How To Make Your Recurring Members Stick Around Longer Using Onboarding

In this episode, I talk about the goals of onboarding and some ways of doing it. These tactics will also go along way toward increasing your member retention.

Episode #128 | Episode Date: October 28, 2015

So, once you have a member sign up for your membership site, how do you get them started? How do you get them to stick around?

After all, your monthly program really doesn’t matter that much if people don’t stay a member.

An important component of this is called ONBOARDING.

It is what happens immediately after they join in order to get them up to speed, get them consuming material, and get them winning.

In this episode, I talk about the goals of onboarding and some ways of doing it. These tactics will also go along way toward increasing your member retention.

Lastly, if you’re finding these episodes valuable, I’d highly appreciate it if you could post a quick review over in iTunes. You can also share on social media and direct people to CoffeeBreakBlogging.com. Be sure to use hashtag #cbb so that I can see it and thank you. 😉

A Little News

Today in this episode, I want to start off with a little item of news, for those of you who are subscribed to the podcast on the app; on iTunes. We have fixed the RSS feed, here for the podcast. Now the reason I say that is because I have said several times here; and hopefully you know by now, that Coffee Break Blogging is a different type of podcast in the fact that these episodes go in an order. And the order starts at the beginning of finding your niche and stuff like that, all the way up to the point of having a profitable online business based around your blog. And it goes in that order; and when you put everything together, Coffee Break Blogging is a full course, it just happens to be in podcast format.

When I started that particular format here at Coffee Break Blogging was about at  Episode 30. The problem is, for the longest time, if you try to go back that far inside of iTunes, you just simply couldn’t do it. You simply couldn’t go back that far. Well, we fixed that. The reason why; the technical issue behind that was because the size of the RSS feed where I put all those episodes in there, which is too big for iTunes and it wouldn’t work. But we have fixed that. We basically had to remove the transcripts. The transcripts for all these episodes are still available in the show notes and they are now linked to, as a downloadable PDF. And that allowed us to get the size of the feed down to where iTunes is rosy and happy.

So now, you can actually go all the way back to  Episode 1; before it was even called Coffee Break Blogging. It was called The Blog Program back then, you can now go all the way back. And in fact, if you are a subscriber to this podcast in the app, you probably noticed that your app is probably downloading a bunch of episodes. In fact, I looked at my stats last week and we have a big, huge spike in downloads on this podcast and that is definitely why. So that is the news… If you want to catch up with this, kind of come up to speed, go on back to Episode 30 of Coffee Break Blogging and listen in chronological order and you will come up to speed to where we are today.

Now where we are today is we are talking about various aspects of monetization in our 7 Stage Process that we are following here. And specifically the last few episodes we have been talking about membership sites. And on that note, today I want to talk to you about how to get your recurring members to stick around longer; and we do that using a process called “onboarding”.

Onboarding – Defined

Now, ONBOARDING is what happens to a member right after they join your program. Onboarding is essentially an “on” ramp. Just think of it like the interstate. Somebody goes up the entrance ramp to the interstate and they get up to speed before they merge in the traffic. Well it works very similarly with your membership site. When they join your membership site they basically got known to the on ramp. Now, you have to have an onboarding process that basically accelerates them up the on ramp and then merge into traffic. And then at that point, they are a full pledged member of your program. More or less meaning that they are just up to speed and they are consuming and they are getting their winds and basically all the things that you want your members to experience.

So that is onboarding. It is a process that a lot of businesses have; software businesses have that where they are trying to get you up to speed on how to use their software. But with a recurring membership site that you might build on your blog you are going to have the same thing. You are going to have some type of a sequence; some type of a process that your new members go through in order to get up to speed and really start being integrated in with your membership. And of course, that gives them to stick around longer.

The Onboarding Process

If your members come in and they are confused and they do not really begin consuming things, they are probably not going to stick around very long and that recurring billing is not going to go on. So with that in mind, let us talk about a few goals of onboarding like, what is it that you are trying to get people to do when you set up an onboarding? Well, the first one that I would say would be to get them to take their first step. Really pretty simple stuff here; we want them to take their first step on the journey.

We have talked many times about the transformation; that your business is really about delivering a transformation to your customer. Now, we want them to take that first step on the transformation as soon as they enroll in your membership. We want them to get started consuming things; we want them to start taking their first actions, because it creates a mental loop for our members that once they started something and they do it on their own decision, they want to follow through… They are more likely to stick around and follow it through.

