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Welcome Emails: Engaging New Subs in E-Commerce

Triggered emails enjoy excellent engagement from subscribers. Call them answers to subscriber questions and you won’t be wrong. If a contact fills a form, signs up for a webinar, or abandons his cart while shopping, he’s sort of asking a question which can be answered through a triggered email.

A triggered email is a response to a subscriber’s behavior. Research by Yesmail discovered that triggered emails get twice as many opens and click-throughs as their business-as-usual counterparts. This was after analyzing 6 billion emails.

Welcome emails are a type of triggered emails. You can use them to engage contacts as subscribers open them, more often than not. Getting your welcome emails right amounts to putting your best foot forward in email marketing. It is like striking while the iron of subscriber engagement is hot.

What then is the percentage of opens for welcome emails as opposed to mass emails? This was the focus of a white paper by Experian Marketing Services titled: “The Welcome Email Report: Benchmark data and analysis for engaging new subscribers through email marketing.” Experian CheetahMail analyzed 17,000 welcome emails from 65 customers operating in various industries (between May 2009 and April 2010) and discovered that welcome emails produce four times the overall open rates and five times the click-through rate compared to basic promotional emails.

While noting that these messages naturally have a clear, branded “from” address and include the word “welcome” in the subject line, the report held that “welcome emails have transaction rates that are nine times higher than.”

How Help Scout Boosted Engagement by Building Welcome Emails with Purpose

Help Scout sells help desk software. A few years ago, it thought of revamping its welcome email series to serve subscribers better. It wanted to improve the experience of new contacts without meddling with business goals.

The e-commerce business started small, with an automated series of five emails, designed to deliver within seven days. This included weekends. Each of the emails had goals assigned to them.

The first email started with a joke and proceeded to introduce the brand in a nice way, with a link to the ‘about’ page (for contacts who wanted to know more). To help start more conversations, the email had an invitation to talk at the bottom.

The second and third emails had the goal of helping readers. They presented a list of the brand’s most popular content. This was to save time and get subscribers to the good stuff without stress.

The fourth email had the goal of preparing readers for the fifth email, which was an offer to try the customer service software. A series of customer stories introduced subscribers to what the product does and how it could benefit them.

This led to the fifth email, which contained an invitation to try the software free for 45 days. This was on the assumption that any subscriber who had read so far may be interested in the product.

Here is a graphical representation of the autoresponder series:

Welcome E-mails

Help Scout’s story brings up a question worth considering:

Is it better to send a welcome email series or just one welcome email? I’ll address that in a bit. Let’s quickly check up the benefits of powerful welcome emails.

Opportunity to introduce your brand

It’s an extremely powerful way to introduce your brand to contacts and get them to identify with your goals and vision while inspiring them to go for their own goals. You get to position your business as a worthy partner in their journey towards fulfillment. You get to initiate them into your business inner circle; a sort of VIP circle. You also get to answer the two most important questions on their minds: what your business does and how they can benefit from the interaction.

Opportunity to pitch your products and services

New subscribers to your email lists are expressing interest in your products. Don’t miss the opportunity to pitch your products and services to them. Who says you cannot pitch an offer in a welcome email series? You definitely can, with a bit of tact and courage. The offer might range from trying a software product free for some days to investing in a subscription by paying $1 the first month. You’re limited by your imagination. Testing several offers can provide insight into what works and vice versa.

Opportunity to showcase your business achievements

You can do this through case studies, customer testimonials, your best content, etc. You want to use your welcome email series to build credibility for your brand. The emotional connection engendered will surely be useful somewhere down the road.

Opportunity to set a life, business or relationship-transforming agenda

Welcome emails are an excellent resource when it comes to challenging subscribers to be the very best they can be. You get to position your business as an organization that cares. You get to position your business as a leader in the space. Just as David R. Gergen – former presidential advisor – suggests in this quote:

“A leader’s role is to raise people’s aspirations for what they can become and to release their energies so they will try to get there.”

