The two biggest challenges facing online communities are:
1. Converting visitors to members.
2. Getting members to contribute to the community.
Many communities focus on point 1 before point 2. That’s all well and good, but why go to all the effort (and expense) of attracting new members if they don’t contribute to the community?
When a member registers at your online community, they receive some kind of welcome email. These are pretty standard across the board – they thank the member for registering. In many online communities, that’s all the emails say. What a waste.
Sure, some communities customize these emails to some extent. I’ve seen some urge members to introduce themselves and some that remind the new member of the community guidelines. You can do much better.
It can be a good idea to encourage new members to introduce themselves in that welcome email (make it easy and include a direct link). The problem is, new members are unknowns. They don’t have any social standing in the community. Introducing themselves would be like walking into a crowded room and telling a bunch of strangers their life story. Nerve-wracking. That’s why many new members won’t do it. If all you’re asking new members to do in your welcome email is introduce themselves, you’re missing a great opportunity.
You want to make contrinbuting to your community irresistable. Don’t expect to write the welcome email and leave it at that for years to come. See the welcome email as something that is constantly evolving – just like your community. Draw attention to fantastic content, great members and irresistable discussions. Keep it up to date and relevant.
Which welcome email do you think is more likely to encourage new members to contribute to the community?
Welcome email A
Thanks for registering. We are glad you have chosen to be a part of our community and we hope you enjoy your stay.
All the best!
Welcome email B
Thank you for joining our community – it’s great to have you as a member. You can get started right away by clicking the link below and introducing yourself. Say hi, tell us about yourself or why you decided to join. What you choose to say is up to you!
We’ve got some great conversations going on right now that I think you’ll love. Feel free to take a look and get involved – it would be great to hear your thoughts:
Why London isn’t actually the capital of the United Kingdom
Men are from Mars, and so are women – PROOF!
The internet will be switched off in 2012
My name is <YOUR FULL NAME>. I’m the community manager and it’s my job to help build and develop this community by encouraging members to get involved and share their ideas and opinions. If I can be of any help, or if you have any feedback or suggestions, drop me an email at any time: <YOUR EMAIL ADDRESS>.
Other members are always about to offer a helping hand, too. <NAME OF COMMUNITY REPRESENTATIVE/HELPFUL MEMBER & DIRECT LINK TO PROFILE> loves to offer new members guidance. Feel free to drop her a line any time you like.
Thanks again for joining us. I look forward to seeing you get involved in the community!
<YOUR FULL NAME>
I am guessing you went with email B. So why don’t we see welcome emails like this? Probably for two reasons – welcome emails are overlooked, and customizing them takes effort.
You no longer have the first reason as an excuse. As for the second reason, yes it takes effort, but if you can lure in a new member and get more activity and engagement from them, it’s effort that will pay off.
Feel free to use the email I crafted above. It’s not perfect – it took me about ten minutes to put together and I’m sure you can come up with something better – but it’s interesting. Lure those new members in. Encourage them to get active. Make it easy for them to get active. Show them great, relevant content.
As for what to avoid in those welcome emails:
- Anonymity – Address the new member by their name. Try to get their real one when they join.
- Invite friends – Members rarely invite their friends to online communities; particularly ones they’ve only just joined themselves.
- Community guidelines – You’re immediately telling the new member to watch their step.
- Invalid email addresses – Hold out on using a ‘DoNotReply’ email address for as long as possible.
Don’t waste this opportunity. Welcome emails can really help get more members active and involved in your community. Put the extra effort in and you’ll see what a difference they can make.