Your email strategy is essential when looking to increase conversion rates and boost your sales. In fact, 73 percent of senior-level marketers believe email is a critical step in the customer’s journey. If you’ve already attracted subscribers to your email list, congratulations! But there’s more work to be done — to achieve maximum ROI from your list, you need to build solid relationships with your new leads.
Building solid relationships starts with your Welcome email, so it is extremely crucial for you to do a good job with it. It’s worth spending the extra time to polish it. If you’re not convinced then you should know that welcome emails are 320 percent more efficient than other promotional emails.
In this guide, we’re offering you:
- Welcome email practices and advice from email marketing pros
- The best welcome email examples from around the web
Using these tips and examples, you’ll be on your way to creating highly nurturing and effective welcome emails for your subscribers and customers. You can click on the hyperlinked text to skip straight to the section of your choice.
Best Welcome Email Practices
1. Send a Welcome Email in the First Place
Failing to send a prompt welcome email means you risk losing important opportunities to sell. Welcome emails are 320 percent more efficient than other promotional emails. If you hook your subscribers with an appealing email to confirm their subscriptions, you can increase open rates, click rates and transaction rates. But if your first email arrives too late, there’s a high chance the subscriber doesn’t even open it because they no longer care about your offer.
But how soon should you send it? We asked the experts, and they unanimously agreed that sooner is better, though had varying opinions about just how soon. Some, like Dave Shrein and Kristi File, suggest sending the welcome email right away:
The moment that someone opts in to your email is the best possible moment to contact them. If it’s the first time they’ve ever interacted with your brand they are ‘hotter’ than they have ever been, meaning they want to hear from you as long as it is in relation to the reason why they gave you their email address in the first place. Take advantage of their interest and attention and reward them with a pleasant, friendly welcome!
Keep your new subscribers focused on you by sending your initial welcome email to them immediately — as in, right after they hit that subscribe button. Your new subscribers are at peak engagement when they first sign up to your email list. So, take advantage of their attention and send your welcome email immediately after they subscribe.
Others said sending the welcome email within several hours of subscribing — up to a day — is the way to go:
My good rule of thumb is in 45-60 minutes. Sending an intro (welcome) email right away seems incredibly automated and may come out as off-putting. An hour later appears more genuine. It’s not too late and the subscriber still remembers the initial interaction.
I recommend sending your welcome email between one hour to one day after subscribing, depending on whether they’ve downloaded a lead magnet or not. I like to wait a day if they’ve downloaded a lead magnet so I don’t clutter their inbox.
Justin McGill at LiveAgent even shared some stats from some of the welcome emails LiveAgent uses:
We have a couple emails that actually go out on the first day.
One is a welcome email that also has the demo tutorial video inside it. This gets a 49% open rate and 9% click through to play the video. This one is a few paragraphs before the video. Our whole goal is to make sure they’re educated.
And Mike Donnelly suggests customizing the timing of your first outreach based on how the subscriber opted in:
This depends on the offer that the subscriber converted on. For example, if it was a content offer, you should send an email with a link or the content offer almost immediately (within 5 minutes). If it’s not a content offer, I would wait until you have something valuable for the user. I’m not a fan of getting an immediate email around “Here’s what you should expect from us…” If you don’t have something of value to provide, don’t send it.
2. Optimize the Subject Line
Before your welcome email can influence a subscriber’s purchasing decision, you have to get them to open it. That’s where an appealing subject line comes in. The subscriber has given you an email address, and now you have the opportunity to give them something small in return.
Big brands, like Amazon and Airbnb, use this first line to thank their subscribers and to welcome them to their community. Something as simple as “Hello and Welcome” could be enough to convince a subscriber to open the email since they’re likely already expecting to receive an opt-in confirmation.
You can use language to create expectations, such as “What’s next?” or “Important info inside”, but make sure you meet these expectations! A call to action can also encourage opens — something light, like “See what you can do with Dropbox” or “Get started with Evernote”.
