By Mark Morin
An email welcome series of emails that greets new subscribers and new customers is a great way to stimulate initial engagement. And it can have a strong influence on subsequent engagement and conversion. But all depends on the value that your welcome series provides to the customers.
Surprisingly, many brands don’t have a welcome series. Often, they settle for a simple autoresponder that confirms sign-up. Or nothing at all. Or, if they do have one, they make it all about themselves.
A brand-centric perspective won’t get the job done
The reason for this is that brand marketers often struggle with welcome series content. Unfamiliar with the customer-centric perspective of relationship marketing, they focus squarely on the brand. They highlight why the brand is cool, how it is better, what products it sells. In addition, they sometimes focus on customer-service related questions on how to order, return items, get answer to questions, etc.
This is all valuable information, at some point in time. But a welcome series is a little like a first date. If you spend all evening talking about yourself and how great you are, your date will quickly lose interest.
If your welcome series isn’t about the customer, you’re missing the point
Your welcome series should be designed to expose your new customers to the cornerstones of your differentiation and value proposition. It should highlight how you will make your customers’ lives better. How you will deliver on your promise.
When designing a welcome series, keep in mind the words of Harvard professor Theodore Levitt – author of Marketing Myopia – who once famously said “your customers don’t want a quarter-inch drill, they want a quarter-inch hole”.
A welcome series is a great time to showcase the experience that you provide to your customers. And to do so, you need to examine it from the customers’ perspective. To see it through their eyes.
Don’t rush the close
A welcome series isn’t an opportunity to close the first sale either. Smart marketers who have had the wisdom to test their welcome series’ length and content know this for a fact.
A shorter welcome series, or a hybrid welcome/promotional series have been found to have a negative impact on subsequent engagement and conversion. So, it’s not the greatest place to include promotions and sales items, featured products, etc. That being said, a welcome offer code can be of value towards the end of the series.
Be patient – Building trust takes time
Now you may wonder how long a series should be. And, of course, the trite answers would be “as long as necessary”. But in practical terms, a minimum of three emails over a ten-day period. Recently, some marketers have increased that number to five emails over a 2-week period. But, the right answer depends on what industry you’re in. And how much value you can deliver to your customers (that is worth talking about).
The smart answer, of course, is to test both length and content. Measure what your customers are engaging with, what they click on, how long they spend reading, etc. And track the engagement decay over the length of the series as well as conversion at the series end. And do this over a sufficient period of time to reach a meaningful conclusion (weeks and months, not hours and days).
How would you like to be welcomed?
At the end of the day, it’s all a matter of respect and trust. Properly greeting and welcoming new customers and subscribers requires a lot of thought. It’s an opportunity to set expectations and share content that is vital to understanding the quality of the experience they are about to receive.
Ask yourself what you would like to know if you were a customer. But be careful of marketer bias. You are probably not your typical customer, so don’t think your opinion is necessarily correct. Make sure that you test and measure multiple viewpoints and find the right balance.
Mark Morin, eec Education & Events Member: Mark brings brands and people closer through relationship marketing, email, cognitive and automation. He is the founder and CEO of strategies.ca, an email marketing collaboratory in Montreal, Canada.