“Hello. My name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die.”
This line from The Princess Bride has become a sacred phrase in copywriting, and it’s particularly useful for crafting welcome emails. Why?
Because in four short sentences it breaks down the challenging concept of the first message into basic elements:
- Hello - A Greeting
- My name is Inigo Montoya - An introduction
- You killed my father - More details and a valuable backstory
- Prepare to die - Next steps
Every welcome email essentially boils down to these four parts. So, if you’re willing to take risks, you can simply use this information for your next campaign.
But if you want your first impression to be infallibly positive every time, you better read through this welcome email guide and perfect your technique.
Welcome to NetHunt. Let’s get growing!
What Is a Welcome Email?
A welcome email is the first message you send out to your new email subscribers to start off your relationship.
Can a welcome email be anything and include whatever you want? Almost!
While you’re not greatly limited in the things you can say in your welcome emails, there’s a common structure to follow. Essentially, welcome emails are the stones you use to lay out the foundation of your future communication with the subscriber, so there’s a particular format that ensures their effectiveness.
Why Are Welcome Emails Important?
We’ve already established that it’s really difficult to shake off first impressions, so it’s your job to ensure you present yourself as a trustworthy and reliable business from the very beginning. Welcome emails are a great way to facilitate that.
However, there’s an array of other benefits of welcome emails that make them extremely important for every business to include into their email marketing strategy:
- New subscribers expect to get them. One of the key reasons why you should be sending emails is simply because your subscribers anticipate you to do so - 74% of new subscribers expect this type of email. [Source: CampaignMonitor] It can be extremely confusing for them not to find a confirmation of their successful subscription to your mailing list in the inbox when they’re looking for one.
- They help you to stand out from the competition. Even though the majority of users expect to receive a welcome email, not all businesses send them. In fact, over 50% of brands fail to provide new subscribers with a warm welcome via email. Merely by not missing out on this opportunity, you can differentiate yourself from the competition and give yourself a competitive advantage.
- They have a higher open rate than any other marketing email. According to stats, welcome emails tend to typically have a 50 to 60% open rate, which is at least three times higher than any other marketing email.
- They are famous for their high click-through rates. Welcome emails 5x click-through rate when compared to standard marketing emails.
- They allow keeping the momentum going and maintaining subscribers engaged. When your visitors decide to subscribe to your mailing list, they’re at their prime engagement. They’re interested in your business and are hot and ready to take further steps. Don’t let the excitement die out, and keep the momentum going with a timely welcome email to reassure them that they’ve made the right choice. It’s a proven fact that subscribers who receive at least one welcome email end up reading 40% more content from the sender over the next 180 days. [Source: NeilPatel]
- They set the tone of your future relationship with the email subscribers. Your welcome email is your chance to make a grand entry into the heart of your new subscriber. Make sure they warm up to future correspondence and remember you the way you want them to. You can easily alter their perception of your brand with a couple of nice words and a well-crafted welcome email.
- They decrease spam complaints and unsubscribes. By introducing your brand to the new subscriber, you make your email address known to them and, hopefully, whitelisted. This, in turn, has a massive positive impact on the deliverability of your subsequent marketing emails. Besides, combined with the impressive open rate of welcome emails, the welcome campaign is capable of drastically improving your email sender’s reputation.
- They give options for segmentation. Marketers can use the welcome campaign to collect useful information about their new subscribers and their preferences. Then, they can use that information to segment the audience and provide a more accurate targeting. A good example of this is National Geographic that incorporated a nifty ‘what describes you best’ section at the end of their welcome email:
All in all, welcome emails are a win-win for both parties - the new subscribers, and the business sending out the campaign. They allow businesses to provide their leads with a better experience and, therefore, increase their chances of getting more conversions.
How to Write a Welcome Email [+ Examples]
To unlock all the numerous benefits of welcome emails, you need to make sure that you put sufficient effort into crafting a good email. At the end of the day, the future of your relationship with the new subscriber depends on it.
There aren’t a lot of rules to limit your creativity, but you still need to pay attention to them. Without further ado, let’s dive into the how’s of welcome emails.