Here are some other suggestions from the pros:
You have to remember that you are one of hundreds of emails in their inbox – and probably one of the most unimportant emails at that. You’re in competition with family, finances, health, romance – so you need to make sure to provide just enough information with a little bit of mystery in your subject line. A welcome message subject line such as “Really quick, this is the follow up to your request” might be an appropriate subject line if they requested information from you, the received that info and now you’re following up quickly with a welcome! Compel them to open up your email and before you send it say, “if they don’t care about this message, what do I need to change to compel them to care?”
That’s really up to you as long as it fulfills three criteria: it’s friendly, welcoming, and enticing. For example, “Welcome to the family! (Read me)” or “Thanks for subscribing! Here’s what you need to know…”
Justin McGill says that one of LiveAgent’s welcome emails uses the subject line: “Why Did You Sign Up?” and gets a 49% open rate. He goes on, “I ask them to reply and let me know what they expect LeadFuze to be able to do for them. That’s it. This gets nearly a 20% response rate and gives us awesome insights in the expectations of our potential customers.”
Don’t take your subscribers by surprise. Come up with a message that stays in line with your style. ASOS, for example, writes “Oh, hey girl! Welcome to ASOS. It’s great to meet you!” While it may not be the classic way to say hello, it’s in line with the image ASOS has created among their customers. Find your brand voice and use it to personalize your email so that subscribers learn to recognize your messages right from the start.
A good subject line should be short (no longer than 10-15 words), clear and motivating. Avoid using words like ‘free’, ‘help’, ‘% off’, ‘perfect’, ‘deal’, ‘wonderful’, ‘report’, ‘webinar’ and other similar words, as they can negatively impact your open rates due to their spammy nature.
And, since we’re talking about the first impression, make sure your sender information is personalized, as well. No one likes to receive an email from [email protected] Send from a person’s name or your brand’s name — whichever will be more recognizable.
3. Respect Your Promises
It’s common practice to attract new subscribers with a promise, like by collecting their email address in exchange for access to restricted content, news updates, ebooks, or discounts.
As a welcome email best practice, you must respect this promise. So, in your first email, let your subscribers know how they can get what they were looking for in the first place. Include the discount code, coupon, or download link in the body of the email. Don’t let users wait for their rewards, or you risk losing them.
4. Include the Right Copy
What goes into your welcome email will vary based on what your subscribers have opted into. Mario Peshev gave some helpful and specific welcome email content suggestions that vary by type of publication:
For service-based newsletters, make sure you point the reader to the most prominent (and important) sections such as FAQ, archive, membership area.
For blog and magazine newsletters, the editor’s pick (top 3 stories) is a great starting point, along with a personalized intro from the editor (or the owner of the blog).
You want to continue the conversation and ensure that readers can consume the right type of information – your go-to landing pages for your audience or your top resources.
No matter the type of publication, our marketing pros agreed that you should get right to the point and not waste your new subscribers’ time. Dave Shrein puts it this way:
No email can ever be too long: just too boring. Use as many words as it takes for you to convey your message and no more! Focus your welcome on them, their story, their pains, their hopes, their dreams, and whatever you do, make the the hero of their own journey. You’re not here to save them — you’re here to help them save those they’re trying to serve. Use enough words to convey that service to them!
And Kristi File created this killer list of welcome email must-haves:
Ask them to whitelist you. Ensure that all of your emails are landing in your subscribers’ inbox by reminding them to mark your email address as ‘spam-free’.
Direct them to a couple pieces of your best content on your website.
Provide links to one or two social media channels for them to follow you on.
Engage with them by asking them a question. Try to find their points of frustration or areas in which they need most help. Simply ask them to hit the reply button with their response.
Include a postscript (P.S.) with a sneak peek of what they can expect in your next email.
5. Don’t Stress Over the Design
Overall, our experts agree that for welcome emails, it’s not about the design, it’s about the content.
Some welcome emails can be minimalistic — entirely text-based. Brands may choose to include their business logo, a screenshot of their website or a screengrab of the main section they want to lead readers to.
The only design element I like including is a picture of myself, or my team. Other than that, design to match your brand. If you need visual elements to accurately communicate your message, add them — if you don’t, then don’t feel like you have to add something. Folks can tell if you’re being cool or being phony — visual design elements won’t mask either.
This depends on whether you are a B2B or B2C company. It’s much easier to get away with lots of image-based content in the B2C email marketing world. Highly interactive design elements that you create with a tool like Ceros can perform really well with the B2B world. Don’t add an image for the sake of adding an image.
