So, here I describe the architecture and elements you don’t want to miss for your email welcome program.
At the Lyris conference, James Meers from the British Museum did a great job of laying out the six steps of an email program. I’ll borrow some of his structure and also add a bit of my own elaboration and clarification based upon FulcrumTech’s experience with our many clients over the years.
Step 1: Website Email Signup Form
Where should the form be?
How should it be presented? (Should it be a pop-up box that blocks the entire home page of your site, for example, requiring the visitor either to complete or close the box?)
Where should it go if it’s on the home page? The top, side, bottom?
Should there be an incentive for signing up?
What information do you request in the sign-up form?
What may appear to be very basic decisions are actually not so straightforward. How do you decide?
My general recommendation is to do what you believe makes the most sense given your goals, your audience, and how badly you want to get sign-ups. All of these choices will impact how many sign-ups you get, as well as the quality of those you get. Whatever sign-up box strategies you decide to start with, though, immediately begin implementing testing. For example, start modifying variables relating to your sign-up box (size, location, color, prominence of, etc.), and then conduct statistically valid tests to determine which delivers the best results for your situation. It’s amazing how many people fly blind when it comes to this critical element of an email program.
I’ll finish this topic with one interesting point. For those companies that had deep, heart-wrenching, internal discussions about whether to use a pop-up sign-up box on the home page, a strong executive often dictated their decision. The executive would simply say, “Just do it!” Those who did, appear to be ecstatic about the results achieved…interesting. Sometimes we have to put our own emotions aside and try what may not be so comfortable.
Step 2: Thank-you Page
1.Include instructions to check their inbox for a confirmation email.
2.Ask subscribers to white-list your sending email address. They just signed up, so they’re in the best mindset to do what it takes to make sure they get your emails.
The above recommendation assumes double opt-in, which will typically result in fewer names but a higher quality list compared to single opt-in. By requiring subscribers to confirm their email addresses, you’re making sure that they really want to give you permission to email to them. Plus, their confirmation lets you know that the email got delivered. The issue of single versus double opt-in is the subject for another article.
Step 3: Confirmation Email
If the new subscriber doesn’t click to confirm within a day, be sure to set up a trigger email to resend the confirmation email. And when you do, try a text-only version instead in case the HTML email got spammed or junked. Sending a text version may improve your chances that it gets through to the recipient.
In reality, we have seen that you may lose between 10% and 15% of those who sign up by requiring a double opt-in process, but in the end, your list will likely be of much higher quality.
Step 4: Preference Center
Once new subscribers have confirmed their interest in receiving your emails, take them to your preference center. Here you can collect any of a number of additional interests. Below are a few ideas:
Email frequency (determine how much is too much email)
Demographics that will help you improve the relevance of your emails
Additional newsletters the subscriber may want to sign up for
Other information they want to get from you (people who’ve just expressed interest in your company might also be interested in special promotional offers).
Step 5: Thank-you Page
Step 6: Welcome Email
Step 7: Dont Forget the Analytics!
FulcrumTech is a Platinum Agency Partner of Lyris, which is an enterprise-class email service provider. Clients sometimes struggle with implementing any of a number of the aspects described in our welcome program recommendations. If you need help, contact FulcrumTech for assistance or to gain affordable access to LyrisHQ, which can integrate your email and Web site analytics and so much more.
FulcrumTech is an online marketing agency focused on email marketing services (e-newsletter services & promotional email campaigns), search engine marketing & website design. Specialties include analytics & conversion optimization to increase engagement & ROI.