Ah, the welcome series: the first date of online engagement. Like any other first impression, you only get one shot to delight and engage your subscriber and get the relationship started off on the right foot.
A welcome series is generally triggered by an event that brings the user from anonymous to known — a newsletter subscription or account creation, to give a few examples. The automated nature of a welcome series is good and bad: good because automation makes it possible to respond to every single subscriber in real time, and bad because it can lead to complacency. Most email and marketing automation providers stock content for businesses’ welcome emails, so many of them don’t even know what the first experience they’re providing their users looks like.
That’s a huge problem, because that welcome email — or welcome series, if you’re really on your game — will likely have more impact than any other email you send:
- Subscribers who receive a welcome email increase their engagement by 33% until the point at which they become inactive.
- eCommerce companies that send a series instead of a single email tend to see twice as much engagement with their welcome programs.
- Welcome emails have 63% higher open rates and 105% higher unique click-through rates than any other kinds of emails.
If you’re not sure about taking the time to create one of these, think about all the people who’ve been receiving a less-than-optimal first impression. Yikes!
How to Create a Welcome Series (Or Spruce Up the One You Already Have)
An effective welcome series lets the subscriber know what they can expect from your brand and sets the tone for future emails. It also shows the subscriber that you’re paying attention by keeping things relevant. Use as much data as possible to inform the content that goes in the emails — mass marketing is the marketing equivalent of a canned pick-up line.
Here are 5 must-do’s when developing a killer welcome series:
Time the first email carefully
Send the first email in the welcome series as soon as possible — immediately is ideal — to maximize the chance of engagement. To spice the email up, we like the idea of highlighting any special perks that come with subscribing in the subject line.
Bring subscribers into the fold
Treat that first email as a chance to gently let subscribers double opt-in (you definitely don’t want to send emails to someone who’s not into it!). You can use the subsequent emails to make them feel like an important part of your brand community, linking to social accounts, forums, or other high-engagement opportunities.
Let subscribers know what to expect
First off, let them know how many emails to expect (e.g. “This is a four-part welcome series…”). Also, let them know what kinds of content or products they can expect in their emails moving forward (regional news? Discounts? Vacation destinations?). Personalization is essential, which leads us to…
Personalize from day one
Use data you tracked while users were still anonymous to make the very first email as relevant as possible (for more information on this topic, check out our eBook on turning anonymous users into power users). For example: provide some kind of timely offer or unique piece of content, and reference it in the subject line to increase the open rate. Still, make sure the subject line specifies that the subscriber is receiving a welcome email (e.g. “Thanks for subscribing — enjoy these articles we picked for you!”).
Get to know your subscribers better
A lot of people suggest collecting more data during your welcome series via embedded form or preference center. If you’re with us, you won’t need to unless you need something really specific or idiosyncratic. Still, it’s not a bad idea to ask subscribers to respond or take some sort of action — it’ll keep their initial enthusiasm from waning. For example, you can ask for subscribers’ birthdays (and promise something in return).
Got any other great tips? Tweet them @boomtrain with the hashtag #winningwelcomeseries, and we’ll add the best ones in.