Sending welcome messages to new members

by Martin Reed on 4 August 2007 in Articles

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

Sending welcome messages to new visitorsIf 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:

Hi (name)

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!

Regards

(Your name)

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

Welcome messages for a blogBlogs 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.

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{ 24 comments }

Biddy August 4, 2007 at 5:33 pm

I disagree. I expect to get the “click here to confirm your email is real” email, but I certainly don’t expect to get a “thank you for joining” email – it’s so unusual to get such a thing that I would feel concerned at probable future spam from the forum owner, and would think twice about my involvement.

I think an “introduce yourself” here thread which is monitored closely by admin/mods and newbies encouraged to post and be responded to quickly on there is enough. I don’t sign up for forums to be spammed by their owners, sorry.

Smiley August 5, 2007 at 5:04 am

I’m with Biddy AND Martin on this one.

On Martin’s article – I customized the e-mail sent quite a while back. So it’s not spam. I’ve simply customized the text, personalized it to FC.

And on Biddy’s comment – I also implemented that method last month:
http://www.imageshock.eu/img/hi-gso1.jpg

There IS a disadvantage to having a welcome forum, though. On most forums they are boring, standardized and bland. All you get is dozens and dozens of spam threads without any passion that say..
“hi”
“yeah hi”
“welcome”

They’re low-quality, impersonal threads that can equally put people off.

What I do in my forum is, whenever I get there first, I create the welcome thread myself. It would be something like this..

————-
Subject: Welcome to FC, !!
Text: Hi,

Thanks for joining Friendly Chat! I’m glad to have you here. [[for example, if they put 'theatre' into their interests field in the profile I would proceed to say]] I see you’re into theatre! What kind of theatre are you into? Are you an actor, do you like pantomines??

Anyway, if you ever have any questions or need any help feel free to contact myself or any of your board staff members. Happy posting! o/
————–

o/ being my personal mark. Long story about that, I won’t explain it lol.

But I would agree with Biddy as far as I wouldn’t actually PM a new user. They may feel a little overwhelmed or taken by surprise, perhaps even a little uncomfortable!

Skellie August 5, 2007 at 12:28 pm

I’m not a big fan of Comment Relish and other automated welcome services, even though a lot of bloggers use them.

People can tell the difference between a personalized message and a stock e-mail delivered with the main goal of getting you to subscribe to the author’s feed. I know it’s very well-intentioned but I would far prefer to receive a personalized message or none at all.

Biddy August 6, 2007 at 5:44 pm

They’re low-quality, impersonal threads that can equally put people off.

It’s a good point. I’m kinda lucky in that a high percentage of people on our forum already know each other from elsewhere, plus we have the biggest tendancy to off-topic chatting I’ve ever seen anywhere, so the welcome thread very rarely sticks to “hi, yeah hi”.

If it weren’t like that, I think I’d be more active in getting people to introduce themselves rather than just saying “hi I’m new”. Many of those who turn up have a specific issue, so they’re automatically part of the conversation, but for those who weren’t, I think talking to them and encouraging them to talk on the forum is more likely to keep them as members than spamming them.

Sorry Martin :-(

Smiley August 6, 2007 at 10:58 pm

Definitely, Biddy.

My site is mainly aimed at people who are new to forums & chat rooms, so I like to make it as easy for them as possible. Instead of waiting for them to say hi, I like to jump in there first and make a thread for them, try and encourage them to say hi back with a little more information about themselves, make them feel comfortable fitting in.

The problem I’m having with my community at the moment is we’re so new, small and close-knit and banterful, that a lot of the joking around etc are ‘inside jokes’, only the current members will get them, I think sometimes the members forget that, and new members then tend to feel a little lost.

I need to figure a way out of that one.

Biddy August 7, 2007 at 5:27 pm

Smiley, to a large extent, we’re the same (community based around eBay powersellers mainly from the UK) – I am looking to expand things, and more importantly get the lurkers to join in.

Martin Reed - Blog Author August 8, 2007 at 1:00 pm

Biddy – I don’t believe sending a welcome email is spamming; especially when you are sending it only on the first occasion of a member completing a certain activity (eg joining, posting etc).

Additionally, if the welcome message contains useful information such as advice on how to use the features of the site or details on the site’s rules or how to contact the moderators then such a message could never be construed as spam.

Smiley – I like the way you are pro-actively getting your newest members involved in the community. Customising the system generated emails is a great start, and dedicating new threads to members personalised to them and their interests is another way of making your community stand out from the crowd.

Skellie – I agree that wherever possible welcome messages should always be personalised to the user (see Smiley’s example above). At times however, this is not possible – your sign up rate may be too high to personally contact each and every member.

At these times, I feel automated welcome messages are a good alternative as long as they add value by containing useful information.

Biddy August 8, 2007 at 1:29 pm

I would construe it as spam, sorry: if I want or need guidance on how to use your forum or site, I’d expect that to be on the site.

After reading this thread and some others on similiar lines recently (“thank you” emails generally), I counted up yesterday’s email received. I got over six hundred emails: fewer than twenty were actually *necessary*. Anything that reduces the flood of nonsense that comes into my inbox every day (and that’s after some pretty strong spam filtering on the server) is good by me: anything that adds to that when it’s not requested is spam. I realise that’s my personal opinion and I’ll shut up now, but I hope that illustrates where I’m coming from on this issue.

Martin Reed - Blog Author August 8, 2007 at 1:50 pm

Biddy – Thanks for your comment. Please don’t feel awkward about disagreeing; that is what enables us to come up with new ideas and help foster discussion.

