Whether it’s sports, music, or the arts, GOAT (Greatest Of All Time) discussions usually distill to the same list of usual suspects. Think Serena Williams, Tom Brady, Michael Jackson, Madonna...you get it. The greatest.
For marketing emails, we humbly submit the welcome email for GOAT consideration. Welcome emails have an incredible 91.43% open rate per Campaign Monitor, a leading email marketing company. Compare this with the fact that the average marketing email only has a 17.6% open rate. It’s clear that welcome emails are an unrivaled opportunity to engage directly with your customer right as they start their journey with your product.
You don’t want to squander such an excellent opportunity to connect with your new customers. Every company has its own take on what makes a great welcome email, so we wanted to consult with the foremost experts on the subject. Luckily, we were able to interview Ros (Hodgekiss) de Vries, the Customer Experience Programs Manager and email marketing GOAT at Campaign Monitor, for tips on welcome email best practices. Her firsthand advice on what product managers should do to build engaging welcome emails will help you engage readers and boost product adoption.
Never stray far from your goal
Before you even consider saying “hello” to your newest customers, you need to know what customer behaviors translate to higher customer lifetime value and satisfaction. A peek at your product analytics or into your customer feedback will reveal the most critical retention events in your user journey. Perhaps successfully completing a single purchase within a week of sign-up dramatically increases the likelihood of continued buying. Maybe the successful completion of a quick tutorial increases retention by double-digit percentages.
Once you figure out what you want your campaign to achieve, you can identify where you want your customer to go immediately after reading their welcome email. “My number one tip,” says Ros, “is to take the opportunity to drive your new subscribers to action.” Your entire welcome email should be designed to support this CTA to boost the chances of your customer reaching your critical event with minimal friction.
Common CTAs for welcome emails focus on:
- Boosting sales through the inclusion of an incentive
- Increasing engagement to reduce attrition
- Filling out user profiles for marketing and UX personalization
A purpose-driven welcome email and results-oriented CTA reinforce the value of your product to the customer. They serve as confirmation to the new user that they’re in the right place and have chosen the right company. Most importantly, they point your new customers directly to the features of your product that encourage product adoption and long-term use.
Reach out to your customers immediately after sign-up
Almost as important as where to direct your customer is when. Per Ros, “[The onboarding process] is when customers are most engaged with your brand, and welcome emails tend to be the highest engagement emails.” Once a customer signs up, you’re no longer attempting to create awareness or interest. They sign up for your product because they’re sold on its potential to provide results. A timely welcome email helps show your new users the best way to achieve their goals.
Engaging customers immediately after sign-up fosters better usage habits—habits that translate directly into better retention. According to Gallup, appropriately engaging B2B customers leads to 63% lower customer attrition rates. Lower attrition rates equate to higher revenue through customer longevity and increased upsell opportunities.
Friction at any point of the user experience is undesirable, but UX issues at sign-up significantly hinder product adoption rates. 73% of users rank UX as an important buying experience, so it’s important to guide users exactly where they need to go as soon as possible. Even if your UX is world-class, showing your customers the easiest way to get from point A to point B beats betting they find it themselves and losing the gamble.
Pay special attention to what your customer sees first
A first impression is hard to forget, so it’s important to make sure that lasting memory is a good one. Ros says that “having a meaningful subject line is super important. Subject lines are a great opportunity to show off tone of voice and how you relate to your customer.”
An attention-grabbing subject line is required to differentiate your welcome email from the 3,000 other messages a customer receives in a day. A few ways to elevate your subject line game include:
Personalize your welcome emails
Customers love customization. 90% of customers find personalized marketing at least somewhat appealing. Personalizing your subject line lessens the spammy, mass email feeling often associated with welcome emails. A practice as simple as including the customer’s name in the subject line can enhance a customer’s perception of your company and product.
Personalization emphasizes the unique nuances of each customer’s path to purchase. “I’m a strong believer that people shouldn’t consider buyer journeys as one-size-fits-all,” Ros asserts. You should greet customers acquired through social media platforms with subject lines crafted specifically to that channel for an extra personal touch.
Ros also points out that personalization shouldn’t be reserved just for your subject lines. The way your “from” email address displays can add an additional layer of warmth to the user experience. “Appcues Welcome Team” sounds more accessible than the “this is a mass email” vibe of “email@example.com.”
Maintain your company voice
You use your “official” company voice in every external marketing communication, so it would be jarring to deviate too far from the norm for your welcome email. If a prospect is guided to your product by authoritatively-voiced marketing assets, it would be jarring for them to be greeted in a whimsical manner.
Finding creative ways to package your welcome email subject lines within the constraints of your typical voice is often a precarious balancing act. Some companies overcompensate in the fight for attention by trying to sound too edgy, cutesy, or witty for their own good. “Re: your download of Product X 12/12/2021” makes you sound like an automaton, but “OMG fam, we’re so glad you’re here! 😍😍😍😍😍” is terrifying in its own right.
Use emojis—with tact
Speaking of emojis: if the characters fit your company’s style and tone, they can and should be used in your subject lines. A study found that 78% of respondents attribute emoji usage in business communications to the increased likeability of the person using them. That doesn’t give you free rein to annoy your new customers with subject lines bursting at the seams with “squinting face with tongue” and “beaming face with smiling eyes.” Instead:
- Remember that communication is generational. In the same way “having swag” gave way to “being lit,” certain emojis carry negative connotations with younger audiences. (RIP, “😂.”)
- Stick to one emoji per email. More than one gives off the same “being yelled at” impression as WRITING IN ALL CAPS. (Don’t do that, either.)
- Diversify your emojis. There are more than 3,500 Unicode emojis currently in use. Customizing your subject line with a lesser-used character can bring more attention to your welcome email as more companies come around to the emoji way of thinking.
Not sure how your particular customer base will respond to emojis? A/B testing your subject line options will provide you with results as to which variation performs best. The benefits of A/B testing extend beyond the subject line, as every facet of your welcome email can be A/B tested for ultimate optimization, including images, copy, and CTAs.
Include welcome emails as part of your broader product adoption efforts
Customers read welcome emails at a critical juncture in the overall product adoption process. After discovering, considering, and even trying your product, they’ve finally decided to give it a try. A well-crafted and timely welcome email serves as confirmation that they’ve made the right choice. They’re also one last chance for you to reiterate the promise of your product before your customers embark upon their user journey.
But welcome emails aren’t a brand-new innovation. Your new customers have likely seen dozens of such emails over the course of their lifetimes—perhaps even some for a product in the same market as your own. Ros puts it best: “You should be taking advantage of the ability to distinguish your product with a more sophisticated, tailored customer experience.” The weight of her advice is in what she doesn’t say: if you don’t deliver an outstanding new user experience, your competitors surely will.
Of course, the new user experience doesn’t start and end with the welcome email. Great welcome emails work best when paired with in-app messaging. In-app messages can serve as a failsafe in the event your customer doesn’t complete the CTA included in your email. If the strategic goal of your welcome email is to get your customer to complete their user profile, in-app modals can be used as a “follow-up” until the task has been successfully completed. Conversely, welcome emails can be used to reinforce the importance of completing a task outlined via in-app messaging. Your welcome email could reinforce the importance of filling out the user profile within the app by highlighting the benefits for doing so.
In case you couldn’t tell, here at Appcues, product adoption is a passion of ours. We’ve made it a mission to spread the good word on product adoption strategies. We’ve recently launched our Product Adoption Academy with courses for product managers and decision-makers looking to sharpen their product adoption skills. Take a look at our User Onboarding 101 course for more pointers to support your ongoing product adoption efforts.