Archive for June, 2010

'Welcome' written in the sand.My colleague Mark Robertson recently wrote a great blog post entitled ‘Hello and Welcome’ on some points to consider when conceiving a welcome programme. I wanted to follow on from what he’d talked about with some hints and tips of my own by providing you with a checklist for devising a successful welcome programme.

But before jumping straight in it’s important to get the overall objective of a welcome email strategy right. It can be helpful to think of a welcome email like a first date! You will probably spend time planning where to go, what to wear and what questions to ask on the date, all with the aim of making the best possible impression. Similarly with a welcome email you should make sure you get off to a good start, remembering that first impressions do count.

Once someone has signed up to your newsletter you need to make them feel valued, reassured and appreciated. If you only confirm a person’s subscription then you’re missing a trick. A welcome programme provides you with the perfect opportunity to engage new customers, drive sales and set the tone for your future relationship.

Welcome email checklist

1)    Say thank you

  • In subject line or in body of email
  • Retain customer loyalty and gain repeat business

2)    Reward your new customer:

  • Voucher welcoming them
  • Free shipping on first order

3)    Reassure, remind and reflect:

  • Confirm their account as it reassures your customer their registration was successful
  • Remind them why it was a good decision to do business with you
  • Every contact you have with your customers should reflect your brand and reinforce benefits

4)    Make yourself known

  • Ensure the recipient knows the welcome message is from you!
  • Include the company name in the sender field, subject line, or both

5)    Other things:

  • Include link back to your website
  • Include login details if applicable
  • Make your welcome message/subscription confirmation timely
  • Highlight key areas of your website

Welcome email exampIes

This site has a diverse range of welcome emails examples here. If you have any interesting welcome emails (good, bad or ugly) do send me a link via the comments box and I will endeavour to use them in a future blog post.

Welcome and Customer Warm-Up Programme Package

A well constructed welcome programme isn’t just simply a question of saying ‘hello’ it is a sequence of optimised messages to new subscribers and if you get it right you might reach date number two!

At eCircle we offer a Welcome and Customer Warm-Up Programme Package. This package aims to make the process of planning a customised welcome strategy and deploying it easier to handle. To find out more about what this package includes then call us on +44 (0)20 7618 4200 or contact us here

You may also be interested to know that we will be bringing out an extensive Email Welcome Study very soon, so be sure to watch this space!

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CRMI recently read an interesting article on how Apple’s iPad was changing the way we build business relationships and have conversations.

Don’t worry, this isn’t going to be another article talking about the iPad …there have been a few of those already and I already own that T-shirt.

I was intrigued by the logical progression in which it was said that this new piece of technology could open up the conversation with customers. It flowed something like this (with my own little tweaks)

New Technology = Superior user experience

Superior user experience = Easier consumption

Easier consumption = more consumption

More consumption = more chances to connect

More chances to connect = and do what?

Now there’s the $million question – we often forget that ultimately it’s not about the technology but about the customer, and what we do with that connection when we have it.

Even wikipedia’s definition for CRM now includes the phrase ‘Once simply a label for a category of software tools, today, it generally denotes a company-wide business strategy embracing all client-facing departments and even beyond’

Technology allows us to do many things bigger and faster but not always better – the better only comes together when we put the customer at the heart of what we do. What we do might include email marketing, it might be social, it might be old fashioned in-store activity but whatever we do, we have to ask ourselves ‘‘what’s in it for the customer?’’

I recently sat with a client where we reviewed the ‘point’ of one of their communications. The round table brought forward 5 different USPs that were related to business needs – not one of them put the customer’s needs at the forefront.

At this point I’m going to borrow from Joseph Jaffe’s book, ‘Flip the Funnel’ where he describes ways to turn technology to your advantage. I’ll borrow just 5:

1.    Technology should bring out the humanity in your company, not mask it – don’t pretend you’re something that you’re not. Ryanair are a no frills airline – the way they use their website and email programme reflect that.

2.    Adopt a multi channel approach to building relationships. The easier you make it for customers, the more they will engage – using email as a case in point, don’t let it work in isolation of all the other channels you use but rather use it to support or initiate those conversations you are having.

3.    Consider tiered systems for different segments – don’t talk to all your customers in the same way: is it really a surprise when your engagement levels drop because your newsletter is a ‘one for all’?. Segmentation doesn’t have to clever, in fact it’s often how unclever you are that really counts

4.    Automation is not always the answer. In email marketing the more you can automate towards ‘lights out marketing’ then the more efficient you can become. But your CRM strategy needs to have that human touch sometimes
And last but not least….

5.    Personalisation is the gift of technology, intimacy is the gift of humanity. Email is great..but don’t forget the bunch of flowers.

So whatever we do to instigate, facilitate or react to conversations (the whole point of technology) let’s not forget that the ‘C’ in CRM is for ‘Customer’…and not for ‘Computer’.

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Line of peopleMy colleague, Mark Robertson, just wrote an interesting blog on Welcome Email Programs. I thought I would add to this by discussing the very first point – growing that email list.

With that in mind, here’s my checklist of things to consider when growing an opt-in email list ….plus a few additional comments/opinions:

What are you looking to achieve – quality or quantity?

Put simply, is it double opt-in or single opt-in?

•    Double opt-in: As Mark suggests, best practice would be to take a double opt-in approach when capturing data. Anyone within the industry would have a hard time arguing against this, yet this isn’t the norm as it isn’t a legal requirement.
•    Single opt-in: The most common method used, yet all too often people are simply collecting with growth targets in mind and not really thinking about why? Write down the objective.