Don’t forget that people love to be challenged. They don’t mind being led when your intentions are pure. Ken Blanchard agrees in this quote:

“People don’t mind being challenged to do better if they know the request is coming from a caring heart.”

Depending on what your brand does, you can challenge contacts to join a fitness, relationship, healthy-living, public speaking, or writing challenge. These challenges may lack profit potential but they’ll engender powerful emotional connections which can lead to massive growth for your enterprise. Help someone achieve a goal he’s struggled with for years and you create a satisfied subscriber who would tell anyone who cares to listen about your brand. He’d also patronize your brand to put his money where his mouth is. It then becomes a win-win situation.

I honestly think more e-commerce businesses should consider this win-win approach. It may look hard, as you’re not going to pitch products and services. Look at the people on your email list. Consider what their greatest challenge is (you can even ask this question at the point of subscription) and create a challenge to help them (get over themselves and get on the way to doing what they considered impossible). It’s all about creating immense value for clients first. Your business is definitely going to benefit – in more ways than you thought.

This reminds me of a 7-Day Walking Challenge organized by Social Triggers in May 2016. Derek Halpern, the founder of Social Triggers, a community of half a million entrepreneurs discovered walking to be beneficial and decided to throw an open challenge to other entrepreneurs to take to walking for both health, mental, and productivity gains. It was purely not for profit but the business benefited from the publicity generated, social media shares, newsletter subscriptions, goodwill and positive emotions, etc.

You can also use your welcome email to set expectations as to how often you plan to email, the kind of tips to be shared, subscriber-only specials, etc.

Opportunity to let subscribers voice their opinions

People are expressive by nature. They love to open up on who they are. They also love to express their feelings, opinions (solicited or otherwise), help others, etc. While there are studies to prove this, I honestly think the best way to prove this is to gauge the level of conversations happening on social media.

You can allow new subscribers chat you up by asking pointed as well as engaging questions in your welcome email series. It can range from their greatest challenges (related to your business expertise) or one thing they hope to achieve by joining your email list. This gives them a free rein to vent. And, you can find some gems in their responses that can shape your business direction. Strike up a conversation and try to maintain the communication lines. Ensure to reply their emails as soon as possible (ASAP). This helps to reinforce the fact that your brand cares and respects subscribers (whether they’ve invested in your brand or not).

Opportunity to make your contacts feel special

This is possible with the various personalization options available today. We all love to feel special. We all love to be valued. It’s basic human instinct. You can use your welcome emails to achieve this. The trick is to personalize content to suit consumer preferences. This might range from offering a unique discount code, a software experience, or a piece of content – you just want to want ‘wow’ your contacts. If you succeed with this, evidence suggests, you create more lifetime value for your business.

You can also make subscribers feel special by having a unique name for them. You can call them members of your Inner circle, VIP list or any other name along those lines.

Wondering what it takes to get the welcome email right? Wonder no more as there is help below:

Tips to Write an Effective Welcome Email

Campaign Monitor recommends that an effective introductory email should:

  • Be delivered immediately after sign up
  • Have an attractive subject line
  • A warm salutation
  • Deliver a free incentive
  • Ask readers to follow on social media and add you to their contact list
  • Provide a ‘getting started’ guide
  • Include an unsubscribe link
  • Ask contacts to forward emails
  • Get feedback as to what they want

Examples of Welcome Emails to Draw Inspiration From

Do you receive emails from Alex Turnbull, Marie Forleo, Noah Kagan, or Neil Patel? Chances are that you have seen their welcome emails that are worth learning from.

Is it Better to Send a Welcome Email Series or Just One Welcome Email?

I’d say you should create a series. This presents excellent contact opportunities that can potentially lead to significant conversions. Email marketing platforms like Mailrelay provide automation services; you just might want to check them out.

Wrapping It All Up

Welcome emails offer brands significant value. You don’t want to throw that value away by being complacent. You can do so much more with the first email your subscribers receive. So, what tip are you going to start with? Please share in the comments.


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