Building a Best Practice Welcome Experience
Or get your dating advice from a customer data platform
This is Part 2 of our dissection of an effective welcome series. For Part 1, click here > First Impressions: The ‘Friend A’ Welcome Experience Strategy.
Customers begin their relationship with a brand well before signing up for email. Still, an expansive, well-designed, and well-timed welcome series is critical to deepening that relationship and building brand affinity.
Before doing anything, brands need a clearly defined objective for their welcome experience and the actions it’s intended to drive. This will allow them to streamline their initiatives and increase the likelihood of having an impact on consumer behaviors.
If you look at the steps below and imagine that it’s not customer relationships but dating advice, your marching orders will become clear. Things become more complicated when you’re dealing with data and the massive scale of serving thousands or millions of customers, but that’s what Simon’s smart hub CDP is here for.
Phase 1. Establish the relationship
1. Create the moment: Set the scene and draw consumers in.
Lead with your best self, but above all, be a great listener.
2. Build a profile: Enable engagement with essential data.
Ask questions, get to know them, and find commonalities so you can move from small talk to genuine conversation.
3. Expand engagement: Get permission to expand to a new channel.
Float some ideas for a second date but don’t seem desperate or pressing.
Phase 2. Develop the relationship
4. Get tactical: Define essential steps for a successful relationship.
Propose an activity you know you’ll both enjoy.
5. Make it work: Call consumers to action with meaningful content.
Send them a Spotify playlist you know they’ll love and a magazine article relevant to something they said. Follow up to see when they’re free for [INSERT AWESOME ACTIVITY].
For the sake of brevity and to avoid writing an article about dating, we’ll stop the analogizing here. The point is to help marketers and business leaders see the connection between their high-tech initiatives and the ancient art of simply building a relationship.
While digital-first DTC brands have generally earned the spotlight for customer engagement over the lumbering legacy brands they’ve come to disrupt, we’d like to focus on how one of the legaciest of legacy brands successfully gets to know its customers.
But first, some trivia to get across that old dogs can keep up in this economy:
- This company’s earliest predecessor was chartered in 1799 by the New York State legislature to supply “pure and wholesome” drinking water to the city’s growing population.
- Two of its co-founders included Alexander Hamilton and Aaron Burr.
- In 1817, the company expanded its offerings into banking.
- In 1853, Abraham Lincoln became a customer of this now well-established financial institution
Who knew Chase Bank had such a storied past? As you’ll see, Chase can thank their focus on customers for their long history. After all, without customers, no company sticks around. Let’s see how Chase does it today (because we don’t have examples of a 19th-century welcome series).
If you’re in financial services, check out our white paper on how marketing black holes threaten client relationships and what you can do about it: Download “Closing Context Gaps”
Establish the relationship
Creating a moment
Set the scene. Give customers a simple and straightforward path to begin a meaningful engagement with you. Know why customers are visiting your site and offer them a choice to self-select a journey that helps get them there.
Solve a problem. Entice engagement from customers by helping them overcome a barrier or frustration when shopping for a product in your category and helping make their decision easier. The key is to make it easy, reduce the friction and frustration of analysis paralysis, and remove decision anxiety.
An example of setting the scene is simplifying your homepage to allow customers to choose a path from a selection of options while also allowing you to quickly segment on intent.
- Chase offers visitors a curated collection of product options to explore what fits their needs
- They highlight a diagnostic tool to help customers identify the best credit card for their preferences.
- Chase encourages participation by simplifying the decision-making process.
Building a profile
Have a purpose. Collect only the information that you need to offer customers a unique, valuable, and tailored experience, and make it transparent why that information is being collected. Some key questions to ask during this design phase include:
- What data will enable us to create high-value experiences for customers?
- Is personally-identifiable information necessary now?
Make it engaging. Don’t just offer customers a long form to complete. Create an interactive experience that shares value back as they complete it. Sample content types include:
- Diagnostics: How well am I budgeting my monthly income?
- Calculators: How long will it take to reach my savings goal at x savings rate?
- Benchmarks: Am I more or less well-traveled than others my age?
- Recommenders: Which skincare product is right for me?
