The power of the welcome – and how to get it right

Convert, keep, grow – How customer lifecycle marketing can help you build relationships that last

Welcome to the first in a series of blogs about making , Lifecycle Marketing(LCM) work for you. And in a neat twist, I’m kicking things off by looking at the welcome email; a deceptively simple piece of communication that’s one of the most powerful tools in your e-basket.

Let’s face it, we all like to be made to feel welcome, especially when we’re somewhere new.

A handshake, a smile, an introduction or two; it makes us feel warm, included, part of a group. And if we’re lucky, and we start off in the right way, it could lead to something bigger; a friendship or business association that outlives the first meeting.

A welcome email has the same potential to be the start of a relationship that lasts. But don’t be fooled by the cosy-sounding name; there’s much more to it than a friendly hello. It’s one of the most critical points in every customer journey, laying the groundwork for long-term loyalty and engagement.
So get it right, and you’ll be able to make a great first impression, set out your core brand values and open the door to future purchases, all in one go. But get it wrong, and you risk losing them before the relationship has really started.

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Here are the top five things you need to think about if you want to start off in your customers’ good books.
1- Timing

Don’t hang about. It’s that simple. According to a survey by Return Path*, 75% of welcome emails are sent the same day. And the longer you wait, the less likely they are to be opened. By acting quickly, you’re more likely to catch the recipient while they’re in the right mood, but leave it too long and they may lose interest or, dare I say it, forget who you are.

Some companies choose to send a single welcome email; others spread the conversation out across a few days. You’ll need to do some testing to work out which is right for you.

2- Messaging

This is one of your first chances to make the recipient feel warm towards your company. So get the tone right, make the subject line captivating, and make the email look and feel part of your brand. Make sure, too, that you greet them appropriately, and that any personalisation you use is correct and not too heavy handed; assuming all women love pink or all men love football is a short-cut to unsubscribes.

You might also want to think about segmenting your recipients – for example, into customers and subscribers – and tailoring the messaging to suit each group.

3- Engaging

The welcome email is the first step in creating a deeper relationship with your customer or subscriber, so use it to engage them further with your brand. For example, you could point them in the direction of your social media platforms; ask how often they would like to hear from you; ask them to refer a friend; ask for feedback about their initial purchase, if they’re a new customer.

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These may sound like small steps, but they’re useful ones, which will help you keep them both interested and onside.

4- Encouraging

Think about what you want them to do next, then encourage them to do it. Are you trying to showcase other products or services on your website? Do you have a seasonal product to promote or a welcome discount to offer? Do you want them to give you any extra information about themselves? These are all things that you could do in the welcome email – though it’s best not to do them all at once.

So be clear in your mind about what you want them to do and direct them accordingly, with an incentive, if that’s appropriate.

5- Testing

The tips and tactics I’ve set out here are all proven ways to make your welcome emails work harder. But don’t just take my word for it; test, test, test. Every company and customer base is different, so test different options, analyse which ones trigger the highest levels of conversion and engagement, refine your strategy or messaging and test again.
There is always something new to learn – and what you learn will make your next batch work even harder.

So there you have it! Keep those five points in mind and you’ll be able to create powerful welcome emails that do so much more than say hello.

To wrap it all up, here are five 5 second tips that are worth thinking about:

  • Ask the recipient to add you to their safe senders list
  • Make sure your message is optimised for mobile and other devices
  • Offer them the opportunity to unsubscribe
  • Make sure you’ve thanked them for their interest so far
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You can read more about CLM in general, including cart abandonment emails, in our Convert, keep, grow e-book. And look out for my next CLM blog, which will fill you in on how to turn browsers into buyers.