You Had Me at Hello: The Art of Engaging Email Introductions

David Taitelbaum, Marketing Strategist

David Taitelbaum, Marketing Strategist

Author Bio

As the leader of West Coast strategy services for Oracle's Bronto Software, David Taitelbaum consults with brands on digital marketing strategy and customer engagement campaigns throughout North America and Asia. He has over 15 years of experience leading ecommerce organizations and developing successful marketing campaigns for companies of all sizes. Most recently, Taitelbaum oversaw global ecommerce operations for City of Sleep, including support, marketing and channel distribution. He is a regular contributor to Bronto’s Commerce Marketing blog. When he is not guiding Bronto’s clients to strategic marketing success, he is spending time at home with his lovely wife, raising their two children.

There’s no time like the introduction to put your best foot forward. Your first email to new subscribers is your chance to give them a taste of what to expect from your brand and to make sure they’re truly interested in receiving your emails. Building a large email database is every marketer’s dream, but if you’re not seeing high open and engagement rates from your welcome series when confirming new sign-ups, you might need to take a closer look at your opt-in process.

Here are four easy-to-implement strategies that could greatly improve the performance of your introductory messages.

STEP 1: Double Opt-In

The double opt-in confirmation isn’t used very often, but it typically results in much higher deliverability and open rates. It just makes sense to ensure that someone who signs up for your list confirms they do want to receive your messaging. There are two forms of double opt-in that work really well:

  1. Include a link in an email that the subscriber must click to confirm their interest in receiving your messages. If they do not click the link, they are not added to your email list.
  2. Provide a coupon code where the customer must opt in to your email marketing to receive the code. The coupon code is then delivered via email.

With the second option, you are forcing an engagement by promising a coupon code in exchange for an email address; however, you should always give your subscriber the opportunity to opt out of your email marketing. Traditionally, the welcome message has a higher opt-out rate than most email marketing, and this is fine. Some people will decide the email list doesn’t meet their needs, and you absolutely want them to unsubscribe rather than ignore your emails or worse – mark them as spam.

STEP 2: Whitelist Request

To prevent ending up in your subscribers’ spam folder, you should also provide guidelines on how to mark your emails as ones they would like to receive. As this Litmus screenshot demonstrates, the top five email clients are Apple, Gmail/Google, and Outlook. So at a bare minimum, you will want to provide directions on how to whitelist your emails for each of these platforms.

Email Client Market ShareSTEP 3: Ask About Their Preferences

When you require subscribers to click a link in your confirmation email as part of the double opt-in, the link should send them to a managed preference form. Offer options about what type of emails they are most interested in receiving, but make these selections optional. Subscribers will still be signed up to receive your standard promotional messaging even if they don’t click anything. Make sure any options they do select can be appended to their email address so you can segment the emails they receive based on their interests. It’s also a great idea to collect their birthdate with the offer of a special gift on their big day.

STEP 4: Add Subscribers to the Proper Segments

While collecting preferences is very important, it isn’t enough on its own. You must actually use the information your subscribers provide to send them messages that fit their stated preferences. If a customer only indicates they are interested in your sales, put them in the sales/discount segment. If they are interested in new products and in-store events, you should consider adding them to segments for each type of communication. Doing this allows you to really personalize the subject heading, which in turn, increases the open rate.

These strategies can not only help you grow your email list but also continue down the ever important path of collecting more personal info from your new subscribers so you can send them even more personalized emails. As the saying goes, you only get one chance to make a first impression. Make it count!