Membership

The Art of the Welcome Email

By / Oct 9, 2018 (tolgart/iStock/Getty Images Plus)

When a new member joins your organization, don’t miss the opportunity to strike the tone with the right message from the get-go. Four tactics can help your welcome emails generate high open and click-through rates.

When was the last time you updated your welcome email to new members? If it’s been a while, you might want to revisit your template soon.

Email welcome messages matter a lot. A recent study from GetResponse analyzed more than 2 billion emails sent in 2018 and found that welcome messages have some of the highest open and click-through rates of all email categories—on average, a 91 percent open rate and a 27 percent click-through rate. That’s impressive considering that the average email has a 25 percent open rate and 4 percent click-through rate.

“Welcome emails statistically skyrocket over business-as-usual messages,” says Amy Gitchell, a marketing and communications specialist with GrowthZone, an association management software and systems group.

In marketing parlance, an email welcoming a new member is a type of “trigger email,” a message that’s generated based on a meaningful action by a customer, such as joining an organization, Gitchell says. It often kicks off an email automation campaign, designed to deliver a series of messages over the course of several days, weeks, or months.

But Gitchell says it’s that first email that likely matters most, because sooner or later email fatigue inevitably kicks in. Associations “have to continually remind themselves that this is their chance at a first impression and [their new member’s first] exposure to the voice of their organization,” she says. “It’s the most critical email of them all.”

Gitchell suggests constantly tweaking your welcome message and evaluating how it resonates with new members. She recommends four tactics:

Answer your member’s next question. Step one for any welcome message is to reinforce the member’s decision to join. Your message should obviously hit on member value and the organization’s mission and legacy, but don’t come across as bragging too much, Gitchell warns. One good example: The Society for Vascular Ultrasound follows a golden rule that “there’s no ‘I’ in member” to help reduce the self-serving tone that results when you use too many “I” or “we” statements.

Instead of organization-focused messaging, Gitchell suggests posing a question to the new member in the subject line—something as simple as “Thanks for joining. Now, what’s next?” “Keep it simple with one call to action,” she says.

Use an email address that’s recognizable and real. Does your welcome message come from a generic email address? Marketing automation and other email tools can make the welcome note appear less real. “Associations have to present themselves as human,” Gitchell says. That means “using a recognizable sender name and email address and making sure you’re not using a no-reply email.”

At a minimum, A/B test subject lines. This tried-and-true marketing tactic should always be applied in new member communications. “It’s important because you’re fighting for attention and trying to cut through all the noise in the inbox,” Gitchell says. She suggests testing at least two different subject lines to see which results in higher open rates.

Leverage personalization. Addressing a message specifically to the recipient either in the subject line or in the body of the message increases the odds that he or she will open and click on it, Gitchell says. “It will help to reinforce the member’s personal decision to join and let the individual know that you’re planning to work for them,” she notes.

What tactics do you use to make sure your new members don’t miss your welcome messages? Have you made any changes to more effectively get their attention? Post your comments below.

Tim Ebner

Tim Ebner is a senior editor for Associations Now. He covers membership, leadership, and governance issues. Email him with story ideas or news tips. More »

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