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The welcome letter is an underutilized but essential part of any e-mail marketing program. The welcome letter cannot only improve sales and brand loyalty, it can also be an invaluable tool for improving e-mail deliverability, increasing your ROI long after it is delivered.

The welcome letter is more than just a hello from you to a new subscriber. It is a unique opportunity that every marketer should take advantage of. The subscriber has just come from your website, and has either purchased a product or signed up to receive further information. The goal of your welcome letter should not be to overtly market to your new subscriber, but rather to form a good first impression – to give them that warm fuzzy feeling that by giving you their e-mail address, they’ve made a good decision.

The welcome letter is generally an automated e-mail that is triggered when a subscriber signs up on your website, requesting your newsletter or further information. It is critical your welcome letter is sent as soon as possible after the subscriber signs up on your website – no more than 24 hours should pass. The welcome letter further cements your brand name into their consciousness. Remember, you have an engaged audience and their interest level fades with every hour that goes by after signing up. The sooner you can re-engage that subscriber, the more likely they are to open your message and click on the links within.

You’re establishing brand loyalty and increasing the likelihood that they will purchase products from you in the future.

From an e-mail deliverability perspective, welcome letters will allow you to establish a positive reputation with the ISPs because people are more likely to respond to an e-mail they receive right after they’ve engaged with your website. These e-mails generally elicit higher open rates and clicks, especially when sent immediately upon submission of an e-mail address because they’re seen during a time when consumer interest in your brand is high.

In general, welcome e-mails have an average open rate of 50 percent to 60 percent, nearly three times the average regular industry open rate.

ISPs respond positively to high engagement levels and this is the first and easiest way to establish and help maintain a good deliverability reputation.

A good welcome letter or series should:

• Continue to build upon the relationship between the subscriber and the brand.

• Make the subscriber feel good about your brand, products and/or services.

• Educate the subscriber about your brand and the key benefits of subscribing.

• Provide a good reason to link back your website.

• Establish and solidify your deliverability reputation through higher open rates and clicks that a welcome letter provides versus traditional marketing messages.

Start your welcome letter by welcoming the new subscriber and thanking them. Let them know their action to join your list was successful and greatly appreciated. Let them know there’s a value to being a new member, but also let them know that they can unsubscribe at any time.

It is very important to include an unsubscribe link not only at the bottom of your e-mail for CAN-SPAM compliance purposes, but also in a prominent location toward the top of your e-mail. This will improve your overall e-mail deliverability in the long run. You want them to have the opportunity to unsubscribe easily so that if for some reason that they did not want to receive this message they will not be tempted to click on the “This is spam” button.

This is also an opportunity for you to help them positively impact your future e-mail deliverability by asking them to add your “From Address” to their address book. This one step can help prevent future messages from going into the bulk or junk mail folder. But be sure you always use the same “from address” in all your mailings, otherwise this action will have no effect. You may want to even include a link to instructions on how to add your e-mail to their address book. There are free websites where you can generate white-listing instructions via a wizard that inserts your company’s information. The results can be added to your website so that you can provide a link that will give detailed instructions for each ISP or you can setup a responder to email it to a subscriber upon request.

If it was based on a product purchase, the welcome letter can also include information about their purchase. It can include a special incentive or discount for them on a product that is similar to the one that they purchased.

Including an incentive like this can be an easy way to get the new subscriber to engage with your e-mail. A positive reputation with an ISP is established when your subscribers engage in your e-mails, clicking on the links within.

From an e-mail deliverability standpoint, those opens and clicks are invaluable in establishing a positive deliverability reputation with the ISPs. Anyone who subscribes has taken a moment of his or her time to do so.

Reward them for their time or at the very least say thank you – it means a lot.

Here are a few tips on how to write effective welcome letters:

• Be sure to include your company name and the word “Welcome” in the subject line. It’s best to have a subject line that’s easy to read, short and understood at a glance.

• Use the words “welcome” and “thank you” in the body of the e-mail. Remember this is your chance to make a good first impression. Go beyond the technical aspect of the welcome letter that tells the subscriber that the registration process was successful, and let them know that you appreciate their time and their interest.

• Include links to your website. While you don’t want your welcome letter to be to overly marketing-oriented, do include a few representative parts of your website and brand and include links to these pages in your welcome letter.

• Personalize your welcome letter with information about your subscriber. Your subscriber may have some interest in your company and product, but mainly what they’re interested in is what you can do to for them. Remember that their favorite radio station is WII FM: “What’s In It For Me?” Focus on that when you’re talking about your products.

• Don’t forget an unsubscribe link. As mentioned before, it is critical from a CAN-SPAM perspective to have an unsubscribe link in your e-mail communications. Some marketers feel that it is not necessary in a welcome letter since they just signed up, or that it will provide an incentive to unsubscribe early. But you should always give your reader the option of unsubscribing if they want to. It shows respect for them, and that by providing it you’re not trying to hide anything or prevent them from unsubscribing.

• Include your branding. Be sure your welcome letter has the same look and feel as your website. This helps them immediately recognize that this welcome letter is coming from you and your brand, and it allows them to feel connected and comfortable with what they’ve already seen.

• Set expectations for future communication. Let them know why they are receiving your messages, how often they’re going to be sent e-mails in the future, and from whom exactly they will be receiving them. These details help you build a relationship that goes a long way. Establishing these expectations upfront avoids surprises later on – surprises that could make your subscriber want to either unsubscribe or mark your message as spam. Adding a preference center takes this one step further and allows the subscriber to adjust the frequency and type of e-mails they want to receive.

• A good perspective to have when creating your welcome letter is to think of how you feel when you walk into a store for the first time. You appreciate it when you’re greeted warmly and offered assistance. Since you are new to the store, you appreciate the salesperson showing you around a bit and answering your questions. But then a good sales person will back off and let you experience the store and shop on your own. Your welcome letter should do much the same thing.

Test, test, test

Continuously test to see how new subscribers will respond to different versions of your welcome letter. Test with and without incentives and offers. Including a preference center during the initial signup process or a link to a preference center in the welcome e-mail gives you a chance to learn more about subscribers and send them custom offers in the future. Test different versions using the information gleaned from this additional subscriber information.

Article by John Bollinger. DRH Internet, experts of e-mail deliverability and e-mail sending software, provide the GreenArrow product suite which includes GreenArrow Monitor, an e-mail deliverability monitoring product that helps maximize the insight into transactional and marketing emails reaching the inbox. Visit GreenArrow by DRH Internet at: or call them today toll-free at 1-866-374-4678.

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