You only get one chance to make a first impression.
In email marketing, that notion is even more pressing. Nearly 60% of respondents in a SaleCycle survey said marketing emails influence their purchase decisions. It’s clear that email can be a valuable conversion tool if used correctly.
Welcome emails are an opportunity to introduce new subscribers to your brand with email content they want to consume. If your aim is to increase your conversion or engagement rate through an email campaign, welcome emails are a great way to connect with subscribers and build trust.
Why Are Welcome Emails Important?
Welcome emails set the tone for your relationship with new subscribers. It’s the very first email they receive after joining your list.
What you include dictates how new users will look at future emails, so it’s critical to set positive expectations right out of the gate.
Welcome emails aren’t just a nifty idea; they’re something subscribers expect — fast. In fact, 74% of people expect to receive one immediately after subscribing to your email list.
They can also spark a person’s interest more than other emails. Welcome emails have a 50% open rate, which is 86% more than other standard subscriber emails. This high average open rate gives you more opportunity to leverage them as a lead magnet that can help boost your overall conversion rate.
Welcome emails are also a chance to introduce your brand without public filters like social media. It’s just you and your subscriber. Because of that, the message you send in that first email needs to connect with them immediately. If you get it right, there’s a good chance you could land your first purchase off the strength of that email.
3 Types of Welcome Emails (+ Examples)
Stats and data are nice to see, but what does an effective welcome email actually look like? What kind of design do they have? What subject lines should they include?
To be honest, there’s no one surefire answer to any of these questions. Great welcome emails come in different flavors.
The “Immediate Gratitude” Welcome Email
Best for: Newsletter subscribers, blog subscribers
Appreciation. Kudos. Praise. People love acknowledgment for something they’ve done. In email marketing, that something is often a subscriber filling out a signup form to join your email list.
The “immediate gratitude” welcome email focuses on thanking your subscriber for their email signup. That’s why the words “thank you” should be clearly and prominently displayed for your subscriber to see.
You should also keep the email message short and sweet. If you’re thanking your subscriber but also sending them to a product landing page, it sort of defeats the purpose of the thank you message. It becomes a blatant sales pitch.
Check out the example below to see how Kate Spade nailed their immediate gratitude welcome email.
Notice how well they’ve put together their design. The vibrant orange envelope background pops while the easy-to-read words “thank you” are front and center. Instead of simply advertising a new collection, they’re incentivizing new customers with a 15% off discount code.
The “Product First” Welcome Email
Best for: Subscribers on a free trial, returning customers
Sometimes, your email subscribers want to skip all the niceties and get straight to business. You should still be kind, but ditch the small talk and get right into your value proposition to the subscriber.
The “product first” welcome email follows this style. It’s designed to add a sense of urgency for your subscriber to use your product or service. The goal of this type of welcome email is to get your new customer started right away.
You can start by highlighting one or more unique features of your product or service. This is your opportunity to show off a little. If you have great content marketing software, for example, you might point out backlink or content gap analysis features subscribers should be excited to start using.
Include a clear call-to-action (CTA) with easy directions and next steps for your subscriber to take. Company culture platform Disco has made its CTAs simple and clear.
Disco’s welcome email immediately shows what they do and offers clear steps for what to do next. The CTA button is easy to spot, and the copy builds excitement around what Disco has to offer.
The “Visually Compelling” Welcome Email
Best for: Newsletter subscribers, blog subscribers, subscribers on a free trial, returning customers
Writing out a welcome message is great, but sometimes you need an extra visual element to hold a subscriber’s attention.
The “visually compelling” welcome email adds a multimedia component to keep subscribers engaged. The entire user experience of this email type is all about leveraging a multimedia component to keep subscribers on the email longer.
While videos are great at capturing audience attention, they’re not the only multimedia option. You can use photos, infographics, and even GIFs to break up text. The integration of interactive content like a poll or quiz can also be effective.
The multimedia element you’re integrating should also be accessible in the email itself. Users shouldn’t have to click on a landing page link to play a video or do a survey.
One company that has done a fantastic job of crafting a visually compelling email is the non-profit organization charity: water.
As you can see, charity: water has kept things beautifully simple. At the top, they feature a video of their founder introducing himself, which can be played right in the email. While there’s still some text, the email is very clearly centered around the video and draws the user’s eye to it straight away.
5 Tips for Creating a Memorable Welcome Email
Now that you know what a great welcome email looks like, it’s time to build one.
1. Personalize it
It doesn’t matter if you’re Google or a small business just getting started — you need to personalize your welcome email. An email with a personalized subject line, for example, is 26% more likely to be opened by a subscriber.
Chances are, you already are collecting things like name and email on signup forms. Once you have that opt-in information, you can use it in your welcome email. Craft an email subject line that uses a subscriber’s first name to make it more personable. Use it in the greeting of the welcome message as well. You can also customize the email by adding additional product or service information they may be interested in based on their survey responses.
2. Offer Something of Value
Think of your welcome email as a new houseguest and your subscriber as the host. You need to bring them some nice flowers or a bottle of wine for the occasion.
Include some type of special offer or discount — your subscribers will be looking for it. In fact, 32% expect a personalized discount a mere hour after they sign up for your email list or start an account. Another 54% expect it within the first 24 hours.
If you can’t give out a discount, consider adding a free downloadable resource or even links to compelling data or blog posts. This is especially useful for B2B subscribers looking for helpful resources they can integrate into their own business.
3. Send it in a Timely Manner
Time is of the essence when it comes to welcome emails. A whopping 75% of marketers send one the same day a person subscribes to an email list.
In fact, the best practice is to send the welcome email as soon as possible after new signup while your brand is still fresh in your subscriber’s minds. You should aim to have it on its way 1–2 hours after they sign up.
4. A/B Test It
Monitoring the performance of your welcome email is critical to its success. You need a way of knowing if it’s actually successful and something people are engaging with.
One of the best ways to gauge your email’s performance is A/B testing. Simply create two distinct versions of your welcome email to see which one performs better. Keep in mind that an A/B test is only useful if at least one visible factor is changed — otherwise, you won’t be able to identify the cause of the performance difference.
It doesn’t necessarily have to be a full-on rewrite; you can use a similar welcome email template for both, as in the example below from Intercom.
As you can see, Version A proved to be more successful than Version B. Instead of going with visuals and a number of CTAs, Version A kept things simple with one CTA and simple text. These style choices caused the email click-through rate to double.
Use a tool like Campaign Monitor to easily A/B test your welcome emails. The software will automatically send your welcome emails out to your two test subscriber lists. From there, you can see results in their dashboard. This will help you determine which email you should commit to sending subscribers.
5. Don’t Jam Everything into a Single Email
Here’s our final pro tip: A welcome email doesn’t always have to be an isolated affair.
Depending on your audience, consider crafting a welcome series for your subscribers. This series of onboarding emails can provide value to your users at regular intervals. You can decide whether to send them daily, weekly, bi-weekly, etc.
You can also line your series up with different funnel content. One email may be tied to the awareness and discovery stage while another might focus on content to get a conversion or purchase.
Not only are you giving your subscribers recurring value by sending them content, but you’re also staying on their minds. The goal is to get users to look forward to your emails and maintain high engagement throughout the duration of the email series.
Use Welcome Emails to Boost Customer Engagement
Welcome emails are more than a standard greeting — they’re a strong engagement tool. A great one can be the difference between winning a subscriber over early and having them unsubscribe in a hurry.