How to Plan & Execute Effective 'Welcome' Emails https://t.co/2VxKjh7Bfs
— Steve Johnson (@amazon_mike) September 30, 2016
How successful are your ‘welcome’ emails?
On average, ‘welcome’ emails receive an unusually high open rate of 50% — making them 86% more effective than newsletters.
These emails are responsible for setting the tone and creating expectations with your newest subscribers and customers. This is where you educate your prospective customers about the products or services you sell, as well as how frequently you’ll be sending email.
However, just like in person, it takes conscious work to create a great first impression. If you stop for a second and think about your email marketing campaign, it’s possible that a significant amount of your success relies on your subscribers liking what they see in those initial emails.
To help you better understand what goes into an effective ‘welcome’ email sequence, we’ll walk you through the motions below — and include some helpful examples along the way.
Let’s get started …
How to Plan & Execute Effective ‘Welcome’ Emails
The top-of-funnel strategy for virtually every company with a digital presence includes an exchange of value: The subscriber provides their email address in exchange for something of value. And your ‘welcome’ emails should be designed with this idea in mind.
To ensure that you’re producing valuable ‘welcome’ emails, be sure to do the following:
Devise a strategy.
‘Welcome’ emails are vital to any email marketing program. Welcome emails also have extremely high inbox placement rates, an advantage that should be utilized by every single company.
If you currently have no ‘welcome’ emails in place, never fear: A new welcome strategy is not rocket science. For starters, have a look at what the companies around you are doing and mold their successful practices to suit your needs.
At MailCharts, we recommend looking at ‘welcome’ emails from competitors or brands who target a similar audience to yours. Once you have solid benchmarks from your initial sequence and understand the metrics (e.g., opens, clicks, conversions), you can build upon those results and optimize your strategy to further suit your exact needs.
Deliver on the promise.
Remember: The very first email sent must include the promised ebook, trial period, discount, or otherwise.
Eve Mattresses shows us a great example of this exchange, where they have provided new subscribers with a very tempting “100-day sleepover.”
Determine a timeline and frequency.
According to one email marketing company, retailers who sent more than one ‘welcome’ email experienced a 13% increase in revenue. Pretty impressive, right?
Further, MailCharts email data shows that many online retailers still send ‘welcome’ emails two weeks after sign-up, with some brands sending ‘welcome’ mailers up to two months after the initial sign-up date.
Here’s a rough timeline we put together to help you see how email frequency begins to slow down over the two month welcome period:
- Email 1: Immediately after receiving a subscriber’s email address
- Email 2: 3 days after receiving email address
- Email 3: 8 days after receiving email address
- Email 4: 15 days after receiving email address
- Email 5: 30 days after receiving email address
- Email 6: 45 days after receiving email address
- Email 7: 60 days after receiving email address
Pro Tip: If your ‘welcome’ series is promotional, add segmentation criteria to cease sending emails if a subscriber becomes a customer within the 60-day welcome window.
Choose your words wisely.
We’ll dive into some more specific email inspiration in the section below, however, when it comes to planning the content for your emails, you’ll want to keep these two things in mind:
Welcoming subscribers and creating a personalized subject line is crucial. The read rates of welcome emails are highly predictive of how engaged subscribers will be with subsequent messaging and how much they’ll spend.
In exchange for just a few lines of code to personalize your email, your subscribers are more likely to open, interact, and engage in a lasting relationship with your company. Take the additional time needed to personalize your emails. And, if you can go beyond simply adding their name, that’s even better.
Aside from personalized emails, we recommend setting clear expectations at the beginning. If you plan on email subscribers weekly, let them know. The same applies for daily, monthly, or any other interval.
Also, make sure it’s really easy to unsubscribe from your emails. The last thing you want is someone marking you as spam because they couldn’t opt-out of your communications.
Let’s take a look at some examples of companies — both B2B and B2C — that are nailing their ‘welcome’ emails. (And check out this post for even more ‘welcome’ email inspiration.)
B2B Example: Wistia
After an initial activation email, Wistia sends out a simple, bright, and effective ‘welcome’ email.
From the beginning, Wistia’s ‘welcome’ email strategy is focused on bringing the subscriber value, rather than simply promoting their product. They ask the question, “Have you checked out the learning center?”
