Your community is growing and members are joining. Just like you welcome a guest that comes to your house, as a community builder, you must welcome your members. That’s when onboarding comes into the picture. Welcome email and an automated email sequence can play a critical role in engaging them and prompting them to contribute to the community.
Check out the above-mentioned links to learn more about onboarding and welcome email. In this post, we’ll focus on the email sequence that you can send to better engage the members.
The need for a welcome email sequence
First impressions are long-lasting. This means it is imperative to ensure that you can make the customers feel welcome, engage, and encourage them to participate in the community. This engagement and onboarding technique also helps in retaining the members.
Based on the CMX Hub industry trends report for 2020, member retention is a key focus area for online branded communities.
Hence, an onboarding experience that is clearly designed to elicit community engagement and thereby increase the retention rate must be a priority. In the subsequent section, we’d focus on creating a robust welcome email sequence with the target to keep the members engaged.
Automating the email sequence
When it comes to engaging any customer via email, the content has to contextual and personalized. This applies to online communities as well. A series of emails could be delivered over several days, a few weeks, or across a month. These emails should be short, effectively communicate the benefits, and help them contribute to the community.
Let’s now understand why this is effective.
Keep members engaged right when they sign up
When members see you have carefully designed your email messages they would be more receptive to your messages and inclined to participate in your community. This ability to make a lasting impression from the point people become your community member allows you to improve your retention rate.
Efficiently onboard members
Your team members would improve the member onboarding in an efficient manner by automating the email sequences and breaking down the messages into bite-sized emails. The whole email sequence would have logic built into it — this means the emails can be personalized based on the member interaction, actions, and the way goals are met.
These automated campaigns can onboard new members, keep the members engaged, re-engaged the members who are dormant, and the members who have churned as well.
Automating the email sequence to onboard members is a powerful technique. However, in order to execute the same, you would need to collect the right data, structure the campaign, and craft engaging content.
Organizing the automated email sequence
Your email sequence software must be tightly integrated with your Customer Data Platform (CDP) that syncs community member data. Otherwise, your community platform must have integration with the marketing automation solution that will trigger the emails.
This helps you segment the members and send personalized emails. That way, your members will experience much better community onboarding and be inclined to engage as well.
Key factors related to email frequency and timing
The number of emails that you will be sending and the timing gap between those emails will depend on the specific business case. In any case, you must clearly communicate and set the right expectation.
Here are some general guidelines to consider:
- Around two emails per week for new members allows you to balance your communications.
- Each email in your sequence should have a gap of at least 3 to 6 days.
- Your entire email sequence should constitute of maximum 4-5 emails.
Get inspired by the following example of an email sequence
We have created four sample emails for a sequence so you can modify and craft your own.
Email #1: Welcoming the members
Think of the things that you would want your members to learn on the very first day. Reinforce the value of your community with the story behind the community and the mission of the community. Let the members know where they can get help. Essential information such as user name, password, or other log-in related information would be helpful.
Specifically for the very first welcome email, you can check this post which offers a collection of emails from popular online communities.
Subject Line: Welcome to <community name>, <first name>
- First benefit
- Second benefit
- Third benefit
- Fill out your profile
- Take a minute to introduce yourselves
- Check out the community guidelines
Email #2: Prompting participation
Now, your logic should check the contribution of the members. For example, with Tribe, community owners can keep track of the member activities and the reputation scores based on the posts, questions, comments, upvotes, etc. You have implemented a badges system, it is a good place to show that and apply gamification techniques.
Now if the member has not participated in the community, it is time for you nudge the member in the right direction. If the member has asked a question but has not answered something, your email can be targeted for that.
Subject line: Don’t be shy 🤗
Hey <First Name>,
It’s been over a week since you joined <Community name> and it looks like you haven’t introduced yourself yet. Take all the time you need, we’d just love to get to know you when you have a minute.
Every time you engage with the community you get closer to becoming a ‘Shaman’ level member and unlocking all the opportunities that come along with that
Oh, and don’t forget to have your favorite GIF ready to post!