What are recipients opting-in for?

There are two quick wins here – point of sign-up and welcome program.

•    Sign-up: We hear people talk about ‘competing within the inbox arena’, so let subscribers know what they can expect to receive straight away (e.g. newsletters, promotional offers, both, …). I’ve seen examples of some retailers actually giving a click option to see an example newsletter (e.g. www.elc.co.uk/SignUp.php). No confusion here.

•    Welcome Program: A ‘triple-whammy’ here.  A chance to thank them for joining your email list, inform them about what they can expect to hear and, most importantly, your first opportunity to get a recipient engaged.

What to capture?

A few things to cover here. The reality is it might be an area to test – email only vs. full data capture. Things to consider would be:

•    Industry: B2B would differ from B2C (e.g., organisation vs. post code).

•    Types of Data: If you stick to the types of data that can be used for personalisation, I don’t think you can go too far wrong. If you’re not at that stage of your contact plan, then there’s no need to worry, collect that information by way of ongoing process (e.g., reintegration of click behaviour, preference centre/edit profile).

•    Type of Communication: If you perform other forms of marketing communication (e.g., mobile), capture that data BUT be sure to give them that preference as an option.

•    Frequency: I’ve heard it discussed that you should give a recipient a choice of how often they wish to hear from you? A good idea in theory, yet how would they know? That’s not to say it’s not a good idea, yet it might work better to have a preference page link within the email so this can be done after they gain a feeling for your contact frequency.

•    Sharing Data: The recipient has opted to receive newsletters from your brand. Make it absolutely clear if you intend to share their data with ‘trusted 3rd party partners’. If not, both brands will suffer, yours most.

Where else can I capture data?

Numerous places, write them all down and I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised:

•    Online: Both new and existing customers. If they have to sign up to receive these emails, make sure any unsubscribe process is still 1 or 2 clicks. I hate those ‘can’t remember password’ scenarios.

•    Offline: I bought my Godson a present from Baby Gap just the other day. As soon as I finished my transaction, the till assistant was tapping my email address into a hand-held device ….she looked terrified when I quizzed her as to where that was sending my email address?! No spelling or hand writing problems here for Baby Gap. Tim Watson wrote an interesting blog about How to grow email lists through offline touch points read more here.


•    Lead Generation Specialists: Oops, shameless eCircle plug time: www.ecircle.com/en/products-services/lead-generation-services

Generally, when reading a blog I tend to work to the 5 minute rule – any longer and it’s eating into something else I need to be getting done. So whilst this subject could warrant the breaking of this rule in its importance, I’m going to end with one comment. With email list growth requiring such a detailed thought process, do you know your list growth rate versus your rate of unsubscribe …? I’m often surprised as to how many don’t, worth a check I’d say.

Other related articles can be found below;




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waving handsI spend a significant part of my day opting-in to email newsletter programs. I do this partly because I work in email marketing and want to keep abreast of what clients/prospects are doing and partly because, as a frugally-minded consumer, I like receiving all the special offer emails in my inbox. As a result, I see loads of different welcome emails and programs. Some are excellent, some not so excellent.

This is a topic that had been addressed hundreds of times, including some excellent articles here email-marketing.mailinmanager.co.uk, stylecampaign.com and www.campaignmonitor.com. Despite the fact that this is widely regarded as intrinsic to any good email marketing strategy, I’m surprised how seldom companies get it right! More often than not, I’m sent a plain text email (sometimes not even straight away), telling me that I have subscribed to a company’s list, nothing about the company, what communications I should expect to receive and when I should expect to receive it.

Some basic things to consider when conceiving your welcome email program;

•    Double Opt-in: Minimum legal requirements aside, best practice always dictates that you ask individuals to confirm their subscription. Usually this is done by a simple link click.

•    Real-time: Send the confirmation/welcome emails straight away – an email hours/days/weeks after the initial point of subscription is pretty shabby.

•    Set Expectations: Tell people what to expect from you and when to expect it, don’t just send them a plain text email thanking them for subscribing and telling them that you’ll ‘be in touch soon’.

•    Don’t Miss an Opportunity: The point of subscription is be the ideal time to incentivise an individual to purchase/book, forward to a friend, share to social etc…test different HTML creatives (not simple text versions) to maximise the potential of the welcome email, whatever your goal.

•    Ask for Information: The initial point of subscription is also the ideal point in time to ask someone what they are interested in, how often they want to hear from you and when they want to receive your info. This is a good opportunity to drive them to an edit profile page or preference centre.

•    Consider the Drip-Feed Approach: The best welcome programs in my opinion are those with a tiered approach. Maybe one email to confirm subscription, a thank you email laced with interesting info and teasers of what is to come, a follow up email after a day/week and another email thereafter. The best programs are educational and set expectations, not simply sales messages. Another interesting approach is to split up articles or user information over this series of triggered emails, so the recipient engages with the info and looks out for their next message in their inbox.

•    Treat Fresh Subscribers Differently: If you have a good welcome program, keep them in a separate ‘pot’…let them receive the full lifecycle of your welcome emails before they start receiving newsletters/ad hoc campaigns.

A bit of thought, aligned with creative/technical work and testing can lead to the kind of initial contact strategy that will start the relationship as you mean to continue. Remember, you never get a second chance to make a first impression!

Other related articles can be found below;





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