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We shake hands when meeting someone new. Someone leads us to our table when we enter a restaurant. We call our moms and they say “Hello.” All of these gestures mean confirmation of interest to interact. Maybe this is why 74.4% of new subscribers expect a welcome email when they subscribe to your newsletter. They express an interest in you and expect a reaction.

According to a Salesforce report, only 42% of companies actually send welcome emails. Those that do send them, however, claim that they are useful: 72% of companies that send these automated emails assess them as very effective/effective and only 5% see little or any value in them.

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Source: Salesforce Report

From my point of view, the main reasons for such a good evaluation of automated welcome emails are the following:

  1. Every interaction builds a stronger engagement between your brand and your new subscriber. In this way, you confirm a connection and consolidate your online store’s credibility. In some cases, you can even surprise a subscriber with an unexpected incentive to buy, i.e. a discount, free shipping, etc.
  2. Sending a welcome email is the best way to personally introduce the new subscriber to your brand and product categories, as well as the benefits of belonging to your brand community and buying from you.
  3. When you deliver the relevant email at the right time, you can expect to move your subscriber from interest to acquisition. In other words, a welcome email is an icebreaker for the first purchase of a new customer.

So let’s dig deeper into the anatomy of the automated welcome email and see what we can learn to achieve the best results.

Tip #1: Start Sending Welcome Emails

First, check if your email service provider has the technical ability to send automated welcome emails. If yes, great. If not, find one that can.

Welcome emails are worth sending because they require very little time to set up and automatically generate monthly sales with no extra effort. This kind of email results in 4x higher open rates and 5x higher click rates compared to other promotional emails. Keeping in mind that in ecommerce, average revenue per promotional email is $0.02, welcome emails on average result in 9x higher revenue –– $0.18. And if it’s optimized effectively, revenue can be as high as $3.36 per email. To optimize effectively, try different copywriting, incentives, as well as call-to-action buttons, and find the best working solution for your brand.

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Source: Soundest

Setting up the welcome email is usually not difficult. With Soundest’s email marketing tool, for instance, it takes one click to enable this feature. If you are not sure what to say in this kind of email, email services provide a default ready-made welcome email. You can start with that. However, as we can see in the chart above, these emails are worth customizing.

Note: Discern an automated double opt-in confirmation email from a welcome email. The former is only for confirmation, while the latter email is for converting subscribers into buyers.

Tip #2. Send Series Emails Instead of Single Welcome Emails

Email marketing tools usually have several alternatives for welcoming new subscribers: sending either a single or a series of welcome emails. Analyzing the results of our clients, we see that the series is even more effective. It might contain many onboarding emails in a row. Customers that have already purchased after the first email do not receive the second one.

You can use these emails creatively, as well. For instance, introduce the brand and every category separately, set the expectations of further communication, offer incentives to buy and then remind the customer a few times about it. In this way, you interact with your new subscriber many times instead of once.

How many emails in a series are OK? We recommend from three to five. If you use purchase incentives in the emails, three are enough. For a more in-depth introduction, even five emails can be sent to the new subscriber.

The value of an email series can be seen from this example of a brand selling fishing gear in Australia. Over a few months, it captured almost 4,600 new subscribers. The first email generated 108 orders. Meanwhile, the second email resulted in 35 and the third one in 28 orders. Overall, this entire series of three emails resulted in 171 new customers. This is 36.8% more than a single welcome email would bring.

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Source: Soundest

Once you have an idea of what to say in the emails, think about how to time them correctly. Welcome emails shouldn’t last for weeks. A good timeframe for a welcome series is a week. The first email should be sent immediately after signing up. The second several days after, and the last one, six or seven days after registration. Do not send too many emails or too often. Your new subscribers will unsubscribe.

In case your sale cycle is longer than 48 hours (usually people think longer before buying big ticket items like TVs, fridges, holiday trips, etc.), you should consider a different frequency. Sometimes the last email can be sent even after a full month.

Tip #3. Craft a More Conversational Subject Line

Subscribers should be able to easily distinguish your welcome email versus a promotional email in their inboxes. Remember, they’ve subscribed because they are interested in you, so it’s nice to express your appreciation.

Consider subject lines like “Thank you for subscribing. Your gift is inside” or “Welcome to our community. We are glad to meet you.” and use a preheader as well. In a pre-header, you can mention an incentive to buy or an included gift. Don’t be like Crocs, customize your preheader so your newsletters look more personalized and on topic. Sometimes even well-known brands forget to customise pre-headers.

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Moreover, don’t be afraid of experimenting with subject lines and copywriting. For this purpose, some of the ESPs offer A/B testing, while others offer a campaign booster that allows you to repeat the same campaign to non-openers from the first try. It doesn’t matter which tools you use, attempt to alter the copywriting to increase ROI.

Recently, I have been doing such experiments myself. Every Monday for five weeks, I changed the copywriting in the subscription forms, and much to my surprise, the results were tremendous. One of my findings is that the sentence “Level up your email marketing!” encourages visitors to subscribe 7x more than “Subscribe to our newsletter.” It’s easy and ingenious, but it took me some time to find it out. The devil is in the detail.

Tip #4. Pay Special Attention to the CTA Button

New customers tend to click more. So take advantage of this.

Make sure the subscriber does not have to look for a CTA button. Make it bright and easy to see, place it in the best position it can be. As I’m focusing on encouraging purchases in this article, the button should be inviting the customer to the shop; e.g., “Go Shopping” or “Redeem discount today!”

However, you may also consider encouraging your new subscriber to do various other things, for example, “Pick your preferences” for what kind of future email cadence they want to see.

Tip #5. Use Incentives in Your Emails

By becoming subscribers, people express their interest in your brand. This is a nice occasion to award them with a small gift, discount or free shipping for their first purchase. I personally like the Michael’s example.

Example 1

In its welcome email, this brand thanks you for subscribing, introduces the benefits of being a subscriber and offers 20% OFF.

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Example 2

For the sake of curiosity, let’s analyze one more brand case. Over the last few months, a women’s underwear store has attracted 3,231 new subscribers. After some experiments with copywriting and different templates, this brand has started to use a 15% discount as an incentive for the first purchase and has showcased the most popular underwear. These welcome emails have 1,960 (60.66%) opens and 964 (29.77%) clicks, resulting in 470 orders.

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Source: Soundest

Tip #6. Think About How the Welcome Email Fits in With Your Regular Promotional Emails

A welcome email or series should introduce the subscriber to your entire brand communication before they get other promotional newsletters. Consider using the same brand colors, fonts and image style. A lot of people have visual memory and relate feelings with the images they see. So the first good impression of your welcome email will probably lead to the opening of your promotional emails.

For some very nice examples, check out my recent post about top-notch welcome emails.

Tip #7. Encourage Your Customers to Connect

You likely already know about retargeting opportunities these days and it is not necessary to explain how important it is to reach your customers through several different channels. A welcome email is the best chance to invite your audience to become followers and fans on social media. Don’t miss your chance.

The Bottom Line

Nowadays, successful email marketing implementation cannot be done without automation. Sending welcome emails is a good start and a great way to increase customer engagement from that very first touchpoint.

Photo: Flickr, Nathan

Leave a Comment
  • Zoe

    Cool tips! It’s easy to forget that welcome emails can be so powerful. I’ll set up a welcome email in my GetResponse for my new subscribers! :)

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