Pop quiz: A visitor comes across your website and decides to subscribe to your email list so they don’t miss out on any special offers, sales, or product launches.
What do you do?
If you’re an email marketer, your answer should be: Send a welcome email.
Seventy-five percent of marketers think welcome emails are effective. Plus, 53% are already using them.
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This post is packed full of great advice.
But, you could probably use some tools to help pen perfect welcome emails.
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- Welcome Email Copy Template: Craft creative email copy that gets your new subscribers excited.
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- Email Subject Line A/B Test Template: Track opens on subject lines, and refine them over time.
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What Makes a Welcome Email So Effective (and Important)?
1 ) The Attention Bonus
Your new subscribers are still in engagement mode and very likely are still online and probably your website, too. In fact, the read rate for welcome emails is 34% as compared to 24% for normal commercial emails.
2 ) The Expectation
Frankly, new subscribers sign up fully expecting an email to come to their inbox quickly. This is particularly true if you’re offering a sign-up discount, whitepaper, or other incentive. If you have an audience looking for your message, that’s reason alone to follow through.
3) The Opportunity to Get More Data
With so many eyes on your message, why not leverage the opportunity to get more data? Ask your new subscribers for preferences in terms of products and services, message frequency, demographics, etc. The more data you collect, the better you can segment your list and target your future email marketing campaigns.
Here is how marketers are currently using their welcome emails:
Planning and Executing Your Welcome Email
When putting together your welcome email, keep these 5 steps in mind:
1 ) Set Expectations and Keep Them
To build trust amongst your new email subscribers, you need to deliver what you promised at sign-up. Did you promise a discount? A whitepaper? A free trial? Deliver it with your welcome email.
Ultimately, your welcome email needs to be the foundation of your email experience with your subscribers. Therefore, setting expectations is important throughout every piece of your welcome email including:
- The From Name
- The Subject Line
- Email Copy
As you’ll notice from the example inbox below, From Names and subject lines are critical to welcome emails:
Allowing the user to know exactly WHO the email is from is key. After all, you’re much more likely to open an email from someone you know than someone you don’t.
Subject lines are also important. They can be welcoming, thankful, and back up any sort of discounts or promotions you offered at sign-up. Exclusivity, “special” mentions, etc., can play key roles in subject line effectiveness as well.
Your email content should back up what you promised as well. Whether it’s a plain-text approach or a more “traditional” HTML/image-based email is up to you. Generally, welcome email copy is clear and concise, but word count alone doesn’t determine whether a welcome email is successful (at least at a universal, all-industries level).
This plain-text approach to a welcome email comes from Groove. This email, meant to establish a relationship between subscribers and the CEO, garnered a 41% response rate:
This welcome email from Blurb uses concise text and imagery to give a clear idea to the subscriber about what to expect.
2 ) Use What Data You Have to Personalize Your Welcome Email
Make use of whatever information you have or collect sign-up to personalize your welcome message. For example, if you have first name, use it.
Hope For Justice is a non-profit organization that has used ‘first name personalization’ in their welcome email subject line, thereby enhancing the open rates.
See how Freedom includes the first name of the subscriber in their welcome email.
Office asks for the subscriber’s birthday in the last email of their welcome email series with an enticing copy and CTA “I WANT A BIRTHDAY GIFT”.
Provide information and content that’s relevant to how they signed up or what they signed up for. For example:
- If they signed up directly: Provide brand and product/service information.
- For new customers: You can cross-sell similar or “next logical” products.
- For someone who requested a whitepaper or similar document: Provide the link to download.
- For someone who requested a demo on your website: Use this space for content that is aimed at getting the demo started.
As mentioned before, you can also use this time to ask for more information.
To make the email entertaining, you can use a rich media element like high-resolution images, GIF, or a cinemagraph.
3 ) Design Compelling and Prominent CTAs
The marketer’s reason behind a welcome email (and email marketing in general) is converting subscribers into customers. Your call to action (CTA) should be first and foremost in your mind in terms of how to design your welcome email. Simply put, it should be obvious what you want your customers to do. Your copy (and buttons) should be concise and easy to find.
Hollister includes two distinct CTAs targeted to ‘guys’ and ‘girls’. The readers know exactly what the CTA is intended to do.
