Commentary

Sending A Welcome Series Is The New Onboarding Differentiator

The beginning of an email marketing relationship is the most important. Not only are subscribers more engaged and more likely to convert, but optimizing the experience of a subscriber’s first month or so on your list can extend the overall time they remain engaged with your brand via email.

The welcome email has been a key tool in getting that relationship off on the right foot. In recent years, more brands are sending welcome emails. At the same time, the welcome email that simply confirmed a subscriber’s subscription has largely disappeared to be replaced by a welcome that seeks to immediately engage new subscribers with deals, progressive profiling and cross-channel opt-ins.

Nearly 81% of B2C marketers send welcome emails to their new subscribers, according to our new research involving more than 160 B2C brands, including retailers, restaurants, manufacturers, travel and hospitality, and nonprofits. Retailers are considerably more likely than non-retailers to send a welcome email, with nearly 87% of retailers sending one versus only 70% of non-retailers.

Use of welcome emails has slowly but steadily grown in recent years, which is good news. The bad news is that the effectiveness of these emails is undercut by two factors: (1) Quite a few brands don’t send their welcome emails immediately after signup, when they are most likely to be read; and (2) some welcome emails don’t render well, particularly when viewed on mobile devices. Because a good first impression is valuable, these emails deserve more time and attention than some brands are currently giving them.

But the even better news is that 25% of B2C marketers now send a welcome email series. And if you just look at those marketers who send welcomes, 31% send a welcome series rather than a single welcome email. With 30% of retailers sending a welcome email series, they are nearly twice as likely as non-retailers to do so. And the percentage of retailers sending a welcome email series has tripled since 2009.

Many welcome email series included three emails, but a few included four or even five. Most of the emails in these series were interspersed with the brand’s usual promotional emails rather than all sent sequentially.

The messaging in each of the emails generally was one of the following:

  • Promotional welcome offer, which tended to be a percentage-off or free shipping offer
  • Reminder of soon-to-expire welcome offer
  • Touting private-label goods
  • Follow us on social media
  • Download our mobile app
  • Explanation of website features and tools
  • Introduction of store services

This 3-email Crate & Barrel welcome series and this 5-email Zulily welcome series are great examples of how to weave together these messages.

Welcome email series are even more powerful when you tailor them to different subscribers based on how they joined your email list (homepage, store, etc.) or their previous interactions with your brand.

What are you doing to deepen your relationship with new subscribers and make the most of the “honeymoon” period when they are most engaged with your email program?

1 comment about "Sending A Welcome Series Is The New Onboarding Differentiator ".
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  1. Nick Cavarra from Quigley Simpson, April 23, 2013 at 10:18 p.m.

    Nice article and great examples to reference. Thanks!

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