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The Anatomy of a Perfect Welcome Email

welcome email

The Welcome Email. It’s an email campaign that can make or break your ability to win over window shoppers and convert them into paying customers.

Think about it this way:

Customers. Not account numbers.

People. Not dollar signs.

Individuals. Not cattle.

Modern savvy consumers expect more. They’re spoilt for choice, and can literally take their business down the street or across the globe.

Walker Consultancy predicts that the customer experience will surpass both price and the product itself as the key differentiator by 2020.

Enter the welcome email to the rescue.  

A welcome email series is a set of triggered messages sent to a new lead or a new customer after they’ve agreed to receive marketing material. Remember, you only get one chance to make a first impression, so craft a warm, friendly, and informative persona for yours.

These onboarding emails serve to welcome someone to your exclusive little club, of course, but also help to foster better engagement with you, your brand, and your products.

It’s not the only part of your customer experience, but it is the introduction. The first step. Make it count.  

What are you doing to appreciate them? To make them feel recognized and valued beyond the dollars and cents they may send your way?

If you can’t answer that, you’re doing the whole eCommerce thing wrong.

The Welcome Email Generates More Revenue

Consider the amount of email you receive on a daily basis. It’s likely dozens, if not hundreds. Now, consider how many of those you actually open, read, and respond to. Far fewer, right?

The welcome email is different. It’s a triggered message. It’s permission-based marketing. You’ve been invited to their inbox. They’re expecting you.

In fact, you’re falling well short of customer expectations if you don’t send one. According to Bluehornet, nearly three-quarters – 74.4% – expect a welcome email when signing up or subscribing to a website. They want one.

Why would you not observe that? But it gets even better:

  • Compared to all other promotional emails, welcome emails generate 320% more revenue (Easy SMTP)
  • Welcome emails see nearly 4x higher open rates, and more than 5x higher click-through rates than any other type (Experian)
  • A welcome email series generates 2.6x higher transaction rates when they include an incentive or discount (Chargify)
  • A triggered email series delivers 624% higher conversion responses and 381% higher click-through rates compared to a blast campaign of the same number (VentureBeat)
  • Overall, email marketing delivered a spectacular 4400% return-on-investment in 2016…$44 for every $1 spent (Campaign Monitor)

welcome email

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Whenever anyone creates an account, signs up, or subscribes, you should immediately send them a “thank you for subscribing” message. Don’t wait until tomorrow. Don’t play hard to get. Strike while the iron is hot and they’re showing interest in you and what you have on offer.

And it can be just that simple. Thank you for subscribing. That’s it. They feel welcome, appreciated, and recognized. Win-win-win.

But to really take advantage of this invitation to their digital domain, you need to go further.

The Welcome Email Can Do More

As the name implies, you want to welcome them to your site, or newsletter list, or service. But why stop there when you’ve been asked in and invited to sit down?

For starters, why not consider a welcome email series rather than a stand-alone note? One that goes out right away and thanks them for subscribing, a second a day or two later with an incentive to visit again, and a third a few days after that with a link to some informative or educational piece of relevant content.

Or, a “thanks for subscribing” message, followed by another with a special coupon to save on their first purchase, and finally a last email with instructions on how to find you on social media, or set their account preferences, or get registered for your loyalty program.

These onboarding emails can take someone from newcomer to seasoned pro, from stranger to old friend, from prospect to customer.

Send one. Send two. Send three or more. Just send something.

The Welcome Email in a Nutshell

Whether you cram it into one, or spread it out over 3-4, a welcome email (series) usually includes:

  1. A “thanks for subscribing” welcome message.
  2. An explanation of the benefits that come with subscription and your brand. Why bother, what perks can they expect, what makes you so special?
  3. A request. Ask them to do something: set their email preferences, whitelist your emails, follow you on social media, or best of all, head over to your site and make their first purchase (provide them with a welcome discount to sweeten the deal).
  4. Tell them what they need to know: your privacy policy, when and what they can expect to see from you, next steps they could and should take, links to relevant pages on your site (the help desk, customer service, their account profile), and more.
  5. A reward. Show them the value you bring, and how much you appreciate them. A free gift, an exclusive piece of content, a special promotion.

Can you include other things? Of course. Welcome, and then further the engagement and conversation. The timing and frequency of multiple emails will need some testing to perfect, but don’t let that stop you.

Welcome Email Tips and Best Practices

The golden rule? Test your welcome and onboarding emails. What works for others won’t necessarily work for you. But best practices are typically powerful and effective:

  • Brevity and visuals go a long, long way.
  • Subject lines should be simple and to the point: Welcome to [Your Brand], Thanks for Subscribing, Let the Savings Begin, Let’s Go Shopping, Here’s a Coupon Just for You, and so on. Test what works best.
  • The From: field should include an actual name (yours or your brands) and not the dreaded noreply or info. Dylan@yourbrand.com, yes. noreply@yourbrand.com, no.
  • Be warm, friendly, and human.
  • Personalize with information and details from their sign up or subscription form. According to Statista, open rates for personalized emails in 2016 was 18.8%, compared to only 13.1% without personalization
  • Build trust and relevance to get opened.
  • Avoid spam trigger words like free, cash, and cheap.
  • The word “because” has been shown to increase compliance from 60% to 94%, and using “sale” in the subject line increased open rates by 23.2% according to a study by Easy SMTP.

Welcome Email Subject Lines

  • Thanks for subscribing!
  • Nice to meet you
  • Welcome to [company name]
  • How are you?
  • We’re glad to have you

Welcome Email Examples

Welcome Email Example #1

email examples

Welcome Email Example Inspiration: This welcome email from British designer Karen Millen has nice imagery and branding. The only question is, is it enough to encourage shoppers to make that first purchase?

Welcome Email Example #2

email examples

Welcome Email Example Inspiration: It’s no secret that Target has always done a fantastic job at branding. In this welcome email, the focus is on value and discounts positioning the REDcard front and center which boasts free shipping and 5% off every purchase in addition to clearance items promoted directly below.

Welcome Email Example #3

email examples

Welcome Email Example Inspiration: This welcome email makes a nice attempt to let new subscribers know what they can expect to see in their inbox, however placing the discount below the fold may not be the best use of email real estate.

Welcome emails, onboarding emails, thank you for subscribing emails. No matter what you call them, they’re the start of the relationship. A relationship that someone has instigated and wants to explore further.

Make it the start of a beautiful friendship. And turn to SmartMail to make it perfect.