Welcome! Oh, really?

By APSIS

2010-03-27

Do you ever think about the first impression you make? What to say? What to wear? Well, you are not alone – most people do. First impressions are important, and when it comes to e-mail marketing, they are just as important as they are in real life.

When you get someone’s email address, it is an expression of confidence. For most people, the inbox is a high pressure environment and people are usually quite restrictive with their e-mail address.

So, what do you do when you get new subscribers to your mailing list? Do they feel that you appreciate their vote of confidence? Do they feel truly welcomed? According to several American studies, including one from Marketing Sherpa, welcome messages are among the most opened email messages. Like other transaction messages, they have an opening rate of over 70 %. You have the opportunity to build a foundation for a successful future communication. A good welcome message may very well be vital for your subscribers’ loyalty to your mailing list.

Here is a real-life example: My sister started a subscription to a newsletter from a supermarket chain. The reason for her sudden interest in food was not really a reflection of her desire to cook a healthy meal. Rather, she had been promised a discount at the next purchase. That was the real reason why she agreed to subscribe to their newsletter.

On the subscription form, she had the opportunity to specify areas of interest and to mention that she would be interested in information about organic foods. The supermarket chain used this information to create a personalised welcome letter, which contained recipes that were tailored to her interests, links to previous letters with her type of content and a discount coupon for organic vegetables.

Her first contact with the supermarket chain via e-mail was a success. She got so much more than she expected. As a consequence, she still opens all their letters – even though the letters might not always be as good as the first one. But surely she might miss the next great letter, if she does not read them all! What is important to keep in mind when you design a welcome message?

Firstly, remember that your new subscribers are receptive to information when they sign up. Do not wait to welcome them – send your welcome message right away. A week later, they might have forgotten all about you.

Use the first email to find out more about your readers, but be careful not to overwhelm new subscribers with a detailed questionnaire. The registration process should be as simple as possible and any additional information the subscribers submit should be voluntary.

Secondly, focus on the subject line. Let both the subject line and the content focus on welcoming the subscriber and to give added value in order to build a good basis for communication. Do not try to sell anything – give something away! Be personal. Remember that it is a letter, and that many people appreciate a more personal approach. Perhaps the letter should be signed by the CEO or someone the recipient has had contact with at the company? Michael Katz, Blue Penguin Development, thinks that the language level of e-mails should be close to what we say in a conversation. He even suggests that you should record what you want to say and then write it down in the letter. A bit exaggerated perhaps, but it might be worth a try.

Send an HTML-message. Subscribers have to recognize your company profile even in a welcome message. Your new readers have probably signed up for your newsletter on the web, and they have might have been in contact with your company in stores or via postal mail. Do they recognise your company profile in the welcome message? A well-crafted HTML message shows that you care about your new readers. Obviously, you should send a text version if your readers can not receive HTML messages.

If you have the opportunity, tell the reader what your newsletter will contain, how often you will send them and give examples of what a newsletter will look like. Try to get the recipient to look forward to your next letter.
This is an example of a nice welcome message that also offers added value.

  • Send an instant reward
  • Become “whitelisted” – ask your recipients to add your email address to their address book. Your letters will then be delivered correctly at all times.
  • Show some personality! Take a few minutes to figure out a warm welcome.
  • Provide a link to your email policy
  • Send a well-formatted HTML letter that follows your company profile
  • Lead the receivers back to your website or to pages that may be of interest to a new customer.
  • Tell your readers how often you will send newsletters, and create expectations.
  • Make sure you create a good basis for further communication and attention

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