Beyond driving sales directly, welcome emails are valuable for the data they can provide about your customers.
As in life, first impressions matter in email marketing—a lot. The welcome email, or series of emails, you send to your new customers, users, or subscribers may just be the most valuable one you ever send.
A welcome email is different than a receipt or order confirmation. It’s an automated email or email series designed to kick off your relationship with a new customer or subscriber and start the process of nurturing and developing that relationship—and turning that person into a long-term, satisfied, repeat buyer.
And welcome emails are very effective.
One study found welcome emails have an astronomical 84.22 % open rate and a 25.91 % click-through rate. Those percentages are both four times higher than other types of marketing emails. All those clicks actually translate to revenue for eCommerce stores, too; another study found that welcome emails bring in eight times more revenue than any other emails.
Beyond driving sales directly, welcome emails are also valuable for the data they can provide about your customers.
More than 94 % of people who ignore your welcome emails will ignore all future emails from you as well. But people who read one welcome email are 18 % more likely to engage with you in the future—and people who read three emails in a welcome series are 69 % more likely. That means you can use data from your welcome emails to better target future marketing at your most lucrative customers.
Despite their efficacy, however, welcome emails still aren’t used as much as you’d think. A quarter of sites don’t send any welcome emails—and a lot of the sites that do are just sending double opt-in messages to confirm subscriptions, not actual welcomes.
In this article, we’ll examine the elements of a strong welcome email series. We’ll also dig into what you should say in your welcome emails and how to use them as a key tool for customer satisfaction.
How to structure a welcome series
A welcome series can be as simple as a quick email saying, “Thanks for subscribing!” or as complex as a personalized series of multiple emails designed to take someone on a journey from new subscriber to loyal customer and brand advocate. Whatever the case, your welcome series is automated—meaning you can set it up once and make changes to those automated emails only when necessary.
In this article, we’re going to take you through a sample five-email welcome series that should hit all of the notes you’d want. You may decide five emails is overkill for your business, in which case the content in some of these emails could be combined (or disregarded) to meet your specific needs. But with these five, you should be able to fully welcome your customer, introduce your brand, and begin forming a solid bond.
Email #1: Welcome and thank you
The first welcome email, which should go out no later than a minute after a person subscribes, almost always includes a large message saying something along the lines of, as you might expect, “Welcome!” It also thanks the person for subscribing (or purchasing, or whatever you’re using as the trigger for this series).
Other elements that are important in an initial welcome email are:
- An introduction to your brand, generally with some brief copy and a few photos.
- Spotlighting the key features and differentiators that make your brand special and validate the decision to subscribe to your email marketing (or make a purchase).
- Setting the expectation of email frequency (e.g., “Look for our weekly roundup of deals in your inbox.”)
And finally, your first welcome email should have a call-to-action based on what you most want the subscriber to do next. If they subscribed to your app, perhaps it’s the beginning of the onboarding process—getting them to log in and use it for the first time. If you’re in the content business, perhaps it’s also getting them to follow you on social media or read your best blog posts. And if you’re in eCommerce, odds are, it’s getting them to buy something. (After all, as we said earlier, welcome emails are a great source of revenue.)
Check out this welcome email from the fitness company P.volve.
They welcome a new subscriber, give a quick rundown of the company and its value proposition, and have a call to action of “Learn More.” This email isn’t designed to do any hard selling—it’s meant to validate the subscriber’s choice to sign up and begin the process of converting that subscriber into a fan.
Email #2: Education about the company
While your first email in a welcome series is a broad, quick overview of who you are and what you do, your second email can delve even deeper into your company. It should go out a day or two after the first email, and you should use it as an opportunity to share more about the team behind the brand, what your company does, and why this new subscriber should feel good about connecting with you.
Brand values are becoming increasingly important to young and older customers alike. The second email in a welcome series is a chance to show off those values so your new customers can see exactly what you’re about and just how well you’re aligned.
