If you’re a marketer, you’ve probably heard the common dating analogy about asking your prospects to marry you on the first date. While this is most commonly heard in B2B and markets with longer sales cycles, the basic principle holds true for consumer marketing. In the competitive world of email marketing and a tight economy, forging a long-term relationship with your subscribers is more crucial than ever.  Think of your welcome message as a first date -- are you creating a good first impression that leaves them wanting more, or are you the blind date from hell?

Here are four tenets of a good welcome message, including great and not-so-great examples:

1. Tell Me About Yourself.

Let your recipients know what they will receive from you, and how often.  Sherman’s Travel does it well, though they could use more links to get me clicking through to their site. 

Which leads me to…

2. Pique My Interest.

Provide links to get people clicking, shopping and engaging with your site immediately.  Williams-Sonoma does a great job of this; The Children’s Place does not.

3. Bring Flowers.

Everyone likes to feel special, right? Gifts and incentives are a great way to engage your contacts and drive them back to your site. Gap.com offers $15 off your next purchase (plus the option to customize my offers to my interests), other sites offer free shipping, a whitepaper, or a small token gift.

4. Looks Are Important (harsh but true).

As with any message, design with both images on and images off in mind.  This J.Crew welcome misses the mark completely with images off, not to mention the lack of info on what I will be receiving and when…and the fact that the From Name is a suspicious looking “ContactUs.”  With images on (see both part 1 and part 2 below

– talk about a waste of white space), they do include links to shop, but if I’m a first-time recipient, I’m not likely to enable images so these calls-to-action are lost.

Feel free to share your own good, bad and ugly first date experiences in the comment section below.

Julie Waite
Account Manager at Bronto