According to the 2019 Blackbaud Luminate Online Benchmark, welcome series emails tend to outperform routine campaign emails. In 2019 welcome series emails boasted a solid 19.32% open rate (versus 15.56% for routine emails) and a 1.55% click rate (compared to 1.25% for routine emails). These numbers demonstrate the benefits of reaching out to people soon after they take an action in support of your organization.
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With a plan in place to engage your current supporters, you can turn your attention to building a strategy for stewarding the new and re-engaged donors who’ve found you. A welcome series does just that.
Keep these best practices in mind as you build out your welcome series:
• Decide on the key messages you’d like to express. Start with what you need to say, and determine how many emails this might take. If someone was new to your email list, what would they want to know about you? Maybe you send three emails over a month. Ensure that your message resonates with someone new to your organization by providing context behind your mission, like sharing your founding story or spotlighting an individual involved with you.
• Begin with a goal in mind. As you map out your series, what are your long range goals? Ensure that your content reflects these goals. Maybe you are trying to recruit new volunteers, grow your social media presence, increase your sustainers, or all of the above. Your words should inspire recipients to support these goals.
• Don’t reinvent the wheel. There’s no need to panic about starting from scratch, as a welcome series provides an opportunity to repackage some of your existing content. Maybe one of your previous email campaigns was a smashing success or you have a templated thank-you email from your executive director. Get creative with what you have and how you can keep using it to welcome new supporters.
• Be mindful of your message. If your welcome series recipients have also been added to your main email list, you’ll want to ensure that you are not sharing duplicate content between these two streams.
• Automate it. Once your content is identified and templated, rely on tools like email automation systems to automatically send your series to new subscribers.
By leveraging your existing content and automating your emails, you can save time while providing new subscribers a curated introduction to your work.
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Once you have developed your content, you might consider testing your welcome series. By conducting a split test, you can share two different versions of your email to see which performs better. Isolating one variable at a time, like an email header, preview text, subject line or more, you can begin to discern whether there are specific elements of your email that contribute to higher performance.
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In addition to testing, you may consider segmenting your welcome series. Segmentation is a process that distributes the constituents you want to communicate with into different groups, often based on distinct demographic or inclination indicators, which reflect a supporter’s unique background. Email segmentation can dramatically improve your response rates, increase the engagement of your recipients, lower unsubscribe rates, and prevent you from fatiguing your list. Whether you segment by donation amount, interaction type, or more, this allows for a more personalized approach to your welcome series.
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