How To Create The Most Perfect Welcome Email

How To Create The Most Perfect Welcome Email

Reading Time: 16 minutes

In this guide you’ll learn:

  • why welcome email is that important
  • how to immediately build relationship with your subscribers
  • how to structure your welcome email, from ground up

But first, let me tell you a story. It’s very related to our subject.

Last year, my girlfriend and I were looking for a place to go out and have our Valentine’s Day lunch. After some research online, we found a place downtown that had interesting menu and pretty good reviews.

When we came in the restaurant, the first thing we experienced was confusion. We didn’t know in which direction to go (it wasn’t an open space) and no one was there to greet us and show us where we can take a seat. The place itself was pretty dark and didn’t really give us a romantic vibe.

When we went to find a table, waiter from the bar told us there are no free tables. He was pretty rude and didn’t really give us an idea when one would be available. Almost like he thought to himself: “Yeah, we are full right now, so you’re not that important.”

OK, this one is also on me for not making reservations, I thought it won’t be needed for lunch that day as most people prefer dinners, don’t they?

*shrug*

Lesson learned, always make reservations.

Anyway, ashamed how I most likely screwed up our romantic day, we left and went for a walk to find some other place. As we were walking around, we saw a really nice looking restaurant.

The special “Valentine’s Day 4 Course Meal” sign was placed at the entrance. Everything was decorated with Valentine’s Day theme too.

“Let’s go here, it looks nice”, my girlfriend shouted.

Immediately as we came in, we were welcomed by our waiter and shown to our tables. As we were seated, he gave us a quick overview of the menu, told what specials they are having for today and why they’ve decided to offer only 2 different 4 course meals for today.

He explained how their chef goes to the farmers market every day to get fresh ingredients and only then will he create a menu for the day. He also took care of our coats, set our table with a romantic candle and brought complimentary champagne as we looked at the menu.

These are all the little things, but they made us feel special and valued. They set the tone for the rest of our lunch, and a day that almost turned into a disappointment ended up being awesome.

Did I mention the food was delicious? Yes, it was!

So why did I tell you this story? It has to do something with first impressions.

It takes only 7 seconds for us to make a first impression and once that’s set in, it’s very hard, nearly impossible to reverse it.

Let’s look back to my story. Who made better first impression?

First restaurant where we were left in confusion and treated badly, not to mention the vibe it had…Or the second restaurant where we were immediately drawn in by the appearance and had first class welcome treatment?

Yes, the second one was our hero!

Now think about your emails and the way you start building relationship with your subscribers. What is the first impression they are receiving from you?

This is what welcome email does, makes that first impression to your subscribers.

Do you even have welcome email set up? Did you put any thought into the experience or is it just something generic you probably branded a bit from the default template your email service provided you with?

Maybe you don’t know what to write about or never had the time to really give it much attention.

But don’t worry, this is why I wrote this guide for you so you can create your perfect welcome email which will set the tone for the rest of the engagement with your subscribers.

Let’s get this party started.

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Grab the PDF version of this guide and read it when you can.


Why Welcome Email?

If making a good first impression isn’t reason enough to show the importance of a welcome email, let me show you some numbers around it.

Welcome email has the highest open rate of all the emails, on average, that number is over 50% (source)

Welcome email generates, on average, 33% more engagement with the brand than any other email. (source)

Welcome emails see more than 3x the transactions and revenue per email over regular campaigns. (source)

Do you see now how important a welcome email is for your email strategy?

Good, so let’s see how you can create one yourself.

 

Influence Triggers You Want To Hit

You want your welcome email to make a great first impression, but you also want to strengthen that relationship and you do that through elements of influence.

The elements of influence were developed by Dr. Robert Cialdini in his book Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion.

There are total of 7 elements of influence, I’ll explain each briefly:

1. Reciprocity

reciprocity at work

People tend to return the favor. When you do or give something to someone, they’ll be more inclined to give something in return.

Need real life examples?

Think about street performers. They provide you with entertainment, they don’t really tell us directly that we need to pay them for it, but we still feel the need to give something back after their performance ends. I mean, just take a look at content marketing and how it works. It’s reciprocity at it’s finest.

That’s why we want to provide value in welcome email.

2. Commitment and Consistency

commitment

When people commit, one way or another, they are more likely to keep to that commitment.

