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According to the 2017 Email Industry Census, only 44% of company marketers send an automated email based on subscription or sign-up – otherwise known as a welcome email.

Surprised? You’re not the only one: welcome emails are such a basic type of automated campaign that no marketer is forgiven for ignoring them. While there is plenty of advice advice out there on what constitutes welcome email best practice, I’d like to focus on a few of the elements that can and should be employed to make a successful welcome strategy within a specific industry – in this case, publishing.

How to make the right impression from the first handshake

I once heard a conference speaker explain how a welcome email or program is like a digital handshake with your subscribers. They extended the hand first by giving you their data and subscribing to receive emails and not sending a welcome message would mean you’re leaving them hanging with their hand in the air. Wouldn’t that be rude?

With publishing in particular, here’s what I think you should do:

  • Don’t cram everything into one email; use a series – the nature of publishing implies that you will have a wide array of great content and benefits that you will want to share. When you give people too many options to click on, however, the more likely scenario is that they’ll be overwhelmed and not click on any. Take it one step at a time in a welcome program and make the individual campaigns clear, to the point and engaging.
  • Include a link to your preference centre – chances are that you have multiple publications or topics that your content covers, but not all subscribers will be interested in everything. Set the tone of your entire email strategy by asking early on for their input in delivering relevant, personalised emails if they simply pick their favourite areas in a preference centre. Have a look at this Penguin preference campaign which included a very visual and straightforward way of picking preferences:

Penguin preference centre

  • Set (great) expectations – will you send them newsletters bi-weekly, weekly or monthly? What type of content will they include – videos, tips, opinion pieces, a round-up of your most recent articles? Dedicating an early email in the series to helping subscribers understand what to expect going forward could improve your engagement and your deliverability because you won’t be leaving room for surprises.
  • Use an engaging subject line – sure, the overall purpose of your first email and your program is to make subscribers feel welcome, but do you really need to use ‘Welcome to our newsletter’? Be more creative without losing sight of the goal. Try something like ‘You’re in!’ to convey the idea of membership to an exclusive club.
  • Establish the next step – you might have a general goal of selling more subscriptions or more books, but think about what you’d like the recipient of the welcome email to do straight away. This could be filling out their preferences, creating an account or watching an intro video. Focus each email on the next step as a call-to-action, rather than jumping too far ahead.
  • Include a teaser – whether or not your welcome program is dedicated to those who have subscribed to your publication, it’s a good idea to include a teaser to an upcoming edition. It also works to highlight some of your projects that are close to completion and get people interested and excited.
  • Explain what makes you special – you might think that subscribers already know who you are because they’ve subscribed to your emails. But many of the charming qualities of a brand are hidden in their history or brand story. Share these with your subscribers and they’re likely to feel closer to you.

Ready to revamp your welcome email program? Stay tuned to see our top tips for renewal emails in publishing soon.