First Stop: The Community Onboarding Experience!
A member's journey begins from the day they first come across the platform. This is a golden opportunity to engage them, greatly increasing the chances of future visits.
One does not launch a community without taking the time to plan.
Hey there! 👋
This week’s goal is to bring up memories of any tour that you have been a part of.
We all know the value of a skilled guide who can show us the best spots in any new place — where the most activity and value are gained.
While every user has a unique persona, what you are aiming for is an immersive experience for each one of them, right from the beginning.
Channelling these thoughts lies at the core of preparing the ideal onboarding process.
Last week, we spoke about how SaaS communities are a secret, highly-effective Cost Acquisition Strategy. Continuing with the Sassy mood, this time we will help you understand and de-code the ideal way to create a seamless member onboarding process, for your SaaS community!
Onboarding new members is a critical step for your community, and often one that is missed or under-emphasized. That first year is the deal breaker for your organization and has a huge influence on customer retention as well. Hence defining a solid onboarding process will lay the foundation for your community.
The general goal is to deliver an engaging experience from the beginning to make them come back to participate regularly. However, this goal is often left out of the initial strategy.
In this post, I’m going to make you understand why onboarding is crucial and what are the different tactics to onboard new members into your community.
What is ‘onboarding’ and why is it important?
Onboarding of your members is the process by which new people join your community. It can (and should) be both Psychological (how a person feels emotionally about joining your community) and practical (is the member onboarding process appropriate).
For all your members, this will be their first time interacting with you, your community and the organization. They have a fresh perspective on your community. They are joining ready to absorb and learn all that your community has to offer. Of course, then, you want to make sure that they get off to a great start!
If you’re onboarding with the goal of retention — which you should be, it’s all about connecting your members and continuing to engage them at strategic touchpoints. Engagement during their first year of membership, and every year after, is how you keep members around.
6 steps to create an acquisition and retention-based onboarding process:
1. Create a steady user flow:
‘User flow’ is a term that describes the series of activities and processes that a member follows to complete their onboarding process and get into the zone of platform experience. It is usually best to provide this as a visual representation.
To create the right user flow, it is crucial to place yourself in your member’s shoes and think of all the processes that they would need to get familiar with your platform.
There are 5 types of strategies that can help you create the perfect user flow for onboarding:
i) Benefit-focused: Explains the core benefits for members and how to achieve that benefit via the platform.
ii) Function-focused: Explain the platform's core functions and how to use them.
iii) Doing-focused: Walks members through the first or most common actions taken on your platform.
iv) Account-focused: Walks members through profile creation, including finding groups, networking or topics to follow.
v) All: For complex platforms, it may be necessary to combine the four above.
2. Guided tours
Much like how your tour guides help you get familiar with a new city, guided tours give members a walk-through explaining the most important aspects of the community. The guide must be specific and should help members understand the benefits of each category and the actions that can be taken by them for each of the sections. The purpose of a guided tour is to educate them and avoid any confusion right from the start.
For example, you can use a guided tour to show them the different options of uploading a file onto a post, and the ways you can navigate and engage within different groups and prompt them to engage in such actions.
Since guided tours are more visual, it’s better to avoid long boring videos to explain everything about the community. In situations where they are necessary, create a user manual that members can always refer to.
The manual should cover all the following aspects:
How to set up the member profile
How to create content
Where to find the community guidelines
How to network with fellow members
How to join groups and follow particular topics.
How to engage with content
How to join events
Any other relevant features of your community that needs explanation.
3. The welcome video
I’m sure you know that videos are highly engaging and do better than other content formats, so make good use of this format to engage your new audience. You can create a short video welcoming the new members and have a fun introduction to your community.
Glynk’s Tip 💡
Add snippets of introduction videos that include your internal community team and the first set of super users. It strengthens the value of your community and prompts your members to take the community seriously.
Emails are your universal communication solution. You can use it for almost everything — onboarding, notifications, updates, newsletters and weekly activity summaries.
Your email should be as personal as it can get. It should make them get excited about your content. That means having smaller portions of content that offer high value! It should be easy to consume and should help educate the member and encourage them to engage with your community.
Feverbee has some great examples of onboarding email sequences!
It's important to have an ice breaker conversation for new members. The best way to achieve this is by having introduction threads in the discussion section of your community. This has been a common practice for many communities and an important one too. You can also have dedicated features for members who wish to contribute or be part of the super user program ( which I will be explaining in my next point) it encourages more members to actively participate in your community. It helps members to get acquainted with their peers and get comfortable with the community.
Glynk’s Tip 💡
Weekly introduction threads are received well by the community. Tag the newcomers and ask them to introduce themselves to the community along with some fun tasks. Gamify this activity and add a reward system, for members who engage actively or receive the most number of likes.
6. Superuser program:
I like to call them the superheroes of the community! No, I’m not influenced by the fact that I'm a Marvel fan! :D But they seriously are the game-changers for your community. Your online community superusers can be considered as some of your most valued community members — who take a load off your shoulders as they regularly participate in high-intent activities.
They foster engagement by naturally handling specific tasks for you, such as:
responding to unanswered threads
helping onboard members
deflecting support tickets
creating new content
providing a valuable feedback channel, for the community manager or team.
They are also brand ambassadors for you, so they are social proof to your new members.
As a new member, you are likely to learn through real interactions with such community members who set an example for you rather than just a set of guidelines and tutorials that you need to follow in the community.
This is also a great way to enable members of the community, motivating them to engage better.
An analysis is a must after onboarding:
Once you have your onboarding process and flow in place, the next step is to measure the effectiveness of your process. You will only know the output of the experiment when you test it on real users and gather data to optimize a standard onboarding process — one that focuses on both. acquisition and retention.
It’s usually ideal to follow the 30-60-90 day frequency of gathering data and understand if you are on the right track. Some of the best methods to gather and analyze your data are as follows:
Set up 30, 60, and 90-day check-ins to understand if the members are on the right track and how much your onboarding process has helped them.
Here are some methods you can use for analysis.
1. Establish a feedback channel:
Once your members have joined your community, establish a feedback channel where members answer surveys regularly. These surveys can be specific to certain categories or can also be an overall feedback form. Metrics such as NPS (Net Promoter Score), and CES (Customer Effort Score) can be used to analyze the data that you have gathered.
2. Study the behaviour of members:
There are multiple ways to understand the behaviour and response of members of your community. To know more about the best psychological hacks, you can refer to this article. Use these techniques to see if the new members are going in the desired direction with the existing onboarding process; and if not, make changes accordingly.
3. Analyze member activity
Set up goals and tasks for members with a reward system in place to see if your existing onboarding process is helping them in the right way. These tasks can be something as simple as setting up a profile, or their engagement (likes & comments) in the community. Confirming the efficiency of your onboarding process is as important as creating one.
Onboarding should always be an important part of your community strategy. It’s the fuel to your community! Having said that, you need to understand that the entire onboarding process is a continuous cycle. It requires constant updating as communities keep evolving with time. As your community enters the next phase, your entire flow and process will also change accordingly.
1. User onboarding tools
Given the number of ways to onboard a new user, there is plenty of onboarding tools that will help you have a seamless onboarding experience. . Here are a few you can use:
2. CMX Connect India
They hosted this workshop where they speak about how they actually implemented some super cool onboarding processes, things that absolutely did NOT work, the processes they swear by, dedicated onboarding, activation metrics and why they seek constant feedback!
Snippets of the week:
See you soon! Till then, let’s love and support our community ✨
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