Design can be a great opportunity to show off the branding your typical email includes — colors, your logo, a special email template. This will help people to become familiar with you and how you’ll appear to them in the inbox.
Another trend I’ve noticed recently in welcome emails is GIFs. They’re fun and attention-grabbing! Just consider your audience before defaulting to humor.
6. Gather Subscriber Information for Customization
Around 80 percent of marketers see emails as the best drivers of customer retention because it’s easy to customize messages and personalize copy to meet your followers’ expectations.
For the best results, you need to segment your email list, based on subscribers’ preferences and online habits. To gather this information, your welcome email could include a survey or link to a subscription preferences page, which subscribers can use to give you more information about their interests. Having this information gives you the power to give each subscriber the information they’re looking for, which could increase your open rate by 244 percent and boost revenue by as much as 330 percent!
Mario Peshev recommends “asking customers to answer a specific question by replying to your welcome email”.
Kristi File agrees:
Open up the lines of communication with your new subscriber right away by including a call-to-action in your welcome email. Ask them a single question to encourage them to share their thoughts and converse with you. Keep the dialogue going by asking them to hit reply and respond to your question. This will give you a better understanding of who your subscriber is and how you can help them going forward.
This step needn’t be intrusive or time-consuming; even just getting their answer to one question could be enough to help you segment your list effectively.
7. Tell Subscribers What’s In It for Them
Besides giving them the reward they initially signed up for, you should make sure your new subscribers understand the benefits of being part of your community. Will they be regularly receiving news, special discounts, premium content, or VIP membership benefits? Give your subscribers a solid reason to open future communications from you.
Google starts its welcome emails with “Thank you!” before brief blurbs about their catalog of product and service offerings to give subscribers a chance to explore their features. Google, and in fact most brands, emphasize a customer-focus by using ‘you’ liberally throughout their emails and limiting the usage of ‘I’ and ‘we’.
Amazon’s welcome email shows subscribers its latest features and services and doesn’t promote sales at all, instead focusing on creating a great user experience.
In addition to laying out the kinds of content your subscribers can expect from you, your welcome email should make clear the frequency with which they’ll hear from you. Creating expectations among your subscribers — and then meeting them — is the best way to keep them on your list.
8. Insert Clear Calls to Action
The best way to get people to do what you want is by telling them exactly what that is. That’s exactly what calls to action, or CTAs, are for.
Keep in mind that not every CTA must be a direct sales plea. Ikea uses simple CTAs like “join now”, “get inspired”, and “read our blog”. Simple, effective messages like these serve to guide subscribers towards the parts of their website that best match their interests. Other great examples are “download app”, “explore”, “get started”, or “sign-in”. If you use a plain text HTML template, incorporate CTA buttons into your email signature.
You can also simply ask your new lead to confirm the subscription to get them to engage right away and ensure their form submission wasn’t just a mistake. This technique is a best practice for keeping quality leads on your list and avoiding a high unsubscribe rate.
Whatever CTAs you choose, make sure they take subscribers to optimized landing pages that are easy to read and offer opportunities to navigate to other pages. The longer they stay on your website, the closer they get to making an eventual purchase.
The more actionable you make your content, the more people will remember it. Are you trying to drive traffic to a landing page? Then you need a CTA link. Want people to share your latest post? Then provide a link to it regardless of whether you publish the entire post in your newsletter. Have an email series or course that focuses on education? Add links to worksheets. It’s also important to note that a CTA doesn’t always have to be a link. It could be a request for people to hit reply and share their thoughts w/ you.
This is a great time to invite your new subscribers to follow you on social media, check out some of your popular blog posts, or even segment them further with link triggers and other automation rules.
There should be at most one major call-to-action in every email and your welcome email is no exception. This is a great time to invite your new subscribers to follow you on social media, check out some of your popular blog posts, or even segment them further with link triggers and other automation rules.
Jazib Zaman’s advice is to include CTAs that will lead subscribers to complete actions that your paying customers usually take:
The copy for a welcome email should be all about getting the end user to perform the major action in your app that gets them to an “onboarded” state. Could be completing setup, adding a project, inviting a user, or reading a manual. Whatever steps you find that the majority of users who become paying customers perform. Those are the things you push towards in the welcome email.
