Driving effective member activation to increase retention

By embracing a community-focused approach, you'll unlock the power to retain customers, reduce churn, and pave the way for sustainable growth.
Priyanshu Anand
October 9, 2023

Driving effective member activation to increase retention

By embracing a community-focused approach, you'll unlock the power to retain customers, reduce churn, and pave the way for sustainable growth.
Priyanshu Anand
July 6, 2023

In today's cutthroat business world, keeping customers loyal is the name of the game if you want to thrive. And guess what? A well-executed community strategy can be your secret weapon for achieving that goal. In this handy cheat sheet, we'll dive into why customer retention is so crucial, spill the beans on effective strategies to keep customers coming back for more, emphasize the importance of holding onto both clients and users and shine a spotlight on how community engagement can work wonders in building unwavering customer loyalty and turning them into passionate brand advocates. By embracing a community-focused approach, you'll unlock the power to retain customers, reduce churn, and pave the way for sustainable growth.

Start off with great onboarding

The initial onboarding phase is a critical juncture that can make or break a member's engagement within a community. It presents a golden opportunity to capture their interest and bridge the gap between curiosity and disinterest. By implementing an effective onboarding process, you can successfully convert curiosity into action, ensuring that new members are activated and become active participants in the community. Moreover, the earlier you deliver value to newcomers, the more profound the impact on increasing the overall percentage of active members. This, in turn, leads to improved member retention rates over time.

Shreman Shrestha, the Community lead at Friends of Lenny’s, says that in his experience it’s best to break down the entire onboarding process into fragmented more easily digestible processes. he also emphasizes that not everything is equally important to a newcomer, in fact, feeding information can be overwhelming for someone initially and is also the cause of lower retention rates early on. Your onboarding should not overwhelm a member when they join the community. What helps as a first touchpoint is to just introduce yourself and say “Hey, here’s a familiar face” so the person at least feels acquainted and feels comfortable to talk to you in case they need anything.

He also recommends setting up a drip campaign that onboards members over a period of time, getting them slowly engaged with the nuances of the community. His entire process is explained in more detail in this blog about how you can optimize onboarding and why a 30-day onboarding is perfect for most communities.  If you’re able to nail onboarding, that does most of the heavy lifting when it comes to member activation. That initial gap where members haven’t yet engaged in the community is the hardest to cross and everything after becomes more likely.

Onboarding workflow for better activation and improved retention

Furthermore, Steve Klein, the Community Manager at LaunchNotes, also claimed that initially they we able to scale to a couple of hundred members without having a good onboarding in place. This directly lead to low retention rates and almost no engagement in the community despite having a good number of members. Onboarding is crucial to improving retention rates i the long term so this should be your first priority.

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Cultivate a sense of belonging

Building a thriving community goes beyond mere member acquisition. It requires creating an environment where members feel a strong sense of belonging. Instead of focusing solely on numbers, shift your attention to fostering deep connections among existing members. Encourage interaction, organize engaging meet-ups, and facilitate meaningful conversations that enable individuals to form genuine bonds. By nurturing a strong sense of belonging, you'll create an inclusive space where members feel valued, supported, and motivated to stay actively involved.

What also helps is cultivating community culture. People value unique experiences that can’t be found anywhere else. Something that sets your community apart from the rest of the world. What’s great about fostering community culture is that people have a mutual something to connect with.

Personalize Member Experiences

Each member is unique, and their engagement should reflect that. Embrace personalization by tailoring your approach to cater to the specific needs and interests of individual members. Utilize data and analytics to understand their preferences, behavior patterns, and engagement levels. Armed with this information, provide personalized recommendations, tailored content, and exclusive experiences that resonate on a deeper level. By offering a customized member experience, you'll inspire loyalty and give members a compelling reason to remain connected.

Provide best-in-class support

When it comes to member activation, providing great support can be the foundation of making members realize the value of your community. If it’s primarily a support community, it’s safe to assume that when a member joins, they’re looking for something to help them out with the product. Giving them everything they need or even taking time out for 1-on-1s (if it’s a smaller community) can be detrimental to activating them. This is also where we circle back to the first point about starting off with the right onboarding. Providing members with the right resources, or even better, conducting surveys to see what they’re looking for, can be how you can personalize their onboarding and at the same time give them a strong enough reason to stick with the community in the long term.

Here’s a workflow that uses surveys to onboard members leveraging personalization to improve the chances of member activation -

Onboarding workflow with surveys

Providing premium support also encourages and empowers others in the community to replicate your actions and do the same. Generating a flywheel effect lies predominantly in your hands early on as you need to nudge members to become more active through your actions. And your actions also have to be valuable to these members in order for them to feel the need to give back to the community. The more helpful you or the community is, the more likely the chances are that not only will they become activated but also retained for a much longer time.

Listen to what members want

Keep a close eye on the community and understand how members are responding to your activation strategies. Whether or not is there a positive impact and if there isn’t what can you do to improve their experience in the community? With the pre-built reports in Threado, you can take a look at retention metrics to see if people are sticking around on average or not.

Retention metrics over 6 weeks

Other reports like most discussed topics, most active channels, potential champions, etc., can help you figure out what people are talking about in the community or what they want to be talking about. All these metrics will help you re-center your compass and direct your efforts where it matters. You’ll have a lot more chances of driving better engagement and activation if you just listen to the community.

Top discussion topics in the community

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Have frequent community interactions

Effective communication is vital for community success. Establish a robust communication strategy that keeps your members informed, engaged, and inspired. Utilize multiple channels such as email newsletters, in-app notifications, and social media to share updates, valuable resources, and success stories. By maintaining an open line of communication, you'll foster transparency, build trust, and ensure members feel connected to the pulse of your community.

Facilitate networking events

A lot of people become a part of your community just for networking opportunities. This is a huge incentive to not only drive more attendance for your events but also make sure people stick around after. We used to host Threado Community Hour which featured a dedicated 20 min networking event so people can break the ice, get to know each other and connect over community anectodes. People would end up sharing each other's social handles or even personal information to further develop strong connections and collaborate.

If you create a platform that facilitates connections between members - the connections that matter to them - it will serve as one of the most important reasons for people to stay connected with your community. Better connections mean more value and more value means more incentive to be active.

Take it step by step

The initial onboarding phase is critical for member engagement, and delivering value to newcomers gradually increases activation rates and improves member retention. Cultivating a strong sense of belonging and fostering a unique community culture create an inclusive environment where members form genuine connections. Personalization, exceptional support, and listening to feedback help create tailored experiences and empower members to contribute to the community's growth. Effective communication, frequent interactions, and networking events further strengthen the community, providing incentives for members to stay engaged. By embracing a community-focused approach, businesses can retain customers, reduce churn, and pave the way for sustainable growth.

In today's competitive business world, customer loyalty is crucial for success. A well-executed community strategy can be the secret weapon in achieving this goal. By focusing on customer retention, implementing effective onboarding, cultivating a sense of belonging, personalizing member experiences, providing exceptional support, listening to feedback, maintaining frequent interactions, and facilitating networking events, businesses can build a thriving community that fosters unwavering customer loyalty.

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