Strategies for converting newcomers to regulars

(Ernesto Izquierdo) #1

Continuing the discussion from Introduce yourself (or at least just say hi):

For some of our communities the challenge is getting people to come to these spaces in a regular manner (converting newcomers to regulars).

If you have ideas, best practices, we are all ears. :slight_smile:

Introduce yourself (or at least just say hi)
Best Practices for Communities of Practice
(Sarah Hawk) #2

Throwing in Kate’s question from the Intro topic because it is also directly relevant to this discussion.

So the challenge here is forming a habit. (Think about Facebook based communities – they tend to be successful because Facebook has already created that habit for them.) If people only come to a community because they have a question, chances are as soon as its answered, they leave and have no motivation to return (until they have another question).

In theory, it takes ~3 weeks to form that habit, so you need a stream of re-engagement factors spanning that period.

Things I do here:

  • I personally PM every new member. That isn’t feasible in all communities but it’s something that I feel strongly about in smaller CoPs because it creates a grounding connection, makes people feel welcome, and helps me establish relationships with members. I spend 5 mins researching people to make the note personal and to collect pertinent info on their areas of expertise for future use.
  • In the above PM I include a CTA to post in a topic that I update every week (if they haven’t already posted).
  • We have an automated email onboarding series which sends a re-engagement email once per week for a month.
  • I send follow up PMs to members that haven’t engaged after 1 week (I research what they’ve been reading about onsite and use that as a discussion topic – can I help them find more resources?)
  • I make introductions to other members in similar niches
  • I send personal emails about relevant discussions (I query the notes I made during my initial research for this).

A lot of this work is really granular and time consuming, but it’s important.

This post outlines our community onboarding journey in more detail.

Here are a couple of other relevant posts. They are a few years old and perhaps relate more closely to CoP’s than support communities, but the suggestions are still mostly relevant.
Convert more newcomers to regulars.
How to convert more newcomers into regulars.

(Kate Ambash) #3

Wow. I’m trying to decide if I should do this when I have I have thirty or more members joining a day. The trouble is that we are using SSO to pass credentials so a signup is counted if a user clicks. I wonder if I should count this a different way?

Any thoughts for those of you with communities associated with products whether this could or should be part of introduction when they first sign up?

(Sarah Hawk) #4

You could tweak it. When I’m flat out I go with a more generic templated message but still send it personally. It would take 5 mins for 30 members and would probably increase the likelihood that at least a couple would engage. That said, this particular action point might not be so relevant for your type of community.

Let’s check in with some members from product related communities. @ale_fattorini @Alexandra_Anna_Bowen @Nick_Emmett @LauraMac @ForumSentinel @Travis

If they click what specifically?

(Kate Ambash) #5

Thanks for continuing to engage and connect me with other users. Very powerful!

When a user clicks the link to our Community from our application (our domain) and are then routed to our hosted platform (Vanilla), it’s counted as “signup.” It may or may not be the same day as a user actually signs up for our product.

(Kate Ambash) #6

Interestingly, this post specifically suggest not messaging new users, @HAWK!

(Sarah Hawk) #7

Yeah, that doesn’t sound like it makes sense, if members can drop off between clicking through to community and actually registering. I’d count a new member at the point that their data is pushed into the member database.

We go back and forwards on this a bit, and I think that like many things in community, what works for one won’t work for another. That’s where data is so important.

We’re always focussing on big wins, which means looking at the best ways of using your time to return the most value. If you can automate the journey and that works, brilliant, but if newcomer conversion is a sticking point for you, I’d consider a more granular approach. Do you have an automated onboarding journey? If not, I’d go down that route first.

30 new members per day isn’t huge and if you can convert a couple of them into long term members then I’d say it was good use of 10 minutes, but you’d need to be able to prove that. I’d try it for a month and see what the data tells you.

All that said, I’ve only ever worked directly in CoPs, which are a different beast from support communities. While the theories of motivation and persuasion apply in the same way, the tactical approaches will differ, so I’d love to hear from others in a similar situation to yours.

(ForumSentinel) #8

Thanks for the tag @HAWK. We use SSO for our site, whether a user creates an account on our social media platform (BodySpace), the store, or the forums, it’ll be one account for all areas. The initial intention was for the forums and store to be almost completely separate since our founder didn’t want it to seem “spammy”, each uses the same account but there is almost zero product push outside of a dedicated promotion section and product advertising is limited among the rotating banner ads.

