Improving reader engagement is one of the biggest keys to monetizing a publication. And if your email newsletters aren’t striking the write notes with your readers, you are leaving money on the table that might be the key to making your publication into a sustainable business.
We have written before about how important newsletters are to growing your audience and improving engagement, but we noted in our recent review of 100 local news sites that many small publishers are still not up to date on best practices used in email marketing.
The good news is that a lot of these are easy fixes with the right information and know-how, and we are here to give you exactly that.
And from our point of view, there is no quicker or more effective way to get more engagement than by adding a custom Welcome Email for your new free email subscribers.
What is a Welcome Email (and why your publication needs one)
It is probably self-explanatory but a welcome email is the first interaction that you have with a new subscriber to your email newsletter.
So for example, you have your subscribe form or widget on your website and someone puts in their email address and hits the “Subscribe” button. What is the first thing that appears in that new subscriber’s inbox?
If you are like 75% of the email newsletters that we reviewed, that new subscriber would get one of the following as a welcome:
- Nothing! The email address your new subscriber trusted you with feels like it fell into a black-hole…
- A double-opt in confirmation email from Mailchimp or whoever your email marketing provider is - and then the black-hole.
- Or a generic welcome email from Mailchimp that says you have been confirmed as a new subscriber on the list
In other words, 3 out of 4 of the publications with newsletters we reviewed are introducing themselves with nothing. Not only is having no welcome email a waste of an opportunity to engage with a reader who has just confirmed that they are interested in getting emails from you, but it is letting your reader down.
According to email marketing company Omnisend, 74% of email subscribers expect to receive a welcome message. So if you are not sending a welcome email, you are getting off on the wrong foot with your new subscribers right away.
Not only that, but Welcome Emails get nearly 3x the open rate of the average email newsletter. (52% vs. 18%) So if you aren’t sending a custom Welcome Email, you are missing out on the best chance you will ever have to directly reach your subscribers.
Additionally, Omnisend points out further benefits that Welcome Emails have such as increasing the credibility of your brand, providing an opportunity to tell your story, showing appreciation to your reader and giving an additional opportunity to sell them something.
How to write a great Newsletter Welcome Email
Clearly a Welcome Email has value and isn’t something that should be skipped over, but writing one as a publisher isn’t so straightforward. (and this is probably the reason that 75% of news sites we reviewed haven’t done it yet!)
For example, back to the Omnisend primer on Welcome Emails which is more aimed at eCommerce websites, they recommend these different types of welcome emails:
- Clear 1-2-3 steps to onboard customers
- Tell the story behind your brand or your key value proposition
- Offer a special deal or discount
- Highlight your product
These are all pretty salesy and not really so applicable to newsletter publishers, right?
Well not quite, with a little bit of re-imagining and re-mixing, these points actually make a recipe for a great free newsletter Welcome Email.
That’s what we did for you - and here’s what it looks like:
- Paragraph 1: Welcome, thanks for joining and what you’re getting - start by saying welcome and thank to your new subscribers. Let them know how often you send the free newsletter and what it covers. Also a good time to let them know how to keep your emails from going to their spam folder! (this is your 1-2-3 onboarding from the eCommerce welcome example)
- Paragraph 2: Who you are and why you exist - tell the backstory of the company behind your publication, when you started, how many people are working there, what your mission is. (this is your story, your brand and your key value proposition to the community)
- Paragraph 3: Highlight some of your best work - give links to some of the best stories you’ve written over the past year. This will not only get your new subscribers comfortable with your product offering, but it will also get them understanding how valuable you can be to them. (this is highlighting your product)
- Paragraph 4: Make an ask for a donation or subscription - after you’ve given all of your backstory and highlighted all of the valuable things you are giving your subscribers for free, now is a great time to make your first ask for a donation or subscription. (this is your special deal or discount)
With this structure, you should be able to crank out your own Welcome Email in less than an hour. Or you can check out our Email Blueprint that has ready-made templates that you can use as a starting point. And with how important Welcome Emails are, this could be the most valuable time you spend anywhere in your business.