Welcome emails are one of the most effective triggered emails you can send. In fact, their average click-through rates are about 5 times higher than those of regular newsletters. They work because they arrive right after someone has signed up for your newsletter – in the window of time when your new subscriber is most interested in your emails and your business.
Think of it this way: If you could get your subscribers to open, read and respond to only one email, what would you say in that email? That’s what to say in your welcome email. Many companies choose to tell their new subscribers something like this:
- Welcome and thanks for signing up. Seems obvious, sure. But showing you appreciate your new subscriber means a lot. You are building a relationship with this reader, after all. You’re building trust and hoping to establish a pattern of them engaging with what you send. Why not start out with a thank you?
- Here’s your free gift. As you may know already, we’re big advocates of offering a “lead magnet” or some other kind of sign up incentive (here's a useful list of lead magnet ideas). It gets subscribers, but also immediately sets your new subscriber up to expect good things from you. Your welcome email can be the delivery mechanism for that signup incentive.
- Here’s our best content. Pointing people to a welcome guide is the best at this stage. But if you don’t have that, just point them to a few “top of the funnel” type of introductory content. A list of your three or four all-time most popular posts is good, too.
- What do you want to know? I’m seeing more and more surveys in emails these days. Some days 2-3 of them show up. It’s good to see. Surveys are one of the best ways to find out what content your readers really want. The trick can be to get them to tell you. Leverage the good feelings and high engagement rates of your welcome email to get this information up front.
- Whitelisting instructions. Struggling with deliverability issues? Consider adding whitelist or “safe sender” instructions to your welcome email. Adding an image, or even an animated gif to explain how to whitelist your emails can help even more.
- Offer something for sale. As mentioned before, your new subscriber’s enthusiasm for your work is at a high when they first sign up. Why not take that opportunity to sell them something? Even a $7 introductory ebook could work. Actually, it might be exactly the kind of content they want at this stage. See Kerry Butters’s recent post, Making a Sale With Your Welcome Email, for details.
Send your welcome emails promptly
I mentioned in the open that welcome emails work because of their timing. It’s critical they are sent as soon as your new subscriber has finished the opt-in process. Don’t “batch” them to arrive a few days, or even a few hours later. You’ll crush your results.
GetResponse users: Worry not. Our system is set to automatically send welcome emails immediately.
On to the welcome email examples…
So that’s the best practices and some of the theory behind them. Here are five examples of killer welcome emails, and why they’re so good. I’ve also included two examples of very weak welcome emails, just for contrast.
1) Backcountry’s very long, but still awesome welcome email.
Okay, clearly there’s no concern about having too long a welcome email here. But it’s actually pretty light on copy – they’ve got more than two-thirds of the space here for images.
But every image echoes the purpose of this email. First there’s the big happy smile right below the “Thank you” headline. Then there’s a few photos showing some of the gear they sell in action.
That’s followed by a feature that sets them apart – the “gearheads” who are experts in their sport, standing by to help you get everything you need.
There’s also a cool promo for their app. This is an ideal thing to announce in a welcome email. I’m happy to report that when I researched this piece, I saw several apps being promoted in welcome emails.
Finally, there’s the call to be “goatworthy”. That’s Backcountry’s version of “be awesome”. This is another trend I noticed in welcome emails: A hashtag used to promote awareness of a larger cause.
This “goatworthy” section of the email reveals a lot about Backcountry’s culture. It shows their new subscriber than they’re not in this just to sell as much stuff as possible. That builds trust, and might resonate particularly well with their audience.
2) Levo’s call to turn your career around.
This is a very simple welcome email that does some really smart stuff. First, the header image frames what they want you to do – sit down with your computer and complete your Levo profile and account information. Showing the photo of the Levo website visualizes that for us.
Next, they use the words “You” and “now”. Over and over. Almost every bullet in the email mentions “you”. And that’s another smart thing: Using bullets instead of paragraphs makes the copy appear easier to read. They’ve also added a huge (if visually toned-down) call to action button.
And don’t skip over that image of the signature. That makes the whole email seem more personal and heartfelt.
It’s just a simple image, but old time direct marketing copywriters ALWAYS include a scanned image as the signature at the close of their sales letters. Why? It increases sales. In this case, it increases actions.
3) MavSocial’s concise welcome email.
There’s a bunch of things I like about this. First, it’s got short copy, so it doesn’t look like something you’ll have to slog through.
Some welcome emails go overboard with information and look like solid blocks of text. That’s not happening here – the paragraphs are super-short. The type is plenty large enough to read, and it’s easy to tell what’s a link and what’s not.
The best part is how it walks you through how to set up your account and start using the social media management service. And because the email is so simple, it kinda feels like doing each of those tasks will be simple, too. That makes me more likely to take action. It also gets MavSocial what they want: More trial users actually using the software.
4) Refinery29’s fab social media integration.
This welcome email wins the prize for best enticements to follow them on social media. Including some of their most alluring posts is far more persuasive than just showing a few text links or the social media icon. Also note how they’re working the social proof angle near the bottom by touting how many followers they have on Facebook and Twitter. Smart.
One last cool thing about this email: Nice whitelisting instructions near the top.
Experian did a study about welcome emails not too long ago. They found that whitelisting instructions placed near the top of an email, rather than in the footer, work best. Instructions placed near the top get about 20% more subscribers to whitelist the sender.
5) Luzme’s FAQ welcome email.
Lots of good stuff going on here. There’s personalization, plus a clear description of what the company does. There’s also a reminder of why I’m getting the email.
Because this is a SAAS (Software as a Service) company, it’s important that I understand what it does and how it works. This email explains that nicely.
What I like best is the list of FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions). That’s exactly the sort of thing a new user would want to know. But oddly enough, this is the first welcome email I can remember seeing that has a list of FAQs.
6 and 7) Two ad agencys’ welcome emails.
These two emails define another “standard”, which is what welcome emails look like if you don’t take the time and effort to customize them.
I’ve changed the names to protect the innocent here. I don’t want to embarrass anyone. But these two welcome emails – both of them from well-regarded ad agencies – are embarrassing. If you could see these company’s websites, you’d see hip design and lots of talk about marketing successes.
And yet here are their welcome emails. Hey – it happens to the best of us.
Just to clarify, these are from two different companies. They only look identical because neither company chose an alternative template for their welcome email.
This one didn’t even get the personalized salutation right:
That’s not a great standard. But unfortunately, it is the standard practice for all too many companies. Don’t just send a default welcome email. Customize it with your own content like the other, better examples here. It only takes a few minutes.
Back to you
Are you sending a welcome email to new subscribers? Got a super-high open rate you want to brag about? Tell us about it in the comments.
For more email design inspiration, check out these best email campaigns examples.