The importance of subject line and content in ‘welcome emails’

by Stratton Craig

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‘Welcome emails’ – when written well – are by far one of the most successful ways for brands to engage with clients online. Tagging an email as a ‘Welcome’ letter instead of a regular newsletter will mean consumers are less likely to identify the email as spam, resulting in a higher number of opens and thus conversions. Naturally, the main aims for a ‘welcome email’ are to thank the customer for joining up, capture more customer data and entice them to purchase more. However, there are ways to make certain that once a letter is received, it can reach its full potential without being regarded as simply another marketing tactic and placed in the ‘Spam’ folder.
The subject line is widely considered to be the most important part of the entire message. Being able to create a subject line that is welcoming, alluring and not just informational requires real skill. In a few words, the subject line must grab readers’ attention and entice them into opening the email.
When competing with an inbox full of automatic daily emails, it can be difficult to stand out from the rest. Email provider MailChimp identified a number of key phrases to avoid using in a subject line, after analysing over 200 million emails. eConsultancy stated that using the words ‘help’, ‘reminder’ and the symbol ‘%’ have a negative effect on email open rates, while subject lines posed as questions often perform much better. In another experiment, MailChimp found that concise, straightforward subject lines also were favoured much more than creative versions. Creative subject lines could be perceived as vague, while a no-nonsense subject line seemingly holds more integrity.
eConsultancy noticed that personally-tailored subject lines are also another way to ensure your emails get opened. Including the recipient’s name in the subject line did not have an effect on the read rate, yet petition group Credo Action found that personalising the sender’s tone resulted in a huge increase in signed petitions. The subject line ‘I just signed this – will you?’ is a prime example of Credo Action’s effective technique to win over readers, and in one example they found a 90% increase in signed petitions. Although this approach may not work as well when used in conjunction with something other than a petition, it shows that the tone of the subject line is often very important.
Once the recipient has opened the email, it’s important to keep the reader’s interest. Addressing them by name prompts a positive feeling, as does being courteous – thanking them in advance for signing up to a newsletter, for example. Tailoring the email to include details of how the recipient signed up also has a positive effect, for example after online purchasing or at a specific event. The content of the ‘welcome email’ should set out to explain what future communications there will be, and include a concise, polite message.
It’s apparent, even without the studies and research, that carefully-selected wording in single emails can give consumers a strong implication of a brand. Even automatic emails must be interesting enough to properly engage shoppers, in order to compete with the variety of other messages a consumer receives daily.

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