The conversion rate is very low and many forum users don’t even know we have a store. I’ve been looking into ways to increase that conversion rate (asked a few months ago here: Converting a member to a buyer) but it’s not a huge priority to the business right now, it’s simply not low hanging enough fruit and a fairly unfavorable current culture to justify efforts right now.

(Sarah Hawk) #9

Do you have any strategies for onboarding new members with the aim of converting them to engaged ones @ForumSentinel ? A product based community of your magnitude would be a very different beast from the smaller CoPs that I’ve been talking about.

(Kate Ambash) #10

Indeed, what efforts do you take to include both sides? Our community for answers, though I have a steady (small) group of users who are really into the space and have taken on the role of mods. I have means of pushing members to the community (in-product notifications, pushes from support centers, blog post links, etc), but I’m working on the “habit-forming” part.

(ForumSentinel) #11

Those strategies would be beyond my purview and in the realm of our advertising teams. We have all manner of email blasts and other conversion promotions but nothing specific for the community. I can run announcements and threads leading to products or deals and those will be seen by lurkers and members alike but nothing too involved. Our community is very old tech.

Hopefully this is answering the question a bit, I feel like I might be missing it haha.

(Nick Emmett) #12

So, we have a fairly small influx of members in comparison to 30 a day - we average around 50 a week. I have a fairly generic template that I add/remove to and from depending on the member and their company (our customer). At the minute it’s not too traumatic but I do know what I do wont scale if (when) we do grow to much bigger numbers. I’m looking at automating the process and phasing the onboarding approach, probably using a tool such as Marketo, that we use internally for our marketing comms.

Not sure if that helps, hinders or misses the point!

(Kate Ambash) #13

It does help! We use the chat product Intercom for support, and it allow us to push messages to users. I’m thinking of using this for new users to welcome them when they hit the forum. That would differentiate and hopefully refrain from inundating new users, who also receive welcome emails after signing up.

(Sarah Hawk) #14

I think that sounds like a good compromise. Make sure you figure out how to collect data on it first though.

(Ernesto Izquierdo) #15

Sarah! Great tips and feedback. Many many thanks for those 6 tips and the links. I’m sharing these with my community manager colleagues :slight_smile:

(Sarah Hawk) #16

No problem @Ernesto_Izquierdo.

I’d love to hear what strategies others use as well.

How are you going with your efforts @kambash – what kind of conversion rate are you getting from your personal reaching out?

(Shreyas) #17

This is a great question. When it comes to a community, what I’ve observed is that people generally lurk around for quite some time before heading to that “Introduce yourself” thread. I think it’s very similar to real life experience where you walk into a bar for an event (fully aware what you’re heading for). You’re generally hesitant to make the first move. You lurk around observing people and what’s happening before striking a conversation.
I would completely agree with @HAWK on sending the first personal message. To add on to that- sort of trying to understand why they’re here, what are they looking for and how we can support them.
Something that we tried that had good results were-tweaking the content. Trying to post open-ended questions from various genre to get people to come participate.
I also love the idea of Digest emails to members. Quora, for example, does a great job with emails and that’s a great way to get people to notice content the might be interested in and are more likely to particpate in.

(Kristen Gastaldo) #18

Maybe this is more about active members vs regulars, but I feel like it makes sense here. I actually think I learned this in a Feverbee training a couple years ago:

One way to work on regulars would be to see where people make the move from occasional poster to regularly active member (forgive terminology here). If you can, look at the amount of posts from all of your community members and see if you see a trend. Say, a majority have 0 posts, then a group have 1-10, then 15. And then it skyrockets to 100+. Theoretically, you just need to get them to that 15 post mark and they’ll be hooked. Once you find that number, you can see which members are close to it and work on engaging them. This targets your current (almost) active members, rather than your newcomers.

@HAWK @richard_millington - Forgive me if this isn’t Feverbee approved!

(Anton) #19


We even have a topic where people share photos of them spending nights in front of their monitors with the forum opened.

Badges and invitations also contribute well to develop habits of coming back and doing something again and again - even when there are no particular goals / questions

Also, people adore when you, THE PROJECT CO-OWNER, ask their advice. They feel quite pride about this. So I PM people with questions based on the experience they claim in their profiles. For this to work, you’ll have to make filling own profiles a trend.