Practical Ecommerce

13 Awesome ‘Welcome’ Email Ideas

Editor’s Note: This article was originally published by Web Marketing Today. Practical Ecommerce acquired Web Marketing Today in 2012. In 2016, we merged the two sites, leaving Practical Ecommerce as the successor.

Welcome emails are one of the first key steps to long-term success with email marketing. They build trust, reduce opt-outs, and get sales upfront. Welcome emails typically get three times the clicks and sales as a standard promotional email. They’re also a terrific way to get ready for Christmas, which will be only 114 days away as of September 1.

The best part of welcome emails is how easy they are to set up. A few hours invested in a welcome email will immediately put you ahead of half your competitors because only about 50 percent of websites even bother to send a welcome email.

You can, of course, send a series of welcome emails, which is a good idea. But if that seems like too much work, have no fear – even a simple welcome email can deliver nice results. So here’s how to do that.

13 Awesome ‘Welcome’ Email Ideas

  • Send your welcome email out immediately, in real time. Do not “batch” your welcome emails. Batching is certainly more efficient for the server, but it wastes a critical moment. You want your new subscribers to get their welcome email within moments of confirming their email address. Instant gratification is required. Experian Marketing Services found welcome email sent in real-time got transaction rates ten times higher than batched-send welcome emails.
  • Let your new subscribers know what to expect. Ever heard how “expectations are everything”? Well, they may not be everything, but they definitely matter, especially for welcome emails. Telling subscribers when they should expect to hear from you and what they should expect to get in their inbox is a proven way to increase readership and reduce opt-outs. And it only takes a paragraph of copy to do.
This welcome email from the NFL shop gives people a bullet list of what to expect from future emails.

This welcome email from the NFL shop gives people a bullet list of what to expect from future emails.

  • Use the welcome email to show the simplest and easiest way to start using your service, or to buy from you. Welcome emails are an ideal opportunity to show people how to use your service. Odds are good they’ve already created an account, so now you just need to prompt them to do a few more simple things so they can start getting the benefits.

Ecommerce sites have used this principle for years: It’s the 10 percent off (or 15 percent, or 20 percent) discount they offer to get new subscribers to buy.

  • Show your new subscribers they’ve made a good decision. You can start by telling new subscribers how great your company or service is, but it’s always better to show than to tell. Talk benefits, not features, to make your case.
  • Give your new subscribers a sense of community. Fashion and design sites like to say, “you’re on the list.” Consultants sometimes tell new subscribers they’re now “insiders.” However you say it is up to you, but say something to make new readers feel like they’re part of something special.
  • Simplify your welcome message. The best welcome emails all have something in common. They’re simple. Don’t overload your new subscribers with information. If you’ve got too much to say for one email, that’s fine: Send a series of welcome emails.
This welcome email from the shopping service Alice shows people exactly how to get started and demonstrates the benefits of the service in one fell swoop. It’s also super-easy to understand – the visual layout means people can scan it and understand it in a snap.

This welcome email from the shopping service Alice shows people exactly how to get started and demonstrates the benefits of the service in one fell swoop. It’s also super-easy to understand – the visual layout means people can scan it and understand it in a snap.

  •  Include a reply email address that works. You’ll get replies to your welcome email. Don’t lose them. No-reply email addresses are a bad idea for any email, any time, but they’re an especially poor way to welcome new subscribers. No-reply email addresses (i.e., emails sent to customers that they can’t just click reply to because their reply will go nowhere) send a subtle but very clear message to people: We don’t really want to hear from you.
  • Use your subscribers’ enthusiasm to leave some of the most valuable information they’ll ever tell you. If you only do one thing from this article, do this: Set up a welcome email that asks your new subscribers what’s the one thing they want to know about your niche.

Tell them you want to know this so you can create better content for them to answer this question they have. Let them know their answers will help them and their fellow readers.

I created  a welcome email like this recently. So far about 18 percent of new subscribers reply it. They give me fantastic ideas for content to create. It took 20 minutes to set up.

  • Test your welcome email subject line. Most email service providers make it really easy to split-test subject lines. So is it worth 30 minutes to get 20 to 40 percent more clicks, opens and transactions from your welcome email? For most of us, the answer to that question would be “yes.”
  • Ask subscribers to follow you on social media. This is no cutting-edge technique, but it works, and it benefits both you and your new subscribers. It also gives you a nice safety line should they decide to unsubscribe later.
  • Use the welcome email to get more information on your new subscribers’ preferences. This is a great alternative to having people fill out a long form of preferences at the beginning of signup. Waiting until you’ve got their information and have started to demonstrate value is a better time to ask for specifics.

This technique is known as “progressive profiling.” It’s a proven way to not only get more detailed information from your subscribers, but also to do it in a way that doesn’t turn them off.

This welcome email from the Gap asks people to update their preferences so they’ll get customized emails.

This welcome email from the Gap asks people to update their preferences so they’ll get customized emails.

  • Personalize. You’re building a relationship here, so it’s an ideal time to treat people like, well, people. So add some simple personalization to make the reader feel like you really do see them as an individual, not just another subscriber.
  • Use a recognizable sender name and email address. Sender names are more prominent than subject lines on mobile devices, and they can have a huge effect on email stats. Make sure yours is easy to recognize  includes your company name). Also use a from address that you’ll want to stick with for a long time.
Pamella Neely

Pamella Neely

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  1. Jimmy December 17, 2014 Reply

    You touched on this idea but in my experience the welcome email is key to onboarding. So while it should be personalized and be sent from an address that can accept replies, it MUST help people find value in your product, service, etc. as soon as possible. That applies to e-commerce, SaaS, bloggers … really anyone sending welcome emails.

    I collected a bunch of great examples that people might find useful here: http://blog.getvero.com/welcome-emails/

  2. Ashwin Vidiyala November 17, 2015 Reply

    Thanks for this article. I was writing my welcome email and I used a couple of the tips you provided. Good stuff :)