The Importance of Onboarding Programs & Win-Back Programs

The Importance of Onboarding Programs & Win-Back Programs

"It’s February, we are over a month into 2014 and the majority of marketers will have already reflected back on 2013 to see what worked, what didn’t and began planning for and executing new campaigns for 2014."

It’s February, we are over a month into 2014 and the majority of marketers will have already reflected back on 2013 to see what worked, what didn’t and began planning for and executing new campaigns for 2014.

A recent StrongView study reported that, “increasing subscriber engagement" was the top email marketing priority for marketers in 2014. Having spoken with many marketers we know that many have made promises to increase subscriber engagement through better targeting and more detailed segmentation of their lists. These same marketers have also promised to do a better job of list hygiene, removing those records which have been on their lists for years and haven’t engaged since who knows when. Well it is with these promises in mind that we suggest to all marketers that it is time to get to work.

Two relatively simple-to-set-up programs that are important for both short and long term customer retention are Customer Onboarding and Customer Win-Back programs.

Onboarding Programs:

A perfect example of triggered messaging include welcome messages or better yet, an onboarding email series. An onboarding program helps to create consistency and foster trust as well as set expectations about what, how, and when your organization will email subscribers.

Many top marketers are already using Onboarding Programs but, if you’re one that has not yet gotten around to doing so, implementing one will be even more important when Canada’s Anti-Spam Law (CASL) comes into force on July 1st, 2014. Historically, good onboarding programs have been lacking in the industry which, is unfortunate because they are easy to implement and help to facilitate and reinforce the prescribed information in your email programs. Key to any good Onboarding Program is to:

  • Welcome your new subscribers (The sooner the better).
  • Outline the benefits of your email program.
  • Set expectations on the types and frequency of messaging you will be sending.
  • Encourage your subscribers to add your email address to their address book for improved deliverability.
  • Reinforce the prescribed information, set out under CASL, to consumers at the time of sign up. (This is especially important for POS or call center subscriptions)

A welcome program also gives email marketers a means to contact your subscribers early on in the relationship which, according to much research tends to increase engagement over a subscribers lifetime.

Win-Back Programs:

It's inevitable that there will be a segment of subscribers on your list that don’t engage with your email program. Couple that with an industry average Annual Churn Rate of around 30% and as a marketer you have your work cut out for you trying to implement strategies to “win-back” some of these subscribers. While this is a common challenge across the industry there are some simple yet effective ways to implement Win-Back campaigns

Win-Back or Re-engagement Programs’ popularity will likely grow with CASL’s implementation due to its “expiry of consent”.  According to CASL regulations, once you have implied consent for a contact, you have two years to mail an individual or to gain express consent. As a result, marketers will be encouraged to try and reengage subscribers before they are lost for good. Here are four steps to a successful win-back program:

  • Give subscribers a reason to re-engage with your brand. Consider providing an incentive.
  • Think about your content and the subscriber experience. Your email design should make it easy for subscribers to act on your call to action to upgrade to express consent or complete another action that will satisfy the implied consent requirements of CASL.
  • Test, Test, Test! Whether it`s the subject line, copy, layout or offer, ensure it is well tested so that you know what is the most effective for your audience.
  • Review your results and make the necessary changes.


2014 could prove a challenging year for many email marketers as they try to understand what CASL is and how it will affect their email programs. That said, there is still plenty of time for marketers to review their email programs today to ensure that they are well prepared for CASLs’ implementation later on this year. The benefit of which will be two-fold, for not only will those marketers that are well prepared for CASL be in compliance come July 1st, they will also have a jump-start on the competition and won’t find themselves tripped up by CASLs requirements.