When it comes to welcome emails, your customers have seen it all.
Having handed over their precious personal information through a sign-up form or purchase, any number of experiences awaited them—running the gamut from absolutely annoying to surprisingly delightful.
Today’s consumers are more sophisticated than ever and won’t put up with obnoxious marketing—they have plenty of options and will take their attention elsewhere if you abuse it.
Getting them to sign up is only the first step. From there, everything we do is relationship building.
Professionals know that you must deliver value and do it consistently, starting with the welcome email.
Get this first step right, and you have the opportunity to stand out in a crowded and noisy marketplace, possibly winning a customer’s love for years to come.
This guide will help you level up your welcome email game. You’ll see plenty of examples from real businesses (across many industries) that can serve as welcome email templates to guide your creative process.
At the end we’ll explore a bonus strategy for ensuring you get that vital first contact right.
Let’s get started.
Welcome emails serve to introduce people into your world or transition them deeper down your funnel. Typically automated, this message is triggered by a subscriber or customer filling out a form, making a purchase, or signing up in some way to receive value from your business.
It typically includes a warm and welcoming message along with introductions to you and your team, your company’s values, instructions on what to do next, and any other information needed to move forward.
It’s important to know that you may need a number of different welcome emails depending on where your leads are coming from.
For example, if prospects enter your world from a Facebook ad campaign that emphasizes a specific benefit of your product, then you want that welcome message congruent with what came before it.
Otherwise, if you’re trying to use the same welcome message for that ad campaign and your blog sign up form, the messaging can be misaligned. This leaves your reader feeling confused, eroding the trust you’re trying to build.
Welcome emails deserve much more care and attention than most businesses give them.
Let’s take a look at just how important they are to your business.
For most businesses, the welcome email is a massive untapped opportunity for brand building, cultivating customer relationships, and improving sales and conversions.
Yet only 57.7% of brands greet new subscribers with welcome emails. And 73% of brands that did send an email did not send any messages within the first 48 hours (Source: Experian Marketing Services).
Trust is the currency of any relationship.
And if you’re serious about sustaining growth and success, then it’s all about building trust with your clients and customers.
At the minimum, your customers expect a welcome email. They want to hear from you.
That’s partly why welcome emails enjoy, on average, four times the open rate and five times the clickthrough rate of standard marketing email campaigns. Not only that, but they see more than three times the transactions and revenue per email over regular promotional mailings.
And, subscribers who receive welcome emails show 33% more engagement with the brand (Source: Experian Marketing Services).
Given those numbers, you can see why it’s well worth the effort.
Make it count!
When you send a welcome email to a new client, you want them to feel like they’ve made the right choice.
This early communication sets the tone for your entire relationship going forward.
It’s an opportunity to demonstrate your brand’s voice and values through your actions and by telling your story. This is also a time to set expectations, like how often they’ll see your emails in their inbox and what they’ll get when they open those emails.
What does this all add up to?
Them opening more of your future emails, making purchases, and possibly even recommending your business to others.
Of course, the other side of the story is that this may be the only email they ever open from you. This may be your only chance to ever get your best products and services in front of these potential customers before fading into inbox obscurity.
Now that you understand the stakes, let’s look at some real world examples and highlight some best practices to set you on the path to welcome email mastery.
How do you ensure that your brand is fully leveraging the opportunities that come from sending great welcome emails?
We’ll use the following examples to highlight nine welcome email best practices to help you make a great first impression. We’ve rounded up dozens of examples from multiple industries to give you plenty of options to fit your brand and message.
It doesn’t matter how epic your onboarding welcome email is if no one opens it.
And even though most customers expect a welcome email, you should still do everything you can to encourage more opens.
That’s why we start by writing our best subject line—one that stands out in a busy inbox and grabs their attention.
According to Invespro, “47% of email recipients open email based on the subject line alone.”
Is your brand serious, tough, funny, feminine, playful? Ultimately, your subject lines should match your brand’s voice.
Being consistent builds trust, and that starts with your subject line.
Let’s look at some examples to get you started. For your convenience, we’ve provided an additional list of 15 subject line templates at the end of this guide.
Birch Lane offers 10% off your first order right in the subject line. It’s hard for anyone to pass up a deal. They’ll at least want to have a look to ensure they’re not missing out on something good.
Wow, $50 is pretty generous! Also, the possibility of winning something has caught my attention.
This subject line activates both greed and curiosity.
My name jumps out from the other generic subject lines in my inbox. The message feels more personal like we’re already friends.
Overall, it has a fun, festive feeling to it. Like I just walked into a cool bar full of my friends.
This message feels inspiring and hopeful. Exactly what you would want on the beginning of a health or weight loss journey.
This one may seem like a “no brainer,” but it’s important to get this right.
Just like in a regular conversation, it’s important that you have good manners and treat your new subscriber well. Put them at ease by showing them you are caring and considerate.
It’s generally a good idea to personalize email messages by using their first name if you gathered it with your sign up form.
Follow with a sincere “thank you” and “welcome.”
No one wants to feel like they’ve just been fed into a faceless corporate marketing machine, and the more your email can feel like it’s coming from a real person the better.
