“Welcome (to our list)” email performance has increased 253 percent since 2011 (opens as a pdf), putting these critical messages, by some calculations, in the lead for reader engagement—yet many marketers still don’t send them. Here are a few suggestions for making great strides with your campaign’s baby steps.
I’m certain I don’t need to spend a lot of time on this topic, but lest it go unsaid, your welcome email should only be sent to someone who took the first step in establishing a relationship with your company. I have received welcome emails for lists to which I did not subscribe, but this practice is risky and veritably begs the recipient to click the spam button. Don’t treat people like cattle. People are not so dense they forget whether or not they have subscribed to your publication, and sending welcome messages—or any message for that matter—to those who do not know you could permanently damage your sender reputation.
To ensure you’re doing all you can to get that opt-in, take a closer look at your subscriber landing page and other content you use to encourage subscriptions. Ensure that you are:
- Asking for the business (in this case, the subscription)
- Explaining clearly WIIFM (“What’s in it for me?”)
- Showing examples of what the recipient will receive
- Outlining the schedule on which they will receive your messages
- Providing high-value content the subscriber will be delighted to receive
10 Tips for Great Welcomes
Like all messages in your blast, drip, and nurture campaigns, welcome messages should be professionally designed and expertly delivered. Don’t waste this once-in-a-relationship opportunity with poor execution. Consider these 10 tips for a sound approach:
1. Use a short subject line. Use your subject line to remind your recipient right away of the relationship and their initiation—but keep it short and sweet. I typically do include the word welcome in the subject line, but will forego it if I’m having trouble keeping it short enough.
2. Consider text vs. HTML (or both!). With a welcome email, plain Jane is often the best path, but not necessarily the only path. Deploy your blast or nurture welcome in an easy-to-read text format and send a beautiful, interactive HTML email the next day. The text format is less likely to be blocked by spam filters than the HTML version, and the open/engagement of the recipient of the first email can help to set the stage and clear spam hurdles in consecutive emails.
3. Write direct and clear copy. Like all emails and campaigns, you should define a quantifiable goal for your welcome message. What would you like to do here? Get 50 percent of overall new subscribers to download the white paper? Get 90 percent of new subscribers to open? Whatever your goal, think next about copy that will help you attain that goal and don’t wander. This is not the place to offer up the entire content of your website, choose a single CTA and stick with the program.
If you would like to offer links to key places in your website, create a call to action requiring a form submission. In the confirmation email (thank you email, auto-responder email) for the submission, provide links to your heart’s content. This ensures your welcome email stays on message and works toward your quantifiable goal.
4. Repeat the WIIFM message. Remind your new subscriber with adequate detail what they will receive and when—make it fun, interesting, and full of promise (consider using cartoons and humor). If space allows, include screenshots of example emails so they will be sure to recognize your brand when it lands in their inbox.
5. Personalize when possible. If you have their name, use it! Be polite, say hello, say thank you. If you have more information, even better. Nothing makes the recipient feel more welcomed than a message tailored to their specific needs, desires, and preferences. Did you ask them the color of their eyes on the subscriber form? Put it to work. Think about how your welcome message can most effectively use the information you’ve collected or appended.
6. Send it right now! Your recipients won’t forget they didn’t sign up for your list, but they might forget they did. Be very prompt—make your welcome message an auto-responder to your subscriber form so they receive it right away.
7. Set their expectations and deliver on promises. If you tell your subscribers you will email them once every two weeks and every third email will be a newsletter, deliver exactly that. Resist all urges to suddenly start sending messages three times a week—no matter how important you think your news. Too-frequent emails are quite often cited as the reason for unsubscribing from a list to which one had previous subscribed. Oh, and if you promised text versions, don’t switch to HTML without their permission.
8. Encourage engagement. You want more from your subscriber than a cursory read, so show your appreciation. If you promised a gift in your subscriber form (ebook, download, or the like), now is the time to deliver (or to tell them the gift is on its way). If you didn’t promise a gift, try starting off with a surprise offer: a discount, private video, free shipping, or the like, this effort will let them know you are happy they’ve joined your list.
Make all offers super simple to redeem, whether promised or surprise.
9. Encourage sharing. Your message is so great it should be shared, right? Give your new subscriber plenty of incentive to tell their friends. A 15 percent discount for subscribers could be increased to 25 percent if they share on Facebook, for instance. If you’re site isn’t quite that sophisticated, offer a free-shipping discount code the new subscriber can manually post to their social networks.
10. Remind them to save the message. If you have specific log-in information or other details your new subscribers may need in the future, remind them to save the message. When they archive a message rather than delete it, the action is logged and may influence their email client on how to manage emails from your domain in the future.
I Just Thought of 2 More …
11. Get it right through A/B testing. There are hundreds of examples of great welcome emails, and probably 10-fold more examples of bad ones. Remember: You are not the recipient and you should not be a focus group of one. A/B testing is critical in any campaign, but given welcome emails enjoy two to six times better open rates than your other emails, now is not the time to get cocky. Test, track and tweak for the best results.
12. Keep the conversation going. Stopping or slowing the engagement after the welcome email is like saying hello and leaving the room. You’ve just fired up a dialog, keep the conversation going. Follow the welcome email on the promised schedule, but with a watchful eye on the interaction. If the recipient uses their discount, downloads the white paper, or interacts otherwise, have your nurture campaign at the ready to turn up the music on this party!