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5 Ways to Make Your Welcome Back Emails More Impactful

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I’ve always been a huge fan of Netflix, but last year I decided to take a hiatus in the interest of saving a few bucks and spending less time in front of the TV. I recently caved and came back. The same day I reinstated my monthly membership, I received two e-mails from them, and I think they both could use a little improvement

My first thought when I got this e-mail was that the subject line was a bit off. It says “Thanks for Joining Netflix,” but I didn’t join; I came back. I think this is just an oversight on their part, but it’s significant. The e-mail starts with a “Welcome Back” headline. The brief body copy confirms that my membership has been reinstated, and features an in-line link to add movies to my Queue. My account information is featured in a small sidebar to the right, including my e-mail and delivery addresses and a link to make any changes necessary.

The second e-mail came very shortly thereafter. The subject line was “Welcome Back to Netflix! Check Out What’s New…” This e-mail confirms my plan and how many movies are in my current Queue (this is the line-up of movies you select on the Netflix site). It also lists the six DVDs at the top of my Queue, links for browsing, and links for watching movies and shows instantly. However, it doesn’t really show me anything “new.” Nor does it take into consideration the fact that I’m a former customer, so I don’t really need all of the rudimentary information. A company as big as Netflix certainly must have segmenting capabilities. Welcome back e-mails should speak to the customer as someone who is familiar with the product.

I like the fact that they list my Queue, but I had already changed it when I got this e-mail, so the information wasn’t accurate. Also, I think the first e-mail could have included the account information that’s in this one, like the plan that I have chosen. Splitting account information can be potentially confusing. A more effective second e-mail would be one that contained more about recommendations, new site features and what my friends are watching. In other words, keeping the more official account info separate from the site navigation and fun stuff. Additionally, waiting a day or so to send out the second e-mail is a smart idea to prevent early burnout…and eventually opt-out.

Netflix is an entertainment-driven company. They have a fun, likeable brand and a pretty simple site navigation. If the e-mails reflected this more, I think their value would increase to the customer. Here are some simple tweaks that could be made in order to make these e-mails more useable, readable and successful.

1. Keep your subject lines on subject. It’s all in the details, so when sending a welcome back e-mail, your subject line should be direct and simple. “Welcome back to Netflix!” would suffice in this case. And for the second e-mail, something more personal might be in order, like “Add the latest releases to your Netflix Queue!” This goes for whatever e-mail you’re sending out; no cute or punny lines are needed. Using straightforward, action-oriented messaging is what gets people to open your e-mails.

2. Don’t mix your messages. Instead of spreading account information across two e-mails and combining it with the site functions, it’s better to keep the fun stuff separate from the “official” information. In this case, the customer’s chosen plan, e-mail and shipping addresses and reactivation confirmation are sufficient. The call to action should simply drive the customer to the site in order to add to their queue, browse movies, etc.

3. Personalization gets appreciation. Since Netflix gathers your name during signup, there’s no reason not to use it. Something as simple as “Welcome Back, Samantha!” goes a long way in making people feel warm and fuzzy about a company.

4. Direct them where you want them to go. There’s a time and a place for copy-heavy e-mails. This is not it. Since Netflix already has your money in the form of a monthly withdrawal, their next goal is to get you on the site and using it. A big button with a clear call to action that drives the user to the site’s homepage would be ideal.

5. Evaluate your e-mail’s value. When scanning an e-mail, especially one with a lot of rich content, the customer wants to know “What’s in it for me?” Providing interactive content that is relevant to their specific interests is a great way to drive traffic to your desired destination. In the second Netflix e-mail, for example, a series of modules featuring things like Friend Recommendations, a current Queue list, new features of the site and the three latest releases would all be helpful, interesting and likely to inspire click-through.

Netflix has a high-profile brand, though their online marketing tends to be pretty low-brow in appearance and function. Since their site is so dense in content and function, it would be a smart plan to upgrade the quality of e-mail messaging, banner ads, etc. Though their product has a fantastic word-of-mouth, improving their online marketing will most likely gain them more customers and higher retention. I’ll give these e-mails one thumb up, with lots of potential for improvement!