Practical Ecommerce

Email Marketing: Optimize the New Subscriber Experience

Response rates are almost always higher for new subscribers to an email list. According to the “Email Marketing Benchmark Guide” by MarketingSherpa, subscribers click through at a 25 percent higher rate in their first month than in their second, and 67 percent higher in the first month than after the first year.

It is important to take advantage of this phenomenon by carefully designing and optimizing the new subscriber experience. Here are a few things your company can do to implement or improve your email marketing right away.

Welcome Message

Welcome messages are important because they reassure prospects that your company has a pulse, and they also reduce spam complaints by reminding new subscribers that they’ve been added to your list.

Welcome messages are also critical for response rates. They are an important tool for prospects to interact with your company while they are researching the problem that led them to your products and services. Many of your email recipients are presumably in a buying mode. They might even have other browser windows open to your competitors when your welcome message arrives in their inboxes.

In that sense, welcome messages do a lot more than just tell new subscribers that they’ve been added to a list. To improve response, the welcome email should also contain the following:

  • A personal message from the CEO, founder, or owner;
  • A coupon or other incentive to buy;
  • Links to your most popular entry-level products;
  • A good testimonial or two.

Most importantly, welcome messages must serve as two-way communication tools. Replies to welcome messages should be encouraged, and you should respond to inquiries immediately. People are impressed when someone responds quickly and personally.

Real-time Subscriptions

New subscriber information is sometimes stored initially offline and then uploaded to the master list in batches, which means new subscribers may not be added at the moment of opt in. (This can take place because integrations between websites and email service providers often don’t work properly.)

Uploading subscriber information in batches is risky because it can cause new subscribers to miss one or more broadcasts that should be arriving in their inboxes while their interest in you and your products is still high. By the time they hear from you, they may have already bought from a competitor, solved their problem another way, or lost interest.

If you rely on batch uploads to keep your list current, be sure to upload the newest subscribers before every email broadcast. And, get your integration fixed as soon as possible.

Introductory Follow-up Series

Even if your usual email-marketing format is a newsletter, you might want to send a timed auto-responder series to new subscribers after your welcome message. For example, you can send a message to subscribers the day after they sign up, and another message shortly thereafter. Waiting for your regularly scheduled newsletter may be too long.

Moreover, because these kinds of messages contain static content, unlike a newsletter, they can be continuously improved through testing. It is better to send your best prospects something that has been tested and proven rather than something (a newsletter) that was just created. If your second message is performing worse than your third message, you know that something is probably wrong with the second one, because performance usually declines over time. Work on improving this message first.

Remember, however, that it’s usually okay to also send new subscribers your regular newsletter during the introductory period. New subscribers generally have a higher interest level in the beginning, and therefore a higher tolerance for frequent communication.

Segmentation and Personalization

You might personalize your initial email messages to new subscribers based on the product page they signed up on or data they submit. If they registered on a page about blue widgets, make sure blue widgets are mentioned in the welcome message.

Over time, it becomes more important to base email segmentation and personalization on subsequent behaviors, such as what messages recipients are opening and links they are clicking.

Matt Carroll

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