Staying up-to-date with the ever-changing email landscape can be a daunting task: iPhone 6 screen sizes, mobile operating system updates, Gmail's tabbed inbox and promotions tab grid view, inbox placement and deliverability algorithm changes, email design, video support in email, best practices, and the list goes on.

FC Barcelona's CRM team relies on the marketingcloudmarketingcloudMarketing Cloud Blog as a one-stop destination for everything email and digital marketing-latest industry tips, tricks, and developments-which easily allows us to continually optimize our email marketing program.

For our Welcome Email Series, specifically the first email of the series, we've incorporated some changes based on current industry trends in our latest iteration. The Email Swipe File has been a great source to track what other brands are doing for onboarding new users.

These learnings adapted to our specificities, together with our own creativity, constitute the building blocks of an email that aspires to be the Leo Messi of welcome emails and where content marketing plays a vital role.

Content is king-especially when you have a brand like FC Barcelona with millions of passionate fans from around the world wanting to know everything about their favorite team and players. We are in a privileged position to offer exclusive content than no one else can.

Main features of our welcome email:

We have a total of 11 different versions of the email in 3 languages (33 in total), that we easily set up using Automation Studio. Using Automation Studio, each email features a different player, one for each of the nationalities that we have on the team. The country the fan signs up from determines the version of the email he or she will receive. For example, fans from Argentina will be welcomed by Messi; fans from Brazil will be welcomed by Neymar; etc. For countries without a player from their home country, we leverage our most well known players.

The reasoning behind this is that fans feel a closer relationship with players from their own country.

First person welcome message directly from players
Our fans are a key to our success and we want them to know that. That is why we worked together with our players to prepare a very inspirational welcome message that makes our fans feel part of the team and that highlights their importance.

Onboarding advantages reminder
We highlight the main advantages for having signed up to our Barça Fans program.

Welcome Pack
We want to treat our fans right from the start. We have put together a welcome pack consisting of:

  • A free Shipping promotional code on our Online Store in some versions of the emails and a 30% off on digital magazine subscriptions from one of our partners for the others.
  • An exclusive wallpaper designed by a renowned football-specialized graphic designer. The only way to get the wallpaper is through the welcome email. Again, depending of the country of our fan, he or she will get a different wallpaper.

Overall look and feel
The graphic designer we commissioned the exclusive wallpapers is known for his vintage-looking images depicting great moments in football. Even if the subjects of the wallpapers are current players, we like to play with the concept that today's wonders are tomorrow's legends.

In order to maintain the vintage look across all the email, we used images instead of code. We are aware of the disadvantage of this approach related to image blocking, however, we also knew that the most predominant email client used by our fans is Gmail, which introduced image caching in late 2013. This helped us decide to stick with this approach.

Responsive design
This is pretty obvious, but with mobile email opens representing more than 50% of total opens, it should be mandatory for all emails to be responsive. We cannot believe there are brands that are not doing it yet. Due to our image-based approach, we rely on the image swapping responsive technique to make sure our emails are easily read on mobile devices.

Welcome emails are probably the most important emails of the customer journey. Not only do you have new subscribers eager to read your content, but also the first impression you make will determine if he or she continues to open your emails in the future. Through continuous optimization that involves analyzing and testing repeatedly, this has led to a 60% increase in post-open CTR on our welcome email.

About the Author:

Adrián Müller is the CRM Manager on FC Barcelona's Marketing Department.