Member onboarding – are you making an impact?

First impressions count and sadly there’s no do-over when you don’t quite hit the mark. We know this, yet still so many super funds send out, as their first bit of communication, a lengthy, text-heavy welcome letter or email that does nothing to inspire and welcome the member.

The letter may tick the compliance box, but it fails to engage members and certainly doesn’t act as the first step in establishing yourself as a ‘fund for life’. So, what can be done to engage members from the start? In this article we provide insights into how you can review and refine your current member onboarding strategy to establish a relationship with your new member and begin the lifelong journey of engagement.

From working with our super fund clients, we know the onboarding program 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
• Provide a user-friendly, personalised experience.

Working towards a better member onboarding program

We have worked with a number of super funds over the years to establish a new member onboarding program; featuring a series of engaging, personalised communications for members during their first 6-12 months with the fund.

From this work, we’ve put together a road map, demonstrating how you can elevate your new member onboarding program to new heights and drive key member conversions through its implementation.

1. Map your existing process

You can’t move forward with a new whizz bang strategy without knowing the current state of things.
The first point of call is to get a clear holistic picture of what your members currently experience when they join your fund. This includes the online join process, letters, emails and other communications plus anything they receive via their employer.

You’ll also need to find out where the data for your current program comes from, what the various (or not various) mailing triggers are and who owns it within your fund – is it your operations team, administrator or other area of the business?

This will give you a complete picture of your new member onboarding journey, including process, content and responsibilities. It may take some time, but it’s a crucial step.

Important: Check whether you have metrics on existing new member communications such as open rates, responses and conversions. These can help you identify the weak spots and provide opportunities for improvement.

2. Work with your administrator

The development of a new onboarding program is a collaborative effort between key divisions of the business: marketing, operations, member services, risk and compliance, etc. But there are also external stakeholders to consider – your administrator being at the forefront. It’s likely they’ll be responsible for issuing the Business as Usual (BAU) welcome materials as well as workflow processes and CRM systems.

It’s imperative you understand how the administration system works, what you can change and how, its limitations and opportunities. You should be able to refresh the existing letters, emails and documents your administrator sends out, but you may not have the ability to send a series of personalised emails and mailings that are data driven with multiple variables.

This was the case for some of our clients. To work around these limitations, we developed the series of personalised campaigns that formed the new member onboarding program and sent them out directly from the Fund, effectively overlaying the administrator’s existing BAU communications. Overlaying the program meant clients achieved the level of personalisation and flexibility they wanted and enabled them to be more agile: tracking, reporting and refining the program as they needed.

On the flipside, while that level of agility is hugely beneficial, not having the new member onboarding program integrating with your administrators CRM and/or marketing cloud platforms (if they have them), means member conversions and actions aren’t recorded in real-time. Due to the manual work around, you may experience a delay in member actions being represented in the administrators CRM where all of your member data is located. You will need to ensure you’ve accounted for any delays and/or manual data collection into your program.

Important: Work closely 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.

3. Check in with your default employers

You work hard for your default status, but are you making the most of it? Do your employers understand the default process or who you are and how you can benefit their employees? Are they providing their employees with all the information they can about you and superannuation? While you can’t control how your employers communicate super to their employees, you can give them the tools and information needed to be sufficiently equipped to communicate your fund and super effectively.

An employer engagement program is likely to already be in place, but the implementation of the new member onboarding program presents an opportunity to speak with your default employers to identify new opportunities to communicate with their employees. Ask whether you can add material to their letter of offer pack, run information seminars for staff 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 set some goals for acquisition.

Important: Never assume! Ask the questions and find out how your employers talk to new employees about your fund.

4. Determine your key messages, actions and timing

Determine your key messages, the resulting member actions you want to encourage and how and when you want to communicate them to members.

Superannuation funds have a tendency to lump ALL of the key messages and actions into the one piece of communication. This neither engages nor drives actions from members. It makes for an overwhelming and confusing communication piece and doesn’t allow for an ongoing journey of communication and education with the member. We recommend one key message per communication; for example, one piece might discuss finding lost and/or other super accounts and another insurance through super. Focus on simple, easy to understand communications that clearly explains why members should care enough to take action.

For many super funds, the key activities for new members include online account login, growing super through member contributions, finding lost and/or other super accounts, learning about the various investment options, understanding insurance through super and whether it is right for them, accessing financial advice, ensuring contact details remain up-to-date and nominating beneficiaries. You can explain these topics using a variety of methods, including case studies, examples and videos – with clear calls to action.

Personalising the communications is an incredibly effective way to engage members and add value to their experience. Using member data to communicate tailored messages and timing the communications strategically, demonstrates an understanding of the individual member and their situation. This type of data-driven communications enables you to communicate the right messages at the right time and provides the member with valuable content.

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.

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

5. Review. Report. Refine. Repeat.

Once you’ve locked down your new member onboarding program, you need to track its ongoing performance.

There are a range of measures you can use, and the first port of call is to track how your members are engaging with the initial communication. The beauty of digital communications is the ease of tracking member engagement. You can track the email open rates and call to action click throughs. Then follow through to tracking how members engage with any landing pages, digital portals or website pages that formed the call to action. This digital tracking provides you with insight into how your new members engage with your communications.

Diving a bit deeper, it’s important to assess whether new members took any of the actions highlighted in the communications. This is where you’ll be able to articulate a tangible Return on Investment (ROI) result to executives and the board when reporting on the program. Again, how it’s set up – whether through your administrator or as a fund driven overlay – will determine the way in which you gather this information.

To capture and collate this data, it’s beneficial to flag campaign activity and action on an individual’s record, but this is something not all funds have the ability to do. In other instances we have worked with clients on submitting robust data/reporting requests based on the members targeted in the communication. It’s worth exploring how you can track this data in your own fund. Regardless of what works for your circumstance, it’s a good idea to become best buds with one of your internal data / business analysts to assist with this sort of reporting. They are one of the best assets you can have in determining the metrics, developing the report, finding the gaps and refining for improvement.

Important: Don’t fall into the set and forget trap! Identify and keep track of your key metrics. If something isn’t working, switch things up and refine your approach.


An effective new member onboarding program will evolve over time as you factor in new means of communication, technologies and personalisation techniques.
The digital world is forever evolving and there are always new and exciting ways to engage with your members. As digital solutions become smarter and increasingly intuitive, we see this area of communications further refining it’s targeted and personalised approach, ensuring the best user experience.

Having an engaging and effective new member onboarding program is good for members and funds. 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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