Gmail recently reorganized inboxes into several tabbed spaces. Like Outlook’s
thank you page
Dr. Jeffrey Lant popularized the rule of seven for advertisers:
Saying “thank you” is something we’re taught to do as children. This important lesson is something that can be carried over to your email marketing campaign as well. And what better time to start than right after someone joins your list?
The thank you page is the page that a potential subscriber will land on after filling out your web form, making it the second point of contact you have with them. It’s an opportunity for your business to make a good impression, set expectations and get subscribers on their way to becoming customers.
Here are 3 businesses that do a great job thanking their potential subscribers while also answering a few questions for their subscribers: what happened, what happens next, and what they need to do now.
Wilmington Travel Helps Prospects Activate Their Email Subscriptions
Perhaps the most important feature of a thank you page is the instructions for what the potential subscriber needs to do next. You want to make the subscriber experience as easy as possible so they can start receiving your messages.
Philip Patete runs the email campaign for Wilmington.net and has a creative solution for making sure instructions are clear:
Including an image of what exactly the potential subscriber needs to look for in their inbox and what they will need to click on can make the whole sign up process easier. Notice how features of the image are highlighted so the potential subscriber will be able to see the from address, subject line, and what they will need to click on.
It’s also important to set subscriber expectations in the thank you page. If subscribers know what to expect from the start, you will have a more engaged list with less people unsubscribing or complaining. The Wilmington thank you page handles setting expectations by incorporating them with their instructions:
The potential subscriber understands what needs to be done next and knows when they can expect to receive the information they requested.While these potential subscribers need to confirm in order to get a guide, you can also set this up to remind them that they need to confirm before they can begin seeing the value of being on their mailing list. Our next example also makes sure to set expectations in the thank you page.
BarnYarns Breaks Down Their Email Content and Sets Frequency Expectations
Iain MacPherson runs the email campaign for Barnyarns.co.uk, and this thank you page does an excellent job with setting expectations.
Part of their thank you page includes a description of what the potential subscriber can look forward to in their newsletters:
The potential subscriber already showed interest by signing up to the mailing list, so adding further details about what they’re going to be getting helps build anticipation. They even take it one step further by including how often they send newsletters:
Potential subscribers are aware of what they can expect from these newsletters and how often they can expect to get them. This means there won’t be any surprises for subscribers that could lead to unsubscribing or marking an email as spam. Our next example takes this concept one step further by incorporating the most recent newsletter in the thank you page.
Invested Central Gives Out a Sample Newsletter
Chris Hopkins runs the site http://www.investedcentral.com, and he sets expectations by allowing potential subscribers to get a sneak peek at what the newsletters look like:
Giving subscribers a look at what they can expect to see is a great way to start off on the right foot. They’ll also be able to see the value your messages can have for them, making them more likely to confirm.
You can get a web based version of your message when you check off the “Social Media/Sharing” checkbox at the bottom of the Broadcast edit page.
Of course, in order for your potential subscribers to get these valuable newsletters you need to make sure you’re in their address book, otherwise you may end up in the spam filter. Take a look a look at how Chris handles this:
We’ve talked before about the importance of getting in your subscriber’s address book, and the thank you page is just one of many good places to remind them.
Thank You Page Keys:
- Make sure you say “Thank you!”
- Setting expectations always helps
- Give subscribers directions
- Make the sign up process as easy as possible
What else do you think a thank you page should say and do?
It’s also where you can knock their socks off.
An awesome thank you page can get subscribers excited about receiving your emails, making each each and every broadcast you send a celebratory occasion for them. (Or, at the very least, make them more likely to open your emails.)
With the launch of our new Web Form Generator, you can also offer a more personalized thank you page experience to subscribers.
A Smarter Way To Say Thanks
Smart video thank you pages are the happy medium between AWeber’s default thank you page and your own custom URL.
We pass subscriber form data to the page so that everyone who signs up to your list gets a unique experience.
This is your subscriber’s name with your confirmation subject line. Not a generic “Check Your Inbox” message. And it’s as simple as choosing Smart Video Version from the thank you page drop down menu.
Not only that, the smart thank you page will pick out the subscriber’s email provider and adjust the video accordingly.
So if someone enters an address that includes @gmail.com, they’ll see a video telling them to check their Gmail inbox. Likewise with Yahoo, Hotmail and many others. If we don’t have a specific video available (say, for addresses at personal domains), your subscriber will see a video showing the most popular email application for their operating system (Outlook for Windows, Mail for Mac OS X).
It’s probably the closest thing to magic you can experience using a web form…
Test It For Yourself!
Try the demo form on our site to see what your subscribers will experience!
(That form is just a demonstration. You won’t be signed up to any list, and we aren’t keeping any information you enter into the form.)
A good looking web form makes a great first impression on a subscriber, but an engaging thank you page is just as important.
