Whether you sell a product or are looking to generate interest in your website or blog, getting people on your e-mail list is essential to building up a following you can interact with on a consistent basis.
Obviously if you don’t have a way for people to be placed on your e-mail list, do it now. You can offer a newsletter, updates, coupons or special offerings by asking people to sign up as a subscriber.
If you do have a system in place to have customers sign up for e-mails, the initial response you send to them might very well is the most important.
The “welcome” e-mail is probably the single greatest opportunity e-mail marketers have to engage subscribers and drive action.
A recent study, the Retail Welcome Email Benchmark Study examined the welcome e-mail practices of 112 of the largest online retailers. Here is a list that summarizes four ways to squander that welcome e-mail opportunity:
1. You don’t send a welcome e-mail. Given the golden opportunity that welcome e-mails present marketers, it’s unfortunate so many still let the moment pass. Only 76 percent of retailers in the study send welcome e-mails. While that’s up from 72 percent in 2007 and 66 percent in 2006, it’s disheartening that more companies aren’t seizing this key marketing moment.
2. You take longer than 24 hours to deliver your welcome e-mail. First impressions can be everything — and a quickly delivered welcome e-mail is a critical element of this. Twenty-three percent of retailers took more than 24 hours to deliver their welcome e-mails, greatly diminishing their effectiveness. In this day and age, most consumers expect instantaneous response.
Seasoned marketers agree to get a welcome e-mail into new subscribers’ inboxes within 10 minutes. A solid majority of retailers (62 percent) already do this. If you’re in the minority and take more than 10 minutes, 24 hours or even a week to deliver your welcome, you risk unsubscribes and spam complainse because of your delays.
3. Your welcome e-mail doesn’t set expectations for future e-mails. While some subscription processes are rich with detailed descriptions and sample newsletters, most are not, which heightens the need for detailed welcome e-mails. However, retailers do a poor job of setting content and frequency expectations. Only 76 percent explain the benefits of being a subscriber, for example.
Regrettably, retailers have become less and less open about the frequency with which they’ll e-mail subscribers. In the study only 6 percent say — even in somewhat vague terms — how often subscribers should expect e-mails. That’s down from 13 percent in 2007 and 17 percent in 2006. Considering that over mailing is one of the top two reasons people unsubscribe, this failure to set volume expectations is a real liability.
4. Your welcome e-mail doesn’t have any calls to action. Welcome e-mails aren’t subscription confirmation e-mails; they’re your first opportunity to engage subscribers and demonstrate the value of your e-mails. The clearest indication that retailers are missing the point: only 87 percent include a link to their homepages. Providing that link is the most elementary avenue of engagement. Retailers miss many other opportunities to engage new subscribers with promotional, multichannel, loyalty and viral elements as well.
If you haven’t examined your welcome e-mail in a while, I encourage you to compare yours against the benchmarks in the study I reviewed and look for ways to communicate your brand strengths and engage your subscribers. You can get the complete study.
And by the way, when I requested the complete study their welcome e-mail came back to me in under 30 seconds, well laid out and with some great information!
Editorial Staff: By Jeff Bressler (firstname.lastname@example.org)