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Sending customers a welcome email message after they have registered on your site, or chosen to receive newsletters, is generally accepted as good practice.

But a recent survey found that 60% of firms weren't doing so, while many others were failing to respond promptly enough.

What should etailers be including in these welcome emails though? Here are ten tips...

Include your brand name in the subject line

Including your brand name in the subject line will ensure that customers will recognise the email in their inboxes and will be less likely to ignore it. Also, many email users look at the 'from' field before deciding whether to open emails so putting you brand name here will provide further reassurance.

Thank customers for signing up

Pretty obvious but essential...

Remind customers of login details

If customers have registered for your site and been given a username and password, then remind them of this in the email.

Many web users will have a number of different passwords for email accounts and more, so it can be hard to remember them all. You don't want to lose sales just because customers forget these details.

Confirm subscription and what this means

Confirm that have been added to the newsletter list or have successfully registered for your website. This is a good time to remind customers of the options they selected when signing up, as well as giving them the opportunity to alter any preferences.

Send a welcome email promptly

There's no reason why online retailers shouldn't be able to send a welcome email within minutes of signing up, but this should at least be done within 24 hours. Wait any longer and you run the risk of people forgetting that they have signed up, increasing the risk that they will simply ignore the message or unsubscribe when it does finally appear, as well as missing the opportunity to sell to an already interested consumer.

Offer HTML or plain text

Giving people the choice will avoid any problems if their email provider doesn't display HTML emails properly. What is important here is how the email displays in recipients' inboxes, so ensure that your email will be readable, especially if customers have images switched off.

For example, this email from Travelodge is still readable with working links, even though images are turned off:

However, this email from Jigsaw is unreadable without images:

Set expectations

This is the best time to explain to customers what they can expect from your company's emails in future. Listing the benefits will reinforce the decision they made in subscribing, while you can also explain how often they can expect to receive your emails, reducing the likelihood that they will tire of receiving too many.

Include a bonus for subscribing

Your recipient has already expressed an interest, so reward them with an offer - a discount on orders, free shipping etc - which will increase the chance of them buying from your site.

Unsubscribe options

Some customers may have changed their mind by the time they read your welcome email, so let them unsubscribe without any hassle if they want to. Making this difficult will increase the risk that recipients will mark your emails as spam, which can damage your sender reputation with ISPs.

Contain links to website

Recipients have already expressed an interest in your company and products by signing up in the first place, so why not give them an easy route back to your site by providing links to the homepage and other relevant sections.

Related research:
Email Marketing Briefing - March 2008
Email Marketing Industry Census 2008

Related articles:
Do ISPs need to change the 'report spam' button?
UK retailers failing to follow email best practice

Graham Charlton

Published 8 July, 2008 by Graham Charlton

Graham Charlton is the former Editor-in-Chief at Econsultancy. Follow him on Twitter or connect via Linkedin or Google+

2565 more posts from this author

Comments (5)


Cyanne Holt, Client Services at ICOM International Limited

Good Article. Easy to read, comprehend and assimilate immediately.

over 8 years ago

Dave Chaffey

Dave Chaffey, Digital Marketing Consultant, Trainer, Author and Speaker at SmartInsights.com

Great post Graham, but you're missing the 11th - Don't Just Send One

over 8 years ago

Dave Chaffey

Dave Chaffey, Digital Marketing Consultant, Trainer, Author and Speaker at SmartInsights.com

...Welcome email, instead develop a series to educate the customer about the brand, get them engaged, entertain them. For example, First Direct have a 6 month Welcome campaign. Clinique have a great welcome strategy taking through the benefits of Club Clinique.

Of course you don't want to overdo it, but most companies still seem to be using a single autoresponse.

over 8 years ago

Ian Tester

Ian Tester, Senior Product Manager at brightsolid online publishing

We get them a welcome email out immediately, whether it's a simple registration or a purchase. This is followed up over the first month with a couple of "Activation" emails, designed to ensure they can use the site effectively and with a concrete goal of reducing first month churn (on most sites, this is enormous - if you don't measure it already, start now).

We have a couple of other campaigns going on as well. "Reactivation" detects user inactivity and starts sending emails to attempt to re-engage them (the most effectiuve one is a simple u/n, p/w reminder). "Expiry" emails before subscriptions end introduces a loyalty scheme and resubscribe offer. And our "Winbacks" post-churn also more than pay for themselves. All of these camapigns have user surveying elements so we can qualitatively get insights into e.g happy, engaged registered users vs unhappy, disengaged purchasers.

Automate the lot, test as much as possible and keep optimising! Oh, and don't send your welcome emails (or any others) from your own backend unless it has reporting (and deliverability) at least as good as you would get from an ESP....

over 8 years ago

Dave Chaffey

Dave Chaffey, Digital Marketing Consultant, Trainer, Author and Speaker at SmartInsights.com

Great example of what works Ian - thanks! I will have to register...

over 8 years ago

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