Email Marketing: How to sprinkle subscribers with a well-timed welcome in 5 steps
As a native New Englander, I’m accustomed to swings in climate conditions. However, this past month’s weather pattern offered something different. More than 16 inches of snow fell in late October, causing my children to trick or treat in their snow boots. A week later, the temperature reached the low 70s, as if Mother Nature gave homeowners one last chance to clean up their yards before winter settled in.
Part of my Fall family chores is to empty water from the irrigation lines to our lawn sprinkler system.
In MarketingSherpa’s Email Marketing Strategies Workshop, I use the analogy that automated lawn sprinklers systems are very similar to automated email campaigns. I admit that I would in no way have a green grass if I did not have a sprinkler system set to water the lawn every Tuesday and Friday. If I used a hose and sprinkler set, I would most likely be reactive and only water when I noticed the grass turning brown. I’d also be inconsistent on the length of time I watered my tiny meadow.
With the irrigation system, I can select the day, time of day and duration of the water. It works so well that I save time and money, and I can set it and forget it.
Automated emails for higher open rates
I don’t recommend you “set and forget” automated emails, but they are similar in their efficiency, as these campaigns are triggered to be sent on defined sets of rules based on dates, events or behaviors.
Because of their timing and relevancy, automated campaigns achieve higher open rates than traditional email messages. In fact, in the 2012 Email Marketing Benchmark Report, we discovered 43% of marketers found emails sent based on triggers to be very effective, leading all other tactics including segmentation based on subscriber behavior and use of loyalty programs.
The research also found 80% of organizations sent automated emails, with automated messages making up an average 22% of the overall email volume. The chart below shows the most popular automated email messages sent by marketers.
Chart: Manners matter most with automated email messages
Q. What type of automated, event-triggered, lifecycle email messages does your organization deploy?
Mom was right, mind your manners
Welcome emails topped the list as six out of 10 marketers reported sending automated welcome campaigns.
The importance of the welcome message cannot be understated. For some subscribers, this will be the first two-way conversation they will have with your brand. The purpose of the message is to take the first step in transitioning the opt-in from a mere fan to a loyal customer.
Timely emails are well suited for communicating your brand’s values and personality during this incubation stage. Educating and sharing valuable information freely with a new subscriber when a sale is not imminent speaks volumes to the brand’s credibility and brand truth.
Nonetheless, welcome emails go beyond proper etiquette, they are essential to setting expectations for delivery. An effective welcome message reassures the reader in the requested content, and assists in recognizing future messages that will arrive in the subscriber’s inbox.
Our research found 73% of marketers send an email message within 24 hours of the subscriber registering for their program. There are five steps to creating an effective welcome email to quickly establish rapport with a new subscriber:
1. Cite the source
By acknowledging specifically how, when and where the opt-in enrolled in your email program, you will reduce a new subscriber’s anxiety and keep them on the mailing list. In addition to citing the source from a webpage, having the welcome email layout similar in style to the registration page will comfort the reader with the familiarity and consistency of design.
2. Confirm content and frequency expectations
Ideally, during registration, the expectations of what the subscriber will receive were clearly communicated. Confirming future email’s content and frequency will place the reader at ease.
3. Deliver value
The first email will set the tone of future conversations. Start with a sincere “thank you.” Like in most relationships, manners matter. The words selected must support your brand’s voice, and successive messages must meet the subscriber’s expectations.
Again, the aim is start a relationship that turns prospects into loyal customers and evangelists, so give more than is expected. The intention is to have new subscribers looking forward to receiving your next email.
Each business provides value differently. With increasing demands on their time, it is common for marketers to repurpose existing evergreen content into their welcome messages.
If the subscriber opted-in to receive a newsletter, you can provide them with a link to a back issue or a “best of” issue. Choosing to provide practical tips, how-to strategies or product guide will immediately establish your company as a helpful resource.
These become even more effective when the message is delivered via video link, webinar or podcast. In some cases, offering a discount or coupon as a special thank you for signing up is also beneficial.
3. Harvest additional data
Welcome messages have a higher than average open rate, making this an opportunity for marketers to obtain more demographic and preference data on the subscriber. The majority (65%) of registration landing pages only make one to five requests, usually limited to name, email address and, if B2B, company name.
In creating a link to your Preference Center, you will collect more data to better customize your emails and offers to the subscribers’ desires. Be sure to tell them your intentions because the more information they give, the more future emails will be tailored.
Sometimes subscribers will get buyer’s remorse or change their mind based on the perceived value of the content or planned frequency of the communications. For this reason, always include a link to your firm’s unsubscribe pages.
5. Request to be whitelisted
Even as ISPs place more focus on reputation to determine deliverability, whitelisting is still a good practice. Whitelisting occurs when a subscriber asks their ISP (Hotmail, Yahoo!, etc.) to send emails from a specific organization to their inbox.