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Ken Magill

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Welcome-Email Engagement Highly Predictive: Return Path

2/24/15
 
By Ken Magill
 
Whether or not new subscribers read welcome emails is highly predictive of how engaged they’ll be with the sender’s subsequent messages, according to a white paper on a study released today by email security and intelligence firm Return Path.
 
[Full disclosure: I had a hand in writing the white paper]
 
What is more, offering discounts in welcome email subject lines has no discernable effect on new subscriber engagement, according to Return Path.
 
From Internet Retailer’s top 100 list, Return Path identified 75 that send welcome messages.
 
“Once the initial welcome message has been read, read rates of subsequent messages drop dramatically,” Return Path reported. “However, they still level off at significantly higher read rates than those who did not read a brand’s welcome messages.
 
“In fact, those who read welcome emails tended to hover around a 50-percent read rate in the 180-day period covered this study,” Return Path reported.
 
“Those who don’t read the welcome message started with low read rates and stayed there.”
 
Of the 75 brands that sent welcome messages, 29 offered discounts in their subject lines, according to Return Path.
 
“The mention of unspecified discounts and naming specific discounts in welcome email subject lines generally had no discernable effects on inbox-placement rates or subscriber engagement with them,” Return Path reported.
 
Not surprisingly, highly engaged subscribers spend more than subscribers with low engagement, according to Return Path.
 
“Highly engaged subscribers spent an average of $2,723 during the study period compared to $1,731 for moderately engaged subscribers and $1,114 for subscribers with low engagement,” Return Path reported.
 
“Highly engaged subscribers gave their business to more merchants during the study period, shopping at an average 7.8 brands. This is compared to an average 5.6 brands for moderately engaged subscribers and an average of 3.7 brands for subscribers with low engagement,” Return Path reported.
 
Some conclusions: Just because a new subscriber is unengaged doesn’t mean they have no value, according to Return Path.
 
“If you offer discounts in your welcome messages, consider de-emphasizing them or eliminating them altogether. Discounts have no discernable positive effects on subscriber engagement and may even train new subscribers to wait for percent-off sales in their email to buy,” Return Path recommended.
 
“Whatever you do, don’t set your welcome emails on autopilot and walk away. Test. Welcome emails are arguably the most important messages your subscribers will get from you in the lifetime of your relationship.”
 
The white paper also covers a bunch of other interesting stuff. Read the whole thing here.
 
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