Much of this feeling has to do with the tone and style of your writing—think conversational style versus robotic “corporate speak.”
This is a great time to introduce yourself and your team. Especially if this subscriber is new to your world (versus an existing customer). This can be accomplished with face shots of your team or pictures of your workplace.
Remember, as always, match the language and tone of your welcome and introductions to the overall style of your brand.
Finally, it’s a good practice to acknowledge where they came from.
For example, imagine you’re walking down the sidewalk and see a huge sign with balloons in front of a store that says “Massive One-Day Only SALE!” You walk in and there are no signs anywhere and the person behind the counter greets you but doesn’t say a word about the sale.
You would probably be wondering, “Did I walk into the wrong store?”
Wouldn’t that leave you feeling a bit confused or anxious? That is exactly what you never want your potential customers to feel.
They start off with “Dear [name],” and then thank you for joining before jumping right into their mission.
You’re immediately pulled into the story of this organization. Stunning images combined with emphatic, purposeful language emphasize their passion for changing lives.
David does a great job of being personable while welcoming you into his world.
Although he could be more welcoming, Peter does a great job of introducing himself and his newsletter.
Telling someone you’re “happy they’re here” is always a nice way to start things off.
Including the word “family” helps them feel more welcome.
Tiny Fox Press takes it a step further by telling us, “You’re awesome!”
That feels good, right?
Most of the time it’s a bad idea to present your new subscriber with a daunting wall of text.
Your customers work hard, don’t make your emails look like hard work.
They’ll just move on to the next message and forget about you. Plus, they’ll make a mental note that every time they open your email, it’s going to be difficult.
That means your message should be clear, concise and to the point. Your welcome email doesn’t need to tell them everything about your company.
The better your copy, the longer it can be. But it should only be as long as it absolutely needs to be to get the job done.
Using short, explainer style videos can help break up the amount of reading they have to do so they don’t get overwhelmed.
Also, using bold, italics, and underlining can help highlight important information and make it easier for them to navigate your instructions.
Short and to the point, this welcome email includes bullet lists and bold headlines to move your eyes along with ease.
This is about as short as it gets. There’s a two-minute explainer video to quickly get you up speed.
Another short read—just enough to get you started.
They get right to it: Here is our downloadable guide.
Confusion leads to lower conversions and is bad for business.
Remember, if it feels confusing or like hard work, you risk making a poor first impression or even permanently losing your subscribers’ attention.
If there are next steps for them to take, lay it out clearly. Don’t leave them guessing.
Consider using GIFs, images, or explainer videos along with text to make it easy for them to understand at a glance. People don’t have time to decipher convoluted instructions or requests.
If what they need to do next is complicated, provide a link to a guide that goes in depth.
Let them know what to expect from you in the future.
Will you be emailing them weekly? Sending them different types of emails? Offering deals and coupons?
Again, we’re building trust, but also interest. They’ll be more likely to open future emails from you.
Any call to action should be clear, obvious, and can be repeated multiple times in longer emails.
Examples of CTA’s include:
There’s one very obvious thing to do: Click the button to save your seat for the GetResponse training.
Telling subscribers to add International Student to their address book is a call to action that will ensure the deliverability of future emails.
This email does a great job of highlighting what to expect from MailerLite over the next two weeks.
Kongregate acknowledges their subscribers’ potential overwhelm and gives them recommendations to get started right away.
LinkedIn issues an immediate CTA at the top of their email with a “Get started” button.
Target provides a few different CTAs as well as instructions for visiting their brick and mortar locations.
Along with very simple instructions for using their app, Twitter directs you to “Get started.”
Functionally, it can make navigating and understanding your message easier or more difficult.
A cluttered email can make your reader feel anxious and overwhelmed, making them more likely to set your email aside for another time (never).
The colors, fonts, images, and layout you use are an extension of your branding. They create a continuity of experience from your advertising, website, and even your physical business location. Giving customers a congruent experience continues to build trust.
Images work with your copy to tell a story and create an experience. They can be used (along with video) to feature products.
The text in your email should be easy to read and include plenty of whitespace on the page.
If you can, use bullet points and numbered lists to make reading your email feel easy.
Your call to action button should be obvious and stand out from the everything else on the page.
The beautiful image and clean design of this email allow you to imagine yourself on this vacation.
Another simple, clean, and brilliant layout. The text and images work together telling you that this brand is about “sustainable fashion for the whole family.”
The variety of colors and flavors awakens your senses and builds your desire to try some of this “curiously delicious ice cream.”
Everything about this email feels sophisticated and luxurious. Clean copy and stunning images move you effortlessly down the page.
The vibrant images of fresh foods get you excited to try a new way of eating.
Giving is a great way to begin any relationship.
It generates goodwill and triggers your customers’ reciprocity reflex—moving them to make that vital first purchase with your business.
If you offered an incentive for them to sign up, give it to them right away and make it easy.
Common gifts businesses give to their subscribers:
Another way to demonstrate your generosity is by providing links to blog posts and guides, FAQs, and other relevant and helpful resources (videos, blogs, etc.). Even if you didn’t create these resources, acting as a curator saves your reader time.