You can shape expectations and build anticipation, all the while directing the subscriber to their inbox.
- It’s important to note that smart video thank you pages are only available if you’re using confirmed opt-in… so if you’re not already doing so, consider this reason number three ba-billion to start.
There are a few reasons a website owner would want to have email subscriber form data (ie. what subscribers type into a form plus other info) passed to their thank you pages.
Wanting to include some info about the subscriber, like their name and email, on the page they see after they submit the sign up form
Integration with a database for other, non-email related use (e.g. follow up by phone, any other CRM related tasks)
Integration with third party services (e.g. shopping carts, membership sites); note that many times this can also, or instead, be done with email parsers
If these possibilities sound interesting…
Good news! For a long time now, we’ve offered a feature that passes form data to the thank you page – the page subscribers see after successfully submitting a form – and turning on this feature is as easy as checking a box when creating your forms.
After that, get with your developer. Or, do it yourself, geeks! Either way, you just need a script written for your thank you page to do whatever it is you’d like to do with that form data.
Cool stuff, but what if you’re using confirmed opt-in?
Err, hmph, actually that could be a problem. For example, maybe you don’t want to do anything else with form submitters until they confirm and become active subscribers (ie. not dead weight).
In other words, in some cases it would be better if this form data was sent instead (or additionally) to the page subscribers see after they click on the confirmation link.
Ask, as some of you did, and ye shall receive. Well, not always, but you score this time…
Form data can now be passed to the “Confirmation Success” page, too!
Not only that, but if you or your developer have set things up for a thank you page, there’s not much new to learn. You just have to setup your script on your confirmation success page and check a different box:
Bonus Points – How to put subscriber names, emails, and whatever else you want on your thank you pages:
At the top of this article, I mentioned this type of thing. Here’s what it might look like:
Notice how it’s taking the info our subscriber, Clark Griswold, submitted from the query string? To do this, even the non-geek may not need to get in touch with his/her developer.
There’s just a block of code you need to copy and paste into the “head” section of your page. Then, you’ll put a smaller block of code wherever you insert form data.
Sound like too much to handle? It should be easy for your developer, then. Otherwise, here’s the code and instructions on how to do it.
But the writing is on the wall for marketers who aren’t getting subscribers to add them to their address books.
Soon, if you’re not in there, it’ll be even easier for customers and prospects to ignore your email marketing campaigns.
Here’s what I mean:
Yahoo! Helps Subscribers Quickly Filter Out Email From Non-Contacts
On their official blog, Yahoo! Mail announced that users can now toggle from viewing all mail to only mail from their contacts.
As they say in the announcement,
“You get a lot of emails, some good (from friends, family, even favorite interests that you’ve added to your Address Book), and a lot of not-so-important emails (special offers, newsletters, emails you rarely read).”
So they’ve introduced a way to quickly separate those “important” emails from the “not-so-important” ones.
Essentially, Yahoo! is making it easier for users to do the same thing with emails that we all do with our postal mail – we look through for messages from friends, family and other people we know and put it in an “A” pile, and we take everything else and put it in a “B” pile.
Many of us already do it with email, too, by using filters – but up until now we had to set those up manually. It’s not hard to do, but it is an extra hoop that most email users wouldn’t jump through.
A one-click filter like the one Yahoo! has created makes faster email filtering accessible to even novice users. Don’t be surprised if you see other email programs do something similar.
So How Do You Make Sure Your Email Doesn’t Get Filtered Out and Ignored?
Well, in this case you do it by getting subscribers to put you in their address book (sometimes called a “contact list”).
As for how you do that?
- Ask on your thank you page.
You should already be using the thank you page to set expectations immediately after subscribers join your list.
And one of those expectations should be telling people who the emails will come from (i.e., your “from” name and email address).
Add a sentence asking subscribers to add that address to their address books. Quick and easy.
- Ask in your welcome email (and maybe other emails).
Some people might not add you to their address books while on your thank you page (they may have overlooked the request, forgotten or just not wanted to yet).
Now that subscribers have seen an example of your email, point out that to ensure that they keep getting the information they signed up for, they should add you to their address book.
You might also put a reminder in some of your follow ups and/or broadcasts.
- Build a relationship with subscribers.
If you want subscribers to treat you like a contact, you have to earn that status in their minds.
Providing valuable content is a big part of this.
So is coming across as a real person (see our social networking tips for email marketers).
So is being accessible.
The Inbox is Shrinking
One could argue that this Yahoo! move is effectively creating multiple inboxes – one with all email and one only with email from contacts.
Given a choice between viewing “all” email, and only email from preferred sources (like your contacts), which one are you going to spend time in?
To take a “tree falling in the forest” view of it,
If an email goes to an inbox, but nobody ever looks at that particular inbox, is it really delivered?