Best Welcome Emails from Around the Web
To save you the hustle, we decided to include a list of the best welcome email templates in the industry. That way, you can easily see what others are doing and use some of their ideas for your newsletter.
AdEspresso’s Welcome Email
AdEspresso has by far one of the best welcome emails out there.
The design and the branding make it really easy to understand who the sender is. You can’t miss their logo and the mustache guy on the top.
At the same time, the email is extremely well-structured, easy to read and to the point. Anything that is not supposed to be there is left out.
I like that they said they put a lot of effort into writing their ebook. This makes me want to read it even more (it’s a big promise).
I will give them props for the call-to-action at the end to tweet or share their ebook. This must really help them generate additional traffic to their lead magnets.
AWeber’s Welcome email
AWeber welcomes you with the subject line “Thanks for Subscribing to the Aweber blog!”
This makes it extremely clear to the subscriber why he’s receiving this message and who the sender is.
The big picture of their ebook cover immediately catches my attention. This must be the gift I’m receiving for signing up, right?
The funny thing is that with this big image, AWeber really stands out in your inbox.
I like that they say what they will send you next – weekly updates on their best blog posts, digital marketing news, product updates, etc.
The download green button really stands out here so you can’t miss it. This probably increases click-through rates, and it’s better than including just a hyperlink.
Below the button you see a summary of what’s included in the guide to additionally increase the number of people who read the guide.
At the very end, you have a second call-to-action – to start your free trial.
Usually, I don’t believe it’s a good idea to have two CTAs in one email, but this kind of works here.
Optimizely’s Welcome Email
This is the welcome email that you get when you sign up for Optimizely’s 2016 testing toolkit.
The design of the email really fits with their branding, and I like the links to the social media profiles on the topic.
The email is short and well-structured.
You understand what you’re getting and how it will help you (scaling the impact of A/B testing for your organization).
The thing that bugs me is that there are too many links and you need to download each tool separately.
Wistia’s Welcome Email
Wistia has the welcome email that, for me, stands out the most.
They greet you in a really nice way, and I just love the gif image that they put in the email. I haven’t seen anyone else do this before.
It looks really cool to see that there are people who are enthusiastic and passionate about what they do.
I like that they take the time to survey you to learn more about your interests and needs (also the first company that does that in the welcome message).
Zapier’s Welcome Email
Zapier amazed me with their welcome email.
Simply because, despite its length, the email is extremely well-structured and easy to read.
I like that they don’t stuff you with product updates. Instead, they use this chance to provide value for you.
(We all know these companies that only speak about their products, right?)
They give you an extremely well-written explanation of what you can expect from them – two to three emails per week and in-depth, actionable guides.
I like that they link to their latest post (even though some followers of their site may have read it already).
Below, you will see that they list a few of their all-time most popular posts. The design here stands out; you really can’t miss them.
At the bottom, you will see that they mention what Zapier is.
I find it a bit weird because if people have opted into your email list, they probably know who you are.
Anyway, it might be a good way for new subscribers to remember. I don’t know if it is a good idea to put a call-to-action for your free trial in your welcome email, though.
CopyBlogger’s Welcome Email
CopyBlogger is going in a totally different direction with their welcome email.
There are no visuals and images, just pure copy.
The good thing about it is that, in their welcome email, they are telling you a story.
In the subject line, they grab you with “How marketing happens today.” Then they tell you how things used to be and how they are done today.
I like that they do a really good job with explaining what their email series will be about and what you can expect from them.
Then they send you two really great blog posts and explain to you why you should read them.
To me, though, one blog post should have been enough because the audience needs time to consume it and implement it.
CoSchedule’s Welcome Email
CoSchedule has a solid and very simple welcome email.
It’s short, well-structured and contains everything that’s necessary; anything unnecessary has been left out.
Their value proposition is very clear – actionable content marketing tips. Just from this you can understand that they know their audience well.
People want tips they can implement that will get them results.
I also like that they mention who their audience is – marketers, bloggers, and social media managers.
This gets the attention of people who identify themselves with these roles. This makes it more relevant as they know this content has been created especially for them.
