The 4 Step Welcome Email Series
May 15, 2018
Imagine you’re at a party. Someone walks up to you – maybe you know them, maybe you don’t - and they say, “Hi, my name is Jim.”
What do you do?
Do you remain silent?
Do you respond with “Hi Jim” and go silent?
Do you go wild and respond, “Hi Jim, my name is Pat” and then go silent?
Or do you follow up the initial greeting and exchange of names with a question, so the conversation continues?
Hopefully, you ask a question or two. And then, typically, you get to share your answers to those questions in return.
What do you do?
What brought you here today?
So, you’re a theater fan too?
That’s how your ‘Welcome Email Series’ should flow starting with your receipt of their subscription information!
What is a ‘Welcome Email Series’?
NOTE: For those of our readers that work in Higher Education, this is what some of you have in place for adults interested in enrolling in one of your programs. However, as you read on, you will notice that there are subtle, yet key differences – and they can help make your efforts more effective.
You want to acknowledge the fact that they took the time and showed the interest necessary to subscribe. And then you want to gather some additional insights that help you better understand what you need to do moving forward to build a strong relationship.
Email 1: Acknowledgement/Fulfillment
Ask quickly as possible – as soon after their submission of their subscription information – you should send them an email that states at the very least, “Thank you for subscribing” and then delivers any promised gift/content.
You might want to restate and reinforce what they signed up for – for example, the bi-weekly email focuses on the following topics and includes tips, tricks, best practices, case studies, interviews with experts…
You might also want to include personal contact information so they know who to speak with if they have a question.
That all said, the first email is a quick acknowledgment of their decision to subscribe and delivery of any promised incentive or reward.
HIGHER EDUCATION: For many institutions, the first email thanks the individual for their interest but fails to provide any information on their program of interest. As a matter of fact, many first emails recommend "...visiting our website to get answers to your questions..." Think about that first impression! Thanks for asking for our help - now go help yourself! Not good!
Email 2: Lets Connect Elsewhere
Next, you want to offer them faster, easier, more convenient ways to get what they want – to invite them to connect with you on social media.
Perhaps your Facebook strategy is to publish “Daily Tips” – to make them aware of that unique value.
Or maybe your Twitter strategy is to blend a little of your personality with professional life – so invite them to follow you on Twitter so they can [ex] see your devotion to your favorite sports team or hobby as well as sharing the top news of the day.
Send this email out about 2 days after Email 1: Acknowledgement/Fulfillment so they aren’t feeling pressured.
HIGHER EDUCATION: Most second emails are from the assigned enrollment/adviser, and it may or may not have information on the program of interest. It will have a little more about the institution and an invitation to "start your application online now or call me if you have questions" - but many still miss the chance to get program information into the hands of the inquiry. If you have passed along the requested information, try to get them more engaged with your other media options. Get them following you on Facebook or Twitter or LinkedIn or YouTube - that gives them access to more content sources which helps increase interest and desire.
Email 3: Ask a couple of key questions
This one is valuable to both the subscriber and your business because it allows you to identify key interests that you can segment the newsletter on.
There are two popular and efficient ways to do this – first is to use a tool like SurveyMonkey to create a short survey or, second, ask them to hit ‘Reply’ to the email and include their answers to your questions.
Having tested both approaches, I lean towards the survey because clicking a button seems to be a more preferred response mechanism than clicking “Reply” based on results. No matter the reason you should consider:
“We have 3 short questions that will help us ensure you get the most out of our relationship, so please click the button below – and you will receive a small “thank you” that is
- When is your birthday?
- Please check your top 3 topics of interest from this list:
- How did you learn about our firm?
- How would you describe your level of expertise on the following topics?
This email should be sent about 3 to 4 days after Email 2 so they have some time to breath – after all, they have done a lot in a short amount of time with a new (unknown) contact.
HIGHER EDUCATION: This is really important because it helps you ask about their motivations, concerns and other factors that you know can help you serve them more effectively. Discover their decision-making criteria with a few questions and you can make certain your next outreach is filled with the information they value! That will differentiate you from your competition and show you care.
Email 4: Thank you for your input
This goes to each and everyone that responds to Email 3 with helpful information. Again, it acknowledges their effort and your appreciation of it, but it also gives you another opportunity to share something unique, relevant and valuable with them – to include a link to a checklist or white paper or some content that shows you heard and understood what they shared with you.
The timing for this should be like Email 1 – immediately after the information has been received by you.
You might want an Email 4A for those that don’t respond to Email 3 – such as a reminder/second change – but we suggest waiting 4 to 5 days before sending.
Again, you don’t want to make them feel pressured and this timing should allow for the new subscriber to have received at least one of what they originally wanted - your newsletters.
HIGHER EDUCATION: For most, the first 4 emails are [a] thanks for your interest, [b] I am your enrollment rep, [c] financial aid, and [d] invitation to open house. And all 4 have "click here to start your online application." That means every prospective student is getting the same messages regardless of their wants, needs, expectations, motivations etc. With the 4-step process outlined here, you get information in Email 3 responses that help you prioritize (those that respond are more engaged so focus on them) and personalize with a response based on what they shared That personalized response is going to be more relevant and valuable - helping you differentiate your institution from the competition. Too many email campaigns talk at the reader - with a survey in the process, you're getting valuable information that helps you work smarter, more efficiently.
These simple emails help onboard the new subscriber in a comfortable, personal way that helps get the relationship off on the right foot.
Plus, it helps you get some valuable insights into their wants and needs so you can segment the list for greater results.
Think about that for a moment. By asking about “topics of interest”, you can make sure your future emails are focused on the audience’s wants and needs. That should positively impact their perception of value which means the door of opportunity remains open longer.
Let me know if you have any questions – and be sure to subscribe to our newsletter
Patrick McGraw is VP of Higher Educaton Marketing Services and has more than 25 years experience in market research, competitive intelligence, business intelligence including database marketing and CRM, strategic planning, brand development and management as well as operations/campaign management. His work has consistently helped his clients and employers develop and implement more efficient ways to attract and retain profitable customers, enter new markets and launch new products. His areas of focus include the education, hospitality, travel and tourism, hi-tech, telecommunications, financial services, and retail industries on both the agency and customer sides.