- Chase walks customers through a series of questions to uncover preferences and objectives.
- They allow customers to track their progress and responses as they complete the quiz.
- The tools uses collected customer preference data to align customers to best-fit products and encourage their application.
Offer a next step. Create an opportunity for the customer to take the first step in the relationship by making their first micro-conversion from unknown to known, this can be a purchase or offering an email address.
Welcome the customer. Use this first micro-conversion to kick off a welcome series and define how you will nurture customers to take further action.
Additional metrics to consider:
- Email sign-up vs. product purchase
- Product pages visited
- Personal goals and objectives
Ideas to encourage sign up:
- Personalized results
- Curated collections
- Special access
- Differentiated advice
- Card applications can be daunting, so Chase simplifies the process as much as possible by including confidence boosters.
- Chase ensures clients are aware of the biggest benefits relevant to the objectives uncovered in the quiz.
- For Chase, a completed card application marks the first critical micro-conversion, moving customers from unknown to customer and triggers an email onboarding series.
Developing the relationship
Define your triggers. Consider what actions should kick off your welcome series, as well as any other triggers that you want to shape into the overarching customer experience over the course of the series, and how they might impact what messages are sent.
- For Chase, the trigger we’re focusing on is a credit card application.
- Each card appeals to a different persona — the cash-back rewards persona, the traveler persona, the dining rewards persona, etc. The follow-up content a customer receives depends on the card they applied for, which signals them as falling into a given persona.
The email screenshots below are for a travel-rewards card, which you probably could’ve guessed (the mark of a good email!).
Identify channels. Determine the best channels to engage your new customers as they make their way across the series — consider email, SMS, display ads, and mobile push as options.
- When customers visit their statement online, Chase encourages a detailed account setup, using the opportunity to enable preferences and create new channels for engagement.
- Chase encourages users to set key preferences, which define the customer experience.
- This call to action is found in the online customer portal and is featured in their statement review.
Space it out. Consider how long you would like to make your welcome series, the number of communications you would like to send, and how long of a delay you would like between each communication as you map out the full journey.
- Chase starts off slow, then speeds up engagement in the early stages of the new customer relationship. After the account is up to date and in use, Chase decreases communication so customers will perceive each email as containing only important information.
Branch with purpose. Allow for if/then responses across the journey to react to customer behaviors and stay relevant. As customers continue their welcome experience, consider the actions they might take between communications, and if that can/should impact their next message.
- A week into ownership, Chase updates customers on their progress against a large welcome bonus to build urgency and provide a path forward through coaching.
- Chase gamifies their welcome bonus to create urgency and build utilization habits.
- In a separate follow-up email, Chase offers customers low-effort ways to maximize dollar spend and point return.
Make it work
Establish calls to action. Consider your end goal and the calls to action at each point in the series that will effectively drive customers toward that goal.
- Chase sends a final email to coach customers on ways to use accrued points, encouraging users to set goals for points they can achieve with higher spending.
- Once customers have begun to accumulate points (about six weeks), Chase offers a glimpse at some ways to cash in points.
- Chase updates messaging to be more aspirational tone to further gamify point-earning against an end goal, which for this persona is travel rewards.
Additional best practices to make it work
Respond immediately. Send an instant response to acknowledge the customers’ first action and to quickly continue the relationship while top-of-mind.
Keep listening. Use the data you have and continue to gather new information to inform the content of any follow-on communications, ensuring continued relevance.
Experiment for results. Plan variants of each communication to test for what is most effective to drive the desired behaviors in the target audience and optimize for results.
The key thing to recognize is that there’s a vast difference between collecting data on customers and knowing customers. The only way to truly understand your customers is with a marketer-friendly data layer that allows marketers to easily observe, test, and analyze campaigns and behaviors. And the best way to make that dream a reality is to bake campaign orchestration seamlessly into your customer data and segmentation UI.
In the long run, you can’t influence customer behavior if you don’t understand it. And you can’t understand it without a robust customer data platform that can demonstrate value in market.
For Part 1 of our look at effective welcome series, click here > First Impressions: The ‘Friend A’ Welcome Experience Strategy.