If you think about it, as more email programs implement tools like Yahoo!’s and the email that’s important/relevant to the recipient ends up in a “contacts” inbox, the “default” inbox really becomes more of a “junk” folder than an inbox.
And none of us want to end up there. Right?
1: Hat tip to Mark Brownlow for pointing out Yahoo!’s announcement.
This post is #2 in a three-part series on expectations. Read part 1 here.
Your thank you page is a critical stage in your email marketing because it links two types of interactions your subscribers have with you.
Immediately before they sign up, they’re interacting with you on your website, with their web browser. They’re 100% in charge of the situation. They can leave at any time and you’ll never even know who they were.
After they subscribe, however, they’ve agreed to interact with your business in a whole new way you pushing information to them when you choose), in a whole new environment (their email software instead of just their web browser).
To effectively transition new subscribers between those interactions, good email marketers set expectations using the thank you page.
Aren’t Subscribers’ Expectations Already Set Before They Sign Up?
If you’ve properly set expectations in your opt-in form, you might feel like your work is done.
After all, you’ve already told them what they’ll get and how often – and you obviously sold them on your emails because they signed up. There aren’t any other expectations to manage.
Why You Must Create and Reinforce Expectations Right After The Opt-In
Here’s the trouble with thinking that expectations are all set before the opt-in: you’re assuming that the minute they subscribe, all of your new readers are immediately…
- being transported to their email inboxes to read your first email.
- adding your “from” email address to their address books.
- doing whatever you want/need them to do with that first email.
If you’ve figured out how to make all of that automatically happen for one of your subscribers, let alone all of them, please tell me how
Upon signing up to your list, new subscribers have a few questions that you need to answer right away:
- “What just happened?” (Did that form thing-a-ma-jig do what I wanted it to? Am I subscribed?)
- “What happens next?” (When do I get my first email? Who’s it coming from? What’s it going to look like?)
- “What do I do now?” (Do I just sit back and wait? Do I have to do anything else?)
Answer These Questions With Your Thank You Page.
This first “post-subscribe” experience is a chance to reaffirm subscribers’ decision to share their email addresses with you.
Spell things out for them! Tell them:
- What Just Happened (they have subscribed successfully)
- What’s Happening Next (that you’re sending them an email – what the subject line is – what from name and email address it’s coming from – and what’s inside the email)
- What They Should Do (go to their inbox, open that email, possibly click on something in it—like a confirm link—and also add your email address to their address books)
P.S. Remember to thank them for subscribing!
Creating expectations on your thank you page is especially important because they help your new subscriber “connect the dots” between the time they spent on your website and the emails they’ll receive from you days/weeks/months later.
How Do YOU Create Expectations On Your Thank You Page?
Next Up: How (and Why!) to Keep Creating Expectations Long After The Opt-In
After Memorial Day, you’ll learn about the ongoing challenge of setting expectations.
If you know someone else who isn’t familiar with the idea of setting expectations, or could use a refresher, share this blog with them!
It occurred to us shortly afterward that at AWeber we take that feature (Ad Tracking) for granted. And it’s not the only one.
We spend so much around our features that sometimes it doesn’t occur to us that some of you are missing out on the firepower they can add to your email marketing campaigns. Some of you (and I’m not naming names here ) don’t even use many of the most powerful tools at your disposal!
We think this is partly our fault. So to help correct this, we’re going to show you how various tools in AWeber can create better subscriber experiences, save you time and make your campaigns more effective. If you use them, of course.
For starters, let’s talk about thank you pages.
“Thank You Pages? Seriously?”
Now, you may be thinking,
“Thank you pages? That’s not exactly an advanced feature. Everybody has a thank you page!”
And you’d be right. Well, half right.
Yes, everybody has a thank you page – but few businesses use them effectively.
In fact, a frightening number of people decline to customize their thank you page – they just use the default page we provide as a placeholder.
I cannot begin to tell you how shocked I was while doing research for this post.
I wanted to show you some examples of creative and cool thank you pages and started looking at some of our more well-known customers’ sites…
… but many of them were using the generic thank-you page! They didn’t take advantage of the fact that when you build a web form in AWeber, you can send subscribers to a custom thank you page on your website.
The placeholder thank you page isn’t bad per se, but it isn’t specific to your business. You should be using your own page.
Why Is a Personalized Thank You Page Important?
“Do thank you pages even matter? Who cares what’s on them?”
“I mean, the subscriber already signed up, right?”
- The thank you page is the first experience new subscribers have. Yes, they’ve seen your site but that’s available to anyone.This is the first thing they see after signing up.
It’s a chance to make a new first impression of sorts, or at the least to build on the one you made when they first came to your site.