You can also encourage and reward social shares by offering additional discounts to those who spread the word.
At the bottom, they encourage you to “Give a Gift, Get a Gift.” This is a great way to turn your customers into ambassadors for your brand.
Anyone handing out $200 instantly becomes more likeable.
The classic “spend $50 and save $5” encourages them to buy just a little more to hit that threshold and receive their savings.
Same winning strategy as The Home Depot.
Saving $15 off your first week of food is one more reason to get started with the diet now.
Although not offering cash or discounts in this email, Happy Campers are giving away a free guide of helpful tips and admission to their Facebook Group.
50% off is a huge savings. This is the kind of discount people like to share with their friends
It’s all about getting someone to take a risk and make that first purchase with your brand. Giving 20% off the first purchase makes it a little less risky.
With welcome emails enjoying higher open rates and engagement, what better opportunity to learn valuable information about your audience?
One way you can do this is to encourage your readers to reply by asking them a question and demonstrating that you invite communication and feedback from your customers.
Besides positioning yourself as a genuinely helpful and caring business, getting personal emails from your customers is marketing gold. They give you direct insights into your customers’ questions, desires, and frustrations.
If you don’t want to discourage replies, then don’t use the firstname.lastname@example.org format.
Also, make sure to provide contact info for them to reach you. This includes business location, services, email, website links, phone number, and social links.
Another way to encourage feedback is to embed a simple survey at the bottom of your email. All they have to do is click and submit.
Invite feedback from customers by inviting them to:
The Party Goddess encourages prospects to email her for help with anything.
The vice president of Zacks does a great job making us feel welcome to contact them by email or phone.
The Cheesecake Factory invites you to complete a profile. This is an easy way to ask your readers to provide quite a bit of personal information.
Searchbloom makes it clear that you can reach out to them with any questions by email.
Instapaper gives readers two options of using either a support email or contacting them on Twitter.
Ignite Visibility provides a phone number, email, and the possibility of requesting a free consultation.
The more connection points you can establish with your customer base the better.
Don’t miss this opportunity to connect with your subscribers on social media.
This helps grow your presence on those platforms and keeps your business top of mind when it comes time for customers to need your solutions.
Another benefit is if your emails happen to go to spam, there is still an opportunity for customers see your updates on their social feed.
Always include social links in the footer of your email.
The HardwareHut does a great job displaying social buttons at the bottom of their email. They really pop.
PCMag knows their audience is active on a number of social platforms. They make it easy to connect with them across the web.
ThoughtCo. only provides links to three social platforms, but they are highly visible.
This may sound counterintuitive, but you want to make it very easy for people to unsubscribe from your email list.
This is part of being in a trusting relationship. You want readers there on their own free will—because they want to be there, not because they can’t figure out how to leave.
It’s up to you to keep them entertained, educated, and inspired. If you provide great value and treat people right, then you shouldn’t have any problem keeping most of your subscribers happy.
The others? Well, you have to let them go.
And if you don’t make it easy, they’ll tag you as spam, harming your email deliverability for the people out there who actually want to hear from you.
Also, you must do this to be compliant with various legal and regulatory codes like the GDPR.
Revolve provides two opportunities to unsubscribe: About three quarters of the way down the page they ask: “Didn’t mean to subscribe? No worries! Unsubscribe here” and then at the footer (where unsubscribe links are typically located).
It actually makes you trust them more because they aren’t coming across as desperate to keep you there.
FoodPrint provides the standard unsubscribe link in the footer of their email. It’s obvious enough if you need to find it.
Land Rover’s unsubscribe link is just as obvious as their “contact us” link and their social links, making it easy for those who want to opt out of emails.
A surprising number of businesses still don’t send a welcome email. If you do, then you’re ahead of the curve.
But did you know that one welcome email is not enough?
That’s right. Not only do you need to make sure you send that initial email, but you need to send out a welcome email series.
This is what we at InboxArmy call the Care Campaign.
This is typically anywhere from 2 – 4 emails but should be adjusted for your specific audience and needs.
What determines the number and timing of those first emails depends on a variety of factors and is too much to get into here (send us a message—we’re happy to help you get clarity about your campaigns).
Why do you need to send a series?
Your customers are bombarded by emails. They are constantly signing up for new lists, and it’s easy for your message to get pushed down and lost. Give them more than one opportunity to see your message.
If they do receive your initial message and actually open and read it, they can get distracted or intend to come back to it later. This often doesn’t happen.
You’re not sending them the same email three times in a row. Each one is different (because if you’re lucky, they’ll read all three).
Here is an example from one of our clients:
Welcome emails are clearly an area where most businesses could do better.
They are an underutilized opportunity for brand building, cultivating trust with your audience and potential customers, and generating more sales.
By following the best practices here and testing different features and copy, you can dial in your welcome email to be a powerful asset for your business.
Of course, if you’re ready to fully leverage welcome email as the powerful business building tool it is, then you’ll want to employ InboxArmy’s Care Campaign.
Get in touch to start a conversation.