Jeffrey Rice

Email Marketing: How to sprinkle subscribers with a well-timed welcome in 5 steps

November 18th, 2011

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? 

Click to enlarge


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.


4. Offer links to unsubscribe and privacy policy

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.

This may seem counterintuitive, yet it reduces complaints and businesses can maintain a higher quality list of readers. In addition, providing a link to its privacy policy will lessen subscribers’ anxiety about what your organization will do with their email address.


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.


Related Resources:

All New: 2012 Email Marketing Benchmark Report – Launch Special: Save $100 (Ends. 11/30)

Research Update: The state of email marketing testing and optimization

Email Marketing: How Microsoft increased product engagement using email

New Opt-in Tactics and Welcome Series Deliver Big Lift in Subscribers, Engagement

Remarketing Emails: How JetBlue’s automated triggers get 1,640% more revenue-per-email than promotional emails

Jeffrey Rice

About Jeffrey Rice

W. Jeffrey Rice is a Senior Research Analyst at MarketingSherpa focusing on email marketing. He is the lead author of the 2011 Email Advanced Practices Handbook, contributor to the 2011 Email Benchmark Report and a MarketingShepa e-newsletter columnist. His research has been instrumental in the development of new email marketing practices, including the LEAPS methodology to accelerate email-marketing performance. Jeff conducts full-day email workshops and speaks at MarketingSherpa partnered conferences and webinars.

Prior to joining MarketingSherpa, Jeff led marketing efforts at B2B and sports entertainment companies.
His knowledge of on-line, traditional and event marketing strategies enabled him to coordinate cross-functional teams to implement successful marketing initiatives.

Categories: Email Marketing Tags: , , , ,

  1. archon
    November 23rd, 2011 at 12:39 | #1

    I agree with you 100%.I speak from my own personal experience when I say that email marketing is the most effective marketing strategy out there. It takes only little time to set up and it has the biggest return for the money invested.
    All you need is a good email template go get you potential new customers interested in to opening the email and a good email database with opt-in email addresses that you can gather on your own or purchase form an email list provider.
    I buy my email lists from and so far it is as good as it gets.

  2. December 8th, 2011 at 16:01 | #2

    I agree that email marketing is important to company’s marketing efforts. For people that have provided their information, they are looking to learn more about your company and what it could offer them. By nurturing these leads, companies are able to nurtur them into customers through these email marketing techniques. Providing valuable information to these subscribers is important to keep their interest in your company and prevent them from unsubscribing you from their email. We just wrote an article on lead nurturing, which includes email marketing:


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