You’ve got a brand new subscriber. Your email list is growing. For a brief moment, someone decided to zone out everybody else on the Internet, and give you their attention. You may not realize it but…
This is a big deal.
When someone opts into your email list, that’s their very first transaction with your business.
It matters as much as a sale.
That email address is currency.
So where do you go from there?
First, understand that new subscribers are genuinely interested in your business.
They trust you enough to invite you into their inbox.
They’re zealous about your brand and what you offer.
This is why your welcome email series is one of the most crucial pieces of content that you’ll ever create.
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Why bother with welcome emails?
A welcome email sequence is a group of emails that are sent to your subscribers when they just opt into your list.
It’s your chance to make a stellar first impression.
Your only job at this stage is to get subscribers hooked on you and what you stand for.
This is where you’ll…
- Introduce yourself
- Tell your brand story
- Reinforce the benefits of being subscribed to your list
- Emphasize why you differ from your competitors
- Set expectations for your relationship moving forward
- Segment your new subscribers
That’s a tall order, right?
In a sense, yes.
It’s why I don’t recommend a single welcome email.
One email is not enough real estate to achieve the level of indoctrination that is required.
I know indoctrination sounds like a very surgical concept.
In truth, having the best welcome email isn’t about copying others. Rather it’s about getting subscribers so acquainted with your brand story that they can almost recite your value proposition.
It takes careful planning to deliver an email sequence which achieves that.
How to plan your welcome email strategy
There are a few steps in this process.
Let’s dive right in.
Step 1: Map the journey that you want new subscribers to take.
What do you want your subscribers to learn about you during that welcome period?
More importantly, what actions do you want them to take upon reading your emails?
This is going to set the foundation for three crucial things.
- How many emails you need in your sequence
- The content of your emails
- The order in which you’ll deliver each email
To take a note of all the objectives that you have for your welcome email series.
Your list may look something like this:
- Connect with you on Facebook or other social media
- Reply to your emails
- Learn about your personal values and how that influences the way you do business
Do you catch the drift?
Step 2: Set a coherent email campaign structure based on these actions.
The sequence that you deliver your emails is crucial.
For example, you can’t get subscribers to make any additional commitments to your business without them knowing who you are.
Naturally, a personal introduction, as well as your brand story, will come first.
The rest of your emails will depend on the actions that you want subscribers to take.
A good rule of thumb is to start with the calls-to-action with the least resistance.
You won’t lead with an email where the objective is a sales conversion, right?
You would go for low hanging fruit like signing up to view a product demo.
Fortunately, this isn’t brain surgery.
The sequence of your emails will come intuitively after you’ve set your objectives.
Step 3: Plan to add context from the outset
Every single subscriber won’t come from the same source.
They’ll sign up for different incentives.
They’ll have varying points of interaction with your business.
What does this mean for your email sequence?
You need to have welcome emails that are tailored to the experience that subscribers have had with your business.
It sounds like more work, but it’s one of the best things that you can do for your email list.
For one, you can easily segment new subscribers based on what incentive they opted in for, as well as their interests.
It also allows you to split test the creative elements in your emails so you can see which performs best.
Now for the fun part.
Let’s get into the anatomy of a high-impact welcome email.
The 10-point framework of a perfect welcome email
An effective welcome email has several elements that need to come together seamlessly.
Do you have to include every element in each email?
Not at all.
A compelling subject line and personalization elements should be present across the board.
For other elements, you will use your judgment based on the nature of the email.
1. Craft a clear and persuasive subject line
Some marketers advise having a straight shooting headline.
It should immediately tell subscribers what the contents of the email are.
Others advise to get a bit more creative and use an email subject line that doesn’t reveal everything.
It depends on the email.
In the first email where you’re delivering a resource that you promised, go for the straightforward subject line:
Or, you can get creative like BirchBox:
You don’t always have to confine yourself to a simple subject line.
Here’s an example from Mary Fernandez.
2. Personalize your emails
Think about it.
Wouldn’t you rather someone refer to you by name?
Doesn’t it evoke a more emotional response?
I bet it does.
Some people choose not to include a form field for their subscriber’s names.
It’s been proven that the more fields that there are to fill, the less likely subscribers will complete the opt in process.
This may or may not be the case for you.
A simple way to find out is to split test your email capture forms to find out.
If your opt-in rate decreases when you include a name field, it’s a tradeoff that you’ll have to decide on.
From where I stand, the personalized email always wins.
It’s important to note that personalization isn’t only about a name.
It could be a matter of you tailoring your emails based on the interactions subscribers have had with your business.
