features and encouraging members to complete their profiles.

Give Members Everything They Need to Succeed

Creating resources to help members get the most out of their membership is another key element of a successful onboarding experience. By providing resources such as guides, video tutorials, and webinars, you can help members understand how to use the platform and engage with the community. By providing valuable resources that help members get the most out of their membership, you can increase engagement and retention over time.

Three resources to try: 

  1. How-to guide. Create a how-to guide that explains the platform's key features and offers tips for getting started. 
  2. Video walk-throughs. Record video tutorials that walk members through specific tasks, such as creating a profile or posting in a group.
  3. Resource library. Make these resources easily accessible on the platform, so members can find them when they need them. You could create a dedicated resources section on the platform, or include links to resources in your onboarding emails. 

Encourage Connections and Engagement

Encouraging engagement from new members is another important aspect of the onboarding experience. By offering a variety of engagement tactics, you can help new members feel welcomed and invested in the community from the start.

Three engagement strategies: 

  1. New member group. Create a new member group where they can ask questions and get support from other new members. This can help build a sense of community and make new members feel more connected. 
  2. Automated event emails. Send automated emails that highlight upcoming events or discussions, or encourage members to participate in a specific group or discussion. 
  3. Mentor/buddy programs. A buddy program can be a great way to forge networks within the community. By pairing new members with more experienced members, you can help them build relationships and feel more invested in the community. This can lead to increased engagement and retention over time. 

Seek to Improve Constantly

Measuring the effectiveness of the onboarding process is essential to ensuring that it's working as intended. By gathering feedback and analytics, you can identify areas for improvement and make changes that will lead to better engagement and retention, ensuring that new members have a positive experience become engaged, long-term members of the community.

Three ways to measure your onboarding success: 

  1. Set up check-ins with new members. This provides an opportunity to gather feedback and address any issues or concerns they may have, while also reminding them that there are people running this community that care about them. 
  2. Use a Net Promoter Score (NPS). An NPS asks members how likely they are to recommend the community to others. This can provide valuable insights into member satisfaction and help you identify areas for improvement. 
  3. Monitor email metrics. When you pay attention to email opens and clicks, you can use A/B testing to adjust headlines. email copy and design, and CTAs to ensure that your emails are being opened and acted upon. 

Learn more about how to optimize your community onboarding experience with this Hivebrite webinar, “How to Create the Best Community Onboarding Experience,” featuring Shell Alumni Network CEO Dagmar Mekking, MGG Community Manager Eva-Maria Lynders, and Hivebrite Customer Success Manager Dhia Hayouni. 

Hivebrite is an all-in-one community management platform. We empower organizations of all sizes and sectors to launch, manage and grow fully branded private communities. Schedule a demo today!

Written by Hivebrite
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