First impressions are, in business as in anything else, extremely important. When it comes to your business, that first impression can often come in the form of your welcome email. But you need to do more than create a good first impression if you want to cultivate a continuing relationship with your subscribers; you need to ensure that you’re a constant (and welcome) presence in their inbox.
That’s why it’s not just about that first email. You need a welcome email sequence that introduces your business to the customer, and then continues to engage with them and ensure that your products/services are never far from their mind.
Automated welcome email series can be crucial to this approach, and getting your welcome email strategies right is of paramount importance. During this article, we’ll examine some of the most effective ways to ensure welcome emails are engaging, interesting, and lead to as many conversions as possible, and what to consider when setting up your own welcome email series using a service like HubSpot.
What is a Welcome Email Series?
A welcome email series is what it sounds like – a series (or sequence, if you prefer) of emails that gets sent out to new subscribers in order to introduce them to your brand. This sequence will typically describe your brand, detail the products/services offered by your company, explain any promotions or offers regularly offered, and elaborate upon the upsides of choosing your company (e.g. free shipping, loyalty discounts, a hassle-free returns policy etc.).
Why is a Good Welcome Email Sequence so Important?
It’s tempting to think that the battle is won simply because someone has signed up to your mailing list, but that would be a mistake. The welcome email series is sometimes called a ‘nurture’ sequence because it’s about developing and nurturing a relationship with new subscribers to ensure that they’re active customers, and not someone who half-heartedly signed up and simply hasn’t gotten around to hitting ‘unsubscribe’ yet.
Despite the importance of welcome emails, it’s estimated by email marketing specialists emma that around 50% of companies don’t send out a welcome email at all – let alone a series. Given that the open rate of welcome emails is about 50% — an astonishingly high number compared to standard industry open rates – investing in a solid welcome email sequence is a no-brainer.
Best Practices For Crafting a Great Welcome Email Campaign
Now that we’ve established exactly how important a welcome email campaign is, it’s a good idea to look at the do’s and don’ts of putting together a fantastic welcome email sequence that will have subscribers becoming conversions.
Put New Subscribers at Ease
First things first – new subscribers may immediately be wondering if they’ve made a good choice by signing up to your mailing list. Giving out your email address isn’t as personal or intimate as giving out your home address, but many people may still wonder if they’ve just made the right choice in signing up to yet another company’s mailing list.
It’s up to you to put their minds at ease with your initial welcome email. Come up with a subject line that immediately assuages any spam concerns, but that is also eminently clickable. Something simple like “thanks for letting us slide into your inbox. What’s next?” is playful, casual and decisive without being overbearing or pushy.
Set Expectations Going Forward
Welcome emails are more than just an opportunity to bring new subscribers into the fold – they’re a chance to set a blueprint for future interactions. Be clear and forthright about how often subscribers can expect to hear from you. Do you send monthly newsletters? A weekly roundup of new offers and discounts? If subscribers have a solid idea of how often they can expect to receive emails from you, they won’t be blindsided when those emails start dropping into their inbox.
Alternatively, you can put the decision into the subscribers’ hands themselves. How often do they want to hear from you? Everybody likes an element of control, and by handing them the keys to your email campaigns, you allow them to self-personalize them, and you avoid bombarding them with unwelcome emails that can, ultimately, lead to their unsubscribing.
Whether you set the frequency of emails or your subscribers do, you need to follow through on what’s been agreed upon. If they expect monthly emails and you start sending them out weekly, you’ve broken your word and damaged any trust that existed between the two of you. Honor your word as you would in any other agreement, and build up a positive impression of your brand.
Finally, try to personalize your emails. Remember that you’re sending these out to a human being, not email address #247 of 3,000. The more a subscriber feels that they’re being like a person and not a number on some spreadsheet, the more positively they’ll respond.
Keep Your Promises
This was touched upon above, but it bears repeating here: your business’ word is your bond. If you’ve made any promises at all to subscribers, you have to stick to them. If you informed them that their signup would be rewarded with discounts or bonuses, then ensure the subscriber gets them.
Don’t go back on them or try to weasel your way out of any promises made; that just makes you look untrustworthy and shady. And that should be the last impression you want to give potential customers.
Give Careful Consideration to Email Frequency and Timing
Again, it’s important that you don’t bombard subscribers with too many emails. The #1 reason for unsubscribes is because email frequency is too high, so don’t get trigger-happy with that schedule button.
Conversely, you want subscribers to maintain engagement with your brand, and that can’t happen if your emails are sent once in a blue moon. It’s ultimately up to you to strike a balance and research the sort of email frequency that works for your company; different industries will have different approaches.
Timing is also hugely important. Real-time welcome emails are a great idea; subscribers who’ve just signed up still have your brand fresh in their minds, and they’re massively receptive to an immediate email. In fact, marketing experts Experian have previously estimated that real-time welcome emails are opened at a rate ten times higher than that of welcome emails sent in batches.
As for emails past the initial one in your welcome series, it’s time to do some market research and see what works for your subscribers. One quick and easy tip is that morning emails tend to boast much higher open rates than emails sent at other times; most people tend to check their emails first thing in the morning, and so they’re more likely to open them at that time, too.
Encourage Other Methods of Engagement
Email doesn’t have to be the only way in which you interact with your subscribers – and indeed, it shouldn’t be. Encouraging interaction through other means, whether by phone or the ever-popular social media, means that your subscribers have a number of options when it comes to getting in touch with you, and they can make the best decision for their own requirements.