With our welcome email, it’s the little things that count.

They have already committed to receive our emails, so naturally, they’ll tend to open the first email. That transfers to consistency. They made that open the first time, they’ll be more willing to open next emails they receive.

This is also why we want subscribers to take action in email.

Why?

Again, if they commit to take action in the first email, they’ll tend to do so in the next one.

You also must ensure that you are consistent too. So do what you told them you’ll do. If you said you’ll send email every Thursday, then commit and do it.

We appreciate people more when they are consistent.

3. Social Proof

all the cool kids are doing it

We are social beings, at least most of us. (shout out to lone wolves out there!)

This is also why we tend to live and hang out in groups. People will do things that they see others are doing. Try to remember how many stupid things you did as a kid, just because everyone else was doing it.

How this applies to our welcome email?

It gives subscriber reassurance.

Once they see they are not the only one subscribed to your email, or see how many people are following you on social pages, heck, even if they see how many products you’ve sold they’ll be more inclined to take action themselves. After all, all the cool kids are doing it!

4. Authority

authoritah!

We tend to obey authority figures.

There is institutional authority, like teachers, police, political leaders etc. And then there is earned authority.

This is demonstrated by providing value and knowledge on a subject.

If, for example, you are looking for a fishing advice; would you ask it from a guy who was out all day and came back with barely any catch, or that other guy who went out for 3-4 hours and came back with dinner? Yeah, I’ll take his advice about fishing any day.

This is why we want to provide useful information about our subject in the welcome email, or tell our story how and why we started with everything.

5. Liking

liking

This one should be self explanatory. We just like to work and buy from the people we like and avoid those we don’t.

No matter how good your cake is, I won’t want to eat it if I don’t like you. Well, maybe a little, but I’ll make sure you don’t see me do it!

Be likeable in your welcome email.

How?

Just show some personality. Not everyone will like you, but those that will, they’ll be a lot more engaged with you. And that’s what you want in the end, fans!

6. Scarcity

scarcity

Supply and demand baby, basic economics.

Scarcity will always generate demand. We go even so far, that we’d rather not lose something we already have instead of gaining something of similar value.

Why?

We are emotional beings, we get attached, that’s just how it is. Glitch in the matrix.

How can we use it in our welcome email?

Time limitation and supply limitation.

7. Unity

unity

This one is recently added and is especially visible in the age of internet where everyone is so well connected.

It’s about shared identity.

The more we identify ourselves with others, the more we are influenced by others. It may be closely related to liking as you see, but you don’t have to like someone to see that you are alike, it just tends to come in package.

How this applies to our welcome email?

Show off your personality and what you stand for. Be it brand personality or your own. People can’t identify with you if they don’t know anything about you.

The more elements of influence your welcome email hits, the bigger the impact it will have on your subscribers.

 

Creating Your Welcome Email

Let’s begin with setting solid foundations of our welcome email.

Set a Clear Goal

Don’t even start crafting your welcome email if you didn’t set a clear goal.

Just don’t do it.

What do you want your welcome email to achieve? Do you want your subscribers to know you better? Convert them to customers? Help them get started using your product or service?

Whatever it is, set your one goal and one goal only.

Don’t try to do everything at once, that’s what the onboarding sequences are for. If you go out and dish everything you got in that first email, people will lose focus and just close the email, probably saying, “I’ll check it later”. And we both know how that one ends.

Do note that it’s OK to have more links/calls to action if they are well connected with your goal. May not work for everyone, so it’s something you should test out and see how it works for your list.

Subject Line and From Name

What’s the first thing you see in your inbox when you receive an email?

Correcto mundo! The subject line and from name.

Even though welcome emails have very high open rates, you still want to work on your subject line.

The fastest way to get forgotten is to be generic like everyone else.

Don’t just go with standard “Welcome to blah blah blah”. Add little bit of personality into it and make it aligned with your email message.

Play around with different subject lines and see what you can come up with. I like to use this handy tool to check how good/bad they are.

Choose Format

You should think about your format too.

Will you use a fancy HTML email that aligns with your branding or will you go for a more personal route and use a text email?

Depending on your complete strategy, it’s something you should consider. Both formats can make a great first impression if executed correctly.

html vs text

Can’t decide which format would be right for you?

I break down cons and pros of both here. Give it a read and make a decision on what would work best for your business.

