Saying ‘no’ (with encouragement)

by Martin Reed on 14 June 2011 in Snippets

If you decide to make it harder to join your online community, you’ll be saying ‘no’ every now and then. When you decline someone’s membership application, you need to determine what you want to happen next.

Do you want them to wait six months and try again? Do you want them to get out of town and never visit your site again? Do you want them to immediately reapply?

You can’t craft a good rejection email without knowing what you want to happen next. Over at Just Epals, we reject incomplete profiles. The aim of our notification email is to encourage those who have been rejected to immediately reapply. Here’s the email we send out:

Thank you for applying to join Just Epals.

Unfortunately we couldn’t approve your application as you didn’t fill out a complete profile. As we state on the registration page, we do not accept incomplete profiles.

We’d love to have you as a member – please come back and reapply, this time completing your profile in full. We’ll then process your application again.

Taking steps to manually verify all new members makes us different from other websites. It’s difficult to form new friendships with people who don’t share any information about themselves!

I look forward to seeing you as a full member of Just Epals very soon!


Martin Reed
Community Manager

Notice that we include:

1. A thank you
2. A reason for the rejection (without saying ‘reject’ or ‘rejection’)
3. A request to reapply, with advice on how to be accepted
4. Selling the benefits of the application process
5. A reminder that we want them as a member

Make sure you know why you’re saying no, and what you want to happen next before you prevent someone from joining your community, then pass that information along.

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