The First 30 Days Matter Most of All

People aren't looking for the next flashy thing, they are looking for the next best thing. And if you want to be it, then you need to be prepared.

Do you remember the first date? Super worried about what you were wearing and what you were going to say right away. Constantly checking your face for leftover food. Double checking the reservation to make sure that everything will be perfect. Connecting in the magic moment and then realizing that after $1 million smile, you've got zero planned for the rest of the date.

Community IS Relationships

OK, so maybe your first date wasn't exactly like my first date. Lucky you! It is important to remember that that is the exact perspective that your newest members are bringing to your community.

For them, this is a huge leap of faith. They're not sure what to do, where to go or who to talk to. They've just walked into an online party and they're feeling a little nervous.

If you spend all of your time getting people to the door, but not having anything for them to do when they enter your community will fail.

People aren't looking for the next flashing thing, they are looking for the next best thing. And if you want to be it, then you need to be prepared.

The most effective way to begin is by setting the stage for the first 30 days.

First Impressions

How old is your newest member has cleared the registration hurdle, they're getting to see you for the first time. No make up. No iron clothing. You inside the community being yourself. Sometimes it's hard to manage to do a personality of being that external marketer and that internal curator. Your members understand this relationship, but the newest members are meeting "internal curator you" for the first time. So let's get it right.

The Minimum - A Welcome Message: Whether you're on a platform or not, make sure that as soon as someone registers, they get a welcome message from you. This could be an email or a text message. It could be a message with a link to the welcome page that has a nice video of you on it. Whatever it is, make sure they know they've gotten in and that you know they are there.

The Maximum - A Welcome Call: This is my preferred strategy. My new members sign up I get a notification in Slack. That notification has basic information about where they are from, their phone number and what they are looking to do inside my community. I pick up the phone and called him right away, all things being equal with the time zone of where they are at. Nine times out of 10 I don't even get to talk to them. It's just a voicemail message. Keep it short and sweet like this example:

Hey Sam! Great to have you exploring Endurance Nation and our community. I hope the weather is treating you well in Sandusky, OH – I know it can be cold there this time of year! Since you are looking to train for the Boston Marathon we have plenty of time to set out a program that will help you progress over the next six months. When you are ready, book a call using the link in the welcome message I sent you or text me at 111-111-1111 and we can set a time to connect in person!

The Clear Value

After the welcome, it's time to deliver the goods.

  • If they're here for a course, you have to plug them in.
  • If they're here for an event, get them the details about it.
  • If they're downloading some content, send them directly to the page.

Whatever that critical linchpin element is in the system that you are building, yur need to fast track them to that point almost right away.

Yes, you can set up an auto-responder or email series with more information – but don't do this at the expense of delivering the initial value.

The longer a new member has to wait to receive the value they are seeking, the less likely they are to stay. The navigation can't be complicated. Access has to be direct, and easily found again in the future.

The Minimum: A page with Content and Linked Resources

Yes, nail that welcome message. But aside from being your general awesome self, be sure to include a link to your Getting Started page.

This page should have the basic information that they need to survive the next 30 days. Use bullet points to outline things as best you can and include all the links on that page that you feel are relevant. Most importantly, don't forget to include a link to how they can get help.

This page is important, and it should have a simple URL. Label it that way or use a redirection URL tool to make it so. This way even if they lose the email or or on a different device, anyone can tell them to go to /starthere and they'll have access to the fundamentals.

The Maximum: A Short Course with the Critical Content & Resources

Want to go to the next level? Start with the same fundamentals: that starts here page. In addition to the basic links that your user will need, include the link to a short course that you've created which walks them through the website.

Here's one way you can over-deliver:

  • Break the first 30 days down into four one-week long segments.  
  • Each segment has a name, a video from you, and bullets with action steps.
  • Remind users of each tab in a weekly message.
A screenshot from the Members site of Endurance Nation
A screenshot from the Members site of Endurance Nation

As you can see, this doesn't have to be a full-fledged course. This is simply a webpage with a video embedded and some text. I take advantage of a tabbed navigation at the top to let users understand what the goals are for each element.

Independent Action

As a first time creator, it's easy to just solve everything for the new member. In our desire to give them insane value, we are also not giving them any room to make themselves at home.

You need to be warm, but you can't hover.

It's important to strike a balance between being resourceful and being over bearing. There are many ways you can do this, the key is finding one that fits the authenticity of your community. If your community is for party planners, the welcome better pop and be memorable. If  your community welcome is for Introverts, then being everywhere all the time will be more of a liability than a benefit.

The Minimum: A List of Things to Complete

As you create this list, remember that your new member has priorities of his/her own. They chose you for something and you have to have a pretty good idea of what it is they want. If you're not meeting their needs, they're not going to stay for very long.

With your membership in mind, draft a list of things that they should strive to get done in their first 30 days. Ideally, when they finish this list they will have realized a core component of the value you have promised.

For example, if you are running a community of birdwatchers, by the end of the 30-day checklist they might have completed your template schedule tracker. Now they know where to go and when for the bird they want – vs just guessing! 👍

The Maximum: A List + A Creation to Share Out

In an extension of the minimum version, this option has you outlining a list that leads to members creating something.

Back to the birdwatching community example, by the end of the first 30 days your new members could have compiled a digital photo album of five unique birds. Now they can share with the community, earn a badge and move on to the next challenge!

The Regular Check In

One of the reasons to start a community is to bring like minded people together. But for new members that can be intimidating, even for the most outgoing people.

One of the best ways to facilitate this is to create regular check-in opportunities that just make talking to other people "normal behavior" inside your community.

Consider this more of an ice breaking activity for the newer folks. Just getting them comfortable telling their own story is an important part of integrating them with your other members.

The Minimum: A Google Form and Follow Up Message

One of the easiest ways to make this happen is to simply create a Google form that asks for basic information: name, email, interest area, and then leave room for them to ask if you questions. These can be open ended if you like.

When that form is submitted, it's automatically sent to you to review. With that in hand, you can then reach out via email or your community site with some specific information that will be helpful for the user.

Are you learning something about your users, but you're also showing them that they can contact you in a regular cadence to the website and you will reply. 🤯

The Maximum: A Check In Call with Leadership

Looking to go one step further? Once they complete that form, you can redirect them to a scheduling page so they can set up a call with you.

The form is the "key" that unlocks access to the phone call link. Members that have completed the form can schedule it in your calendar at a time that works for you.

You will already have all the topics are interested in in the form and can simply use that as your guide as you talk to them and get them integrated with the site. This is a great way to be responsive, personal and manage your schedule.

Good luck and please leave comments if you have other best practices for your first thirty days!

Have Questions?  

You can book a Friday slot so we can brainstorm about your community, I have a few slots free each week. Do that here. Want more? You can book a paid consult for a few other date options, and I'll not only send you a recording of our call, but my notes and recommendations as well. Do that here.