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Email Marketing  |  7 min read

5 best practices you should know for welcome emails

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Amy Saunders

The most important email you ever send to a customer may be the very first one. A welcome email, the message sent after someone signs up for your email list, reaches subscribers at the time they’re most interested in hearing from your company and can [capitalize on an opportunity]( when they're most interested in hearing from you. 

Nearly 58 percent of welcome emails are opened, compared to less than 15 percent for other promotional messages, according to research by Experian Marketing Services. That percentage jumps to 88 percent if the welcome email is sent in real time, as it could be with marketing automation software like Keap .

That kind of attention makes the welcome email an ideal vehicle for introducing new subscribers to your company and setting the tone for the rest of your email communications.

The ideal welcome email does more than simply welcome. According to Digital Marketer, every welcome email should include five elements

  • an introduction
  • what to expect next or in future communications
  • the benefits of being a subscriber
  • any next steps to move them further in their journey, and
  • an open loop that alludes to the fact that there's more to come from your company

Here's a more detailed look at the key elements of what every welcome email should include:

1. An introduction

First off, a welcome email should introduce new subscribers to your company, its values, and the reasons they should choose your business over the competitors.  

Some subscribers may have requested your emails after careful evaluation of your website. But others may have quickly signed up to get a resource you offer without exactly knowing or caring what it is you do. Even if you think subscribers know you, always introduce yourself. 

Under the headline “YOU DON’T HAVE TO READ THIS,” retailer Mack Weldon sends a self-deprecating welcome email that explains, “We know you’re busy and you already know we’re an underwear company.” Now that the subscriber is paying attention, the email goes on to state the less-obvious facts that may leave the subscriber wanting to know more. Yes, the company sells underwear—but it’s made with cutting-edge technology and years of experience.

Mack Weldon welcome email

Image courtesy of Really Good Emails

2. Set expectations

For a subscriber, signing up for an email list involves a moment of trust—and a little hesitation about what’s ahead. Your company may turn out to be the equivalent of that gym that makes it impossible for you to quit, sending you a welcome email series that goes on and on and on.

In your welcome email (and ideally on your website, too), set the expectations for what being on your email list means for subscribers. Tell them what you’re going to send and whether they can expect any consistent pattern. For example, maybe you always send new blog posts on Mondays and a special offer for a product on Fridays. By setting these expectations, your subscribers may start anticipating seeing your emails in their inbox.

The third sentence in this welcome email from One Kings Lane tells new subscribers that the flash-sale site hosts up to 12 sales a day—and that subscribers will be notified via email at the start of every sale. For some people, 12 emails a day sounds terrifying. Rather than scare away subscribers later, One Kings Lane sets expectations upfront and gives subscribers the option to change their email preferences.

One Kings Lane welcome email

Image courtesy of Really Good Emails

3. List out your benefits

Your new subscriber isn’t thinking about your email list nearly as much as you are. Even if the benefits of your emails seem obvious to you, tell subscribers why they should continue to stay tuned to your messages.

For example, when you sign up for emails from an airline, you know what you’re going to get: emails about airline fares. In this welcome email, Virgin America reminds new subscribers why those emails matter—and why they should fly Virgin. “Since you’ll be the first to know, you can always fly with the best fares we’ve got (in addition to the usual moodlighting, WiFi, food on demand, TV, movies, and more),” the email explains.

Virgin America welcome email

Image courtesy of Really Good Emails

4. After the welcome email

Convincing strangers to trust you with their email addresses is a major first step. But still, it’s just that: the first step. Depending on the nature of your business, the next step may not be asking subscribers to fork over their money. Maybe it’s what Digital Marketer calls a “micro-commitment,” a seemingly small ask that still moves the subscriber closer to becoming a customer.

In his welcome email, Francisco Rosales of SocialMouths doesn’t try to sell new subscribers on his online digital marketing courses or one-on-one coaching sessions. He first asks that new subscribers simply reply to the welcome email and describe their biggest challenges in online marketing. The call-to-action gives Rosales the chance to start building a personal connection that could later lead to a sale. And if subscribers don’t reply, he still provides value by sending a free video lesson each day for the next 10 days.

Social Mouths welcome email

Image courtesy of Really Good Emails

5. An open loop

You were planning to send more than just the welcome email, right? It should also get subscribers looking forward to what’s coming next and increase the chances that they’ll open the next emails you send.

In this example from the website builder Webydo, Anna gives you a heads up that you’ll be hearing from her again soon: “In the next few days, I’ll be reaching out to you with some tips and techniques used by some of our most successful designers.” The email then links to Webydo tutorials, encouraging subscribers to get started with the tool as they await the expert tips.

Webydo welcome email

Image courtesy of Really Good Emails

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