When Saying Welcome Pays Huge Dividends, Why Do Only 1 In 2 Retailers Bother?

The nice little courtesies in life are invaluable. The holding open of a door, offering a train seat to a senior citizen and saying "hi" and "how are you" to a sales assistant, and genuinely meaning it, are little signs of class that others pick up in our behaviour.

I remember a pal who had worked at a recording studio saying "the bigger the star, the nicer the person." While there were some notable exceptions, generally a superstar's class could always be measured by how polite they were to people who couldn't do a thing for them. A petulant, childish member of a boy or girl band could be picked out for the opposite reason, usually demanding that someone go and find them some better coffee or run an errand of some sort.

So it seems truly odd that just one in two UK retailers are sending out "Welcome" emails to new shoppers or contacts, according to research featured in eConsultancy today. Only a quarter bother using that customer's name in their first point of contact, and just one in ten, 11%, bother to personalise contact afterwards.

Imagine if you were running a store and didn't say thanks when people bought your goods, didn't bother wishing them a good day and referred to them as "customer" even though you knew their name. It would seem pretty cold and remote, wouldn't it? Why would a retailer think the same does not apply online, just because there is a digital connection between you rather than a counter and a cash register?

There are some examples of good and bad welcome email at eConsultancy and the main things the striking ones have in common is they're light on words and are a simple "hello" or "welcome." The words that are featured usually try to make you feel special for joining a particular club and build up a sense that you're in good hands. The ones that go the full hog follow this up, towards the bottom of the email, after the welcome is made, with an introductory offer. It may be free shipping or a money-off discount code, but there is a genuine attempt to get you back shopping with the brand again as soon as possible.

And it's working. Those brands that send out a welcome email will enjoy 40% of their following emails being opened by those recipients over the next 18 months. That surely has to be worth convincing the other half of retailers that welcome emails are a great idea, doesn't it?

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