- If you clearly put effort into getting people to sign up – you promise great content and a powerful incentive to subscribe – but then send them to a halfhearted thank you page, it gives the distinct impression that you’re not interested in building a relationship with subscribers, just “capturing” them.
(An aside: the word “capture,” when used in relationship with list-building, is in my opinion almost as dangerous a term as “email blast.”)
- The instant a website visitor subscribes, s/he has one question: “What happens now?”
If you don’t tell them, in detail, then they’ll draw their own conclusions – in other words, they’ll assume (consciously or subconsciously) things about your content, frequency, from line and other aspects of your emails.
And we all know what happens when you assume…
Given the vast differences from one business to another, there’s no way our thank you pages should be “one-size fits-all!”
But many thank you pages are that way – they fail to shape new subscribers’ expectations, reinforce the subscribe decision or offer any guidance about what happens next or what subscribers should do next.
What Does a Good Thank You Page Look Like?
There’s not one universally awesome template for thank you pages (if there were, we’d make it, give it to everyone, and you wouldn’t be reading this article).
However, there are things that your thank you page can and should do:
- Provide an experience consistent with the rest of your website.
Your thank you page should look like the rest of your site, and it should be on the same domain as the page where people are subscribing.
If someone fills our your form and goes to a page that looks nothing like the page where they filled out the form, they may worry that they did something wrong, or that they didn’t understand the form. They may hit the “back” button to go reread the form before they even read what’s on the thank you page!
- Clearly explain what just happened, what happens next, and what (if anything) the subscriber needs to do.
OK, so I filled out your signup form and hit the “subscribe” button.
Did that “work?” And what does “work” mean here? What do subscribers think is supposed to happen?
Unless you’re 100% sure that 100% of your subscribers know beyond a shadow of a doubt what to expect after signing up, you’d better tell them that:
- You’ve received their subscribe request and are subscribing them
- You’re sending them an email
- When that email will arrive
- Who it’s from (your “from” name and email address) and what it looks like
- What, if anything, they should do with it (especially if you’re confirming subscribers – tell them they need to click on the confirm link!)
There’s no one right way to do this – some people rely solely on text, others add images and some employ audio and video.
Our generic thank you page includes audio instructions for confirming. You’re welcome to embed them on your customized thank you page as well:
Of course, you should include text instructions on your thank you page as well – the audio just supplements it!
Use whichever helps you get the message across most effectively (and if you’re using Confirmed Opt-In, test different versions of your thank you page to see which does the best job of getting subscribers to confirm).
What Good and Bad Thank You Pages Have You Seen?
Are there any thank you pages out there that have made an impression (good or bad) on you? What did you like or dislike about them?
Would you spend money on pay-per-click ads (i.e. Google Adwords) and not bother to optimize your landing page content?
What about the price of your product, or incentives you use to build urgency — they affect your conversion rate, so you probably test them, right?
Now… what about your confirm rate? If you could do something to influence the percentage of people who confirm their signups to your email campaign, you would… wouldn’t you?
I recently came across an AWeber user who was frustrated with his confirm rate. As I talked with him, I realized that a lot of you may be missing the same opportunities to get more of your website visitors to confirm.
A Quick Word on Confirm Rates
Confirm rates, while they’ll never be 100% (nor should they be), can actually get quite high. It’s not at all unreasonable to shoot for a confirm rate greater than 75%.
On To The Example — Stuart and His Web 2.0 Videos
Getting subscribers to confirm is just like any other part of your marketing process — it can and should be tested/tweaked.
He builds his list with an offer of sample videos, and he requires people to confirm to get the videos (a great idea, by the way). Still, he was wondering why his confirm rate wasn’t higher.
I got in touch with him and took a look at his signup process. Immediately, a few things he could do to get more subscribers to confirm jumped out at me.
Like many people, he simply hadn’t put enough attention into making his confirm process a good subscriber experience.
Recommendations To Stuart To Improve His Confirm Rate
Below is a link to view the email I sent Stuart, verbatim. That way, you can see exactly what types of tactics you can use to max out your own confirm rate:
You’ll see that while many of them are relatively simple tactics, they’re exactly the sort of ideas that you may have overlooked in your own confirm process.
How Does Your Confirm Process Look Lately?
How good are your thank you page and confirm email at getting subscribers to complete their signup?
As you read that email, did you see places where you could apply those concepts to your own email marketing campaign?
What are you doing to max out your confirm rate?
If you’re in the U.S. like we are, more than likely this Thursday you will be celebrating Thanksgiving, and as we sit down with our families for dinner we will be thinking of some of those things we’re most thankful for, namely our food, our prosperity, and our loved ones.
I will venture to say that most of us won’t be thinking directly of email marketing, but if it has helped our business to grow and prosper this year, we probably do think of it with a great deal of gratitude at times.
So, before the holiday hits and we shut our computers off, let’s talk for a minute about email and giving thanks.