My First Two Months at Return Path: Email Marketers Can Learn from the New Employee Experience (Part 1)

Recently, I was fortunate enough to join the Return Path family and couldn’t be more excited! Having been with my previous employer for several years, I had almost forgotten what it was like to join a new company. How do I meet people? How will I know if I am meeting the company’s expectations? Where do I sign up for my benefits? Then it occurred to me:  My new employee experience is much like that of a new email subscriber.

So, what can email marketers learn from the new employee experience? Just like a good company welcomes, develops, and benefits from hiring a new employee, how can you ensure that you are meeting the needs of your subscribers and eventually reaping all the benefits of adding them to your database? In my next two posts, I’ll look at what email marketers can learn from the new employee experience.

Setting Expectations
On my first day at Return Path, a customized training plan had been developed for me. I knew what to expect, where I was supposed to be, and what I was going to be doing for the next few weeks. With the expectations set, I could focus on getting up to speed and contributing as quickly as possible. The same goes for your new subscribers. To ensure a great subscriber experience and encourage engagement and response, it’s important your new subscribers know what to expect so they’re ready to start taking advantage of what your email program has to offer. Ask yourself these questions:

• Have you reviewed your sign up process recently? Is the messaging clear? Does the call to action match what is going to be delivered?  Are you collecting information you will actually use?
• Do your subscribers know the benefits of signing up? For example, will your messaging include discounts, early sale notifications, special previews, a chance to affect future product development or all of this?
• Do your subscribers know how many emails to expect? For example, will you be sending a monthly newsletter or several promotional emails a week?
• What does the email look like?  Are you providing subscribers with a link to an archive so they can see what they will be receiving?

A Good Old-Fashioned Welcome
When I arrived at Return Path, a hand written note from the CEO and some fun swag was waiting for me.  In addition, I was taken out to lunch several times over the next few weeks. Boy did I feel welcomed! The same goes for your subscribers – you need to make them feel welcome and thank them for choosing to join your program. Although it’s great to send a standalone welcome message, a well thought-out triggered welcome series is often more effective and can help lower the hurdle for engagement.

Just like I didn’t want to have breakfast, lunch and dinner all on the same day with my new co-workers, it is more effective to spread out the welcome series to prevent information overload. While too much of a welcome can be overwhelming, not enough of a welcome can fail to leverage the new subscriber’s (or employee’s) enthusiasm. After all, new subscribers are often the most active. I don’t know how often I’ve received a welcome message immediately and then not received the next message for a couple weeks. With a triggered welcome series, you can ensure that you have a planned cadence in the critical early days of the relationship and also provide content that will be most relevant to new subscribers (i.e. the ability to update preferences, a guide to navigating your website, a special offer, etc.).

Did Someone Say Happy Hour?
After working from home for the last six years, interacting with co-workers outside of IM, email, and the phone was almost foreign to me. But, as we all know, an office is a social place. I can find people to chat with in the cafeteria, at the espresso machine, in team meetings, and at happy hour.  Just like working from home alone, email on its own works. But, being social is much more fun (and effective).  Many marketers include “community” social media links in their emails, as well as other best practices for integrating these two complimentary channels. What are you doing to truly make your emails more social?

• Do you know the different characteristics (if any) of your email audience vs. your social audience and how this affects responses to your messaging?
• Do you give subscribers the opportunity to share an individual offer or an interesting article within your newsletter with their network?
• Do you know how to position the unique value of your email program within your social media sites?
• Do you make it easy for your fans and followers to sign up for your email program?
• Are you keeping a pulse on social media conversations to drive email content and product promotions or offerings?

So, the next time you think about your new subscribers, think about them as new employees. Take the time to show them all your email program has to offer.  You’ll be glad you did.

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