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How to Effectively Onboard New Supporters

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Welcome Them Home

You have great new names… now what?

Have you ever wondered what it’s like to be new to your organization? You sign a pledge or petition, offer to volunteer, maybe rsvp at an event and all of sudden, you are receiving a stream of information in your inbox. If you want that transition to be welcoming and not bewildering, try creating a thoughtful on-boarding program with a welcome series.

house

A welcome series allows you to:

  • Effectively engage with and inform new supporters, action takers, donors and members
  • Build early affinity with your organization
  • Prime your audience for more online communication
  • Secure early, additional online actions and gifts

When building a series, try creating conditional content to tailor welcome emails to different audiences such as brand new supporters vs. donors or members vs. action takers.

Now let’s address the issue of timing. There is some variety out there, but typically a welcome series should consist of three emails spanning 10 days. The first message should arrive within 24 hours of the constituent’s addition to your email list. The following two messages then follow, spaced about 3–5 days apart.

During the 10-day period, the constituents receiving the welcome series should be excluded from all other emails from your organization.

What should these messages look like? Let’s take a look.

Message 0: Auto-responder Email when a New Email is Added

This is the “receipt” that email supporters receive when they complete an “action” via ActionSprout or other tools. Other actions could be completing an email subscription form, a survey, an action alert, a donation form or any other form of engagement.

oxfam

Try including a line in your autoresponder telling recipients that they are now subscribed to your emails and can look forward to receiving more soon. This is also a great place to include information about how supporters should get more involved online (social media, blog posts, etc.) and offline (volunteering, events, etc.). These auto-responders serve as the perfect primer for the welcome series to come.

Message 1: Welcome and Survey

For the first message in the welcome series, try a brief survey with questions designed to engage new constituents right away as well as build some early affinity with your organization. The purpose of the survey questions is to get new constituents to interact and engage with your mission and goals. This message can be tailored to the subscriber’s status recognizing action taker, member, or donor status. Make sure to keep it simple!

welcome

Message 2: Evergreen Action

For the second message in the welcome series, try an action alert email featuring a strong evergreen action. Evergreen actions are actions that will be relevant for a long period of time so you don’t have to keep changing it. This action should give new constituents a window into your organization’s advocacy work and an opportunity to take an action (or another action) early.

evergreen

Message 3: Donate or Join Ask

For the last message in the welcome series, it’s best to include an evergreen fundraising appeal for members and a membership ask for non-members. The purpose of this message is not necessarily getting people to give to this email or become a member right from this email (although that will happen now and again), but instead getting supporters primed to make future gifts and membership contributions online. Tests have shown that asking for financial support early can lead to increased donations later.

donation jar

Automatic Sends

The most effective way to make sure that your welcome series emails are always going out is to set them up automatically to send. Many tools like Salsa, Convio and Nationbuilder allow this.

Note for Convio users: To do this effectively, you will need to create the following groups in Convio:

email

Exclude group to be added to all emails that go out from your organization: to exclude users who are in the welcome series from other communications until they are out of the welcome series:

(System Creation Time falls on or after 14 day or days prior to today AND System Creation Time falls on or before 0 day or days prior to today) AND Accept Email equals true AND Email Status not equal to Bad (Hard Bounce)

Send groups for message 1,2,3 (groups to rebuild on send)

For Message 1: (System Creation Time falls on or after 3 day or days prior to today AND System Creation Time falls on or before 0 day or days prior to today) AND Accept Email equals true AND Email Status not equal to Bad (Hard Bounce)

For Message 2: (System Creation Time falls on or after 7 day or days prior to today AND System Creation Time falls on or before 5 day or days prior to today) AND Accept Email equals true AND Email Status not equal to Bad (Hard Bounce)

For Message 3: (System Creation Time falls on or after 12 day or days prior to today AND System Creation Time falls on or before 9 day or days prior to today) AND Accept Email equals true AND Email Status not equal to Bad (Hard Bounce)

Groups of all action takers, ActionSprout names, members, non-member donors, and any other distinguishing groups your organization has (set to rebuild daily at midnight)

These can just be big queries of anyone that falls in the categories that are important to your organization. These groups should rebuild daily. These will be to use for conditional content within the messages to customize the series based on supporters’ status, not as send groups.

Then, once all these queries and groups are set up and the messages are built, you’ll set them up for a recurring delivery at a chosen time (11am every day is a good place to start), and the messages will roll out and welcome your supporters automatically!

For more information on CCAH and ActionSprout.