Welcoming New Members: Boring May be Beautiful

Not boring for your new list members. Boring for you.

Much has been written about welcome emails. Most of the conventional wisdom fails to match up to the reality we see on the ground however.

Here’s an example. When we helped with a site redesign for a major aquarium some years ago, much jesuitical discussion took place about what should take center stage on the home page. Should it be ticket sales? Links to the webcams? Information about the critters? Kids’ activities?

Turns out when we asked aquarium and visitor members what they wanted to see, the overwhelming first response was “information about where to park the car.”

We do this a lot. We substitute what we think is cool and interesting or useful instead of listening and responding to our constituents. Often what they want bores us, so we go back to our imaginary personas who imaginarily want fancy and sparkly.

Welcome series often suffer from this kind of organizational narcissism. Constant Contact has a useful and provocative blog post on what welcome messages really ought to include (but rarely do). It’s full of ‘boring stuff’ that subscribers want to know like what to expect in future messages, reassurance that they made a wise decision by subscribing and clear instructions for how subscribers can whitelist your email address.

How dull. And how incredibly important.