A missed opportunity: Your nonprofit’s email welcome message

July 1, 2013

Does your organization offer an email newsletter?

Imagine a prospective supporter has learned about your organization, visited your website, and been intrigued enough to sign up for your organization’s bi-weekly enews. What comes next?

If you’ve set things up right, your new subscriber will receive a welcome email. Is this the kind of message they’ll receive?

Welcome to XYZ org. We are happy to have you as a member of our community. Your email address and interest preferences have been recorded in our database. In the future, you will receive periodic emails specific to your interests.

Privacy is important to us; therefore, we will not sell, rent, or give your name or address to anyone. At any point, you can select the link at the bottom of every email to unsubscribe.

Being the head of a small shop development and marketing department with a staff of one (or less) means that you need to seize every possible opportunity for relationship-building. And your organization’s welcome message provides the prime opportunity to systematize – and humanize – the relationship-building process.

If your welcome message is the standard-run-of-the-mill template suggested by your email service provider, think again.

Here’s why your organization’s welcome message is so important…

According to The Rebel’s Guide to Email Marketing by Jason Falls:

“The answer is simple: The welcome email tends to have a much higher open rate compared to other emails in a campaign. In fact, according to some analysis done by the Experian CheetahMail Strategic Services Group, “Welcome emails generate four times the total open rates and five times the click rates compared to other bulk promotions.”

If you consider that the overall email industry average open rate is somewhere around 20 percent, this figure is quite impressive.

A welcome email is a critical component of getting your email program off to a good start. It sets the stage — the tone — for the rest of the emails you will send. Not sending a welcome email equates to not thanking someone for a gift — it’s bad form, bad karma. More importantly, a welcome email can increase your business and help you better understand your new subscribers. (emphasis mine)

Your new subscriber has just taken the step of inviting you into their personal in-box. Don’t miss this heaven sent opportunity. Give them a warm and friendly welcome. And why not go one step further? Rather than a one-time welcome message, think outside the box and develop a three to five-part welcome kit auto-responder series.

Developing an autoresponder series, one that welcomes and inspires new signups to small requests, such as signing a petition, “liking” your organization on Facebook, or watching a video, leverages the principle of consistency.

Robert Cialdini, author of Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion, writes “That technique asks people to say ‘Yes’ to a small request, like signing a petition in helping prevent birth defects.  If you come back later and ask them to donate to a cause to help prevent birth defects, they are significantly more likely to do so than if you hadn’t asked them to make that small commitment first. There are other kinds of strategies as well that all involve this sequence of getting people to commit initially, then later asking for a request consistent with what was originally committed to.”

What should go into your nonprofit’s welcome message?  Download this guide, a bonus from my Nonprofit Newsletters | The Basics & More course for a template and sample welcome messages to inspire you.

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