Email #3: Keeping the members engaged
This email is designed to further drive content contribution by showcasing some of the most visited and engaging content in your community.
Subject Line: Did you check the most popular posts of 2020?
Hey <First Name>,
Our community is driven by amazing members like you. We’re honored (and proud) to host certain discussions on our community that show the depth of knowledge as well as the quality of contributions made by the members.
We have compiled a list of most popular discussion threads so can enjoy and perhaps learn something new.
- Discussion thread on a controversial topic
- AMA with <industry leader>
- A fun post with entertaining content
Also, don’t forget to share your views!
Email #4: Offering premium membership
If you are offering premium subscriptions to the members for additional benefits, it is time to highlight those. For example, the additional values that can be unlocked by the pro member could be access to office hours, certifications, exclusive events, and webinars.
Even if you are not offering premium membership, it is a good idea to highlight additional benefits that members can access once become highly involved with the community.
💡 Tribal tip: Perform a test to find out what type of benefits resonate with your members.
Subject Line: Unlock <key benefit> with <community> premium membership
Hi <First Name>,
<Community name> is more powerful with premium membership! 💪
What’s stopping you from unlocking the following benefits:
- Mentorship program
- On-demand videos
- Exclusive templates and frameworks
- Office hours with industry leaders
<Community name> is designed to ensure that you are equipped with all the tools and resources to succeed in your work.
<Showcase a testimonial>
Email #5: Getting feedback
Now it is time to get feedback from the community members. You need to also customize the email based on the participation level of the members.
Subject line: How has been your experience?
I wanted to personally thank you for being a member of this community.
Participating with <community name> should be a fun and rewarding experience. We’re curious to learn more about your experiences so far.
If you can spare a few minutes to share your thoughts we’d be super grateful!
Your inputs would help us improve member experiences and deliver better value.
You might have noticed that these emails would drive the best result when you personalize to showcase how your community delivers value. Here is the comprehensive post that we had published to plan member onboarding.
Tribe has in-built integration with marketing apps such as Intercom. Once the integration is configured for your community, Tribe would sync the member data in Intercom. All the activities associated with the member would be sent to Intercom as well — you can use that to automate messaging based on different conditions.
Points to ponder when crafting an email sequence
1. Select a primary topic. Your email might highlight the different values your community delivers. However, you must highlight the key value so the recipients clearly understand and remember what you are offering.
2. Set the stage. From the very first email of your sequence, maintain transparency, and inform the members that they would receive some more emails over the new few weeks. That way they would be more receptive to future emails and you would be able to better communicate the benefits of your community.
3. Implement the best practices. This involves everything from the time of the day for delivery and subject line to the body of email, graphics, and tone of the content. Everything should be in line with your brand personality.
4. Leverage engaging content format. Videos are definitely one of the most engaging content formats. When Intercom launched their online community, they recorded a video to welcome the members and encourage people to post in the welcome board.
5. Track the metrics and test. You need to frequently test different aspects of your email (e.g. subject line, CTAs). Ruthlessly measure how these emails are driving members to come back to the community and achieve different goals.
6. Showcase the important areas of your community. Are you building social proof by collecting authentic reviews? Perhaps posting different case studies of successful members? Reinforce the value by highlighting those areas and inspire the members.
7. Introduce different members of your team. Ensure that you’re sending emails from different members so the members get introduced to your company.
💡 Tribal tip: Keep the “from” name in a friendly format like “Mike from Tribe” instead of “Mike”.
Start building your automated email sequence
As a community builder, you are looking to engage your members and encouraging them to participate in the community. You want them to refer other members to your community, contribute in discussions, initiate conversations, and remain a loyal member. In fact, if you are running a subscription-based community, the retention is directly tied to the revenue.
Hence, making a lasting impact from the very beginning is important. That depends on how you can effectively leverage the communication channels to deliver the value in a pensive manner. The automated email sequence is your potent weapon when it comes to engaging the members and driving retention.