It really is true, you don’t often get a second chance to make a first impression. While this saying is typically the domain of person to person meetings, it also holds true for brands and their initial interactions with consumers.
Regardless of industry or size, most companies will at some point send a welcome email to a new customer or subscriber. No matter what type of interaction triggered the welcome email, what happens next is a critical step. At the most basic level an email welcome series is meant to introduce, inform and set a foundation for a long standing, positive relationship. In fact, according to a recent Returnpath survey – welcome series recipients read 69% of subsequent brand messages, compared to just 18% of subscribers who did not receive a welcome series. That is quite a big difference in engagement between the two groups. While there is little debate that an email welcome series is a must have, there are three key elements that the series should incorporate in order to provide the recipient with a positive first brand interaction.
1. Impeccable timing is an admired and often success indicating trait. With an email welcome series, this philosophy also holds true – whether it’s ensuring that the initial communication is sent soon after the trigger event or ensuring completion of the welcome series in a timely fashion. The entry points to a welcome series can be many and varied, however what is constant is the need to trigger the welcome series while the action is still fresh. In addition to the initial welcome email, timing also comes into play throughout the welcome series. Even send spacing, so as not to fatigue the reader, balanced with the need to stay top of mind should be considered for the email flow. We’ve all experienced a series of emails from a brand that like dating, were too much too soon or so spaced out that all momentum and possibly interest were lost. The final timing consideration is to ensure once the welcome series is complete, a seamless transition for the customer to another form of regular communication takes place.
2. Content, content, content – Within the welcome series, content should focus on a few key elements – 1) value reinforcement content that demonstrates the consumer made a good decision to transact or sign up. From the first email and throughout the welcome series, brands should aim to provide content that proves your emails and relationship are worth continuing – lest find your emails in the spam or unsubscribe category, 2) a gentle reminder of how they engaged with your brand resulting in this email arriving in their inbox. As consumers receive more and more email, it is important to provide them with details on how your relationship came to be, and 3) focused content – where possible strive for a singular focus for each email in the series with one or two clear calls to action. This content should not overwhelm with too much information at one time. And finally – personalize where possible. Even a personalized subject line can result in higher unique open rates.
3. Set Expectations – A welcome series is the perfect opportunity to set the tone of the future relationship and educate on key steps or information needed. Often times this can take the form of an interactive tutorial that explains what to expect moving forward or provides instructions on how to use a product or newly purchased service.
It is fair to say that an email welcome series is an integral part of any robust email strategy. Hopefully you are already leveraging a welcome series as part of your email program. However, if that is not the case, hopefully some of the elements discussed here can provide a good foundation and framework to start. After all, it’s never too late to make a first impression.
About the Author
David Koroghlian is the Director of Strategy and Business Architecture at Pierry Inc., a Wunderman Company and Salesforce Gold Partner, where he leads the organization’s strategy practice. In this role, David advises clients on their digital marketing strategy across a wide array of digital marketing channels. Prior to Pierry, David spent five years as a digital marketing consultant at Adobe where he helped clients develop, plan and execute their digital initiatives. In addition to his time spent as a marketing technology and strategy consultant, David previously was a brand side marketer where he oversaw digital, mobile and social efforts for a number of companies.