First impressions count for a lot. Getting someone to sign up to your email newsletter is an important achievement in itself, but it's only the beginning. Email marketing remains the most popular and personal way to keep in touch with your potential and existing customers by building lasting relationships. Since the individual has already proactively given you permission to send promotional emails, it's now time to welcome them with a first interaction. This preliminary email should set the stage for a long-term partnership between your business and the customer.
With so much at stake when it comes to making this crucial great first impression, a welcome email is one of the most important tools in your email marketing arsenal. Get your it wrong, however, and your brand-new subscribers will quickly unsubscribe or, worse still, your emails will fall victim to the spam filter. Nonetheless, according to data collected by Experian, welcome emails enjoy an open rate of almost 60%, which is about four times higher than other promotional emails. The studies also found that click-through rates are just over 14%, which is over five times higher than they are for other promotional emails.
A welcome email is a one-off message that your email marketing platform should send out automatically to all new subscribers, usually straight after they've given you their contact details. A welcome email typically contains the following elements:
• A link allowing the recipient to confirm their subscription.
• A message thanking them for signing up.
• Some information about future emails.
Some businesses send a separate email before the welcome message to ask subscribers to confirm their subscription. Either method should be fine, but you may want to try both to see which one works best with your mailing list.
Aside from the core elements mentioned above, there are various important dos and don'ts to consider when crafting a welcome email that makes a perfect first impression. Here are some valuable tips to help you get started on the right track:
Don't Forget to Thank Your Subscriber
In times when people are becoming increasingly desensitized to advertising, and the average email account gets bombarded with spam, it can sometimes seem like a small miracle when someone actually subscribes. Since they've made the effort to sign up, the very least you can do is start the relationship by thanking them for taking a moment to engage with your business. When you consider the never-ending amount of distractions online and the vast number of different businesses vying for attention, it's important to thank your subscriber for choosing your business instead of another. This important first step helps build optimism and set the precedent for a mutually beneficial relationship. As such, your message of thanks should be clearly visible in your subject line so new subscribers will see it before they even open the email.
Do Set Expectations
When people subscribe to an email newsletter, they do so for a reason, and that's usually because you've managed to convince them that it's the right step to take. Perhaps your landing page was full of excellent content that itself sets realistic yet value-driven expectations, prompting people to subscribe. In another scenario, perhaps someone found your business blog content compelling enough that they subscribed to keep up-to-date with your posts. Whatever their reasons for subscribing, you have already imprinted some expectations in them, and it's important that your welcome email expands upon these and reinforces them.
Always let your subscriber know what's in store in future emails, and do not let them down. This is also the perfect opportunity to set expectations regarding the frequency at which you'll be sending your emails. However, the most important thing to do at this stage is to make promises that you'll keep, lest you end up risking your entire reputation along with losing many subscribers. Getting mailing frequency right is a complicated matter that will require extensive research. As such, the best approach is often to ask your subscribers outright how often they would prefer to hear from you. Your welcome email provides a great opportunity for subscribers to set their preferences if they haven't done so already.
Do Optimize for the Open
A welcome email is triggered by the action of someone subscribing to your mailing list and, as such, it presents the perfect opportunity to hold onto the attention you've just earned. A welcome email should ideally arrive within minutes of the person signing up, while the interaction is still hot. After all, your new subscriber will likely be expecting an immediate response from you. In fact, it's wise to use the word 'welcome' in your subject line to differentiate it from a promotional email. Finally, be sure to A/B test your welcome email subject lines to try out different elements and find out what works best for your target audience.
Do Ask for Future Engagement
Welcoming new subscribers is largely about starting a long-term partnership, so it's important to ask for further engagement straight away. All your emails should include a prominent request for subscribers to add you to their safe lists, and this is doubly true in the case of your very first email. Additionally, you may want to use this opportunity to ask for more information, since the subscriber has probably so far only given you their first name and email address. However, it is important to ask for further information in a way that clearly indicates why it would be advantageous for the subscriber to do so.
With more information, you'll be better equipped to provide more relevant and personalized content. A great way to this is to provide a link to a preference center where the subscriber can enter any relevant information, such as product or service categories they might be interested in. Alternatively, your welcome email copy might have the goal of encouraging your subscribers to sign up for an account on your website, in which case it should clearly reveal the benefits of doing so.
Don't Be Promotional
Having earned a new subscriber, you may naturally be tempted to start advertising to them right away, but this is a grave mistake. Even though the subscriber has already shown an interest in your business, that doesn't mean they want to be blasted with promotional content in the very first email. Given that people are surrounded by advertising almost everywhere they look, attention spans are short and patience is minimal. As such, you should avoid any directly promotional content in your welcome email copy, instead focusing purely on relationship building. Now is the time to build trust and make your new subscriber feel comfortable receiving emails from you.
Instead of being promotional, a great way to get started is to provide a freebie which, ideally, you should draw awareness to when prompting people to sign up in the first place. For example, if you're a B2B company, providing a free download to whitepaper or case study can provide genuine value to your subscribers. B2C customers, by contrast, tend to be less picky, and may prefer something simpler, such as a tutorial or website tour that helps subscribers get more out of your product or service.
Do Brand Your Content
Branding is just as important for email as it is for any other form of digital or printed content. It helps people remember you by setting a tone and style that they will become familiar with. To start with, your welcome email should reinforce your value proposition, setting expectations in doing so. However, branding also extends to everything from the colors and typefaces you use to your style of writing, whether that's fun and light-hearted, serious and professional or something else. Above all, make sure your branding is consistent with your website and all other platforms you use. Images also have a powerful effect, particularly if they are included as part of a story-telling experience that helps people better relate to your brand.
Do Offer an Opt-Out
Of course, having someone opt out of your mailing list the moment after they've signed up is hardly an achievement, but it is an inevitability on occasion. Sometimes, people sign up by mistake, or they might decide that your business simply doesn't offer a suitable solution to their problems. After all, you cannot reasonably expect to appeal to everyone, no matter how hard you try. Nonetheless, many businesses make the mistake of not including an opt-out in their welcome emails, since it's not a legal requirement due to their transactional nature. However, by going the extra mile to make it easy for people to unsubscribe helps to instill trust, protect your reputation and maintain a quality mailing list consisting only of people who want to hear from you.
When crafting a great welcome email, it's important to remember that the key to success is in the word 'welcome'. This is your chance to make an excellent first impression by welcoming your new subscribers to your brand through value-adding content that's designed to build meaningful long-term relationships. You likely won't get it just right the very first time but, through extensive A/B testing and ongoing improvement, you'll be able to take advantage of the fact that email marketing presents an ROI that's unmatched by any other area of digital or traditional marketing.