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How to Write a Great Indoctrination Email Series (and Why it’s a Must-Have Email Marketing Tool)

By Adi Jagan

A strong indoctrination email series is truly the most powerful free email marketing tool you have at your disposal. (Here’s a quick refresher on what an indoctrination email series is—if you’re put off by their somewhat ominous name, think of them as “educational emails.”)

Indoctrination emails are your first, best shot at making a good first impression, educating new followers about who you are, and building relationships with new audiences. A good indoc sequence lets you connect with and establish trust with a customer.

If you’re overwhelmed with too many email marketing tools, nurture sequences and drip campaigns?

Start with an indoctrination email series.

Here are three absolute musts for writing indoctrination emails that land:

1. Spend the time it takes to make your welcome email the absolute best it can be.

If your indoctrination sequence is the most important series in your email marketing toolkit, the welcome email is the most important message within the indoc series. Why? Because it gets opened and read.

Statistics vary, but most estimate that welcome emails have around an astounding 50% open rate. Your welcome email is your first impression, and if you can make it a strong one, it will elevate the chance that future emails you send will be read.

Good writing takes time, so spend the time and energy necessary to get this one right. If writing isn’t your thing, hire creative service providers who are experienced in producing quality marketing copy.

2. If at all possible, reward your subscriber for opening that first email with a tangible benefit.

A giveaway is yet another chance to distinguish yourself from the hundreds of asks in a reader’s inbox. Again, this is your most-read email. Why not take the opportunity to give a reader something and build positive reinforcement with your brand?

For e-commerce sites or brick-and-mortar businesses, a giveaway is easier: share a discount code recipients can use on your website, offer free merchandise, or provide a “bring a friend” discount to a class, activity or event.

It’s tougher for those of us who don’t sell products or experiences—but it’s not impossible. Everyone has something of value to share. Again, #CustomerFirst: What do  your subscribers need? What would they be delighted to have show up for free in their inbox?

Our subscribers are frequent HubSpot users looking to take their skills to the next level, so we compiled the top questions we receive from clients and made a free playbook to give away. Templates, how-to guides, frequently asked questions and Industry insights are always welcome.

3. Increase your open rate by writing awesome subject lines.

Again: you’re competing with hundreds of brands and businesses, coworkers and organizations that flood our inboxes daily. There are ample resources to help you craft subject lines that employ questions, suspense and humor to catch the reader’s eye. Pay attention to the brand emails you actually open: what did they have in common?

Write a subject line that will stand out and show the reader that your email contains content that will be interesting, funny, or useful.

* * *

Now that you know some key best practices, let’s talk about what you want to avoid in your indoctrination series. Here are my top three don’ts:

1. Don’t sell anything in your indoctrination series.

The “don’t sell” directive is challenging sometimes for people to comprehend. It doesn’t include giveaways and rewards like the ones we encourage clients to include in the welcome email, because in that instance you’re giving them something, not asking them to buy something. Even if they don’t redeem their discount, you’ve still built some goodwill.

You have to keep in mind that these emails are about building a relationship. Trying to sell product at this stage is like asking someone you’re on a second date with if they want to go on a trip around the world with you. Too soon is a turnoff, and a sign of poor judgment from both dates and brands, so hold off on the selling and the plane tickets until everyone’s gone to know each other a little better.

If your indoctrination series is just another series of asks, why shouldn’t I just delete it?

People are busy. Write your indoctrination sequence with the goal of sharing relevant information that the recipient can actually use, or would find interesting. Begin with the customer first, always.

Brevity is the soul of wit, but it’s also the soul of increasing your open rate—and it’s just common courtesy.

2. Don’t write a book: keep it short, sweet and easy to read. 

A briefer email is just more respectful of the recipient’s time and far more likely to get read.  Some simple design techniques can also make your messages more accessible.

Frequent line breaks create white space that’s easier on the eyes than a massive chunk of text. Incorporating images and graphics also helps (and makes your message look more professional).

3. Personalize your indoctrination series.

Seriously? This one is a no-brainer. In 2023, you should not be emailing new customers and clients messages that say “Welcome FIRSTNAME.” Beyond using your subscribers names in subject lines and salutations there are all kinds of ways to incorporate personalization in ways that connect with audiences (HubSpot offers a great resource list here).

A 2022 McKinsey report found that 71% of consumers expect personalized communication from brands. I’m like a broken record here, but again, #CustomerFirst.

Your indoctrination emails should be an extension of your marketing strategy, in which you are thinking first about what potential clients and customers want and need. With inbound marketing, we need to serve before we sell. Put your reader first when it comes to these indoctrination emails, and they will help you build a rock-solid brand.

In need of indoctrination email sequences, drip campaigns or other email marketing tools? We can help with that! Let’s talk.

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