Editor’s Note: This post was originally published on January 30, 2018 and was updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness on August 15, 2019.
If you have a steady stream of new subscribers opting into your email list, it’s a solid sign that your brand is maintaining relevance. But, a growing email list doesn’t automatically equal a healthy email list. There's a little bit of work to be done to keep subscribers engaged after they walk in the door.
One of the best times to engage a subscriber is right after they’ve joined your list. According to a study by Experian, welcome emails get more than three times more opens, clicks, and revenue per email compared to regular promotional email campaigns. Return Path reports that when a recipient receives a welcome email, they’re much more likely to continue engaging with the brand, finding that 50% of recipients who opened welcome emails read subsequent messages.
To make introducing your brand to new subscribers a little easier, you can automate a welcome email series. Though a single welcome email is a good start, an email series has more potential to keep subscribers engaged long-term. Think of it like getting to know someone - it takes a little bit of time and effort!
With some quick planning (an hour, max), you can automate a smooth-running welcome email series that will:
- Introduce new subscribers to your brand
- Set expectations for your email marketing
- Get new subscribers engaging with your emails, right off the bat
Follow these steps to get your welcome email series started:
Step 1: Figure out what’s important to your customers
Depending on what you want to include in your emails, your welcome email series can consist of anywhere from 3 to 5 (or more) emails, over a period of time.
By thinking about the story you want to tell before deciding how many emails you send, you can ensure you don’t miss any important information. Take a look at your brand's messaging on your website and social media. How did your brand come to be? What makes customers fall in love with your brand?
Some things to think about including in your series:
- Your company's story
- Key differentiators that make you stand out
- Customer feedback or user-generated content
- Introduction to your loyalty program
- A promotion or discount code
Tip: Don’t force anything that doesn’t feel right into your welcome email series - keep it on brand.
Step 2: Outline your series
Now that you know what content to include, you can figure out how many emails to send and when to send them.
Consider your sales cycle: if you have a clothing brand where people are highly likely to purchase within the first 48 hours, you'll want to send your series more quickly, with a discount code being one of your first steps. If you’re selling more high cost, luxury items where the purchase decision takes longer, set your cadence accordingly.
If you're unsure where to start, a good rule of thumb is to send an email on Day 1, Day 3, and Day 7. After the first 3 emails, we recommend sending emails weekly (e.g. Day 14, Day 21, Day 28, and so on).
Step 3: Set up the welcome email series
Time for the fun part: creating your templates and structuring the welcome email series within your ESP!
You’ll want to keep the styling of your templates consistent with your brand and other emails that you send, while adding some visual interest to make each email stand out.
Tip: Include a 'Confirm your subscription' button above the fold in the first email. That initial click on the first email a subscriber receives from you is one of the top signals to ISPs that they want to receive future emails, ensuring better placement in the future (think: less hitting the spam folder, more hitting the inbox!)
Step 4: Consider your other email campaigns
While new subscribers are signing up for your list and receiving your welcome email series, it’s likely that you’re also sending marketing emails to your whole list. Take time to consider whether you want new subscribers to receive your regular promotions while they’re receiving your welcome email series. Depending on your brand, it could make sense to exclude brand new subscribers from your other campaigns.
Step 5: Analyze results
Once your first batch of new subscribers receives your welcome email series, check in to see how it’s performing. Assess open rates, click-throughs, and revenue generated. Is one email in your series outperforming the rest? Do emails sent close together affect your open rates?
Figure out which steps are working and which can be improved, and use those learnings to iterate towards a more effective welcome email series for future subscribers!
Round up the welcome committee
Not only do new subscribers expect to receive a welcome email series – it's the best way to get them excited about joining your list. There's a huge opportunity to introduce subscribers to your brand all while improving email engagement and your sender reputation. Start using your welcome email series to fully educate new subscribers on why you're the right choice, and in no time you'll be able to create long-term, loyal customers.