Eddie Bauer includes one primary CTA that allows the subscribers to meet their team, with additional supporting CTAs that urge readers to involve themselves more into the brand on their social channels and blog.
If you want to draw more attention to your CTA, you can use an interactive element like an animated gif or even a countdown clock to generate urgency around a special offer.
4 ) Use Color Effectively
Colors can influence perception with your customers. Want proof? 60% of emails distinctly use the color blue. It represents trust, integrity, and efficiency, all virtues that are very important to consumers.
5 ) Introduce New Subscribers to Your Social Channels
The time when someone subscribes to your emails is when they are most interested in your brand. This is a great time to tell them about other ways to connect with you—namely your social media pages. Give them a reason to do so—for example, tell them that it is on social media that you disclose your offers first. They are more likely to follow you on social media now than any other time because they are curious about your brand.
McDonald’s launches the third email of their welcome series with the subject line “We’ve got a real connection” to promote their social media channels and acquire more subscriber information.
Below, see how Office highlights their social media channels under the heading “Let’s hang”. Note: Also notice the request to get whitelisted at the outset of the email.
6 ) Send Immediately
Ideally, a welcome email is sent immediately after someone signs up for your mailing list. As mentioned previously, these new subscribers are most engaged and likely still on your website. Make sure your automation is set right to deliver your welcome message as soon as possible.
Multiple Welcome Emails Can Be Better than 1
You may have a lot that you want to share with your new subscriber. But conveying it all in one email could simply be too much.
Sending a series of welcome emails can help you build trust in your brand as you gradually provide all the information new subscribers may be looking for.
How many emails you include in your series is up to you. I usually recommend starting with a 3-email series.
Your First Email
Sent immediately after you’ve received the subscriber’s email address.
You should include:
- A sign-up confirmation message
- Some sort of ‘Thank You for signing up’ or ‘Welcome onboard’ messaging
- Language that sets subscriber expectations. Tell them what to expect and when to expect it.
The Bath and Body Works example below is a great example of a simple and informative first welcome email.
Your Second Email
Sent 24 hours after the first email is sent.
Some elements you can include:
- Social media links to connect with them on other platforms.
- Your bestselling products (or product categories)
Below is the second welcome email from Bath and Body Works. You’ll see that they introduce their categories of products.
Your Third Email
Sent 2 days after the second email is delivered.
Some elements you can include:
- Local store information
- Product information
- A request to collect additional subscriber data
Below is the third message from the Bath and Body Works welcome series.
Examples of Welcome Emails You Will Love
Welcome emails are crucial for creating a good first impression. I’ve rounded up some quality B2C and B2B welcome email examples that I think do just that.
1 ) BBC
They begin by setting the stage for what the subscribers can expect in the days to come and when they will be receiving emails. They suggest videos that the subscriber may like to check out—adding that the suggestions may not be spot on. The BBC uses this opportunity to ask for further engagement so they can collect more data and deliver better suggestions. Nice work!
2 ) Boden
Boden welcomes the new subscriber by telling the subscriber about the benefits they will be enjoying by joining the brand’s email list. They also offer a 15% welcome discount and free shipping. They complete the package by providing links to social platforms in the footer.
3 ) Best Buy
A warm welcome with solid, prominent CTAs, links to important categories, and social buttons in the footer.
4 ) Cotton On
This email begins by introducing the subscriber to the Cotton On family of brands. They personalize the email by adding the subscriber’s first name. A coupon code to redeem a 20% welcome discount makes the email even more engaging. They also prominently display the link to the preference center where the subscriber can set their email preferences.
5 ) J. Crew
J. Crew keeps it simple. They nudge the subscriber to explore their website through two links (they could test CTA buttons). Through a secondary offer, the subscriber can also sign up for the style guide. Social buttons are included in the footer but are not prominent.
6 ) GoDaddy
This is a nice approach from GoDaddy. They provide help to businesses in making the right domain name choice through 10 tips. They also highlight the first purchase discount at the top along with a prominent CTA.
Here are some common best practices to follow.
And here are some common pitfalls to avoid.
Email marketing can build trust between your brand and your subscribers. Your welcome email lays that foundation. Make sure your welcome email (or series) lays a strong, positive foundation.
Have you tried anything innovative in your welcome emails that gave you great results? Share in the comments below.