This is a resource where customers are able to easily access tips and tricks regarding a variety of different video education topics. The Learning Center is provided to highlight the strengths of the Wistia service and also show how it can help the subscriber personally. (Great job educating, Wistia.)
If you’re in the software business, here are some ideas for your ‘welcome’ series:
- Talk about the benefits of using your product.
- Provide free resources and tips on how to get the most out of your product.
- Establish credibility, focusing on ease of use, reliability, and convenience.
B2C Example: Coach
If you are an online retailer, your ‘welcome’ emails will be slightly different. For starters, subscribers are not searching for information regarding a specific topic, rather they are interested in certain products and receiving up-to-date information about new releases and discounted offers.
Coach is a great example of how to make a good first impression and doesn’t forget to welcome new subscribers with an upbeat subject line, “Welcome to Coach Emails!”
As we discussed earlier, it is important to set email expectations so the subscriber fully understands what content will be included in future emails, which is something that Coach has managed well.
If you’re in the ecommerce industry, here are a few tips to get you started:
- Create a product narrative around your products: talk about why they’re great, high-quality, useful, affordable, etc.
- Feature your best-selling products to pique consumers’ interest.
- If applicable, appeal to things that consumers value — include mentions of fair trade, locally grown, and use of organic materials.
- Include a discount or welcome incentive.
Get Started Now
If you don’t have a ‘welcome’ campaign, don’t wait another minute. You can get started by subscribing to your competitors’ email lists to keep a close eye on their strategy, take note of what they’re doing and what you like (and don’t like). From there, you can borrow the good things and improve on the not-so-good ones.
Remember: In the beginning, you don’t need to be perfect. What’s most important is that you are welcoming subscribers and building a strong and lasting relationship.
What’s the best ‘welcome’ email you’ve ever received? Share your thoughts in the comments below.
If you’re new to the world of email marketing, you might be unfamiliar with the importance of segmenting your email lists. But it’s a big deal: According to DMA, 77% of email marketing ROI came from segmented, targeted, and triggered campaigns in 2015.
The best part about email segmentation? There are a ton of creative ways you can segment your email list to run innovative and effective campaigns that leads and customers will enjoy, from geography and industry to content format and topic. The more information you collect about your email recipients, the more opportunities you have to tailor your emails to resonate just right.
To get your brainstorm started, check out the comprehensive list of email list segmentation ideas below. (Then, download this email marketing planning template to keep all of your email efforts organized.)
30 Ways to Segment Your Email List for More Targeted Email Marketing
The whole point of segmentation is to provide more relevant content to your email recipients. To do that, you’ll have to take the time to craft targeted campaigns that take into account not just list segments, but also lead data, and trigger events that help customize your email campaigns further. (Our marketing team uses the Email App and the Lists App in the HubSpot Marketing Platform in combination with HubSpot CRM to accomplish this.)
Bear in mind that while some of these recommendations will work wonderfully on their own, many of them are at their absolute best when crossed with other segments, triggers, and lead intelligence data.
Knowing where your contacts live can be seriously powerful information. If you’re a brick-and-mortar business, you wouldn’t want to send in-store offers to out-of-towners, right? Or let’s say you’re a national franchise — you better be segmenting by zip code to ensure you’re not infringing on someone else’s territory, or worse, marketing to a location that your organization doesn’t even service yet.
Here’s a geographically-segmented email I received from Vamoose, a bus service I’ve used frequently to travel between New York and the Washington, D.C. area. (I can’t believe it’s already time to start planning travel for Thanksgiving.)
People of all ages have access to the internet these days, which means you could be emailing a college student, a retiree, or even a little kid. You may find knowing the general age range of the people on your list helpful to remove those not in your target audience, or to adjust the messaging of your email communications.
Just as you’d speak to a retiree and a college student differently, you might adjust your messaging and offers based on gender, too. If you have a wide product offering that extends across genders, consider segmenting your list in this manner — and beefing up the segmentation with other demographic and psychographic details as well.
Speaking of demographics and psychographics, you should have buyer personas that include information of this nature, as well as more detailed explanations of what makes these folks tick and why your solution provides value for them. If you don’t have buyer personas created already, use these free templates to create your own — and then segment your list based on them. Because each persona has different needs and value propositions, they’re all going to require different email content for the best clickthrough and conversion rates.