First off, it’s important to dissect a welcome email and see what it consists of. Here’s the anatomy of an average welcome email:
- The Welcome Message. The actual ‘meat’ on the ‘bones’ of your email campaign - the text you send out to your new mail subscribers, where you thank them for joining your community, introduce yourself and invite them to further explore your brand.
- Images. It’s always good to add a little twist to your welcome email and make it more visually appealing to the readers. A couple of on-brand images will help your email pop and make the recipients interact with it for a longer period of time.
- A call-to-action. Don’t leave your new subscribers clueless about what to do next - direct them towards the action you want them to take.
You get the idea…
Now, let’s have a closer look at the best welcome email practices.
Say ‘Thank You’
You’re super happy to welcome new subscribers, aren’t you? So why not thank them for joining? It’s a nice gesture that will show the new members of the mailing list that you care about them and appreciate their interest in your business.
Besides, according to numerous studies, ‘thanks’ is one of the most potent power words to use in an email. Not only does it grab the attention of the reader, but it also leaves a positive, long-lasting impression on them.
There are lots of different ways in which you can express your gratitude. It can be as simple as a short line of text, or as pompous as an animated picture with lots of action. Just make sure the format you choose is appropriate for your business and is in line with your brand.
While your gratitude is the star of the show, don’t forget about being polite. Pair your ‘thanks’ with a warm greeting:
- Hi, nice/it’s a pleasure to/amazing to meet you, welcome, hey there
- We’re happy/glad/excited/ thrilled/delighted that you joined us!
- Thanks for subscribing/signing up for our list!
Since we’ve already touched on the subject of powerful words to include in your welcome email, it would only be fair to mention the others. Don’t shy away from using ‘family’, ‘club’, ‘team’, ‘crew’, etc when crafting your welcome email message. Regardless of the word you pick, they all have the same effect on the reader - reinforce the sense of belonging to a social group. This is always a nice touch, granted that humans are social beings.
Give Your New Subscriber the Incentive You Promised
It’s likely that a portion of your email subscribers exchanges their contact information for an asset of some kind. If you’re expanding your mailing list through the use of lead magnets, make sure you deliver on the promise.
Either that’d be a discount code, a link to an on-demand webinar, an e-book or a toolkit, you must include it in the very first email your new subscriber gets. Otherwise, you risk losing their trust and screwing up the relationship before you even had a chance to build it.
If you didn’t lure your new subscribers in by promising them a valuable offer, it still makes sense to reward them with one. Add a little tangible ‘thanks’ to the verbal you’ve already included at the previous step. For example, Food 52 put a $10 off code into their welcome email:
Even if you didn’t give any promises and aren’t looking to share coupons and discount codes, you can still break the ice between you and your subscribers by offering them something of value. Here are a few examples of what you could include:
- A hand-picked selection of your star content
- ‘Content bundles’ - a comprehensive list of content pieces covering the same topic
- Access to your limited edition materials, etc.
Explain What to Expect
Next, you need to ensure your communication with the new subscribers is transparent. By outlining your plans regarding future email campaigns, you establish a trusting relationship with the newcomers.
It’s up to you to decide which aspects of your communication you want to talk through, but here are a couple of ideas to inspire you:
- Message frequency (e.g. once a day, twice a week, four times a month, etc.)
- The content format your email subscribers can expect to see in the future marketing emails (e.g. downloadables, checklists, curated content, actionable advice, tools, etc.)
- The timing for your emails - when you plan on emailing your subscribers (mornings, evenings, weekdays, or weekends)
- The format for each message (plain text, plain HTML, responsive)
- The average lengths of the email (e.g. 100 words or less, 800 words, 1,200+ words)
There are different formats for this announcement. You can either present your intentions in a form of a bullet-pointed list, a simple sentence or a full-blown map of further actions. For instance,
- Blue Apron alerts its new subscribers that “each week, we promise to bring you the best, fresh ingredients along with new and imaginative recipes to enjoy.”
- Asana, on the other hand, emphasises the fact that the welcome campaign is a 3-email sequence: “Welcome to Asana! This is the first of three emails we’ll send over in the next week to help you transition from email to Asana.”