What to think about

Before we jump into the content, there are some things you don’t want to mess up if you want to get the most optimal results.

Timing

Don’t wait! Once someone signs up to your list, that’s when they are most engaged and that’s when the highest chances are your email will get opened.

There may be some cases when you don’t want to send it out immediately, but those situations are very specific, so just stick to what you know gives best results.

Personalization

Little bit of personalization goes a long way in emails.

If you are serious about building your email list, you probably have multiple sing up forms and landing pages. Are they all the same? Why would your welcome email be the same then?

Do you get more data than just their email? Use it!

Place dynamic content in your welcome email, so that way, your email message will be aligned with the info your subscribers have given to you.

For example:

  • You have a shop and someone buys a product for the first time, let’s say shoes.
  • They filled their info in and now you know a lot more about them.
  • You can tell that this particular subscriber is a woman, lives in LA and she bought shoes.

How can you use this for your welcome email?

Place dynamic content which will be displayed based on those details. This includes showing more women related products, more shoes or stores located near her area.

Someone else would receive the same welcome email, but the content would be directed towards men’s shirts as they entered those kind of details.

Personalization should go way beyond Hi {FIRST NAME}, and if you have the data available, use it!

This is just a basic example, but the possibilities are many here and they can be applied no matter what your industry is. If you need help figuring out how to implement this with your platform or need some ideas, let me know.

Content of welcome email

Now we get to the juicy part, this is where we start to write.

First, let’s see around what kind of content can we structure our welcome email.

  • Story
  • Next steps
  • Showcase
  • Special offer
  • Segmentation

Before I go into more details, I’m assuming you are having a stand alone email for delivering lead magnet(s).

Lead magnets can be delivered in welcome email, but you are limiting yourself to only one lead magnet then. This approach usually works the best for e-commerce sites with many products as their lead magnets most often are some sort of discounts. And they also build their lists pretty fast from purchases, so they are not inclined to have that many lead magnets in the first place. (not saying they shouldn’t)

Any other industry, it’s much better practice to deliver various lead magnets in individual emails as you should have multiple ways of getting subscribers for optimal list building strategy.

Onwards!

Story

Telling your story is an excellent way for your subscribers to learn more about you and make that personal connection.

You can tell them why you started doing what you do, what were your struggles, what your mission is, what you stand for and so on. Pour your heart out here if you want.

The same way our waiter told us about the 2 special menus they were having and how their chef creates daily menus based on what he finds on farmers market.

The more your subscribers know about your brand, the more engaged they will be.

You want to set clear expectations, tell them how often they’ll receive your emails and what you’ll write about.

Elements of influence you can hit: Authority, Commitment and Consistency, Social Proof, Liking, Unity

Story examples

story welcome email

story email

(source)

Next steps

They are on your list, now what? Show them way around, just like our waiter took us to our table and gave us menus.

You don’t want to leave your subscribers wondering what action they should take next. There are a lot of things you can do here, depending on the type of service/product you are offering.

Use 1-2-3 formula, it’s easy to digest and reduces that initial anxiety. (see example below)

Ask for referrals!

Because, why not? Referred email subscribers tend to be a lot more engaged, because the recommendation from a friend has a lot more credibility than anything else. You may even choose to offer some goodie if they do it.

This is also where you would write some whitelisting instructions, asking your subscribers to add your email to their contact list or show them how to move your emails from Gmail promotion tab to primary tab.

Elements of influence you can hit: Authority, Commitment and Consistency, Reciprocity, Social Proof

Next steps examples

next steps email

(source)

next steps referral

(source)

Showcase

Welcome email is an ideal opportunity to show off what you got.

Here are just some ideas:

  • Present your best selling products
  • Show your inventory and what you offer
  • Lead them to your most popular blog posts
  • Tell them on which social media networks you are on and mention how many people already joined you


When your subscribers receive welcome email, they are usually at peak of their interest in your brand, use that so they take action.

Extra tip: add reviews or testimonials from your happy customers/clients here. Remove the risk and double down with social proofing.

Elements of influence you can hit: Authority, Commitment and Consistency, Social Proof, Liking, Reciprocity

Showcase examples

showcase email

(source)

showcase email with segmentation

(source)

Special offer

This approach works best for e-commerce sites.