5) Organization Type
Do you sell to other businesses? Are they franchises? Non-profit organizations? Ecommerce companies? Enterprise organizations? Small businesses? They all have different needs, and as such, their email content should be different — so segment your list accordingly.
If you’re selling to other businesses, you may encounter leads and contacts across many different industries. Knowing your lead’s industry will allow you to add another level of personalization to your email marketing.
7) Job Function
As a B2B marketer, your email list could contain a whole melee of different job functions — office personnel, salespeople, marketers, consultants, developers, customer service, accountants … the list goes on. Considering the breadth of job roles within any given organization, doesn’t it make sense to segment your list accordingly?
8) Education Level
You could segment your list based on how many degrees they hold, or how educated a lead or contact is regarding your brand and the subject matter you discuss. If you segment your list based on the level of understanding they have on the topics you write about, you can tailor your lead nurturing content to speak at the right level.
Here’s an email I received from Idealist, which they sent to me based on my previous indication that I had already earned a Bachelor’s degree:
9) Seniority Level
There are different job roles, and there are different levels of seniority. Perhaps your contact said they work in marketing, but is she the VP of marketing, or a marketing coordinator? Those two contacts will differ in years of experience, salary level, pain points, decision-making potential, and a whole host of other differences that make segmentation critical for effective email marketing campaigns.
10) Past Purchases
If a segment of your list has purchased from you before, use that information to send them emails catered to that which interests them. Then make your bottom line bigger by identifying upsell opportunities with additional services or complementary products they’d enjoy based on their past purchases.
11) Purchase Interests
You can infer someone’s purchase proclivities from past buying behavior, or you can just ask. My colleague, Lindsay Kolowich, highlighted companies who do this in creative ways — such as with surveys — in a recent blog post about awesome email marketing campaigns to help them create better targeted emails.
12) Buying Frequency
Segment your email list based on how often someone purchases. Not only can you try to increase shopping frequency for some, but you can also reward frequent shoppers with an invitation to your loyalty program to make your brand even stickier. (Download this free guide to learn how to more effectively use and measure customer loyalty programs for your business.)
Here’s a customer loyalty email I received from my mobile provider, AT&T, about early ticket access to a concert they’re hosting. (Do you think they somehow know I attended a Panic! At the Disco concert when I was in middle school? This is embarrassing, readers.)
13) Purchase Cycle
Do certain customers come to you on a weekly, monthly, yearly, or quarterly basis? Or perhaps they only need you at a certain time of year — a pool cleaner might see upticks in spring and fall, for example. Segment your list based on customers’ purchase cycle so you can be there right at their point of need.
14) Content Topic
Here at HubSpot, we’ve noticed that some of our leads and contacts are far more interested in certain content topics than others. There’s one segment that’s extremely interested in sales and marketing alignment, while another is far more interested in Snapchat for business. So it only makes sense that we segment our list based on the topics our contacts have showed interest in. Take a look at what content gets people clicking, and segment your list based on that.
Here an example of an email I received from Twitter featuring suggestions for who to follow next (and it worked):
15) Content Format
You may find that specific content formats are more appealing to certain segments of your database — some like blogs, others prefer ebooks, and some may only show up when you put on a webinar. For example, in a recent HubSpot Research survey, 43% of respondents wanted to see more video content in the future. If you know how certain segments of your list prefer to consume content, you can deliver the offer content in your emails via their preferred format.
16) Interest Level
Just because someone converts on a content offer, doesn’t mean they actually liked it. Segment your list based on how interested leads are in your content. For example, we might email a segment of webinar attendees that stayed engaged for 45 minutes or more with a middle-of-the-funnel offer to help move them along in the sales cycle, while those that dropped off before 10 minutes might receive another top-of-the-funnel offer — or even a feedback survey to gauge what specifically lost their interest.
17) Change in Content Engagement Level
Have you noticed an increase or decrease in the amount of time leads are spending with your content? This is an indication of their interest in your company, and should be used to either reawaken waning interest, or move leads along through the sales cycle while they’re at their height of engagement with your content.
Here’s an example from Udemy, who segmented their email list to try to re-engage inactive users (I still highly recommend Udemy’s online classes):
18) Change in Buying Behavior
Similar to a change in content engagement, a change in buying behavior can indicate a lead is becoming more or less interested in your company. Leads that decrease purchasing frequency, for example, might need a little extra love — and thus, a dedicated lead nurturing campaign.
