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Improve Your Welcome Message

  |  August 1, 2005   |  Comments

Seven tips to help a welcome e-mail live up to its full potential.

When was the last time you looked at your welcome message? When did you last test elements of it? Too often, email marketers underutilize welcome messages. They're viewed as transactional, a way to confirm provided information. But they can (and should) be so much more.

A welcome message is the email sent either just after opt-in (in a single opt-in scenario) or just after opt-in is confirmed (in a double opt-in scenario). It should include basic information about that transaction, including:

  • The email addressed used to opt in

  • The recipient's password (if it was part of the opt-in)

  • The email newsletters or types of information the recipient opted in to receive

  • A link to your Web site

  • A method to unsubscribe or update the recipient's preferences

  • An email address to contact you if the recipient has questions

The welcome message is also a great marketing opportunity. These email messages tend to have high open rates, probably because recipients are newly engaged and interested. Why not take advantage of that? Below, six tips to help make your welcome message live up to its full potential.

Make It Consistent With the Rest of Your Program

This is the start of an email relationship with your reader, so why not put your best foot forward? Your welcome message should be consistent with your other email messages in look, feel, and tone. Too many marketers still rely on generic, plain text welcome messages that don't fit with the rest of their email programs. Don't make that mistake.

Reiterate E-Mail Relationship Benefits

Remind subscribers why they signed up and why they'll want to look for your email. What's in it for them (WIIFT) is the name of the game here. You want them to look forward to receiving and opening your email. Give them some good reasons to do so.

Start the End Game

Think about your end game, the primary goal of your email program. Are you looking to drive subscribers to a Web site to buy your products? Do you want to use the email to build your reputation and sell services? Do you need subscribers to read articles (and view banners) on your site to satisfy advertisers? Focus on where your revenue's coming from and what action recipients must take to support it. Then, include a call to action with a link to give people the opportunity to do it.

Include a Special Offer, Coupon, or Gift

It's always good to sweeten the pot. Providing readers an incentive to take the action you want increases the likelihood they'll do it. These incentives don't have to be expensive. If you're selling special reports online, offer a free mini-report with any purchase. Or offer a 10 percent discount. If you want to build your reputation to sell services, offer them a free white paper that shows your expertise (be sure it's not just a sales piece). Or give them a chance to enter a drawing for a larger prize if they visit your site (and view some ads). Even better, make it a limited time offer to add urgency.

Include a Co-Registration Opportunity

Co-registration deals are a way to generate revenue directly from your welcome messages. An entire article could be written on the ins and outs of co-registration; basically you're offering recipients the chance to opt in to receive email from someone else. If they opt in, this third-party will pay you a fee, set in advance. Sometimes it's a barter agreement: the third party will reciprocate in kind (also valuable to you, as you get more new subscribers).

Address Book Reminder

Deliverability has become a real concern for marketers. Welcome message should remind new subscribers to add your email address to their address book or to whitelist your domain so future messages arrive in their inbox.

Test, Test, Test

There's only one way to optimize the return from your welcome messages: test, test, test. A/B splits, in which the offers are alternated randomly in the same period, are best. If you can't do this, run a test offer for a week or month, depending on your opt-in volume, a few times a year.

If you go to the trouble and expense of sending a welcome message (which you should), use it to its utmost. By viewing it as an opportunity rather than housekeeping, you can turn it from a cost center into a revenue generator. Give it a try and let me know how it goes.

Want more email marketing information? ClickZ E-Mail Reference is an archive of all our email columns, organized by topic.

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Jeanne Jennings

Jeanne Jennings is a 20 year veteran of the online/email marketing industry, having started her career with CompuServe in the late 1980s. As Vice President of Global Strategic Services for Alchemy Worx, Jennings helps organizations become more effective and more profitable online. Previously Jennings ran her own email marketing consultancy with a focus on strategy; clients included AARP, Hasbro, Scholastic, Verizon and Weight Watchers International. Want to learn more? Check out her blog.

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