Another way that you can get people to take their first step is to give them an orientation. This is actually something that I do with the  Blog Monetization Lab. On new members, I helm them a little bit because I want them to attend the New Member Orientation. I want them to attend that at least one time. They can go back and attend that orientation anytime they please, but new members I really want them to go through it because it orients them to the way the Lab works; what I would like them to do, where we are heading together. It is kind of how to get the most out of their membership.

And these are all very important stuff if you are looking to have your member be properly onboarded. So, an orientation is a great way to do that. I do that via a webinar; and it used to be a live webinar, to where I actually manually delivered it every week or two; but we have, actually in the last couple of months, we have now automated that. I am probably going to have to re-record that orientation to reflect some of the changes that we have made inside the Lab for the last couple of months, but that is essentially how it works now… It is now an automated webinar and I want people to attend that as soon as possible, after they join the Lab.

Now a second goal of onboarding is to get them consuming stuff. It doesn’t matter how great your content is; if people are not going through it, it will not land, it will have no effect and therefore, they won’t get any results and that makes them want to cancel their membership. And so you want to get them consuming as much as possible. But the thing, too, is it is not just consumption. What you want them to do is take some form of ownership over it; you want them to actually set out on a goal in consuming it. Realize that consumption of your content is great, but it is all oriented around something they want to accomplish. And to that effect, one of the way I would like to have happened when people join the Lab is to get them to state their goal and give them an exact course of action.The orientation is one way of doing that. That sets forth the course of action.

Another thing that I am going to be doing inside the Lab is setting up tracks. It is not in there yet as of this recording but I am going to have different tracks so that people can basically select the track which most applies to them.If they are brand new and they barely have anything up and running, that is going to be a little bit of a different track than somebody who already have some established business that are just looking to grow it. And so, that is one way to do it. It will provide a very clear course of action. But the other is to get them to state their goal; get them to state and own where they want to go. And one way that I do that is to have the progress logs inside the Lab where people can actually log their progress in their business inside their account.

And so, one of the first things that I want people to do when they join the Lab is to enter their first log entry. I want them to let me know where their business stands now and where they are looking to head in the next 30 days. And that kind of sets them forward on a goal of consumption but also action inside their business and they kind of own that because they are actually telling me that they are going to do it. And one of the things on that form is I actually ask them to assign themselves a deadline when they are going to get it done by. Now, obviously I can’t hold their feet to the fire on that, but just by the action of saying “Yes, I do intend to get this done by a certain day” it helps with the follow through.

Another thing that is very important about a good solid onboarding process is to get them to experience a “win” as close to the beginning as possible. Get them to experience a win. Get them to make some forward movement on that transformation but make them really realize that they just made that really solid forward movement. And if you can get them to do that and they associate it with your membership, they are going to stay in your program for a while. So as an idea; and this again is not in place yet, but I am going to be re-working the onboarding process for the Lab and this is something that I am going to put into place, I am going to put together a member challenge that when people join the Lab, at some time frame in there in the onboarding process I am going to nominate them into a challenge. And this challenge is going to be something that all Lab Members are going to go through. And it is going to basically be the shortest path to income. My goal is that when somebody joins the Lab, they are going to make back a certain percentage of maybe, if not all; depending on how much… If they are annual or monthly member that is going to make a difference, but the idea is I want them to make back their investment in the Lab and I want that to happen very shortly.

Now imagine the power of somebody who comes in to the Lab; let us say they are ground zero, they really don’t have a business yet. And let us say that by following this challenge in a certain timeframe, they make their first sale on the internet and they do it by following the material inside the Lab via this challenge. They are going to love the Lab at that point because they have just made their first sale, something they have never done before… Very concrete progress! That is an idea that I am going to be doing. You can look at your memberships that you might be putting together or planning and think about how you can do it. How can you get people to experience a good, solid, concrete win as soon as possible with your membership? In my case, I am going to do it via a member challenge. I just haven’t set it up yet; it is on my to-do list.

