Keys to Creating a Dynamic Welcome Series – Part 2 September 3rd, 2013 Greg Zakowicz, Senior Commerce Marketing Analyst Greg Zakowicz, Senior Commerce Marketing Analyst Greg Zakowicz, Senior Commerce Marketing Analyst Author BioGreg Zakowicz is a senior commerce marketing analyst at Oracle + Bronto. With more than 10 years of experience in email, mobile and social media marketing, Zakowicz knows the retail industry and its challenges, staying on top of the latest trends by leveraging deep insight into the marketing spectrum. His subject matter expertise stems from his experience in providing commerce marketers — including numerous Internet Retailer Top 1000 clients — with in-depth analysis of their marketing programs, recommendations for improvement, best practice support and implementation guidance and execution. Zakowicz is a frequent webinar speaker and presenter at ecommerce events, such as Fashion Digital New York, SIA Snow Show and ROI Revolution Summit. He has been published by top retail and marketing publications, including Power Retail and Inside Retail, and is a regular contributor to Bronto’s Commerce Marketing blog. You can follow him on Twitter at @WhatsGregDoing. Read More About Greg Greg Zakowicz, Senior Commerce Marketing Analyst Last month, I wrote about how you can create a welcome series by answering 5 simple questions. Hopefully, during this past month, you have been busy creating your welcome series messages. In this post, I want to discuss some simple ways you can make your series even more dynamic and relevant, and other considerations you need to make when scheduling the series. Segmentation & Relevance In one of the five questions posed, I made reference to collecting segmentation data. By collecting this data at the point of signup, you can easily make a welcome series more relevant without changing the actual messaging. Let’s use gender as an example. If you sell gender specific products, you can easily use a gender specific hero image in the welcome email based on preference given. For those who do not provide the info, you can have an alternate version. Without changing the messaging, your email is immediately more relevant. Take this email from J. Crew. I received this message four days after signing up. This message promotes the J. Crew credit card, which is a great welcome series message theme. But for me, this message was completely irrelevant, and it left a sour taste in my mouth. If this message was sent to me with a picture of a man in something I might wear (like pajama pants a suit) it would reinforce the brand’s value to me. In this case, it did not. If gender doesn’t matter to your brand, choose something else that makes sense. There is always something. Maybe geographic area would work for your brand. Have specific product suggestions for cold weather states in the fall and winter, while others in warmer regions, like Florida, see different products. Again, you are not reinventing the message, just making minor tweaks based on subscriber data. Of course, messaging itself can change based on simple data. Let’s look at birthdates. In my previous post, I mentioned you can create a manage preference message to include in the series. But feel free to make it fresh. Have a field check that looks to see whether the birth date field is filled in. If it is, move on to the next message. If not, send an email inviting the subscriber to join your birthday program. This not only will help collect other segmentation information, but it also provides value to your email program. Here is an example of how a message like that could look. Timing of the Welcome Series How often should you send a welcome series message? The answer is, it depends. Traditional best practices will tell you to send at your normal send cadence. So if you send once per week, continue that cadence in order to set proper expectation. But not so fast! There has been a growing shift in the industry to speed up subscriber onboarding, and I agree with this for a variety of reasons. The first reason is that if you send weekly and have a four or five message series it may take three to four weeks to successfully onboard a new subscriber. This may be too long. You should be safe sending a message every third or fourth day. Of course, you should monitor your unsubscribe and complaint rates. If they are increased over promotional sends, begin to spread out the messages. I’ll get into another reason in just a moment, but remember that best practices are not set in stone. Best practices may be different for each customer or types of products sold. None of my clients who have accelerated their subscriber onboarding have experienced negative results by doing so. Other Considerations One consideration many companies often fail to make is to suppress subscribers who are receiving the welcome series from also receiving promotional messages. Now you see one more reason why speeding up the onboarding may be even more critical. If you go four weeks without sending a promotional message to a new subscriber, you may have wasted a golden opportunity to drive one, or multiple, conversions. The welcome series is the email version of dating. Each message is a date where you are building a relationship and trust. You want to use the series to build a relationship and woo your subscriber, not perform a hard sell like Ned Ryerson (aka Needle-nose Ned). So don’t be this guy, you’ll only turn people off. Am I right or am I right? Right, right?! By now, I hope you have your welcome messages drafted and can easily make some adjustments to the images (whether dynamic content or separate messages) to subtly make each email more relevant to your subscribers. By suppressing new subscribers from promotional sends, you are helping to build that brand loyalty that is so hard to come by in an Amazon world. And finally, by testing your send cadence, you will assure yourself the perfect onboarding message timing without sacrificing potential revenue from promotional messages. So go ahead and create a dynamic welcome series you’ll be proud of. But when you become “big time,” you better remember me because I’ll sure as heck-fire remember you!