Effective Onboarding Program
Onboarding is a key to retention
Onboarding is a systematic and comprehensive program to integrate new members within the community and its culture. It gives the new members the tools and information to become a happy and productive member of the community. It’s about making a great first impression that leaves your users satisfied and wanting more. Onboarding should be a strategic process that lasts at least one month to ensure high retention. But how do you go about achieving this?
There are several methods you can employ to onboard new members. We chose to focus on these three:
- Walkthrough. The walkthrough method is about guiding members through the features of the community and explaining the benefits of using these features throughout the walkthrough. Its purpose is to eradicate any confusion from the beginning on. It can be executed in lots of different ways, and you should be careful that your explaining texts don't get too boring or repetitive. You don’t want users to rush through the process without them learning anything substantial. This holds true for all methods, and not only this one.
Learning-by-doing. Let your members do what you want to teach them instead of telling them how it is supposed to be done. For example, create a demo role-play. In this demo, they can practice first without having to worry about doing it right. Guide them through the process, so they learn how to do it on their own. This way, users become more confident when actually writing something. This might take a little more effort from the member. However, if it’s done in an easygoing way, then users will enjoy it and learn more. Don’t worry if you think this would make your onboarding process too long. The solution is simple: split it up into multiple parts. Have an interactive checklist, so users can start a tour whenever they feel like it.
Mentor onboarding. This process means taking the time to get in contact with your members and helping them personally. This term can be explained fairly simply by using a concept you’re already familiar with: an educational mentor. A mentor’s job is to attend to a member’s potential and development (within reason, of course). Do you have a question about the community? Would you like to understand how to use a feature? The mentor is there for you.
Effective onboarding brings big benefits
One study by the ACME Research Group shows that:
- 86% of respondents felt that a new member’s decision to stay with a community long-term is made within the first month of membership.
- 66% of regions with onboarding programs claimed a higher rate of successful assimilation of new hires into community culture.
- 62% had higher time-to-productivity ratios, and 54% reported higher community engagement.
Start early and assign a mentor
The same ACME survey also proves how:
- 83% of the highest performing regions began onboarding on the first day of the new members' arrivals.
- Also, high-performing regions are 2.5 times more likely than lower-performing regions to assign a mentor during the onboarding process.
- The end of the first month is traditionally marked by onboarding transitions from mentor-assisted training to individual autonomy.