Monday, 14 February 2011, 8:30 PM

Welcome! Or?

A welcome email is one of the most ”open” letters of all. So what is important to think about to build a good relationship?

Well, how many times have you been wondering about what first impression you make? Or what to say? Or what to wear? Whatever the circumstances are we think a lot about what other people think about us when we first meet. And it is equally important concerning email marketing.

When people give us their email addresses it is an expression of trust. As we have mentioned before our inbox is under pressure and nowadays we are usually more restrictive about giving away our email address.

Well then, how do you act when you get a new subscriber on your email list? Does the new reader at all notice that you appreciate his trusting you? Does he/she feel welcome?

According to several American studies – among others one study from MarketingSherpa – the first mail of welcoming is the most frequently opened letter. This is in line with other transactional messages – with an opening rate of more than 70%! Consequently here you have an excellent opportunity to make a good foundation for a successful relationship in the future. This first welcoming email might very well play an important role in how loyal the subscribers on your emailing list will be later on.

An example:
My sister registered for a newsletter from a big grocery store. The cause of her sudden interest in shopping food wasn’t really because of their products or in the store itself. No, she was promised a reduction in price at her next buy … Thats’s why she accepted to register for their newsletter.

In the registration process she told that she was interested in a certain type of recipes and that she preferred organic food. So the first mail they sent her showed that they had ”listened” to her and wanted the letter to be attractive to her. It contained recipes that suited her, she was also able to read earlier newsletters accordning to her preferences and she was given a voucher check for organic vegetables.

Consequently, her first contact with the store via email was successful. Although my sister is a busy woman and seems to have several ”panic project” every day she always opens their newsletters when they land in her inbox. Though the store hasn’t managed to offer her another as fantastic content again she remembers that sweet love at first contact and she is afraid of missing a good offer again.

So what is important in order to succeed with the welcome email?

First of all: When someone has just given you his/her email address you are fresh in their memory and they will listen to what you have to say. Don’t wait too long, send a nice and welcoming email right away! It’s not very effective to let a new subscriber wait a week or so.

Use this first email to get some more information about your new subscriber – in a nice and simple way. Don’t try to have them fill in long answers to several questions; that might discourage them from answering at all. Just ask them to check off boxes and give them very few questions – if any – where they are asked to write a ”free” text. The registration as well as the personal information must be as simple as possible.

Secondly: Focus on the information in the subject line. If the very first contact – after they have given you their email address – is a ”shop more” mail, it will probably be negatively perceived. Let the subject line and the content focus on a welcoming of the new subscriber and give him/her something of value in order to form a good foundation for further communication.

Be personal. Remember that this is a letter and a lot of customers like a more personal response. Maybe your manager signs the letter or maybe the customer’s personal contact in your business does that. Michael Katz, Blue Penguin Development, feels that the language of the newsletters should be closer to the spoken language. He even suggests that you should record what you want to say in your letter and then write it down. Maybe a little stretched, but you understand the thought behind it.

Send a fine HTML-letter. The subscriber should be able to recognize the design also in the first letter of welcome. The new subscriber has probably registered to his/her newsletter on the web. But presumably they have already been in contact with you in some other way, in a shop, through advertisements a.s.o. Do your subscribers recognize your graphic design? If you send a letter with nothing but text in it, it might signal to the readers that you’re not so interested in them now that they have registered to our newsletter. If they cannot open an HTML-version of your letter, of course then you send them a text version of it.

If it’s at all possible tell your customers what your next letter will contain, how often you intend to send the letters and give them an example of how a newsletter might look like. Try to make them look forward to the following letters.

Examples of good and personal newsletters that also give added value:

  • Send your customers a quick reward saying ”thank you”.
  • Ask your recipients to add your email address to their address book.
  • Show them some personal interest, use a few moments to think about how to do this.
  • Build a link to a review where you explain your policy – tell them that you keep their personal data to yourself.
  • Send a fine letter according to your graphic profile.
  • Head your customers back to your web site or to pages that might be of interest for a new customer.
  • Remind them about the value of being a member and what advantages that might bring.
  • Mention how often you will send your newsletters and create expectations.
  • Build a good foundation for further communication and awareness. Take the opportunity to make a good first impression!