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How to Create an Effective Welcome Email Campaign for Your Online Community

Written by Julie Dietz on May 4, 2017 at 8:30 AM

One welcome email isn't enough. New online community members deserve an entire welcome email campaign.

The dreaded welcome email. We’ve all gotten it – whether it’s from a blog we subscribe to, a company we patronize, or a new social media group we’ve joined.

How many of those welcome emails can you remember now?

I couldn’t tell you about the content in a single welcome email I’ve ever received. Most people can’t. Why? There are two reasons. The first is that writing an effective welcome email is incredibly difficult. It’s daunting. You have to make the newbie feel welcome, informed, and provide actionable next steps. It also needs to be brief enough that people will read it in its entirety.

The second reason people don’t remember welcome emails is because a single email isn’t effective. It may get people to log in to your online community once, but it will do little for long-term engagement.

That’s why this article isn’t about how to write the perfect email or personal note. That’s just the beginning. There’s so much more to making someone feel welcome. It involves an entire welcome campaign.

What Is a Welcome Email Campaign?

A welcome email campaign is a series of emails that provides important information to someone new to your business. In the case of your online community, a welcome email campaign introduces new community members to important content, contact information, and community activities.

Welcome campaigns vary in length, but usually span several weeks or months, depending on how much information businesses need to share.

Why Does Your Online Community Need a Welcome Campaign?

When someone decides to join your online community, they’ve made the decision to become a more active part of your company. They want to get to know you, your products or member benefits, and their peers.

In such a situation, delivering one welcome email is like texting “hi” to a new acquaintance. It’s friendly, but it doesn’t make the most of your new connection. To strengthen your introduction and build a strong relationship you need more than one message.

Your Community’s First Welcome Campaign Email

Creating an entire welcome campaign can be even more daunting than writing a single email, so we suggest starting small, with that first message. We recommend the first email include:

  • A welcome note and sincere thank you for becoming part of the community
  • Ways to get in touch with the community manager and other important points of contact, such as technical support or customer service
  • Details about what members can expect from your communication and how they can customize it to their needs
  • Something that will pique their interest – ideas include information about upcoming events, a future product rollout, or anything else that will make them glad they joined
  • Next steps, such as personalized content suggestions, an action that leads to a valuable incentive, or a fun community activity for them to do

In the budding relationship between you and your new community member, the welcome email is your first date. Subsequent emails in the drip campaign will help you get to know one another better. It’s a professional courtship that ends in a loyal, dedicated, and profitable relationship.

For more detailed information on constructing a winning welcome email, check out this article.

4 Online Community Welcome Email Campaign Tips

As on any first few dates, make sure you put your best foot forward by showing an interest in your member as well as communicating honest, helpful things about your business. Here are four more tips for writing your welcome campaign’s emails.

1. Know Your Email Goals

At the very basic level, welcome messages should help new members get to know your organization. They should also incorporate strategic goals by leading members toward signing up for a newsletter or purchasing additional products.

Decide what your online community’s goals are before you craft your email campaign. Your goals will help you decide what actions you want new members to take. Structure your emails around those tasks. That makes your welcome emails more valuable to your organization while getting new members involved.

2. Time Email Sends and Create Content Deliberately

In an email drip campaign, you need to decide on an email send frequency that gives members the information they need without overwhelming them. Many businesses and associations send multiple emails the first week, then decrease their communication frequency. Decide on your send rate, then communicate that to community members so they know what to expect.

Stick to one topic per email and make its content scannable. If you have many topics you need to cover, go over them in separate emails during a longer campaign. Short emails are easier for members to get through. Simply open, scan, and click.

Expert Tip: While good content should ensure high email open rates because people are new and interested in ways to connect, you should also watch for a decrease in engagement. The last thing you want is email fatigue, so consider shortening your welcome campaign if open rates drop dramatically.

3. Add Gamification Aspects

If you use gamification in your online community, consider creating a badge for your welcome email series. Newbies can earn the badge by completing welcome tasks from your emails. That lets new members start off with a reward and some standing in the community. It also provides an incentive for new members to pay attention to your messages and start participating.

4. Make Content Trackable and Engaging

In addition to tracking opens, pay attention to what people click on and the pages they visit in your community. If new members open your emails and close them without further action, they may not find value in your content. If this happens repeatedly, it will likely lead to an open issue.

To avoid low engagement rates, don’t just blurt information at your new members. Create content that’s human, relatable, entertaining, and valuable. Then give members something to do. Completing even a simple action (and it should be simple, at least to start) will lower the barriers to completion, getting people invested in your online community through participation.

Online Community Welcome Campaign Takeaway

You need to build a strong relationship with every new community member. One email can’t accomplish such a lofty task.

Provide your new members with important information over time, personalizing content to revolve around what each member needs and wants to know. Help them set their communication preferences so that they are receiving communications at a frequency they find appealing.

If you connect with members in a way they enjoy, your content is more likely to be well received and you will build a strong basis for a great relationship.

Community Roundtable's 2017 State of Community Management Report

Topics: Communications, Online Community Management, Member Engagement

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