The Power of the Welcome Email

A welcome email may seem like a simple gesture but goes a long way.
A welcome email may seem like a simple gesture but goes a long way.

First impressions count. Sending a welcome email to a new association member is an enormously valuable opportunity that only happens once. It's a member's first exposure to the voice of an organisation - and it's the singular chance to set the tone.

A welcome email is categorised as a "triggered" email, which is generated when there is a meaningful change or event in a prospect's behavior or profile. In this case, when a new member joins an organisation. Triggered emails are different from and more effective than business-as-usual (BAU) emails. In Q2 of 2018, triggered open rates were 64 percent higher than BAU open rates and click-through rates (8.2 percent) were double BAU rates (3.4 percent), according to Epsilon. 

Statistically, welcome emails are the most powerful triggered emails. Recently, welcome email open rates were reported to be as high as 91 percent with click-through rates upward of 26 percent according to GetResponse.

Here are a few tips to consider when drafting a welcome email to engage new users: 

Send it Now
When a new member joins an organisation, sending an email immediately generates the hightest open and click-through rates. Real-time responses have significantly stronger results. However, for many associations, real-time or immediate responses may not be an option. That's okay. Consider sending bulk welcome emails on a daily basis. The results will be stronger than when sending the emails weekly or monthly.

Use a Recognisable Sender Name and Email Address
An email sent from a person is preferable to one sent from an organisation (e.g. "info" or "marketing" at company name). Use an email address that can actually be replied to. A generic address will work but using a specific person's email address is best. 

The sender name dramatically impacts open rates. Consider using a real person's name with the organisation's name (e.g. "Amy from GrowthZone").

Pay Attention to the Subject
Never underestimate the importance of the subject line. When trying to cut through the noise of the inbox, an engaging subject line makes all the difference. It should catch the reader's attention and give them a reason to open the email.

Be Authentic
The welcome email should have a personalised greeting; it's a small gesture that goes a long way and statistically increases open and click-through rates.

Keep new member communications genuine. Remember that what works in person also works online. Tone and language are fundamental -- keep it conversational and let the message flow naturally while reflecting the association's personality.

Include Social Media Buttons
This is the ideal time to turn each new member into a fan or follower. It also provides a helpful backup if they decide to unsubscribe from the email list later. 

Reinforce Their Decision
Say thank you. Reiterate that each new member is part of something special and isn't just a number. Let them know the frequency and type of communications the association will be sending throughout the year.

New members join to gain something, so help them right away. Recap the benefits they can take advantage of immediately and provide something useful (e.g., content, helpful tip or a useful link).

Make Sure Future Emails Get Through
Use a spam checker and ask to be added to their trusted contacts (referred to as whitelisting).

The Magic Formula
The best welcome emails have something in common: They are short and to the point. Subsequent emails won't command this level of engagement, so remain cognizant of email fatigue.

Don't overload new members. Instead, make the message count by focusing on a single call to action. Have too much to say for one email? Consider sending a series of welcome emails. 

Mobile, Mobile, Mobile
When crafting welcome emails, focus on how they display on mobile devices. Mobile screens are smaller, so your subject lines should be shorter as well. 

Mobile opens account for 46 percent of all email opens, with webmail opens at 35 percent and desktop opens at 18 percent, according to Litmus.

The mission of the welcome email is to boost loyalty and shine the spotlight on the association. Most importantly, it serves to reinforce the value of the organisation and define the role it will play in the new member's journey to success.

Amy Gitchell is a marketing and research specialist at GrowthZone AMS, with a focus on association industry research and growth. She is passionate about marketing communications and has extensive experience in digital media strategy. 

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