Hosting a dinner party for new friends can be stressful. The tricky traps of first impressions are a minefield. By the end of the evening you want your guests to be relaxed, engaging in conversations with others, and looking forward to your next party. Getting guests from your welcome mat to actively engage with other guests takes planning.
This process is also true for marketers welcoming new subscribers to their lists. Yet, despite potential hazards, many brands simply throw out a welcome mat and let new subscribers find their own way.
Consumers signing up for your email list are not only showing their interest in your brand, they're also likely prospects who are interested in making their first purchase. You may not have such a detailed perspective on the rest of your subscribers, but the combination of recent engagement and purchase potential makes new subscribers worth your marketing efforts.
Before we get into the themes, let's discuss the "welcome mat" concept. The first email a new subscriber receives, essentially your brand's welcome mat, can shape their impression of future emails as well as your brand overall. Yes, the content, offer, and design are extremely important and influential in a welcome message; however, there is another, more technical matter to consider. Since the welcome email is the first email received, images will not be shown until the subscriber gives permission.
Here are two welcome emails as they appeared in my inbox. The email on the left is from a recognizable apparel company. Their name has been removed from the screenshot. While their emails usually contain striking visual elements that are effective when images are turned on, everything is lost in this first message. On the right, L'Occitane's welcome email uses alt text and copy to welcome the new subscriber and share the benefits of being part of the email program. This can help the new subscriber feel confident that the message is legitimate and valuable.
As a first step, evaluate your current email's welcome mat appeal. View the email with images turned off to see if a new subscriber would be able to understand what you're trying to communicate in this first message.
A single welcome email can be effective, but a multi-email welcome series spreads out the introduction over time and can multiply the engagement effect. This multi-course meal of engaging content gives the new subscriber many ways to engage with the brand outside of a typical promotional email. The welcome series courses presented here can be combined into a single dish in one email or served as separate courses in dedicated emails.
Confirm: Inform the subscribers that their subscriptions are confirmed and set expectations about upcoming mailing frequency. Let the subscribers know, for example, that they can expect to "receive exclusive offers and promotions each week."
Educate: How is your brand unique? Share how your company gives back to the community, how it's committed to providing an excellent customer experience, or other features like a loyalty program.
Promote: Encourage new subscribers to explore your top-selling products. Remember, new subscribers have recently shown engagement by opting in and may be interested in making their first purchase. The hottest-selling products may be just what they need.
Expand: Give the new subscribers other ways to engage with your brand. Share the value of being part of your Facebook conversation, receiving your latest news on Twitter, or being part of your Pinterest community.
Engage: Leverage the information you have on the new subscribers, like gender, product or category browsed, or who they are shopping for, to populate products and offers that are relevant. Taking the personal tone of "we've selected items we think you will love" could help the subscriber feel a connection to the brand.
Incent: Take the promotional plunge and offer a limited-time discount for the new subscriber's first purchase. With the recent interest shown by opting in, this is prime time to convert the prospect to a first-time buyer.
Share: Including videos that show how your products can be used or how they're assembled, or fun videos that highlight your brand's culture, can help build a connection with the new subscribers that can drive long-term engagement.
Exchange: If new subscribers are still on the fence about making a first purchase, customer reviews and ratings could help influence the decision. Highlight top-rated products or tell the new subscribers where they can find full reviews on your product page.
While hosting a party requires work, your guests' enjoyment is worth the time and effort. New subscribers are deserving of the same treatment. Making these new subscribers feel welcomed, appreciated, and informed can lead to purchases and long-term engagement.
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As an expert in email, mobile, and social strategies, Jim Davidson brings over 13 years of experience in online marketing, managing email and cross-channel programs for top retail clients. From strategic vision to implementation, Jim has led clients to successfully meet aggressive revenue and performance goals. As Bronto's manager of marketing research, he regularly publishes industry-focused white papers, research reports, and contributes to the Bronto Blog. Jim's articles frequently appear in leading retail, e-commerce, and marketing publications.
December 5, 2013
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