The bottom line is, you want to show your subscribers you truly care about them.
Here’s a brilliant example from Cotton Bureau:
We all know that they don’t throw a party for every subscriber (or any at all), but it’s a point well made.
They’re thrilled to welcome new members.
Note that it doesn’t even include a name for personalization. The email still has elements to evoke the same emotional response.
It goes to show that there are no set formulas.
3. Have a gripping opening line
The opening line of your email is as important as your subject line.
If you can’t hook your subscribers, they won’t read the rest of your email.
There’s no magic formula.
Be engaging, persuasive, and authentic to your brand’s voice.
One Kings Lane uses an opening line that highlights their value proposition:
It’s short and straightforward, but it works.
4. Include a warm thank you
This is a given.
Show your subscribers that you’re grateful for their trust.
Simply saying “Thank You” is powerful enough.
You can take it a step further and offer a gift as a thank you.
Bombas offers a 20% coupon to new subscribers:
5. Tell your brand story well
Have you heard the saying “a story well told is a story well sold?”
It speaks to the power of stories for driving sales.
Your brand story gets subscribers more emotionally invested in you.
Every decision that we make, including purchase decisions, stem from emotions.
It is only after we’ve made the decision, that we call on logic to justify it.
So I highly recommend that you craft an engaging and authentic brand story for your welcome email.
Bombas does this exceptionally well.
6. Address incentives and reinforce benefits
Chances are, your subscribers opted into your list for a particular free resource.
Ensure that you address that at the very beginning of your email.
If you can provide that immediate gratification, it will have a massive impact on how subscribers perceive your value.
It’s also a wise practice to remind subscribers that they’ve made a smart decision by opting into your list.
What benefits can they expect to gain?
Here’s an excellent example for JCrew:
7. Set expectations for future communication
What email content will subscribers receive from you?
How often will you email them?
What gifts can they expect and when?
For instance, JCrew lets subscribers know that they can expect a generous discount on their birthday.
It’s imperative that you set those expectations for your subscribers.
That’s how you gain their trust.
The way you keep that trust is to show up when you say you will.
Your word truly is your bond in all communication including email.
8. Persuade new subscribers to make micro commitments
This is an element that is rarely discussed.
It sets the tone for the relationship moving forward.
If you don’t get subscribers to make a micro commitment in your welcome email sequence, you’ll have more resistance in the future.
What do I mean by a micro commitment?
Put simply, you want to get subscribers in the habit of saying “Yes” to you.
Wouldn’t it be a better strategy to go for a small victory first? Of course, it would!
It could be anything from connecting with you on social media, reading more of your content, and whitelisting your emails.
In this welcome email from CoSchedule, subscribers are called on to make a micro commitment by viewing a demo:
How do you achieve that?
It all rests in your calls-to-action.
This brings us to the next element.
9. Include primary and secondary calls-to-action
You already know the power of a solid call-to-action.
The only question left is, what is the most effective strategy for your welcome emails?
All emails should have, at the very least, a primary call to action.
It can—and almost always is—followed by a secondary call to action.
Think of it this way.
What is the one thing that you want subscribers to do immediately upon reading your email?
That’s your primary call-to-action.
Anything else is secondary.
Let’s dissect the previous CoSchedule email.
Notice how the primary call to action is emphasized several times.
It’s the only focus in the body of the email.
There’s even a line to impress upon subscribers that if they only do one thing, it should be to grab a seat to watch the demo.
The secondary call to action is left in the Post Scriptum (P.S.) section of the email.
That’s the most effective structure for your call to actions.
10. Don’t forget to leave a teaser
This is imperative for building anticipation.
You don’t want subscribers to lose interest after your first set of emails.
Teasers are tied into setting expectations, but it’s a tad different.
In addition to telling subscribers exactly what to expect, you can invoke a bit of curiosity.
This way, they are compelled to open any subsequent emails.
You can simply say that you have a few special surprises in store. They’re going to be good. And subscribers should stay connected, so they don’t miss out.
It works wonders.
Note: To learn more about e-commerce email marketing, read our popular guide E-Commerce Email Marketing 101: 11 Must-Have Emails (w/ Templates)
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You know what they say about first impressions.
You only get one chance, and it sets the tone for the entire lifespan of the relationship.
That’s the importance of your welcome email series.
You want to lead with your best foot.
This way, subscribers will be delighted with the experience that they have with your business.
And guess what?
If they feel good when reading your emails, they’re going to be thrilled to receive any communication from you.
That trust is golden.
It will be the foundation of a formidable revenue generating asset.
What elements do you include in your welcome emails?