Once again, I don’t know if it is a good idea to ask people to sign up for a free trial straight from your welcome email.
However, I like the way they explain the benefits of their tool, so it might be working for them.
TruConversion’s Welcome Email
What I like about TruConversion’s welcome email is that it is super personal.
It looks like an email that the CEO of the company has just crafted and sent to you. For that reason, it really grabs your attention.
Being greeted by the founder of the company for joining their email list really stands out.
Hammad makes it clear to the new subscriber what kind of content they will share with them and how often.
I like that they use a “P.S.” to tell you about their free trial. This makes it not pushy and overly visible at the same time.
VWO’s Welcome Email
The welcome email of VWO is short, sweet and packed with valuable information.
They share a list of their best blog posts as a starter pack for those subscribing.
I don’t know if you realize this, but this a great way for them to learn more about your profile and which topics interests you the most. That way, at a later time, they can send you more relevant content.
Another really good thing is that they also mention their webinars and we all know this is the tool that most SaaS companies use to convert email subscribers to customers).
Jeff Bullas’s Welcome Email
What I like about Jeff Bullas’s welcome email is that it clearly stands out with his own style and branding.
You can’t miss his logo on the top, and the orange background color makes the association with his website.
What I don’t like about his welcome email is that it is way too long. That’s why I have broken it down into several sections.
Jeff is starting the email really strong by using power words such as “decision,” “change” and “improve.”
I like how the cover of his lead magnet stands out in the email. Seeing Jeff disguised as a policeman really grabs your attention.
In the next steps, you will see how Jeff Bullas sells you the idea to add him to his whitelist so you’re able to receive his emails every time.
My favorite thing is the social proof in the footer. You can see links to his Amazon bestseller, along with his mention by Forbes and Huffington Post as one of the top social media influencers.
Mari Smith’s Welcome Email
The first thing you see when you open the welcome email of Mari Smith is her face and these social media icons.
This is a great way of being remembered; we all know people are more likely to recall faces than names.
The email itself seems really personal and touching. It is sent from the personal email of Mary. She’s speaking directly to you, and she even signed it at the end.
She also encourages you to engage with her by writing on her Facebook wall.
That way, she stands out as someone who really wants to hear from her audience and get to know them better.
Amy Porterfield’s Welcome Email
The welcome email of Amy Porterfield is a result of you signing up for one of her webinars.
What I like about is she does an incredibly good job convincing you to show up and watch it live.
The date and time for the webinar stand out in the email in a way that’s really easy to see them.
Heidi Cohen’s Welcome Email
The welcome email of Heidi Cohen is simple and well-organized; nothing fancy.
At the top, you can easily see the link to the ebook she promised.
I like that she encourages subscribers to reply to her email and share their struggles.
Very few people actually do this. It really makes a difference when it comes to engaging and getting to know your audience.
ProBlogger’s Welcome Email
The welcome email of ProBlogger is pure gold.
Darren shows that he really understands his audience as he helps them solve their biggest challenge from the very first email – coming up with blog post ideas.
In fact, he over-delivers by sending them six months of content marketing ideas. This is a lot of value for a very first email.
It makes people think about what they can expect next.
Smart Passive Income’s Welcome Email
Smart Passive Income has one of the simplest and most effective welcome emails.
They keep it extremely short and straight to the point. Here’s our ebook – download it.
BlogTyrant’s Welcome Email
BlogTyrant does a really good job when it comes to relating to subscribers and making the content more relevant to them.
“We’re all about making a living from home using proven blogging techniques and creative internet marketing.”
I like that he instantly gives a value tip on how to improve your sign-ups – have a face looking at your opt-in form.
Another great thing about this email is that BlogTyrant uses it to tell more about who they are and what is so good about their content.
According to Kristi Hines, you should always write your emails as if people didn’t spend much time on your website before opting in.
Getting new leads is the easiest part of the process. Keeping these leads, converting them into customers, and maintaining a consistent retention rate is the real challenge, and it all starts with a welcome email.
I also hope these examples of the best welcome email templates will help you create better ones for your business.
Remember this – if you wow your audience at the very beginning, they will remember you and will likely open and read your next emails.
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Originally published in 2016. Latest update November 2019