Member onboarding – are you missing the boat?

The first step in developing a lifelong relationship with your members is an engaging and effective new member process. Here we provide some insights into how you can refine your current process, including taking a look at what Mercy Super did and the benefits reaped.

First impressions count. Yet many super funds who spend plenty on member acquisition still send out lengthy, text-heavy welcome letters that do nothing to inspire new members and make them feel great about joining. These welcome letters are a tick in the compliance box rather than the first step in a lifelong journey of engagement with the fund.

So what can be done to engage members from the start? From working with a number of super funds, we know the onboarding process is an opportunity to:

  • provide a memorable introduction to your fund and what it stands for
  • encourage key actions that benefit the member and the fund
  • educate and explain super in simple, jargon-free communications, and
  • provide a user-friendly, personalised experience.

Working towards a better member onboarding process
In 2015, we worked with Mercy Super to establish a new onboarding process with a series of engaging, personalised communications for members during their first 12 months in the fund.

“We wanted to create a better experience for our new members; one that provides a positive start to their relationship with us”, says Craig Keath, Mercy Super’s Marketing & Communications Manager.

In working with Mercy Super and other super fund clients, we’ve put together a road map to help improve your member onboarding process.

  1. Map your existing process

You can’t improve your process until you know exactly what you have to work with.

Firstly, you need to get a clear picture of what your members experience when they join your fund. This includes all letters and other communications plus anything they receive via their employer. It’s also important to include your online join process and any emails that are generated.

You’ll also need to find out where the data for your current process comes from, what the mailing triggers are and who owns it within your fund (is it your operations team, administrator or other area of the business?).

It can take some time to put all the puzzle pieces together, but you’ll end up with a complete picture of your new member journey that includes process, content and responsibilities.

Key tip: Check whether you have metrics on existing new member communications such as open rates, responses and action. These can help you identify weak spots and opportunities to improve.

  1. Work with your administrator

Usually, the comms/marketing team will have the job of putting a new onboarding process in place. But your administrator may be responsible for issuing welcome materials and for workflow processes and CRM systems.

It’s important then to understand how the administration system works, what you can change and how, its limitations and opportunities. You may be able to refresh the existing letters and documents that your administrator sends, but may not have the scope to send emails or personalised mailings that have multiple variables.

This was the case for Mercy Super, so the fund opted to overlay a campaign process over the top of the administrator’s existing mailings.

“To get the level of personalisation and flexibility we wanted, we needed to design and send the campaigns direct from the fund,” says Craig. “This has allowed us to be more agile in tracking and adapting the process along the way”.

Key tip: Make sure you work with your administrator to explore your options. Some changes to workflow may take time to implement and may need to go through a series of approvals.

  1. Check in with your key employers

Funds work hard for their default status, but may not be getting the most out of it. Some employers hand out information to new employees for multiple super funds or may encourage new employees to bring their existing super fund with them. This means your employers may not understand the default process or the benefits to their employees of joining your fund.

Take the opportunity to speak with your key employers and to identify new opportunities to communicate with their employees. Ask whether you can add material to their letter of offer pack, participate in staff information days or attend pre-employment events.

Where possible, track metrics – how many employees join your fund from the prospective pool of new employees? This information can be used to help you set some goals for acquisition.

Key tip: Don’t assume! Ask questions and find out how your employers talk to new employees about your fund.

  1. Determine your key actions and timing

Work out what actions you want to encourage and how you want to communicate them to members. Focus on simple, easy to understand communications that clearly explains why members should care enough to take action.

For Mercy Super, the key activities for new members include online account login, member contributions, search consent, rollovers, getting financial advice and nominating beneficiaries. These topics are explained using case studies and examples, with clear calls to action.

“We want our members to have a personalised experience that matches their needs,” says Craig. For Mercy Super, this means sending communications with variable information that is tailored to a member’s situation and that builds on their past actions.

While not all funds will have this capability, it’s worth exploring your options around personalisation. For smaller funds, a personalised approach may mean picking up the phone and talking to new members.

Lastly, make sure the medium fits the message – for example, online login lends itself to email rather than hard copy. You can use AB testing to determine which delivery methods gets the best results.

Key tip: Think outside the box when it comes to ways you can improve your member experience. Try outbound calls or personalised videos to welcome new members to the fund and encourage engagement.

  1. Review. Refine. Repeat

Once you’ve bedded down your new process, you need to track performance.

Mercy Super uses a range of measures to track the performance of their new member process. This is largely based on member activity in each of the areas related to communications and covers all member touchpoints. The fund also tracks the behaviour of new members against that of their existing member base.

To capture and collate this data, you need to flag campaign activity and action on an individual’s record, which is something not all funds have the ability to do. It’s worth exploring how you can track this data in your own fund.

Craig says, “Since we’ve introduced our new member onboarding process, we’ve had a significant increase in search consents, rollovers and interaction with our contact centre and advisers. However, we haven’t had as much lift with beneficiary nominations. This is one of the areas we’ll look at as we refine our content”.

Key tip: Don’t set and forget! Identify and keep track of your key metrics. If something isn’t working, change tack and refine your approach.


An effective new member process will evolve over time as you factor in new mediums, technologies and sophistication in terms of personalisation.

“We’re always looking at ways we can move forwards and improve our member engagement”, says Craig. For Mercy Super, this improvement consists of exploring new mediums and channels, such as personalised welcome videos and tailored pre-employment communications.

Having an engaging and effective new member process is good for funds and members. It’s a valuable opportunity to educate members and encourage them to make good choices about their super. Plus, it’s the first step in a lifelong relationship between you and your members.

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