Reboarding Members: A Strategy for Increasing Member Engagement & Retention

Now that stay-at-home orders are lifting in many states, companies are developing plans for reboarding employees. They must reintroduce employees to their workplace since they’ll have to get used to new processes and other changes. Reboarding members is a concept you don’t usually hear about in the association community but it makes sense to regularly reintroduce members to their membership.

What does reboarding members mean?

In the association context, reboarding means reconnecting with a member to learn about any new needs and interests, help them get value from their membership, and strengthen your relationship with them.

I first heard about reboarding members from Reggie Henry, CAE, Chief Information & Engagement Officer at ASAE. He mentioned it in a webinar hosted by Kaiser Insights and Dynamic Benchmarking: How Do Members (Especially New Members) Want To Be Engaged.

With a questionable economy in the future, reboarding gives your association an opportunity to let members know you’re making efforts to keep up with and meet their changing needs and interests.

A quick review of new member onboarding

Over the past few years, new member onboarding campaigns have become a common association practice. While we’re on the topic, if your association has an onboarding program, please consider participating in the 2020 New Member Engagement Study survey from Kaiser Insights and Dynamic Benchmarking.

Without an onboarding program, new members can feel lost in an organization and overwhelmed by the large volume of orientation materials. They’re not sure how to connect with other members or how to find relevant information and programs.

An automated email onboarding campaign provides personalized, relevant information to new members. Besides welcoming and showing appreciation to new members for their decision to join, you also want to find out about their membership goals and explain how to achieve them.

Onboarding emails (and other personal touches) should show members how to:

•    Navigate the association and its resources and benefits.
•    Know what's going on in the organization and industry.
•    Meet others, find community, and feel a real sense of belonging.
•    Contribute their time and talent.

Onboarding continues throughout the first year of membership. Then, once members renew, reboarding begins.

reboarding members

Get to know your members again through reboarding

In many associations, members feel forgotten until it’s time to renew. Members should never be taken for granted like that, especially these days. You must reconnect with members on a regular basis and remind them how to get value from their membership. You don’t want your association to become “just another newsletter” or “just another membership.”

Reboarding is your member reengagement and retention strategy. If you didn’t have an onboarding program when they joined, reboarding gives you a chance to get to know your members. It must be at least an annual effort—you can do it right after renewal.

A reboarding campaign can also be triggered by a change of address, company, or title, or the awarding of a designation. It could also be triggered by inaction, for example, not opening any emails from you for X number of days.

During reboarding, find out about any changes in their membership goals, interests, and challenges at work or in their career. If you give them access to their member profile, ask members to complete or update an interest inventory.

Use what you learn during reboarding to better serve members

What do you do with the new information you receive from members about their goals, needs, and interests? You help them find the resources they need to achieve their goals, solve their problems, and satisfy their interests.

Use this information for marketing segmentation so you can send targeted emails about activities, programs, products, and benefits—both free and paid. Tell them about micro-volunteering opportunities, website resources, and newsletter subscriptions that would interest them as well as events and online learning programs.

Highlight one membership benefit a month. Don’t assume veteran members know about everything you offer—they may have forgotten or not paid attention previously. You could feature these benefits in one of your newsletters or in a monthly webinar, which you can later post online for public on-demand viewing—a good membership marketing tactic.

Most importantly, make sure every member knows how to achieve their networking and education goals—the two top reasons people join associations.

Offer multiple ways for members to connect with each other

One of the best things about being an engaged member of an association is the sense of support and community you receive. You feel like you belong—and that feeling is more appreciated than ever right now.

It’s a good time to experiment with new virtual networking ideas, for example:

•    Discussion groups
•    Networking breaks and happy hours
•    Book clubs
•    Individual and/or group mentoring
•    Brain dates and/or professional match-making
•    Masterminds
•    Hackathons

Make sure members know about all the traditional networking opportunities you offer too, such as volunteering, online communities, chapters, sections, and special interest groups.

reboarding members

Help members find the education and credentialing they need

Reintroduce members to your LMS so they can see all the online learning programs you offer that meet their needs. By using your LMS to deliver your virtual conferences, you have a unique opportunity to introduce members and attendees to these programs.

Design a virtual conference program that allows them to get a jumpstart on the learning experience and continue it after the event ends. For example, you could:

•    Flip the learning by asking attendees to complete a short online learning program before attending a particular session so they come better prepared to apply new information in discussions and group exercises.

•    Highlight related online learning programs through the “featured learning” section of the user dashboard so attendees see them immediately when they log into the LMS.

•    In sessions, provide a discount code for a bundle of online learning programs related to that specific session.

•    Continue the conversation by creating discussion forums on the most popular topics from the conference.

•    Make session recordings available through the LMS catalog. Rework them into a short course, perhaps paired with an assessment or project if they wish to earn CE credit.

The future is uncertain for many professionals in this economy. Make it easy for members in all career stages to find the education they need to acquire or brush up on skills. Design learning pathways of varying duration that lead to credentials—certificates, micro-credentials, and digital badges.

Don’t assume members know what you have on offer. Promote these pathways and programs in targeted marketing emails, newsletters, website images, and online retargeting ads.

If the economic impact of the pandemic affects your members, you will have to continually prove the value of membership. By developing a reboarding plan and learning about your members’ changing goals, needs, and interests, your association can help them find the connections and education they seek.

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