Nov 5, 2008

Personalize Your Welcome Emails with Custom Freebies

Here’s a common question I get: "My list is puny. If buying email lists is evil, how can I grow my subscriber base? Fast?"

Well, one way to get more people to signup for your email list is to give them something free when they subscribe. To make it automatic, you can add e-coupons, or links to whitepapers inside your welcome emails.

For example, let’s say you’re a music store, and when people signup for your email newsletter, you want to send them some free music tips. But you want those music tips to be customized to their interests.

If someone rocks the pan flute, they should receive a welcome email with an embedded link to download a PDF called "Zamfir’s Pan Flute Secrets." If someone is a guitar hero, they get a free guide on guitar playing. You get the gist.

Here’s how to do this in MailChimp…

We’re basically going to be using dynamic merge tags in your welcome messages. In particular, "If Interested" tag:

*|INTERESTED:Interest1,Interest2,etc|*
Your content, links, graphics, whatever here
*|END:INTERESTED|*

So let’s say you’re that music store in my example above. The name of your music store is "Rawk On Music."

First, you setup a list in MailChimp for the "Rawk On Newsletter." Your list will get a free signup form in MailChimp.

You can customize the fields in that subscribe form. In particular, you want to add an "Interest groups" field that asks people to check a box for which musical instruments they play:

Then, maybe you use our signup form designer to customize the look and feel to match your website:

The final signup form looks like this:

While you’re using MailChimp’s signup designer, use the pulldown on the right to switch over to the "Final Welcome to our list email" screen:

Now you’ll see a preview of what your final welcome email will look like. This is what your subscribers see after they confirm they want to signup for your list. Normally, people leave this welcome email as-is, and that’s okay, but they should really take some time to customize it and add a little personality to it.

Click on the welcome text to open the editor and customize it:

With the editor open, use MailChimp’s advanced merge tags to insert a conditional statement like this (and I used the WYSIWYG toolbar to insert hyperlinks):

This is the code I used:

*|INTERESTED:Guitar|* So you’re a guitar hero? Download: Rawking Your Guitar *|END:INTERESTED|*
*|INTERESTED:Banjo|* Wanna duel? Download: Banjo Tips from The HeeHaw Masters *|END:INTERESTED|*
*|INTERESTED:Pan Flute|* Girls dig pan flutists. Download: Deadly Pan Flute Secrets of Zamfir and Jethro *|END:INTERESTED|*

Notice I made it dynamically change links to different "musical tips" download files. But you can insert whatever you want inside the merge tags, like graphics, 10% off your next purchase coupons, product photos, paragraphs of content, etc.

Test it by signing up for your own list, so you can receive a welcome email. The way to get to your list’s signup form (hosted on MailChimp) is:

  • Log in to MailChimp. If you’re already logged in, then just hold down control (to open a new browser tab) and then:
  • Click the "Lists" tab in MailChimp’s top nav
  • Select the list you’re working on
  • It should expand, showing some options.
  • Click the "Generate Form Code" link
  • At the top of the next page, we’ll give you the signup form’s URL.

To test my work, I signed up and checked the boxes for "Guitar" and "Pan Flute."

When I got the final welcome email, it looked like:

And that’s it. All my subscribers will now get a free, downloadable music tips PDF that’s specific to their favorite instrument.

At this point, I’d recommend going back to your signup form, and adding some text that tells people they’ll get a "free gift" when they sign up. Also, you can customize your thank you pages to tell people, "Don’t forget to confirm your subscription, so you can get that free gift." In general, go back and look at all your marketing efforts to try to point as many people to that free gift and opt-in form as possible.

What kind of free download or incentive can you give to people for signing up? Everyone’s an expert at something. Write a one-page whitepaper!

Even better:

  • Write a useful whitepaper
  • Offer it as an incentive for subscribing to your newsletter
  • Start a Google Adwords campaign to drive traffic to your signup form

Rawk on!