Back to the Basics: The Welcome Email

Andrew Kordek

4 minute read

Back to the Basics: The Welcome Email

There are 3 key elements in email marketing that have to be done right or you immediately run the risk of setting a bad tone for the rest of your email program.

  1. Your brand must have permission to send emails to your subscribers.
  2. Make sure that the process for them to give you their email address and subscribe is, without question, simple and intuitive, and not just for you the marketer.
  3. You need to have a Welcome email that reflects your brand, thanks them for subscribing, provides guidance, is engaging and generates excitement for what is to come.

Over the last 15 years, I have blogged, talked, presented and even yelled at the top of my lungs about the importance of a well crafted Welcome Email. The Welcome Email is most likely the highest engaged email in your program and it immediately introduces the subscriber to your brand and everything that is awesome about it. The Welcome Email is like a first date, so the last thing you want to do is look horrible and not say anything meaningful when you first meet. Think about it…this is the first time this person is going to be exposed to your brand and I am quite sure that the CEO of your company wants to make sure it’s the best experience it can be.

Here are a few Do’s and Don’ts around an effective Welcome Email based on years of experience and testing amongst some of the largest email programs in the world.


  1. Make it timely. Don’t wait to send it 2 days after they sign up or before something else goes out. People expect immediacy these days.
  2. Make your subject line personalized and worthy of your brand. I am not saying that you should use First Name as personalization, I am saying that you should make it personal. Personal to the brand, to the person, to the source, to the segment, to the demographic. Don’t skimp on testing this either.  
  3. Make it informative. Give people a reason to trust your brand and tell them what they can expect from your email program. Set an expectation for them around when emails will be sent and what type of content or things that the emails usually contain. However, leave some mystery or intrigue without telling them everything. Tell them what they need to know and not what you want them to know.
  4. Make it easy.  Make CTA’s simple and intuitive. Give them no more than 3 things to do in an email and one of them should always be to unsubscribe. Oh…and make that unsubscribe link big or at the top of the email. Your brand reputation will remain intact.
  5. Make it helpful and kind. We live in a world where everyone is mad at someone most of the time. Make the email kind and just say thank you, genuinely, and make sure it comes through. Whenever I check out at the store, the clerk says “Have a nice day…” and I always say to myself,  “do they really mean it?” Really mean what you say when you say thank you for signing up. Lastly, make the email helpful without being creepy. Make sure they know where to go when to go, and what they can expect in terms of needing help from your company. Don’t skimp on this part.
  6. Make it memorable. For goodness sakes…make the email memorable in your brand’s eyes. Take a risk and do something different to make it memorable. Not everyone will think it’s great but test memorable things with these new subscribers.


  1. Don’t ask them to follow you on social channels. Asking them to follow you in social channels is like asking them to go ring shopping after the first date. They just gave up their digital SSN to you so giving them something else to do and commit to other than click on a link to either shop or read content is a distraction. Following a brand on a social channel is a pretty big commitment right after they just committed to one channel.
  2. Don’t ask them to share this email with a friend. Again…this is a distraction and at this point, they don’t know you. If they refer your program to a friend and have not yet fully experienced it, their reputation is on the line. Give it time and get them to love you before you ask them to bug their friend.
  3. Don’t always give the subscriber a gift or discount. While a lot of people sign up for email from retailers for deals, why does the relationship have to start with a discount? Again…at this stage they gave you something that was valuable to them, but test discounting or gifting to see which subscribers have a greater LTV(Lifetime value). If you are selling content or services or B2B, don’t be weird by giving them something for free to placate them or make it seem unique when it’s not. I remember a brand told me that the discount I received was exclusive for email subscribers, yet the same discount was on the site. Yeah, thanks for the fake exclusivity.
  4. Don’t ask them for too much. If you have more than 2 CTA’s you are missing an opportunity. If one of those 2 CTA’s is more work for them (ala- preferences) or something more, then you are missing the point of simplicity. On first dates, you don’t ask for their digital SSN and then barrage them with a one-page questionnaire around likes and dislikes if you either have no intention of using the information OR if you want them to sign up for more stuff. Slow down cowboy…and let the subscriber explore/learn and be inspired by your brand.
  5. Don’t be complacent with your creative. Never be satisfied with what you have. The winner is always the new control and you should always be testing something in the Welcome portion of your program. A good recommendation would be to change/test new creative approaches at least once a year to continue to optimize. 2-year-old creative is so 2 years ago.
  6. Don’t think everything is “OK.” Just because you launched the new/revised Welcome Email 4 months ago, doesn’t mean that it’s working the same. Audit the experience and the process often to make sure everything is firing as it should be. True story: We audited a company once and found that their Welcome Email had been firing to the wrong segments for 5 weeks during an acquisition campaign because someone changed an API call to point to the wrong data extension.

The Welcome Email is the single most important chance to give your subscriber a preview of just how awesome your program is. It requires a lot, but it will never ever hurt your program if you commit to constantly optimizing it.  


Need more information on creative services or assistance taking your email program to the next level? Reach out the email experts at Trendline today.



Trendline Interactive

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About the Author(s)

Andrew Kordek

Andrew Kordek is a Co-Founder of Trendline Interactive.

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