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Eight Steps to Setting Up a Successful Email Marketing Welcome Series

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The vast majority of opted-in subscribers these days are usually either inactive or they haven't yet placed their first order. Getting new subscribers to make their first purchase is the first barrier to turning them into a longer-term paying customer.

By sending newly opted-in subscribers a series of email communications encouraging them to buy, you ensure that they are kept engaged and likely to buy within a targeted period of time. That series of emails can be setup via your email service provider (ESP).

An email marketing welcome series is used to engage your new subscribers and warm them up to make their first purchase. Especially in the case of new subscribers, once they make their first purchase, they will have a higher propensity to buy from you a second time (providing you give them a good experience on their first order).

Customers are more likely to buy from you again if they have bought from you recently.

Remarketing emails aren't a new thing, and marketers have been doing it for years. But many companies still don't have a proper welcome series set up to welcome new subscribers and turn them into new customers.


So here are eight steps to creating an email marketing welcome series.

1. Make sure your ESP has the capability of creating a welcome series work flow

When I say welcome series work flow, I don't just mean the ability to send a welcome email. I mean having the ability to send out a series of many emails controlled by a work flow you create, similar to this diagram:

The workflow will consist of a sequence of connected steps, with each step sending out an email based on previously defined conditions and logic.

Many smaller ESPs won't have workflow functionality to send many emails in a series, so before making a decision to execute an email welcome series, make sure that your ESP has the functionality to create and execute welcome-series workflows.

2. Decide on how many emails you would like to send in the work flow

Before you start an email welcome series, it is important to work out how many emails you want in the series. That can be as few as one welcome email, or 4-5 of them, sent based on subscriber behavior.

Deciding how many emails people get throughout the series is essential, because sending too many emails may increase unsubscribes and decrease email conversions.

3. Decide on your welcome series workflow path and logic

Before executing the email welcome series, you need to develop the proper logic behind the workflow. Doing so step requires a lot of thinking and prior planning.

Your workflow needs to make sense and it must be practical enough to maximize email conversions. So you will have to draw out the logic (if... then...) in a flow chart, and the workflow will be made up of a series of paths with triggers and conditions.

One benefit of working out your workflow path and logic is that it stops customers from receiving too many emails or emails that may not be relevant to them—for example when a customer who has already bought from an email gets another email reminding them of the same promotion.

4. Decide on the content and promotion for each email in the series

You will need to have a plan for what kind of content and promotions will be sent out via each email of the series. You have to decide whether to send a promotion, engagement, or reminder email.

I recommend having a mix of types so your subscribers do not get email fatigue from the same kind of email. For example, send subscribers a promotion email, followed by an engagement email, and then a reminder of the promotion so they don't feel like you are always sending them emails with promotions.

5. Design and develop emails

Once you have made a decision about what to include in all the emails in the welcome series, get your email marketing department to design and code the emails. Make sure the look and design of each email separates it from the others, because the last thing you want is for your subscribers thinking they are continually being sent the same emails. Also, make sure to design different versions of the emails so you can split-test each email and keep optimizing the welcome series for the best possible conversion.

6. Create the actual work flow in your email service provider

OK, this is the moment of truth, and all that preparation and planning will have to be put into practice. After all the emails have been designed and the logic has been decided on, the next step is to create the actual workflows via your ESP's software.

This step is usually done via an easy-to-use graphic interface that allows you to set up your email series path and connect the workflow elements together and set up the conditions for each. Most ESPs have a drag and drop interface that lets you create nodes with scenarios, and then connect them together to create the welcome series.

7. Track and monitor results

Tracking the results of a welcome series is important, because you will need to make sure that it is converting enough subscribers into customers without increasing the unsubscribe rate. An ESP with welcome series workflow functionality will have the necessary technology to track all the results from the welcome series.

The challenge is being able to correctly interpret the results and analyzing the correct metrics. To track results properly, make sure you've determined beforehand which metrics you monitor and how those metrics affect or contribute to the overall goal of the project.

8. Reporting on results

Report results to all those involved in the project, everyone from the ones who create the emails to the director of the digital marketing department. It is crucial that everyone be on board with the project and aware of the progress and the results from implementing the email welcome series.

I recommend reviewing results weekly with the immediate team so that if there are any changes that need to be made based on insights gathered, it's done quickly. It is also important to report results to the senior stakeholders on a monthly basis to keep them up to date with progress of the project.

* * *

Setting up a welcome series workflow takes dedication and hard work, and ESPs with work flow functionality are usually a little costlier than the ESPs that just send regular emails. But having work flow functionality opens up new ways of increasing customer acquisition and customer revenue.

Having a welcome series will ensure that the investment made in increasing subscribers will fully pay off.


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Ben Liau is a veteran digital marketing strategist and head of customer acquisition at Digital Flank, a digital agency specializing in Web strategy and optimization.

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Comments

  • by Lisa Thu Jan 2, 2014 via web

    Do you have any recommended ESPs that have this workflow functionality? What is the ESP in the example shown?

  • by alex Sun Jan 5, 2014 via web

    I'm also interested in a service providing this functionality.

  • by Ben Liau Mon Jan 6, 2014 via web

    Hi Lisa, and Alex.

    The example used is from an email service provider called Bronto. There are other ESPs with workflow functionality like Responsys, Cheetahmail, and Exact Target.

    Some are better than others , so its good to trial the software before you commit.

    Cheers

    Ben

  • by Nikita Mon Jan 13, 2014 via web

    Thanks for wonderful discussion....

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