Let’s talk about welcome email series. I love writing welcome emails. They’re fun, warm, and—as the name suggests—welcoming. You’re essentially telling a person, “YAY! Thanks for signing up. We’re so glad you’re part of our community. Here’s a cookie!”
Now you might be thinking, WAIT. NO ONE SAID ANYTHING ABOUT COOKIES.
Maybe I should back up a little first . . .
Below, I’ll discuss the following:
- What is a welcome email?
- How do welcome emails work?
- Why do businesses send welcome emails?
- What should be in a welcome email?
- What’s the difference between a welcome email and a welcome email series or sequence?
- What do copywriters need to write for welcome email sequences?
- What are some examples of welcome email campaigns?
- What are three big mistakes businesses make when setting up welcome email series (and how to avoid them)?
What is a welcome email?
Businesses or individuals send welcome emails after someone subscribes to their email list. (This action is called a “trigger” in marketing parlance.)
In other words, someone ASKS to be added to the email list—and they do so by entering their email address into a sign-up box and hitting “submit” (or something along the lines of “YES! I want to be added to the list”).
Does the business manually send the emails?
Nope, the business doesn’t manually send the welcome emails. Businesses use marketing automation to send the emails—and to add the person’s email address to an actual list. Most businesses send the initial welcome email ASAP (right after someone signs up).
Marketing automation is software that allows you to send the right message to the right person at the right time. It’s baked into products like HubSpot. But you can also use email marketing automation products focusing only on email marketing (like Mailchimp or Constant Contact).
Email is an effective way to communicate with customers, clients, and prospects, mainly because everyone carries around their phones, so emails are only a click or two away.
Email marketing offers incredible return on investment (ROI) as well.
How does a welcome email series work?
As for how the process works . . .
- Usually, there’s a sign-up box on the business website—often in the footer.
- Someone enters their email address (and possibly their first name) and hits “submit” or its equivalence.
- One of two things happens from there: The person is automatically added to the list. OR the person needs to take another action and confirm their subscription request. This is known as a double opt-in campaign. You’re double-checking with the person that they want to join your list.
- Once the person has been added to the list, the welcome email goes out (timing is up to the business, but I find most send it ASAP, which is also what I recommend)
Why do businesses send welcome emails in the first place?
First off, it’s just the polite thing to do. When someone tells you they’re interested enough in your products or services to surrender their email address, it’s only polite to say thanks.
But there’s another reason businesses send welcome emails: These emails have an EXCELLENT open rate (as high as 68%, according to a study that Mailmodo cites from Oberlo). By comparison, most emails are doing well if they have an open rate of 20% to 25%.
It makes sense that welcome emails have such a high open rate. The person just said that they WANT to hear from you. They’re essentially a captive audience. So when you send that first email, there’s a GREAT chance they’ll open it. When they see your name in their inbox within an hour, they will recognize it—and likely open the email!
And that brings me to the next point.
When should you send your welcome email?
If you’re using a double opt-in, the welcome email should automatically be sent after someone confirms their email address.
Again, it’s all about being top of mind. Your brand—or your client’s brand—is on the person’s mind. They just took the action of signing up. And if you have double opt-in enabled, they are in their inbox right now and paying attention. You have the best chance of them opening if you send it ASAP.
And that brings me to this: What do I mean by “you” send it?
Obviously, you’re not manually sending welcome emails the moment someone signs up. That would be ridiculous and hard to manage. There’s sleep to be had, sloths to be played with, and chocolate to be eaten!
That’s where marketing automation comes into play. As I mentioned earlier, marketing automation sends the right message to the right person at the right time—and as its name suggests, everything happens automatically in the background. So the software you’re using—whether it’s a product like MailChimp or Constant Contact or the marketing automation is baked into a bigger product like HubSpot—the automation would handle the sending of the welcome email.
But for best results, you’ll want to send the initial welcome email ASAP.
What should be in the welcome email?
Ah, that depends. This is why writing welcome emails can be so much fun for copywriters since it isn’t one size fits all. What you write will depend on the brand. You’ll want to always include some basic housekeeping info, like how the person can manage their preferences or unsubscribe. But from there, the sky’s the limit.