I typically buy glasses and contact lenses at Lenscrafters once yearly with my vision insurance benefit, but I haven’t yet this year, so they wisely sent me this nurturing email with a gentle reminder to purchase from them:
19) Stage in the Sales Cycle
I’ve mentioned it a little bit here and there, but the stage a lead is at in the sales cycle should determine which email segment they fall in. At the very least, set up separate lead nurturing tracks for those at the top of your sales funnel, in the middle of your sales funnel, and at the bottom of the sales funnel.
20) Email Type
There’s a lot you can tell by someone’s email address. You design your emails for different email clients if you’re really into sophisticated email design, or if they’re Gmail clients, responsive email design.
21) Satisfaction Index
Many businesses use satisfaction indexes to determine how happy their customer base is — Net Promoter Score (NPS) is a very popular one. If you’re measuring satisfaction numerically, consider sending an email segmented based on your customers’ level of happiness with your organization. Those with a high NPS score, for example, might provide opportunities to gather reviews, referrals, or even upsells. Those with lower scores, however, may get emails that give them access to educational materials that will make them happier and more successful customers.
Here’s Wayfair‘s email asking me to review how a recent purchasing and delivery experience went:
22) Customers Who Refer
Consider creating a list segment full of those customers who repeatedly refer new business your way. These are your biggest brand advocates, and should receive emails targeted towards loyalty programs, refer-a-friend discounts, even possibly trials for new products or services you’re releasing to get honest feedback before widespread rollouts.
23) Customers Who Haven’t Reviewed
You should always be trying to get more positive reviews of your business, so why not create a list segment that targets those customers who haven’t written a review yet? You could combine this list segment with, say, those that are also social media fans and have a high NPS score. Think about it … you know they follow you on Twitter and their NPS score indicates they love you. That’s just begging for an online review email campaign. (Check out this case study guide + template to help you successfully reach out to potential participants and engage them in the process.)
Here’s LinkedIn‘s email asking me to participate in a feedback survey:
24) In-Store vs. Webstore Visitors
If you have both a brick-and-mortar location as well as a website, segment your list based on where your customers like to shop. You can give invites to in-store events to those customers that give you foot traffic, while those that only visit your webstore might receive offers that should only be redeemed online.
25) Shopping Cart Abandonment
After analyzing 34 online studies of ecommerce shopping cart abandonment, Bamyard Institute determined that, on average, 68% of shopping carts were abandoned prior to purchase. Yikes. If you run an ecommerce webstore, you absolutely must have an abandoned shopping cart email program, and you should be segmenting your contacts based on this behavior.
26) Form Abandonment
Not an ecommerce company? You still have abandoners on your site — form abandoners. If someone starts filling out some forms on your website and then loses interest, gets busy, has a lousy internet connection, gets eaten by a zombie … you know, whatever … segment out those leads for nurturing aimed at bringing them back to your website to complete the form. The offer was interesting enough at one point in time to pique their interest, so why not try to recover some of those form abandoners?
Whatever it is you offer, there are some customers who you could consider “power users.” These are the ones that totally get how to navigate your website, use every feature in your software, and make the most of their relationships with your service providers. Then there are the rest of us. Segment out the power users and the strugglers, frequent users, and infrequent users; then send email content that teaches them how to be more successful with your product or service. The more customers use your product, the more likely they are to stick around: Bluenose found that lack of use was the number one driver of software customer churn.
Here’s a use-segmented email I received from MapMyRun. I feel misleading including it because I truly can’t remember the last time I went running, but it’s still a good example of list segmentation:
28) Event Attendance
Does your organization host book signings, conferences, or social events? Don’t miss the opportunity to reach out to leads and potential customers you’ve already made a positive connection with. Segment your email list depending on the type of event, the topic or theme of your events, or even to RSVPs who didn’t make it out. You’ll be able to keep inviting them to events while sharing relevant content offers based on what you learned about them from past events. (P.S. – Have you registered for INBOUND 2016 yet?)
29) Page Views
You can tell a lot about your contacts from their behaviors, and the web pages they’re browsing are no exception. Are there certain blogs they’re reading or questions they’re asking when they come to your website? Experiment with lead nurturing campaigns dedicated to different topics your website covers to appeal to your site visitors’ patterns.