Offering a deal in a welcome email is a great way of converting a fresh subscriber into a fresh customer. Or set fresh customers for their next purchase.

If you used special offer as a lead magnet already, it’s only logical you include it in welcome email. But you can also try surprising your new subscribers with a deal they didn’t expect.

Reciprocity, likeability, yes please!

What works well here?

Discounts, free shipping on next order, buy one get one free deals, bonuses on next purchase…

One thing you really want to make sure you do here is to create some sort of urgency. Add limited time to use the deal or it goes away, you want them to make an action soon, or the deal goes away.

Elements of influence you can hit: Commitment and Consistency, Liking, Reciprocity, Scarcity

Special offer examples

special offer email

(source)

special offer email 2

(source)

Does the special offer have to be related to making a sale?

Not necessarily, you can offer other free stuff in exchange of them adding some more info about themselves, which leads me to our next example…

Segmentation

Ever read one of those choose your own story books?

If not, basically, as you end the chapter, you are left with few options on what would you or the hero do, then you are directed to a specific chapter to continue the story. You can do something similar with your welcome email.

Do the quick and dirty way and just ask your subscribers which option best defines them and use those clicks to immediately segment your subscribers.

Or you can really make it fun.

Write your own story, construct a problem around it and ask your readers what would they do. You can get really creative here. And again, use those answers for segmentation.

You can also be pretty direct here and just invite your subscribers to enter more details about themselves.

Make this better by adding some extra bonus if they do, people will always need incentive, don’t expect them to do it just because you asked nicely.

Elements of influence you can hit: Commitment and Consistency, Reciprocity, Liking and Authority (if you nail down your story)

Segmentation examples

segmentation email

segmentation email airbnb

(source)

Summary

Welcome emails have the highest open rates than any other email campaigns.

It’s the email which will make that first impression and start relationship with your subscribers.

Set one main goal you want your welcome email to accomplish.

Make a real impact with your welcome emails and try hitting multiple elements of influence:

  • Reciprocity
  • Commitment and Consistency
  • Social proof
  • Authority
  • Liking
  • Scarcity
  • Unity

Create a compelling welcome subject line, don’t be boring and like everyone else, be you. Let them see your true colors.

Think about which format would work better for you, based on your industry and your content.

Make it personalized and set it to go out immediately.

Depending on your goals, select the type of content for your welcome email:

  • Story
  • Next steps
  • Showcase
  • Special offer
  • Segmentation

You can use just one type, or you can combine more for greater effect. Be careful here not to lose focus from your one goal.

Bonus tip: Ask your subscribers to tell you what their main pain point is, or the reason they subscribed to your email. Ask them to reply to your email.

Why?

Because you want to engage with your subscribers. Email is meant for conversations after all, so start one!

There are so many good things that come from this:

  • You deepen the relationship with your subscriber
  • Your email immediately gets on their contact list, you get automatic whitelisting
  • You learn more about people who decided to subscribe for your emails. This will help you with segmentation and also give you pointers on what kind of content you should focus so you can provide more value to your subscribers.

Don’t make mistake of taking your welcome email for granted, or even not having any welcome email at all.

You only have one chance for making a first impression.

It is made in seconds, can last for a lifetime and it’s very difficult to change it.

It really is that powerful.

Now that you know more about influence and how welcomes are structured, let’s go back to my story from the beginning of this article.

The moment our waiter greeted us, that was a welcome. And it was immediate.

He took us to our table and gave menus, those were the next steps and showcasing.

We also got complimentary champagne, you could look at it as something like a special offer, but what they really hit here was reciprocity.

He also told us how their menu is created and how their chef goes to the farmers market every day, that was the story.

Everything together made a great welcome experience and we were delighted. And that’s why we continued to come back.

cheers

Turned out to be a great day

Can you guess where we’ll go this year for Valentine’s Day? I think you already know the answer. ;)

No Time To Read It All Now?

Grab the PDF version of this guide and read it when you can.


3 thoughts on “How To Create The Most Perfect Welcome Email

  1. Hi, Zoran – Great article. My agency is laser focussed on the value of email and how it can shape all the other facets of digital marketing. So often welcome emails fail to talk about how to integrate it into the many different lead magnets – or ways leads will first enter your world. So kudos to you for addressing asset delivery and the welcome email. Really, like everything else, have a strategy and a plan pays dividends.

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