The last thing I want to mention in terms of a goal of the onboarding process is to get them to take ownership in their membership. Get to the actually “own it”. And what I mean by that is to make it so it is not as if I convinced them to get into the Lab and they are sitting there, checking it out and they are all speculative and everything… No, I want them to actually say “Yes, I made this decision and here is why and…” Well, I am about to cuss… I shouldn’t say that. I cuss sometimes in real life, but I don’t want to do that on the podcast because I want to keep this PG. 🙂 But anyway, the whole idea is that I want them to realize that “Yes, I did join this program; here’s why, and this is my community.” That is the way I want people to feel about it.

And so, some ways that you can do that… One of them is to get them to make a contribution to your community in that onboarding process because when they give to a community, they are mentally taking some ownership and taking some responsibility for it. So one possible way that you can do that is to have your members as part of your onboarding process; tell them to go into your community and post a tip of their own. Make them contribute to the community.

Now another thing that you can do is simply send them some bling. Send them something in the mail. This you have to look at your cost and you got to make sure that it makes sense. One thing that you can do as an idea is to send something physical in the mail to your new member. And then depending on the item you could get them maybe to take a picture of themselves with it and post it in the community so that is a way of just bringing that camaraderie in that community into your membership.

It could also be just by the nature of the item itself, it could create a bond to the community. It could be a T-shirt, it could be a sticker that they can stick at the back of their laptop; whatever it might be. I can tell you right now that us nerds; as people who like our laptops, we are going to stick a sticker on the back of it; we are going to be pretty committed to whatever that sticker represents because that is the back of our laptop. That is pretty serious stuff right there. So, it is just an idea.

Now you do need to watch your cost. If it is a really cheap item like a sticker, you can probably send it to them right away with a little welcome letter or something and with a good marketing automation platform, you can actually automate the entire thing. Now if it is a little bit like a bigger item, like a shirt and it cost you a few bucks, you might want to wait until their first monthly renewal or something like that just so you do not lose money on this. You got to make that decision for yourself. But these are things that can help your new member take some ownership in their membership; take some responsibility for it and that will help keep them in the program for a while.

So these are all various things that you can build in to your onboarding sequence. Now in terms of how you are actually going to do it… It would simply be a new member autoresponder essentially. So when people sign up to your membership, they are going to be put up on to a member’s list and you just set up an autoresponder on that list where the purpose of it is onboarding. So the only new members are going to receive the onboarding sequence. That is the way that it works; it is very simple. Now if you have like some bling you are going to send them, you have to have some process behind the scene that automates that; so that if you are going to send a sticker when the member joins, some little message gets sent to whoever is providing your stickers… I don’t know… You got to work out that stuff now. But that is essentially what it is, it is an autoresponder sequence for new members.

So hopefully, that was helpful; how to set up an onboarding process and get people stick around your membership a lot longer.

Now, I want to end off today’s episode with a request of you to simply share this podcast with people that you know, who you think might benefit from this material. Here’s the thing… internally, I have realized that here we are in Episode 128 of Coffee Break Blogging and I need to systematize the marketing better at the beginning and at the end. Now, I don’t want to take a lot of time, but the same time, that is one of the reasons why I do it. And I put all these stuff out here on the podcast in hopes that it is going to help you but also motivate you to take action on the things that I say, and maybe also share. Now, one way that you can do that is to go in to iTunes and post a review and a star rating of Coffee Break Blogging.  And I would be really, really appreciative if you get that done.

Another thing that you can do is to actually share it up on  Facebook  and  Twitter and any other network that you are involved with. Now, unless you tag me by name, I am probably not going to see it but I would love to acknowledge people who do this. So, I’m just going to throw this out there at the top of my head… If you add a hash tag of CBB, which is just Coffee Break Blogging, just hashtag CBB into your thing, I will set up a little “do that” in my  Hootsuite where I can monitor that hash tag and I would love to just kind of… I’d like to see who is sharing. I would like to be able to acknowledge you publicly for that… So you can just send people to  coffeebreakblogging.com  and just be like “Hey, I’m enjoying the podcast” or whatever! You can tell me I suck  Whatever you want, there. It’s your Tweet, your Facebook share. But if you add that hash tag of CBB (#CBB), then I’ll see it and I will be able to thank you publicly and get connected!

So thank you so much once again, I don’t want this episode to be too much longer. I will see you in a few days where we are going to talk a little bit more about increasing your member retention rate.

I’ll see you then! 😉