5 Tips For Creating A New Subscriber Welcome Email

Wendy Hathaway
Wendy Hathaway

You’ve already overcome what many consider an major obstacle in nonprofit email marketing: getting someone to subscribe to your email list. But now the pressure is on to keep them engaged with your welcome email.

Just as you would if you met someone at a party or a fundraiser, think of the first email you send to a new subscriber as your chance to wow them, and share who you are, how your work impacts the world, and why they should care.

Here are five things to consider when crafting a welcome email to nurture your new subscribers.

1) Respond Quickly

How you create and send your email will depend on the technology platform you use, but you should send your welcome email within 24 hours, or you risk losing the relationship you’re just starting to build.

“You should send your welcome email within 24 hours, or you risk losing the relationship you’re just starting to build…” tweet this

Many email management systems allow you to set up an automated response for new subscribers. Take advantage of this feature and craft a short “thank you” that can be followed within a day or so by a more in-depth email targeted to recent subscribers.

If this is your strategy, it’s important to set aside time for this, and make it part of your daily or weekly communications routine so you don’t lose track of your new subscribers.

You may also be able to build and automate your entire welcome email that can be sent immediately. Just remember to update automated message regularly, so your welcome stays fresh and relevant.

2) Be Yourself

This is the first time your new subscriber will be hearing from you via email, so be crystal clear when writing your subject line (save clever wording for future communications) and choosing which email address you will send from.

Remind them they signed up to receive emails from your organization, and be sure to thank them for doing so.

3) Let Your Personality Shine

This welcome email is your best shot to not only take care of the formalities, but also to show your new subscriber who you are, and set the tone for future interactions.

Within the body of the email, be warm, welcoming and positive. Have a little fun where appropriate, and consider attributing the email to a single, real person within your organization to make it feel more personal, such as your director or a member of the board.

Of course, don’t forget to also set some expectations for what types of emails you plan to send, how often you’ll send them, and how to unsubscribe.

“Set some expectations for what types of emails you plan to send, how often you’ll send them, and how to unsubscribe…” tweet this

4) Inform And Engage Your New Reader

After the “hello, how are you?” and the “thank you for subscribing,” what else should you share?

You’ve got a lot of choices for your next email:

  • Share a concise “about us” statement — a high-level description of your organization
  • Take your elevator pitch and turn it into a photo gallery (keep it to 2-3 low-resolution images)
  • Include a short story about projects you’re currently involved with and working on, or long-term campaigns you’re excited about (especially timely at the beginning of a calendar year)
  • Mention one or two recent successes, and emphasize how donor support made that possible. Be short and specific.
  • Include a small infographic or bold numbers that make it easier to understand the work you’re doing
  • Introduce someone who’s been helped by your work.
  • Photos can amp up emotional appeal. Consider a snapshot of a volunteer or client with a short, one-sentence caption, or share a candid from a recent fundraising event.

You may also want to include a few housekeeping items. Consider explaining whitelisting and instructions to help your subscriber add you to their “safe sender” list to ensure the message arrives in their inbox, instead of ending up trapped in their spam filter.

Many companies create a quick tech guide on their website explaining how to do this for each of the major email providers, and link to it from all email campaigns.

You must also have a link to unsubscribe, in case they’ve changed their mind (though hopefully, all the great content you’ll include above will convince them to stick around). Most email management systems automatically supply this option, but you should verify it is available to your readers. This has been the law for over a decade now, and you must honor opt-out requests within 10 days.

5) Supply A Call To Action

The welcome email is a great place to suggest other ways your new subscriber can connect with you, especially on your social media accounts. You could also invite them to upcoming events or share a link to your web content.

“The welcome email is a great place to suggest other ways your new subscriber can connect with you…” tweet this

This is not, however, the time to start asking for major gifts. Be subtle. The time for direct action will come later.

Now that you’ve properly welcomed (and thanked) your new subscriber, it’s important to keep them in-the-know by looping them in on future email campaigns.

Bonus Tips

Don’t forget the four things you need to include in every email you send — to a first-time subscriber, or a long-time supporter:

  1. A compelling subject line: in this case, something clearly identifies you, and why you’re emailing; as well as something that feels warm and welcoming.
  2. A clear “from” address: you can stick with your organization’s main contact address, or create one specific to your campaign. You could also supply a staff member or volunteer’s email address (with their permission, of course), to add a personal feel. Just make sure it’s a real address connected with your nonprofit to avoid spam filters and the dreaded automatic delete.
  3. Preview or preheader text: you might only have a few short lines to capture someone’s attention in the, especially on mobile devices. (The preheader is a preview of your email, and usually comes directly after the subject line). Take advantage of this space and always add a short and compelling summary.
  4. Impact story: show, don’t just tell. Illustrate the work you do by sharing a story about some recent successes or the difference your work has made on an individual or a small group.
  5. Give them something to read, do, or click: include links to recent blog posts, your annual report, or your Facebook page — anything that will further engagement and continue to grow your relationship.

Check out our free ebook, The Complete Guide To Email Marketing For Nonprofits for ideas on planning your next email communications strategy.

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