What, you don’t have a welcome series? Don’t panic: it’s easier than you think to create one. In fact, you just need to follow these three easy steps and you’ll have a welcome series that leaves your supporters asking for more.
Sidenote: Wondering what a welcome series is? It’s a series of emails automatically sent to new subscribers, donors, etc. over the course of time that educates them about your organization and encourages them to become more engaged and connected.
Let’s start with why you need a welcome series
Why a welcome series? Why now? Well, picture this: imagine you are at a social event and this really charming person introduces him or herself to you. Next imagine them asking for money. “Hi, I’m Jane Doe. I’d love $25.” Too soon right? Too blunt? Too in your face? Imagine that’s what your new subscribers feel like if they are thrown into your regular email flow. Your appeal email messages may not make sense to a brand new subscriber.
A welcome series gives you the opportunity to introduce yourself to your new subscriber; allows you to ease them into the regular flow of things; provides a special opportunity to talk right to these valuable newbies; and gives you a chance to learn more about them!
We love new subscribers.
Know why? Because they’re highly engaged, they want your content and statistically-speaking, they are more likely to open and click your emails. If you don’t have a welcome series, you miss a key engagement opportunity and the chance to make a powerful first impression! According to Emma, the average open rate for a welcome email series is 50%, making them 86% more effective than email newsletters. And get this: subscribers who receive a welcome email show 33% more long-term engagement than those who aren’t welcomed appropriately.
Convinced that you need a welcome series for your organization? Awesome! But where do you start? Luckily, you just need to follow these steps to create a welcome series that will keep your new supporters engaged.
Step 1. Decide the key messages for new subscribers
Start with what you need to say, and then determine how many emails it’ll take to say it.
If someone is new to your email list, what do they need to know about you? Here’s some thought starters:
- Thank them for their interest
- Tell them what to expect from your communication
- Give them whitelist instructions for increased deliverability of future emails
- Get to know the organization more deeply
- Stories of impact that your org has made
- Social engagement with Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and Instagram
Step 2. Begin with the end in mind
We suggest mapping out a six-month (yep, six months) email series. Don’t panic, the timeframe is up to you. A three message series is a great place to start! Based on what you’ve laid out, set aside time to create your emails. There are a lot of opportunities to repackage existing content and save some time. Food for thought:
- Make it friendly, make it personal (include their name), make it exciting!
- Include a thank you email from your Executive Director. This should be sent within 48 hours of a new member email sign up.
- Use pictures of your mission in action. Pictures speak 1,000 words, so share them!
- Educate the reader on low or no cost opportunities to engage. Invitations to events. Follow us on social media. Volunteer openings.
- Did you have a great response to a blog post or end of year campaign email? Repurpose great content—it’s already done for you!
Step 3. Automate it
Like your trusty crock pot…just set it and let it work its magic. But do experiment with timing. We often get asked about the best practices for message timing and there is no one size fits all answer. Automate the process by working with your email messaging system. Most email automation systems can be set up using groups, segmentation and filters to send an automatic email to any new people who join your email list at designated times. This automation will simplify the process of managing the series and new subscribers.
Set it…but don’t forget it. While you are monitoring performance metrics, it’s a great idea to update the automated welcome email once every six months or so. Keep the content fresh and relevant by including the most current information about your organization and its programs.
Already have a welcome series in place? Then be on the lookout for Welcome Series Part II and take it to the next level!