Improve the Subscriber Lifecycle, Improve Your Email Results
Crappy subscriber experiences drive crappy results. In just about every article I’ve published, there has been some variation on this theme (or an optimistic inverse). I come back to this concept again and again for three reasons: it’s simple; it’s fundamental; and it is pervasive in the email space.
It’s nearly impossible to discuss subscriber experience without delving into the lifecycle. The subscriber lifecycle gives us a brand-oriented framework to assess how subscribers are experiencing the email program and how their relationship with your brand evolves over time.
As with any relationship, there are inflection points that help punctuate the transition to the next stage. As marketers, if we fail to recognize and curate communication across those points, we’ve got some major missed opportunities holding our program performance back.
In this article, I’m going to highlight critical inflection points in the subscriber lifecycle and provide examples of brands that are using them to create better experiences. For the purposes of this piece, I’ve avoided specific focus on subscriber lifecycle messages related to the conversion path. This is a whole separate beast — and one I plan to slay in a future article.
The Acquisition Process
This is where it all begins. This portion of the lifecycle is where we set expectations and get consent to kick off a brand-subscriber relationship. This is the subscriber’s first opportunity to assess your email program’s value and decide whether they want to engage.
For marketers, this stage is all about list growth and list quality. Doubling down on list growth can be tempting, but can create a poor subscriber experience at the onset. Not only can this damage brand perception, it can take a toll on program performance. Tactics like required program opt-ins and “too good to resist” offers can compel subscribers to provide old or dead email addresses. Pre-checked boxes and poor consent can result in spam complaints and opt-outs.
Brands that excel in driving high quality subscribers into the program:
- Emphasize list quality, focusing efforts on subscribers who want to receive mail
- Convey benefits to the subscriber
- Sufficiently set expectations regarding email content and frequency
- Gain explicit consent
Here are a couple examples of great opt-in pages that set the brand up for success:
Welcome and Onboarding
Once subscribers have opted in, it’s up to the brand to make a positive first impression. The first few messages that the subscriber receives are critical in establishing value and relevance. While some subscribers may opt out, complain, or tune out very early in the lifecycle, many will remain engaged to assess content and value.
As a Senior Email Strategist with Return Path, Casey specializes in driving increased engagement and boosting deliverability. Casey has a healthy fixation with helping marketers realize the potential of their email programs by addressing human needs, building better relationships, and ultimately driving improved results for the business. Her nine years of experience and obsession with evolving the email space helped land her a spot on ExpertSender’s list of “25 Email Geeks to Help You Get Your Geek On.”