The beginning of any relationship is where you have a chance to make a lasting first impression… either positive or negative.  And email marketing is no different.
screen_shot_2013-02-05_at_2-50-54_pmUsually the sign up process is where you get to make that first impression.  I thought it would be helpful today to go through those steps, one by one, and show you how to really connect with your new subscribers.

Recently I was teaching an email marketing class and we selected some random examples of real-life sign up processes.  It was obvious more was needed in over 60% of the samples.  The good news is, it’s not hard to do, the better news is, you can get a head start over your competitors by following these steps.

1.  The Offer

The offer is very simply the place where you ask for an email address.  It can be located anywhere but the single biggest mistake I see is not setting the expectation early.  Is there one sentence that says what you’re going to get?  e.g.  Get our weekly newsletter loaded with hints and tips on how to fish for bass.  There’s lots of way to write that offer but it has to be more than “Newsletter” which is what I often see.

Of course I would be remiss if I didn’t say “Don’t use a Submit button!”  Use some stronger call-to-action button like.  ‘Sign Me Up!”

Bonus points if you offer an incentive just for signing up.  Offer a free report, guide, or coupon right there.  Think of some inducement that gives a stronger reason to join.  Just keep it short if you can.

2.  The Thank You Page

As soon as you hit the “Sign Me Up!” button the next step is the first chance to show your stuff.  The best practice is to redirect your new subscriber to a new page (we’ll call it the thank you page) vs posting an in-page notice that says “You are subscribed!”

The value of this new page is you can do a few things. One, if you offered an incentive, you can deliver it right here and your new subscriber is grateful.  If you don’t have an incentive you need to do something else. You need tell people what to expect.

Tell them their submission was successful.  Because we are doing a double opt in tell them to expect an email in their inbox RIGHT NOW and they should go click on the link to confirm their email address works.  Remind them they need to click on the link in the email to be finished.  It’s fine to tell them your incentive is only given after they confirm a valid email address.

That is a good motivator to get more people to complete the confirmation steps.  The most important thing though is you read this information and remember you are talking to real people!

3.  The Confirmation Email

You’ve instructed them to go check their inbox, and when they do, they’re going to get the confirmation email.  This should happen in a few seconds ideally.  Here you also have a chance to let them know they are doing the right thing, everything is working as expected and they can get their incentive when they confirm their email address.

Make this email a custom design.  Don’t take a generic boring ugly template off the shelf and leave it blank.  Make it personal.  Show you care.

4.  The Confirmation Thank You Page

When they click on their confirmation link they should be directed back to a custom page. Don’t take the generic ugly boring page given by your email service provider.  Reinforce your brand, show your colors and deliver your incentive if you used one.  Same rules apply.  Get them back on the website.

If you’re an aggressive marketer put them on a confirmation thank you page that has an exclusive one-time offer on it.  You’ll get sales from this step alone!

5.  The Welcome Email

Next, there should be a Welcome Email. Which can also be the first message in your autoresponder series. (You do have an autoresponder series, don’t you?)  Generally I like to have these go out right away.  Now’s the chance to remind them what they signed up for and what to expect.

In this case you can tell them their weekly newsletter is on it’s way (if you send it on Tuesday every week, let them know that) and thank them again.

Just be yourself.

You’ll notice (if you start watching) there are LOTS of lazy email marketers out there who don’t have this process set up or if they do have it set up, they don’t put any effort into it AND often the sequence just doesn’t make sense.

Do this now… go to your site, sign up for YOUR newsletter and see what happens.  Or check out a competitor and see how they handle this.