Lesson from the Ecommerce Study: Getting The Second Date

Margaret Farmakis
By Margaret Farmakis
Senior Director, Response Consulting

The relationships that email marketers strive to build with their customers and prospects follow many of the same practices that exist for nurturing and growing personal relationships. When those practices are ignored or taken for granted, the relationships rarely flourish and often fizzle out quickly.

For example, when it comes to finding a mate, no one expects to get married without having a first date. When it comes to email marketing, welcome messages are just like a first date. They set expectations about what’s to come, give the subscriber a chance to evaluate the email program’s potential benefits, and provide the subscriber with enough information and incentive to take the desired next step (in the case of email that’s open, click or purchase).

A successful first date will always lead to a second date, and an optimized welcome message will increase the likelihood that a subscriber will interact with future messaging and prime the subscriber to become active and engaged over the long-term.

And yet, many marketers still don’t give the welcome message the respect it deserves. This was evident in a recent study we conducted of the email experiences created by online retailers: “Increasing Revenues by Optimizing Emailing Practices with Online Buyers.” You can download it now.

We bought merchandise from 45 retailers to see what type of emails they would send to us as buyers. Then we also signed up for the same retailer email programs using different email addresses and not making a purchase. This allowed us to compare the email experiences being created for buyers with those being created for prospects/inquiries. When it came to starting off the experience with a welcome message, we found that 40% of marketers who sent welcome messages to new inquiry subscribers (those that hadn’t made a purchase) did not send one to new buyers, apparently assuming that this step was unnecessary because the buyers had already made a purchase.

Making assumptions about your subscribers’ level of engagement with your brand and your email program can be just as ineffective as making assumptions about the person sitting across from you on your first date. The phrase, “He’s just not that into you” was coined for a reason after all. In other words, don’t assume that just because a subscriber has made a purchase means you can skip the welcome message step and start inundating their inbox with promotional messages about your products and services.

Use the welcome message to introduce them to your email program. Even better, customize the welcome message to recognize their recent purchase, letting the buyer know you value them as a subscriber and a customer. Include important information about your email program: what content and offers will you send? How often will the emails arrive? How can subscribers opt-out? What exclusive benefits does the email program offer? Include links to your site navigation in the welcome message, along with clear calls to action. Incentivize these buyers to make another purchase by including a discount or free shipping offer.

This first touch point is key to priming the subscriber (in this case already a buyer) to make an additional purchase and to anticipate your next email into their inbox. Much like dating, the email relationship should be mutually beneficial, and first impressions often determine future outcomes. Need help optimizing your welcome message? Contact Professional Services today.

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