In previous years, marketers had carte blanche to blast email after email out to subscribers: They were more concerned with the size of their lists than the value of subscribers. However, those practices will now anger subscribers and potentially lead to deliverability issues.
Today's subscribers have taken complete charge of their inboxes, and marketers are realizing that it is a privilege to be invited in -- and understanding that they must maintain a mutually beneficial relationship, starting with the welcome message.
Listrak recently studied the welcome messages of the Internet Retailer 500, and found that a mere 1 percent send a welcome series. More surprising is that only 51 percent even sent a single welcome email upon subscription. This is truly a missed opportunity to engage an audience because welcome messages have the highest open rates of all email campaigns.
Reaching your audiences when they're most likely to respond is crucial to building customer lifetime value, and an automated welcome series provides tremendous opportunities to nurture relationships, build brand loyalty, and prompt sales.
Here are 10 tips for building an engaging welcome series:
Differentiate the messages. The welcome series should stand out and stand alone. Don't dilute the messages by sending your promotional campaigns at the same time.
Segment the audience. Target messaging based on the subscription point of entry. If a buyer opts in to your list during the checkout process, your welcome series could include member benefits, return policies, preference inquiries, and surveys. For those subscribers who joined your list without making a purchase, the series could include special offers, product reviews, and video testimonials to encourage a first sale.
Determine the right number of messages. Whether you send two, three, or more messages depends entirely on your audience, sales process, and campaign goals. There isn't a right number; the key is testing to find what works best for you.
Set the right cadence of messages. The first message should be sent immediately upon subscription and clearly state it is the first of however many messages are in the series. It should also inform subscribers when to expect the other messages. After that, the rest of the welcome messages could be sent daily, weekly, or whatever interval seems to work best for your audience.
Set specific goals. The main goal of your welcome series should be to engage your subscribers and build brand advocates, but each message should have its own goal and work together to build your brand message.
Automate. Use a behaviorally triggered email solution to automate the messages. That way, you'll guarantee that the messages are timely and effective. Each email can be set up in advance and deployed automatically, saving you time and resources.
Use clear subject lines. Stand out in over-crowded inboxes by including the term "welcome message" along with the number in the series.
Enforce your brand. The whole point of a welcome series is to build brand advocates and long-term customers, so don't forget to reinforce your brand in the "from" line, domain, links, header, and footer information.
Content. To maximize the engagement levels of each new subscriber, be sure each message includes:
- Recap/sneak peak. A good way to set expectations is to provide a brief statement such as "in the first message we discussed member benefits" and "in the next message we'll provide details on our return policy." That helps subscribers stay on track in the series and ensures messages work together.
- Contact info. Always provide multiple ways for new subscribers to contact your company via email, your website, phone, etc.
- Social networking. Increase interaction and engagement by linking your welcome messages to your social networks, and give your new subscribers an easy way to share information with their friends.
- Header/footer information. A quick opt-in reminder along with a request to add you to their safe sender list is still a deliverability best practice -- and don't forget to include an easy way to unsubscribe to eliminate complaints.
- Ask for preferences. Keep your subscription form short and use your welcome series to collect more data. Be sure to include a link to your preference center so subscribers are in control of the information they receive.
- Stay on point with creative. While the campaigns are automated, be sure to review the creative elements at least once per quarter to keep messages in line with your other marketing campaigns.
CAN-SPAM compliance. Gain your subscribers' trust by following all CAN-SPAM regulations, including a one-step unsubscribe method, physical address, non-deceptive subject lines, transmission information, and a fully functioning return email address -- and remember to honor all unsubscribes immediately.Follow these 10 tips to harness the full potential of your automated welcome series and engage your audience in relevant, interactive dialogues at a time when they are most receptive to it.
On Twitter? Follow iMedia Connection at @iMediaTweet.