It’s, however, important not to take all the control away from your new subscribers when outlining your plans. Give them a chance to regulate your communication by customising the user preferences. This move has plenty of benefits:
- It helps to show your new subscribers that you’re a trustworthy business that respects their time and preferences
- It allows you to gather more information about your subscribers and, therefore, provide them with better-targeted content in the future
- It reduces the risk of your emails getting flagged as spam - the chances of your subscribers actually opening your emails after they customise the content they receive are significantly higher
For instance, REI offered its new subscribers to fill out a short survey and share what they are interested in:
Tell a Bit More About Yourself
Usually, it’s important to ensure you ask questions about your leads and attend to their interests. However, the welcome email is different. This is one of the few things that can be all about you. Use this opportunity to introduce yourself and tell more about who you are and what you preach.
Don’t just assume that because people joined your mailing list they already know everything there is to know about you. It’s likely they’re only familiar with one side of you, and it’s your job to tell the rest. Create a story that would highlight your advantages and differentiate you from the competition, tell your subscribers why your business is unique and how it can help them.
Some of the things to consider when crafting your backstory paragraph:
- What you do
- Your origins story
- Your mission
- How your subscribers are different from those people who aren’t on the list
- How your product or service works and what benefits it has
Pay Attention to Technical Details
Politely ask your new email subscribers to whitelist you - add your email address to their contacts. This simple step is almost a 100% guarantee that your emails will actually end up in the subscribers’ inboxes instead of going into spam. Improved deliverability will subsequently improve your email sender’s score.
To be as helpful as possible, don’t just mention whitelisting but advice on how to do it. Often, subscribers don’t add the email address of the businesses they’ve signed up for simply because they don't know how to. Make sure you offer easy-to-follow instructions. Besides, don’t forget to outline the benefits of doing so for your subscribers - explain it to them that whitelisting your email address will allow them to never miss a single valuable email from you!
Here’s a nice example from OptinMonster’s welcome email of how you can promote this idea:
Encourage Your New Subscribers to Stay Connected
Asking your new subscribers to immediately buy out half your products is similar to moving in together after the first date - it could potentially work, but the chances are slim! So, don’t waste your efforts on arranging hard conversions straightaway. Instead, focus on small commitments and keep the momentum going.
Welcome emails are perfect for asking to get social and promoting your other communication channels. Give your new subscribers an easy way to reach out to you and provide them with your contact information - support email, phone number, links to social media, etc. A great way to motivate your subscribers to follow you elsewhere is show them that they’ll become an even bigger part of your community. To do that, include bits and pieces of user-generated content in your email. Here’s how Glossier did it:
It also wouldn’t hurt to add a teeny tweet-to-click button in your welcome email and encourage your new subscribers to share your mailing list with their network.
DOs and DON’Ts of Welcome Emails
✔️ DO send an automated series of welcome emails instead of a single-send message.
✔️ DO include a clear CTA. Let your subscribers know what to do once they’re done reading your first message.
✔️ DO reassure your new subscribers that they’ve made the right choice joining your mailing list.
✔️ DO personalise your welcome email. Make it obvious that every new subscriber counts. While there’s very little you can do to hyper-personalise your content at this point, even the smallest things count. Perhaps, create multilingual welcome emails to send them to subscribers from different countries.
❌ DON’T fail to deliver your promise. Deepen your bond from the very start by acting on your promises.
❌ DON’T wait for too long before reaching out to your new subscribers for the first time. According to Experian, welcome emails that are sent in real-time see more than 10 times the open rates per email than emails sent in delayed batches.
❌ DON’T send too much information straightaway. Welcome emails are usually short: 65% of welcome emails range from 50-150 words in length.
❌ DON’T take the control away from the subscribers - let them customise their preferences.
Indeed, you need to consider lots of things when it comes to creating a perfect welcome email. But it’s one of those things that you master once, and then just harvest the fruits of your hard work. That’s why NetHunt recommends you try and test your message - you don’t want any silly mishaps to happen with the email that can make or break your business.
Don’t forget to A/B test your welcome email and use a reliable tool for your email marketing efforts!