The personal touch can make a new member of your community feel truly valued. If they feel valued, they are more likely to be a regular contributor and add value to your site.
One way of making a member feel valued as an individual is through the use of welcome messages.
Using welcome messages on a forum
If you run a forum, a member should receive a standard welcome email upon registration. The vast majority of forum developers fail to customise this email. It is a relatively easy thing to do and I would highly recommend you take the time to do so. Would you rather receive an email that has obviously been system generated, or something that appears to be a little more customised and personal?
I also feel it is a nice touch to send a new member a personal private message welcoming them to the community. A nice welcome message would be something along the lines of:
I just wanted to drop you a quick message to say thank you for joining the (your site name) forum. I appreciate you taking the time to register and really look forward to reading your posts.
If you need help at any time, please contact me by replying to this message. Similarly, if you ever have any questions then please do not hesitate to send me a message or email.
Thanks again for joining!
It is often a good idea to also include a question or other ‘call to action’ within your welcome message. If there is a particularly popular thread running on your forum, link to it in your welcome message and ask your new member for their thoughts on the subject.
Not only have you now added a degree of personalisation, you have also invited your new member to get involved and immediately start interacting with your community.
Using welcome messages on a blog
Blogs are different to forums in that they rely less on user-generated content. The community aspect is based on the articles you write – if they generate interest then they will attract comments and interaction. Until this happens, there is no personalised way of welcoming each and every reader.
On this blog, I send an email to every reader on the first occasion they submit a comment by using the Comment Relish plugin. The email is only sent the first time a reader contributes a comment to the blog. In the email, I thank the reader for taking the time to comment and make them aware that I consider the contribution of my readers to be the key to this blog’s success.
Sending personalised welcome messages shows each individual member that you appreciate them. You are recognising the fact that it takes them time to register and contribute at a new community, and you are making them feel glad they have chosen your site.
Do you send welcome messages to new members of your community? Do you feel they encourage the new member to get involved? Did you join a community and receive a welcome message that made you feel valued? Share your opinions and experiences by leaving a comment below.