**This post has been updated as of February 2019**
Welcome emails get some of the highest engagement rates of any emails. They offer the perfect chance to engage new subscribers and convince them to take action.
Why you should use a welcome email
Several recent studies have shown why welcome emails deserve our attention. Welcome emails have an average read rate of 34%.
That’s 42% higher than the average read rate for all other types of emails according to a recent study by Return Path. According to this study, the average read rate for emails is 24%.
We recently wrote about how to use a welcome email to engage your subscribers, and today, we’ll break down 10 elements every effective welcome email should have, so each one you send can get the results you desire.
The 10 essential elements of an effective welcome email
1. It’s timely.
Sending welcome emails promptly makes a difference. A big difference, in fact. Welcome emails work well because you’re sending them when a subscriber’s interest is at its peak. Wait even a few days and their enthusiasm may wane, resulting in lower engagement rates.
To give you an idea of how important timing is, consider the chart below from Return Path’s study, The Email Subscriber Experience. It shows how many days after someone subscribes, that most marketers choose to send their welcome email.
As you can see, 75% sent welcome emails on the same day subscribers signed up. Time is of the essence when it comes to sending your welcome email. This is the time to give subscribers the information they desire from the get-go.
You can automate this process using our automation feature, so each time someone new joins your list, a welcome email will automatically be sent to them.
2. A subject line that’s clear and engaging.
Welcome emails perform best when they’re clearly identified, but make sure you also add a spark of interest to grab attention. To make welcome emails easy to identify in crowded inboxes, many marketers use the word “Welcome” right up front in the subject line.
Here’s a sampling of some welcome subject lines from our inbox:
To get additional tips to improve your subject lines, see our recent post, 7 Welcome Email Dos (and Don’ts!) for Stellar Results.
3. A greeting.
If you asked for your subscriber’s name or other information when they signed up, now is the ideal time to use it. And whether you use their name or not, it’s always nice to simply welcome new subscribers.
Of course, adding personalization can help any email. Emails with personalized subject lines are 26% more likely to be opened.
Notice how in the example above, the first and last names are pushed together? Remember to set up your sign up forms so people know what information to enter in each field. For example, if you want the first name, label the field “First Name”, not just “Name” or you might end up with both first names and last names together.
4. Tell recipients what to do next.
Don’t make new subscribers wait for your next newsletter. Instead, use your welcome email to recommend your very best content.
For example, if you’re a SaaS (Software as a Service) business, you probably want to get new subscribers to start using your software right away. So give them a clear idea of how to get started. That might mean a “getting started” guide. Or you could kick it up a notch with an explainer video like Noteagraphy has done:
If you’re an e-commerce business, your goal might be to get subscribers to make a purchase. So, don’t be shy about offering products or services in your welcome email.
5. Give subscribers a gift.
Welcome emails are an ideal place to slip new subscribers something special. Usually, that’s a discount on their first order or some especially good free content. Here’s how RedBubble offers both a discount code and recommends some of their best products:
6. Ask subscribers to follow you on social media.
Including a few links to your social media networks in your welcome email is a good start, but it can be even better if you come out and ask new subscribers to follow your business. Here’s how Food52 does it after someone signs up: The confirmation page encourages new subscribers to follow the brand on Twitter and Facebook.
7. Ask subscribers to add you to their “safe senders” or contact list.
This is a great opportunity to maintain your deliverability rates and make it easier for subscribers to find your emails in the future. Here’s how the Farnam Street blog asks people to whitelist them:
8. Include an unsubscribe link.
It might seem crazy, but even as you onboard and welcome subscribers, you always have to make it easy for them to unsubscribe at any time.
This example from the San Diego Chargers welcome email incorporates a few of the tips we’ve shared. Notice the personalization in the first line, then the whitelist request in the second line. The discount code and call-to-action are right below in the third line. Then down in the footer, there’s a one-click unsubscribe link.
9. Ask subscribers to refer-a-friend.
This can be a powerful email list builder. Just as referred clients and customers tend to be high-value, referred email subscribers tend to be far more engaged than subscribers from other sources.
When someone we know recommends something, that recommendation usually carries far more credibility.
