Keys to Creating a Welcome Series with 5 Simple Questions – Part 1

Greg Zakowicz, Senior Commerce Marketing Analyst

Greg Zakowicz, Senior Commerce Marketing Analyst

Author Bio

Greg Zakowicz is a senior commerce marketing analyst at Bronto Software, a leading cloud-based commerce marketing automation platform provider and Oracle (NYSE: ORCL) company. 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 IRCE, eTail West, eTail Canada, Fashion Digital New York, SIA Snow Show and ROI Revolution Summit. He has been published by top retail and marketing publications, including Multichannel Merchant, ClickZ and Power Retail, and is a regular contributor to Bronto’s Commerce Marketing blog. Follow him on Twitter at @WhatsGregDoing.

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.
Welcome mat

By now you should know the importance of not only sending a welcome message to new subscribers but also why sending a complete series of messages that properly on-boards your brand can provide long-term benefits to your email program. Yet, for many marketers, designing this series of messages can feel overwhelming. Where do you start? What should the messaging be? Here I’ll provide a little cheat sheet to design your messaging by answering 5 simple questions. Buckle up, keep your arms and feet inside the car and let’s ride!

Question 1: What Are the Customer Benefits of Our Email Program?

Being able to clearly define why someone should subscribe to your email program is imperative for the long-term success of it.  Circle all that apply:

  • Exclusive discounts and promotions
  • Product updates
  • Sneak peeks at new products
  • How-to tips and tricks
  • Access to special contests/giveaways
  • Other _________________________

Question 2: What Are Our Competitive Differentiators?

You should be able to identify why someone should shop with you and not your competitor. If you can’t clearly define these, how will your potential customers identify them? Circle all that apply:

  • Free/Fast shipping
  • No hassle returns
  • Lowest price
  • Superior quality
  • Best selection
  • Online resources
  • Rewards programs/incentives
  • Other __________________________

Question 3: What Does Our Site Offer?

Does your website provide something unique? It is a website which requires a user to navigate it easily to be effective, like an auction website? The easier it is for people to navigate your site, the more “sticky” it will likely be. Circle all that apply:

  • How-to resources
  • Product builders
  • One-click reordering
  • Unique functionality (live support, message boards, etc.)
  • Wishlist functionality
  • Mobile version
  • Other _______________________

Question 4: What Subscriber Info Do We Want To Collect?

Irrelevant emails are one of the primary reasons people disengage from email programs. Collecting info that can help you be more targeted with your email is essential to keeping people engaged and purchasing throughout the year. Remember to only ask for information you will use to better market to them. Circle all that apply:

  • First/Last name
  • Birthday
  • State
  • City
  • Gender
  • Category/Product of interest
  • Other info ________________________
  • Yes, we collect this at signup
  • No, we don’t collect this at signup

Question 5: What Social Media Sites Do We Use?

Connecting with subscribers via different touchpoints can help reinforce your brand, grow your base and build loyalty. Knowing how your email program will interact with these social sites will be an important aspect of your email strategy. Circle all that your company uses:

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Instagram
  • Pinterest
  • LinkedIn
  • Google+
  • YouTube
  • Vine
  • MySpace (you know what, you better not circle this one!)
  • Company Blog
  • Other________________________

How to Use This Info

Look back at these five questions and the responses you’ve circled. These will serve as your guide for determining what some of the messages in your welcome series should be focused on. For instance, look at question 4. If you checked, “No, we don’t collect at signup,” it would make sense to send a manage preference email in your welcome series.

If you have none or very few of the options checked for any one of the questions, don’t worry. You can either combine the stand-alone checked item into another message, or simply skip that message theme altogether. Be natural, convey the benefit, but don’t force things into messages. If you are not sure it should be included, it probably shouldn’t be.

Looking at the five questions above, here is a potential welcome series:

  • Welcome Message – Welcome and key benefits of being a subscriber
  • Message 2 – Why shop with us (focus on product quality)
  • Message 3 – Website benefits (how to navigate, product builders and mobile version intro)
  • Message 4 – Social media invite (include why they should visit each site)
  • Message 5 – Manage preference email

Finally, with all messages in the series, be sure to focus on HOW the information in the message will benefit the subscriber! For instance, if you are asking people to visit your social networking sites, let them know why they should do so. What will the subscriber gain by doing so?

For more on creating a stellar welcome series, check out Part 2 of this post, where I describe ways you can make these messages even more robust and dynamic, as well as special considerations for scheduling your welcome series.