30) Call-to-Action Clicks
A clickable call-to-action is what takes your website content to the next level because it helps you generate leads and contacts. (Download 50 customizable call-to-action templates here.) You can tell which types of language work on your contacts based on what makes them click, or not click, on your CTAs. Are they more inclined toward time sensitive offers to “act now” or “try this month,” or do they prefer more explicit offers of “free” or “discounted” products? Use their clicking habits to determine how you segment your email list, and what language you use when reaching out.
I hope this list has given you ideas for ways to segment your own lists, and most importantly, sparked some creative email campaigns you can run as a result of this new segmentation.
So what about you — what other ways can you think of to segment your email lists? Which of these segmentation ideas could you combine with others for really epic results?
Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in May 2012 and has been updated for freshness, accuracy, and comprehensiveness.
What do B2B buyers actually want from your website? What causes them to leave your website and not return? How many times do typical buyers return to your website before taking the next or final step in the buyer’s cycle? What kind of content is important to them?
We looked at the results of the 2015 B2B Web Usability Survey and discovered what it would take for you as a B2B vendor to create credibility and trust. Spoiler alert: it’s not rocket science.
1) Buyers won’t give you a chance until they’ve seen legitimate identification
Vendors beware: Buyers judge your company’s credibility from their first impressions of your website. Before you panic, a winning introduction simply requires making the ABC’s available, right away. This includes: Complete contact information, an updated About section or company information, and a summary of the products and services your business offers. Interesting to note: They usually don’t want to see the pricing first.
Improve your credibility
- Design your website page templates with a built-in header and footer to feature your company’s physical address, contact information, quick links to your products and services page, and a summary of your About section.
- Stock images ring alarm bells for B2B buyers! Even if you and your employees can’t measure up to those stock photography models in the looks department, you’ll definitely trump them when it comes to trust and credibility. Hire a professional photographer for a day, but don’t stop at head shots for your about page. Employing banner images that picture your employees going about their daily tasks go a long way towards proving your company’s legitimacy. Also, this simple visual introduction can smooth over the awkwardness of that first personal consultation.
2) Buyers want to see the basics before getting in touch
Making a good first impression, however, is not enough motivation for your buyers to introduce themselves. While video tutorials, visual depictions, and audio descriptions are valuable tools for strengthening the relationship with buyers of different learning styles, respondents indicated that these wouldn’t dazzle them into submitting a contact request either.
In reality, for buyers who are leaning towards contacting you for a quote, the deciding factor is whether or not you have supplied them with the following basic content essentials: Product pricing, product reviews, lead/ship times, and details about technical support.
Improve your credibility
- Prioritise your content calendar! While not every buyer that visits your website will be ready to speak to a Sales representative right away, some inevitably will be. Make sure that you don’t miss out on these low-hanging fruit by fast-tracking content assets that buyers require before taking the step of reaching out to your sales team.
- Is your failure to display pricing information on your website losing you sales opportunities? A simple experiment can settle the issue: Add pricing information to your website for a trial period to compare the number of leads generated in both scenarios.
- Are you a software reseller or IT services company? Don’t make the mistake of assuming that your prospects and customers are as technically fluent and self-sufficient as you are! Data shows that providing your customers with direct access to technical support from your website will help you to build credibility and trust with prospects as well.
3) Blogging and Social Media alone won’t win you more than casual followers
B2B buyers have spoken, and the word is that they are seriously underwhelmed by vendors who don’t offer them educational content beyond the weekly blog and social posts.
While both of these marketing channels are valuable for generating traffic and nurturing leads along their buyer’s journey, an effective content marketing strategy relies on a much wider range of assets.
Improve your Credibility
How are you supposed to know which content assets you need to establish yourself as a reputable vendor? Look no further than Science!
Here’s how you can apply the scientific method to your content creation process: Research, Test, Improve, Test, Repeat.
- Research your users’ content preferences. You can do this by interviewing your existing customers, sending them a survey, and evaluating your website’s user analytics to identify high and poor performing content assets.
- Test your assumptions! Create a content asset according to your research findings, put it out there and measure the results. How did you do?
