Welcome Emails 101

Trendline Interactive

4 minute read

A Welcome Email is the first look subscribers have into a company’s brand. It should reflect the brand, thank the subscribers for subscribing, provide guidance as to what they can expect, and generate excitement for upcoming emails. Properly implementing the Welcome Email as a key element of your email marketing campaign avoids setting a negative tone for your subsequent sends. A well-crafted Welcome Email will likely be the most-engaged email in your program, so don’t waste this prime opportunity to make a positive first impression. Here are a few Do’s and Don’ts we recommend to help you create an effective Welcome Email.

What to do in a welcome email:

  1. Make it timely. Be sure to send out the Welcome Email immediately after they sign up, before they receive any other emails.
  2. Make your subject line personalized and worthy of your brand. We’re not saying to simply use first-name personalization. Make the Welcome Email personal––personal to the brand, to the recipient, to the acquisition source, to the segment, to the demographic, etc. Be sure to test which elements of personalization resonate most with your subscribers.
  3. Make it informative. Give people a reason to trust you as a sender by telling them what they can expect from your email program. Set an expectation for how often they should expect to receive emails and what type of content the emails will usually contain. However, leave some mystery to keep them intrigued. Tell them what they need to know, not everything you want them to know.
  4. Make it easy. Make CTAs simple and intuitive. Think about the most important action you want a new user to take, and make sure the email makes it easy to perform that action. Give no more than three actions to perform. Always provide an option to unsubscribe, and make that unsubscribe option obvious. Your brand reputation will remain intact.
  5. Make it helpful and kind.  Make the email kind, and genuinely thank them for signing up. In addition, make the email helpful by providing all of the necessary information they need from your company. Don’t skimp on this part.
  6. Make it memorable. Take a risk and do something different to make the email memorable. Test memorable aspects (e.g., GIFs, sneak peeks of what’s to come, elements of storytelling, etc.) with these new subscribers.

What not to do in a welcome email: 

  1. Don’t ask them to share this email with a friend. They are still getting to know your brand. If they refer your program to a friend before fully experiencing it, their reputation is on the line. Give it time and get them to love you before you ask them to bug their friend.
  2. Don’t always feel like you need to offer a 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 (access), but test discounting or gifting to see which subscribers have a greater LTV (lifetime value). If you are selling content, services, or B2B, don’t go overboard by giving them something for free to placate them or by making something seem unique when it’s not. For example, don’t tell them that the discount they received is exclusive for email subscribers, yet have the same discount on the site. That’s an easy way to lose their trust, and there are other ways to build a good relationship and add value to your emails than jumping right into offering discounts. 
  3. Don’t ask them for too much, and don’t rush things. If your CTAs require more work from them, then you are missing the point of simplicity. On first dates, you don’t ask for their Social Security number and then barrage them with a one-page questionnaire around likes and dislikes if you want them to stick around. Slow down and let the subscriber explore, learn, and be inspired by your brand. Also, asking them in your Welcome Email to follow you via social media is like asking someone to go ring shopping after the first date. They just gave you their email address, so asking them to commit to yet another task already (other than clicking a link either to shop or read content) is a distraction. 
  4. Don’t let your creative become stale. Never be satisfied with what you have. A/B test different elements of your Welcome Email—it’s the only way to determine what truly works for your audience. The winning version should always be the new control in the next test. A good recommendation would be to change/test new creative approaches at least once a year to continue optimizing. 
  5. Don’t assume everything is okay. Just because much of your program can be automated doesn’t mean email marketing is a “set it and forget it” proposition. You may have launched the new/revised Welcome Email four months ago, but that doesn’t mean it’s currently working the same. Audit both the experience and process often to make sure everything is firing as it should be (and to make sure it’s up-to-date on current events). We once audited a company and found that their Welcome Email had been firing to the wrong segments for five weeks during an acquisition campaign, all because someone changed an API call to point to the wrong data extension and never checked the results.
  6. Don’t stop at just one email. Keep subscribers engaged by building out a multi-touch onboarding journey. You don’t want this to be a one-and-done email relationship. 

The Welcome Email is the most important opportunity to provide subscribers a positive first impression of your brand and email program. And it’s your chance to create a foundation for a relationship with your subscribers that you can build on long-term. It requires effort, but optimizing your Welcome Email on an ongoing basis is worth the commitment.  

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

Trendline Interactive

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About the Author(s)

Trendline Interactive

Built from email marketing, Trendline Interactive is an agency and consultancy that inspires brands to create meaningful engagement through cross-channel communications. Our passion is that every single message sent is not only meaningful to the audience, but drives success for our clients.

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