You are right that any emails that aren’t necessary should be done away with. I still believe however, that welcome messages do have their place if used properly and responsibly.

I think it is similar to follow up telephone calls that some companies make – they send you a product you’ve ordered and then give you a call a couple of weeks later to make sure you received it all OK and to ask if you have any questions. Some people do not like this approach, but others love it.

The fact that welcome messages are only sent once shouldn’t be too much of a problem for those that prefer the less ‘hands-on’ approach.

Peter August 17, 2007 at 12:25 pm

I actually liked the thankyou I got from this site, thought it was a nice personal touch, so much so it’s why I come back ( oh and for the brilliant content of course :)

I down loaded the ‘comment relish’ plug-in you mentioned and now use it, thanks for that Martin

Peter

Martin Reed - Blog Author August 17, 2007 at 12:46 pm

Peter – Thanks for your comment. I agree; when I first received an email after leaving a comment at a blog it made me return – I am now a regular visitor to that blog, all because of that single email.

Thank you for your kind comment about my content – I am glad you are enjoying the blog.

Peter August 17, 2007 at 1:48 pm

Yes I am enjoying your blog and have learnt much, not only on forums and blogs but on Wordpress plugins.
I am intruged by the lower section of your site that show recent posts and comments, is this another plugin or a wordpress option?

Martin Reed - Blog Author August 19, 2007 at 3:26 pm

Peter – Both the recent posts and recent comments features can be installed via plugins. Try checking out the WordPress plugins archive.

Whitney Johnson December 3, 2007 at 8:36 pm

I recently subscribed to your blog, and actually recommended it to another friend who is in the process of starting a blog.

I’ve thought about sending welcome messages to be people who have subscribed to my blog, but worry that they will somehow feel this is an invasion of their privacy.

What are your thoughts on this?

My best,

Whitney Johnson
http://www.daretodream.typepad.com

Martin Reed - Blog Author December 6, 2007 at 2:29 am

Whitney – I don’t think a one-off message is an invasion of privacy; most people would expect a standard welcome email once they join a new website anyway. Surely making this email a little more personal can only be a good thing? Just make sure the message is a one-off, and NEVER add them to a mailing list or repeatedly email them without explicit permission.

FullMedia March 18, 2008 at 3:36 am

Hello all,

A welcome message may be construed as an invasion by some, but I’ve found that far more people appreciate it. It is a form of personal feedback in what quite frankly is an impersonal environment.

It seems that if people are joining a community, they are expressing a desire to interact socially with that community. As such, just as most of us would welcome a newcomer to our home or club or function, a welcome message from a site you’ve chosen to join is not such a bad idea.

Frank

Martin Reed - Blog Author March 19, 2008 at 7:33 pm

Frank – I completely agree with you. As long as you offer a personal welcome, I truly cannot see how anyone could object. Thank you for your comment.

koromyst May 7, 2008 at 6:15 am

IMHO, I would rather prefer to receive an informal type of thank you message/email after signing up.

Something like ” Thanks for joining! Hope to see you active and chilling in the forums. We shall be awaiting your heavenly presence! ^O^ ”

Reasons:
[1] It’s cheerful
[2] You’re definitely sure it’s a human writing that
[3] You can’t tell if it’s the same message being copy-pasted to other new sign-ups
[4] It has a friendly tone that attracts

Rather than …
“Thank you for joining. We hope to see you active in the forums. We shall be seeing you there.” —> this, to me, is an automated email/message with no sense of human touch whatsoever. In fact, it’s rather bot-like.

:/

Martin Reed - Blog Author May 12, 2008 at 7:43 pm

koromyst – I agree with you; nothing beats a personal message. It immediately shows your new member that you value them, are interested in them and want to get to know them. Sometimes, it is impossible to send a personal message to every new member. In this case you should at least customise the system generated welcome message so it is unique to your community.

Greg October 8, 2008 at 5:23 pm

SPAMMED BY OWNERS?????? You must be kidding! How is a welcome message spam… Isn’t it a friendly note? After all first impressions count! If you join a community, it’s to be part of something. You don’t go to a party just to lurk around. You talk, introduce yourself and if you are WELCOMED BY THE HOST you wouldn’t consider it intrusive would you?

Martin Reed - Blog Author October 23, 2008 at 9:24 pm

Greg – Ha! Yup, I agree with you – as long as it is a courteous, one-off message then it cannot in any way be construed as spam. I love your analogy of being ignored by the host of an offline party!

Crystal Williams October 31, 2008 at 1:12 am

Sending personalized welcome notes to all new users via their message boards, IM or e-mail is a critical first step in building a community. Community managers should thank new members/contributors for joining the community and encourage them to participate more. In addition, sending periodic notes of appreciation, hellos and what not is a great way to get to know members/contributors on a one-to-one basis. Knowing a little bit about them creates a connection. Welcome messages should be part of an overall plan for nurturing your community.

Crystal Williams
Online Community Expert

Martin Reed - Blog Author November 17, 2008 at 8:48 pm

Crystal – You know, I agree with every word you have just said! Thanks for the great comment :)

Ken Longbridge August 24, 2009 at 4:14 am

I am in the process of adding a thank you message for comments.
Once I got one and I was a bit surprised. It was different and still I haven’t got it again. For me it is not very common as for others.

I am not sure if comment relish is the right tool, as I want only one time notification no matter how many comments have been submitted.

I think it is really a nice move and can give a positive memory about making a comment for the person. It all depends on the text and notion.

Once people abuse it with spam like messages it will have no effect anymore and it will be time to stop.