Being available across different platforms also makes your company more relatable, and – crucially – makes it seem as if you are more than just a business out for customers’ money. You’re approachable and engaging. You have a Facebook/ Twitter account where you regularly chat to followers, give them tips, and do much more than simple money-grubbing.
If you include links to other methods of communication in your emails, however, make sure that they are channels that you actually use. Don’t bother including your company’s official Twitter handle if it never gets used. Doing so will only erode confidence in your brand, and make subscribers question if you’re the sort of company they want to engage with at all.
One of the most effective ways of promoting this cross-channel interaction is to intersperse your email with examples of your other channels in action. Embed tweet chains between you and satisfied customers to highlight the sort of relationships you cultivate online. Highlight successful promotions or competitions you recently ran on social media. Show your subscribers what they’re missing out on and encourage them to get in on the action.
Don’t Send a Single Email
While it’s extremely important that you don’t oversaturate your subscribers’ inboxes with email after email, it’s also important that your welcome email series is, well, a series. If you’re sending out a single welcome email, you’re likely to overwhelm the subscriber with a surfeit of information that will leave them feeling shell-shocked, and will potentially have them subscribing before things have got off the ground.
Break that information up into multiple emails and send them out in intervals, making sure not to bombard subscribers. Your workflows should also be dynamic enough to account for differences in new subscriber behavior; some new subscribers will quickly make purchases and some won’t, for instance.
Should welcome email #2 be exactly the same for two subscribers who’ve behaved in very different ways? Of course not. Make sure those differences are acknowledged and accounted for. Perhaps the first group can be offered tailored recommendations based on their previous purchase history, while the second can be sent discount vouchers for their first purchase.
The golden rule of email marketing is that you need to personalize. Bland, impersonal emails that are clearly cynical attempts at mass marketing are bound to fall on deaf ears, and lead to a low open rate and a lower clickthrough rate. The only thing you can expect to go up, really, is your unsubscribe rate.
The simplest way to personalize an email, of course, is to address the subscriber by name in the subject line. However, this is done so frequently now that even this is becoming white noise to the average subscriber. Mix it up by tailoring the content of the email to their needs and desires. Recommended products, as we touched upon in the last section, are a great way to quickly and effectively personalize an otherwise bland email.
An effective way of handling this without having to dive into the busywork of personalizing thousands of emails is to use list segmentation. Smart use of this tool (which can be fully automated on many big email marketing platforms) can make for engaging, personally tailored emails without much work on your end.
Sign Up with a Few Competitors
Want to know how to make an engaging welcome email series that works for your company and the sort of subscribers you’d like? Why not learn from your rivals? Sign up for their mailing list and study the kind of emails they’re sending to you. What do they send first and why? How do they follow up on that initial email? If you’re able to use multiple email accounts, respond differently to those welcome emails and see if it provokes a change in the sort of answers you receive. If so, why?
By studying how your competitors are handling their own welcome email sequences, you can stand to learn a lot that can be applied to your own. What’s working about their emails? What things do you feel can be improved? How can you positively distinguish your own brand from that of competitors?
It’s important to note here that you don’t steal from your competitors – ethical considerations aside, unoriginal content will not go unnoticed and will tank the reputation of your company in the long run. But there’s nothing wrong with getting an idea of what your rivals are up to, and how it’s going for them.
Lead with your Best Content
For many people, signing up to a mailing list isn’t something that they’ve done after years of following you and your brand. They’ve likely just discovered your brand and signed up. This means that they’re unlikely to have seen any of your older content – including all those amazing blogs that you put out a couple of years back.
Giving new subscribers a quick “greatest hits” compilation in one of your welcome email series works on a number of levels. It quickly exposes them to your best work/offers/products, and it gives them an idea of your brand ethos and personality in a far more efficient manner than you could communicate in a 200-word welcome email.
Furthermore, it’s immediately engaging, and makes subscribers anticipate your next email, and the email after that. There’s nothing better than having subscribers who actively look forward to your emails arriving in their inboxes.
Include an Eye-Catching Call to Action
It’s all very well having new subscribers open your emails, but if it doesn’t lead to clickthroughs and conversions, then it’s a wasted opportunity. That’s where your call to action (CTA) comes into play.
Make sure that whatever call to action you include is clear and highly visible. Research has shown that images are hugely important in crafting an engaging email, so ensure that you’re not simply sending a wall of text. GIFs can also be very handy – previously mentioned market gurus emma state that emails featuring those handy little animated images increase click rates by a whopping 130%.
You should also, in general, ensure that your CTA is found above the fold – the point where viewers will need to scroll down to keep reading your email. The vast majority of people won’t bother scrolling down, so if your CTA is below the fold, so to speak, then you’re going to see a significant disparity between open and clickthrough rates. People are lazy – cater to that with a big, bright CTA that is above the fold.
Furthermore, research suggests that 80% of people simply scan emails rather than read through them carefully (aka skim reading). This implies a couple of things – that wall of text we just mentioned should be avoided, and the CTA should be as big and obvious as possible. Keep it short and sweet, and make sure that CTA is visible and enticing.
While there’s no one-size-fits-all solution for crafting a fantastic email welcome sequence, if you follow the above advice you can be sure of coming up with something that’s going to work for you and your subscribers. By creating a welcome campaign that is personalized, relevant, welcoming and engaging, you can ensure that you get the best possible conversion rate from your emails. There are many ways to go about this, but it’s always effective (and an efficient use of time) to make use of an automated marketing platform like Hubspot or Mailchimp. The tools offered by such platforms take a lot of the busywork out of sequential emails, without sacrificing the aspects of them that make them a success.