- Improve. Are you getting closer or further away from your goal of engaging and educating your buyers? Unsure? Conduct an A/B test! Focus on one element at a time, (e.g. content format, title, marketing channel) and create multiple versions of the same offer to test the impact of the variable.
How do your buyers feel about your website’s credibility? Book a free website assessment now to find out.
4) Buyers don’t trust websites filled with distractions
When it comes to establishing trust and credibility, clarity trumps the bells and whistles. B2B buyers have little patience for features that waste their time and obstruct them from getting down to business.
Website elements that annoy your users enough to make them leave right away include lack of contact information, intrusive live chat features, animated ads, popups, poor design or navigation, and video or audio that plays automatically. Almost half of respondents declared that they would ditch a vendor’s website simply because it fails to clearly communicate what the company does!
Improve your Credibility
Let’s talk about Growth-driven Design (GDD)! As opposed to traditional web design that is driven by your agency or company’s fancies, the GDD process is user-focussed from start to end.
The GDD design cycle entails user research (identifying the drivers, barriers, and hooks at work on your website), implementation of research, and measurement of results to deliver continuous improvement of user experience and conversion rates.
5) Buyers will fill out a form if it passes the cost vs. value test.
Your buyers’ personal contact information is a valuable commodity, and if you want it, you will have to earn it. Excessive form fields, invasive questions, and automatic email subscription are all factors that make your buyers flee from your forms.
Improve your credibility
Fear not, getting on first name basis with buyers is not an impossible feat, as they are more than willing to complete your forms when they meet the following criteria:
- Your forms pass the credibility test. Buyers indicate that the slightest oddity in design or copy could deter them from completing a form. Make sure your forms are sleek and professional by following conversion optimisation best practices on your landing pages, then user testing to identify any red flags.
- Clear and accurate expectations. Are you offering your prospect a free demo or a quote? Buyers’ past experiences of waiting in vain for a response has made them hesitant to submit your contact forms. Here too, clarity trumps persuasion; write your landing page copy to clearly state what buyers can expect once they’ve clicked that submit button. Should they expect to be contacted by a member of your technical support team, sales, or the business owner themselves? When can they expect to hear from you?
- A worthy trade. If you are form-gating your content, the asset on offer better be a value-add for your buyers! While an in-depth eBook would pass this test, spec sheets and product descriptions that blow your own horn should always be offered un-gated!
6) Buyers leave and return to your website multiple times
A prolonged and well-considered decision-making journey is typical of the B2B buyer cycle. In fact, buyers will visit your website up to 5 times before gathering up the courage to get in touch.
During this period, prospects will be evaluating your competitors’ products and solutions, researching your ratings, and looking into feedback from your previous customers. What they find out about your company will determine if they return to your website at all and if you are trustworthy enough to approach for a quote.
Improve your Credibility
Build out a C & C portfolio (Credibility and Comparison) to distribute to your buyers in a marketing automation workflow that gets triggered the moment a buyer transitions to lifecycle stage: Sales Qualified Lead.
Content assets to distribute in this workflow could include:
- Charts and checklists that help your buyers to compare apples with apples as their weigh you up with competitors.
- Case studies of how you have helped other B2B buyers, just like them, to overcome various obstacles to achieve success.
- Credibility by association. Have any of your customers reviewed your business on an external site? Craft an email that shares links to existing reviews with your buyers, and set up a Google Alert to pick up on any new mentions of your company online.
7) A Mobile-friendly website matters
When it comes to devices, 41% of buyers who own a smartphone or tablet are using it to search for B2B products. While most respondents indicated that lack of a mobile-friendly website would not put them off a vendor, a vast majority stated that they do expect your website to enable dialling your number automatically at a tap.
Improve your Credibility
While the look of a mobile unfriendly website might not put off your buyers, poor mobile functionality will result in conversion opportunities slipping through your fingers as well as a poor ranking in search engine results.
While basic mobile-responsiveness ensures accessibility of digital assets (website, blog, CTA’s, forms, landing pages, content offers, emails), optimisation of your entire conversion path for mobile users is a worthwhile investment.
Generating credibility and trust? Elementary, my dear B2B business owner!
Get to grips with the basics of inbound marketing, power it up with growth-driven design, and you can expect to see your website cranking up the traffic volumes, conversion rates, and new and recurring business.