Here are some popular things to include in welcome emails:
- Give a special welcome “deal” like a coupon code or limited-time offer to encourage them back to your site and/or to complete the purchase
- Remind them about your brand values
- Highlight 5-star reviews
- Highlight the brand’s aspirational side (like its charitable arm or nonprofits it supports)
- Encourage people to follow the brand’s most active social channels
- Include a video—people LOVE videos
- Offer downloadable content – a checklist, a guide, a white paper (this is great for b2b)
What’s the difference between a welcome email—and a welcome email series or sequence?
The welcome email is exactly as it sounds—it’s the first email someone receives after they opt-in, welcoming them to your newsletter list or community.
Depending on the business, you might send subsequent emails as part of a more robust welcome email series or sequence.
Retailers tend to send lots of emails after an initial sign-up—and they tend to send more emails in general, often multiple times a week and possibly even daily in stretches (e.g., during holidays).
A b2b welcome email series might have a different cadence—maybe it’s just one initial welcome email and then a monthly or every-other-week cadence.
If someone has signed up for a free trial of a product or service, it’s typical for the welcome email series to be several emails over that free trial period of 14 days or 30 days or whatever it is.
Your initial welcome email should set the expectations—hey, you’ll be hearing from us every week, or hey, you’ll be hearing from us once a month.
Because you have that captive audience—someone has expressed interest in your brand—it does make sense to consider a welcome email series, even if it’s just an additional email or two on top of the original welcome email. And then, from there, you can get into the regular cadence (e.g., weekly, monthly).
As the writer, you must put the same effort into the last email as you do the first. I’d argue you have to put in even more effort. We already know the initial welcome email enjoys a high open rate. But the further along you go in a welcome email series, the lower the open rate. This is natural. But you can boost the chances of someone opening it by writing strong subject lines—and encouraging your client to run A/B tests of the subject lines to see which ones perform best.
What copy do copywriters produce for welcome email sequences?
Remember that you need to write the copy for each email in the welcome email series. This includes body copy, subject lines, and preview lines.
In addition, you’ll be writing the copy for the following:
- The text accompanying the sign-up box.
- The text for the “submit” button (ideally, make it more fun than “submit”)
- The thank-you text on the page after someone submits their email address. This thank-you text lets people know they’ve successfully signed up OR they need to confirm their subscription by clicking on a button in a confirmation email. Again, the latter is a “double opt-in” campaign. You’re double-checking that the person wants to be on your email list.
- If you’re running a double opt-in campaign, you’ll write the copy for the subscription confirmation email AND the message that appears after someone successfully confirms their opt-in.
- If you’re not running a double opt-in campaign, you’ll still need to write the message that appears after someone successfully signs up, even if it’s just to let them know exactly that: You’re all set! We’ve added you to our list. Be on the lookout for our first email, which should arrive shortly. Check your spam/junk folders if you don’t see it.
What are some welcome email examples?
In the video below, I walk you through email sign-ups for two businesses (including an example of a double opt-in campaign) and then show you the welcome emails I received.
Fast forward to 12:05 to watch.
What are the big mistakes businesses make when setting up welcome email series (and how to avoid them)?
Mistake #1: Not using welcome emails in the first place.
The biggest mistake is NOT sending a welcome email. If someone takes the time to sign up, thank them. It’s only polite!
Mistake #2: Not customizing the copy and design at every step in the welcome email sequence.
From the color of your sign-up box to the copy you use above the box to every other step, you can and should customize the copy and design to reflect your brand. Automation products often have canned copy—for example, “thanks for signing up.” It’s not awful, but it doesn’t have your brand personality. Your job as the copywriter is to infuse the brand’s voice throughout all the copy.
Mistake #3: Not revisiting and refreshing your welcome email copy.
Welcome emails are easy to “set and forget.” Don’t do that. You should revisit the copy and freshen it, as needed. Swap in new reviews, new case studies, and new images. Make sure everything is still on brand. Even something as simple as making sure your social media icons are current can go a long way to avoid looking crusty and stale. (A great example as I write this article in November 2023: Too many brands still haven’t swapped their Twitter bird icons for X. Not doing so signals an old/crusty email. It’s a subtle signal, but it’s still a signal.)
Got a question for the Copy Bitch?
Get in touch or visit my YouTube channel and leave a question in the comments on one of my videos.