You may not get huge amounts of new subscribers from your referral requests, but the ones you do get will likely be high value. As you know, a small list of highly engaged subscribers is just as good (if not better) than a large list of less engaged subscribers.
Even Google uses this refer-a-friend technique. The example below is for their “Let’s Put Our Cities on the Map” program. They ask new subscribers to help just one business they think deserves it. Notice how Google tells you exactly how long it will take. Who doesn’t have 30 seconds for a great local business?
10. Find out what they want.
Sometimes information is priceless. To that end, you can use your new subscribers’ enthusiasm to find out what they want.
You can get this information by using a survey like the ones offered by GetFeedback embedded right in your welcome email, or by asking a question in your welcome email.
You can also try progressive profiling. This technique may seem super-techy, but it’s not difficult. When a visitor comes to your site and carries out multiple actions (e.g. downloads multiple guides), they’re presented with different fields on each form.
This enables you to get varies data points while only asking your visitor for two fields at any given time. You end up with a better user experience and more information you can use in the future. Most CRM systems allow you to do some level of progressive profiling.
Here’s how IKEA asked for more information:
This is actually the second email IKEA sent. They waited a day or two before they asked for this extra information. They also made their request in a way that feels helpful, not intrusive.
By asking us to complete our profile and showing a percent complete measure, they encourage you to provide them more information.
3 welcome emails to inspire you
are the first step to a successful email marketing campaign. Getting them right will not only help you build a strong subscriber base, but it will also help beef up your bottom line.
If you’re looking for some welcome emails to inspire your own, take a look at the examples below. These are some of the best welcome emails 2018 had to offer.
is a fast-rising cloud-based chat solution for marketers and sales teams.
The team at Drift understands that their customers are busy people that are pressed for time. Because of that, they keep the message brief and straight to the point. And the main point of their welcome email is to quickly set you up with Drift.
To help drive their point, Drift keeps the design of the email minimalistic. No distracting images, gifs, or videos.
The greatest takeaway from their welcome email, however, is the sense of urgency in the email. “Let’s get you up and running”.
This encourages you to set up your account and try out the app. Here are a few other things we like about Drift’s welcome email:
- Warm and friendly tone.
- Two-way communication is encouraged
- A clear unsubscribe link
If you want to elicit a quick response from your new subscribers, this is one of the best welcome email examples to imitate.
- Banfield Pet Hospital
You can also use your welcome emails to drive engagement. Use it to tell your latest convert what to do next. This can be anything from following on social media to reading a blog post.
That’s one thing Banfield Pet Hospital does well.
Source: Really Good Emails
Welcome emails have one primary purpose–to make you feel appreciated. This example from Banfield does just that, thanks to its beautiful design–particularly the adorable puppy eyes and warm colors.
But this email does something else. Banfield uses this welcome email to guide the recipient on next steps to take. The email is a launch pad to the newsletter, a report, an app, and of course a gift in the form of a voucher.
This email ticked a lot of our boxes, some of which include:
- A clean uncluttered design
- Immediately gets the subscriber engaged
- Clear calls to action
- An emotional pull factor in the form of the imagery
Welcome emails that are well-designed with just enough imagery to draw the reader in and a good mix of moving copy are bound to succeed.
- TrueBlue by JetBlue
One of the most important reasons you should send out welcome emails is to earn reader trust.
JetBlue nailed this in their welcome email.
Source: Really Good Emails
Every word in the email serves one purpose to earn your trust. And honestly, this email does a pretty good job. Apart from the tone and world-class word choice, a few other things we like about this email include:
- Clean minimalistic email template
- A request at the very top to whitelist their email address
- Explains the benefits of signing up for the rewards program
- Social media buttons for easy sharing
- A section with terms
If your main aim is to establish relationships with your subscribers, this is a great welcome email to draw your inspiration from.
These 3 examples of welcome emails have several tactics you can adopt into your own emails. From the design to the message to the tone and language, a welcome email is the sum of its parts.
Your welcome email can include all these elements, or just a few, depending on your business needs. The most important thing is to send an engaging welcome email to every new subscriber.
So go ahead, master the welcome email best practices and put your email marketing campaign to work.
**This post was originally published September 2015**