The welcome email below from Hill City is all about educating a new subscriber about the company—and demonstrating how the people behind the company share the same values as the customer.
Email #3: Learn about your customer
Now that your customer has started to get to know your brand, it’s time for you to get to know your customer. The third email in a welcome series should be all about finding out what needs your business can fill in the customer’s life.
There are a few different approaches you can take here to get that information, depending on the stage of the customer journey:
- For subscribers who haven’t made a purchase, extend an invitation to connect. Ask the customer what they want, invite them to share more information about themselves, and give them a number of options to chat with your team (email, phone, live chat, text, social, and more).
- If the person subscribed while making a purchase, check in on how they’re doing with their purchase and offer support and tips.
- If you have personalization information for the subscriber, you can offer a tailored solution. For example, if the person signed up from a pop-up that said “Want more information on growing your blog traffic?” then this is the time to direct them to your best blog posts and courses for growing blog traffic.
Regardless of the approach, the call-to-action here should be a way for the subscriber to connect with your brand. This email is all about showing your dedication to customer satisfaction and establishing the precedent early on that you’re actively looking out for them.
Learning about your customers is important for brands of all sizes. In this email, Banana Republic prompts the customer to share more about themselves with the brand. The copy is clever too; by offering a birthday surprise, there’s an extra incentive for the customer to fill in their profile.
Email #4: Follow us on social media
Email marketing is great, but social media can fill a different role for a customer and help you develop a more holistic relationship. The more ways a customer is connected to you, the more you can stay top-of-mind, which should lead to sales down the road.
The fourth email in your welcome series is an opportunity to promote your social media channels to invite the customer to follow you on all of them.
Yeti’s “follow us” welcome email is one to emulate. Everything hits the right notes, from the on-brand subject line of “Follow Us into the Wild” to a brief explanation of what you’ll get from following them on each different social channel.
They’re not just looking to turn email subscribers into social media followers—they’re giving succinct, compelling reasons why their email subscribers should follow them.
Email #5: Showcasing popular products and making a sale
Now that you’ve gone through a full welcome series, the fifth and final email is the one where you make your big sales push. Show off your most popular products (or, based on personalized information you have, targeted products for the subscriber) and use a strong call-to-action to entice them to purchase.
You can even sweeten the pot here by offering a discount or incentive, although it may not be necessary.
One study found there was no significant increase in sales when welcome emails included a discount, nor did it make any difference in a customer’s long term value. That being said, a separate study did find that welcome emails with an offer yielded higher revenue overall, so including one could pay off.
Every audience is different, so it’s a good idea to test different strategies to see which works best for your customers..
In this email from Knockaround, they offer a nice discount of 15 percent, then guide you right to their best sellers as a suggestion of where to use it.
How welcome emails increase customer satisfaction
Now that we’ve dug into welcome emails, let’s look at one of their best assets—increasing customer satisfaction. Check out all of the ways welcome emails will lead to more satisfied customers:
- They educate. If you have a product that requires training, the welcome series is a great way to begin that. This is also true if you’re in a niche business where customer education is a key part of the sales process. For example, Beardbrand’s welcome series is a multi-part email sequence of educational emails all about different aspects of proper beard care.
- They build a connection. By receiving a welcome series, a customer gets to know that you’re an engaged, active, customer-focused brand—and one worthy of connecting with. That’s key for making the first sale as well as crucial long-term customer retention.
- They validate the customer’s decision to align with your brand. By presenting what’s good with your brand, you can make a customer feel good about their decision to connect with you.
- They let customers know there are real people looking out for them. One of the big keys to customer satisfaction is the knowledge that a business will make sure a customer is happy with their purchases. The welcome series establishes who’s behind the company and presents numerous ways a customer can connect with those people.
- They show a customer you recognize “what’s in it for them.” By sending out a welcome series that’s not just focused on sell-sell-sell but, rather, on a holistic view of your company and what you do, it shows your customer you get what they’re looking for out of their relationship with your brand.