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The Importance of a Welcome Email

If at any point you asked your customer for their email address, you are going to need a welcome email. Why? Well, before you do email marketing, saying ‘hello’ just seems like a polite thing to do.

Everybody has a welcome message and figuring out why it became a good business decision is how you establish what such an email should look like. So what does a welcome email do?

  • It can help create a relationship with your customer, provoke dialogue and therefore increase loyalty, as long as it’s done right;

  • It confirms whom they left their address with and reminds them of your existence whenever they go through their inbox history (as long as they save the email, of course);

  • A welcome email is what stops your customer from trying to sign up again, and again, and again, thus reducing frustration from using your website.

Beginning of an email - and a potential beginning of a beautiful friendship

Make sure they get it – and keep it

It doesn’t matter what is in the email if it never reaches your audience. There are a few steps you can take to ensure the delivery.

Cover the basics, always be testing.

We have discuss this at length in our 11 Things to Do Before You Click “Send” on Your Email Campaign but we cannot underline this enough: always proofread and test your emails.

You really don’t want to have anything to apologize for in the very beginning, and especially not for failing to deliver a welcome message.

Let your customer know that they’ll be receiving an email from you.

If they know that you will be sending a message that they NEED to read, the chances of them finding the email grow bigger, as they will look for it in their inbox. And if for some reason the email lands in the spam folder, they get a chance to mark it as safe – which is definitely what you want.

Quite in-your-face but definitely gets the message across

Make them keep it

Welcome emails get opened significantly more often (depending on the source of studies, it’s 2 to even 4 times more often) than any marketing email, and for a good reason. They often include an important piece of information that the customer may need in the future. It can be a bonus code, or log-in tips (just make sure it’s not their password, that’s one of the “don’ts”).

Here’s the idea: if you can get them to keep it in their inbox, do it – this way you get yourself a permanent place there, and although that does not necessarily change your deliverability statistics, it can remind them of your existence in a most unexpected moment.

A bonus code included in the email from United Colors of Benetton guarantees that the email will not be removed before the first purchase

Graphic design

Be consistent with company image

Many claim that your welcome email is the first impression you make on your customer. Not so much – if you have their contact information, they probably already visited your website, and the website convinced them that you are trustworthy.

Why is this important? Because you are not creating a first impression, you are MAINTAINING and expanding the impression you have already made. For this reason, it’s important to be consistent with the graphic choices you made on your website – give your sign-up email as much attention as you gave your website design.

Website on the left, welcome email on the right – this Spirit yellow can't be mistaken for anything else

Don’t get blocked

No matter how pretty your pictures are, if they get blocked, you’re better off with plain text. If you decide to host your pictures, make sure you do it in a safe place, from which they won’t disappear as long as you want them there – it would be best to keep them as long as you are in the business but if that’s too much, make it as long as you think is reasonable.

Most messages, be it welcome, transactional, or marketing emails, include a CTA, a button, or a link of some sort – and, by all means, they should. Even a welcome email should direct the user back to your website, even if it’s not in a marketing-related manner.

If you decide not to have any sales pitch in your welcome email, the customer should still have a chance to go to your website with one click; a good idea is to have a link in your footer, link the graphics with the name of your website or any other image.

Everything will be good as long as you link it… You would be surprised how often it happens that the link is not clickable or directs the recipient to the wrong place, something that should definitely be avoided.

Perfectly linked, waiting to be clicked - Walmart's marketers certainly did their homework

A gift may get you far if it’s given from the heart

Thank you for your trust

Appreciating your customer will get you far. These days customers get asked to subscribe or sign up on almost every website they enter, so if they decide to give you their address, make sure they know they did the right thing.

If you play your cards right in this very first message, you may get yourself a happy, loyal subscriber. There are many ways you can thank your customer, depending on your general tone of communication, for example:

  • Approach it literally: “Thank you for signing up with us” is a classy line that never grows old.
  • Address them personally: include a note from the board, reassuring your customer of the hard work you put into your service every day.
  • Give them a welcome bonus: nothing says thank you like a little welcome gift. How little? Let us discuss that further in the text.

”We are delighted to meet you” by Rentalcars is both polite and feels personal

Upsell (oh no you don’t)

Unless you make your money from one-time deals, upsell is crucial when you want to grow as a business. There is, however, the right time and place for it, and a welcome email is not it.

In most cases not only will it be unsuccessful, it may actually scare your customer away since aggressive sales strategies tend to backfire when they are not targeted properly.

Instead, you may present options – without pushing or convincing your customer that they need to go for the more expensive plan or product. There will be enough time for that later, and giving your customer time to look around will help in building their confidence in your brand.

A clean presentation of the offer and information about the verification process (which includes a fee in its last stage) - a subtle hint at sales is just about enough on your first date with Couchsurfing

One man's trash is another man's treasure

So let us say you go with the welcome bonus. What you can offer depends, of course, on your line of business. You want to make it count, it should look like a good offer - $2 may be a lot when you’re shopping with AliExpress but it won’t buy you much at United Colors of Benetton. So whatever you give, whether it’s money, percent, or a gift of some kind, just make sure your bonus holds real value.

$15 may not change my life but it will definitely get me to work, or significantly lower the cost of getting there with Uber

The one who sends and the one who receives

Who is your email for?

With welcome emails, you don’t have a lot of information about your recipient – which does not mean you have none. Here are a few things you can assume:

  • You already caught their attention with something you offer as a company, so you do not need to advertise yourself too much; a simple presentation and a few words are good enough when given in an attractive form, although if you want to give a summary of what you offer, that’s also great, as usual - depending on your company profile.
  • You may have made a promise to them, which made them give you their address – make sure to keep that promise! If you reward registering, make sure you don’t make additional conditions in the email, ones that were not mentioned before on your website.
  • Respect your audience: if they gave you their name, use it wisely. It’s better received when you say “Hello, James” or “Hello, James Bond” and not “Hello Bond” - that is, of course, unless you want to give them some cool villain vibes. Also, make sure the name is used in the right case (especially in languages that have more than one – or, even better, avoid any forms that may cause you problems) and with the pronoun you were told to use – it’s something people can be very sensitive about.

Don’t you talk back to me

Deciding on the sender’s address will be important in your future communication. Here are acceptable sender addresses:

  • registration@ – use it once or twice, depending on if you use 2FA or not. It’s a popular choice since it tends to reach the inbox quite well.

  • support@ – keep using it for every type of communication in the future – convenient for the customer but does require good email organization from you

  • youragentsname@ – keep it personal from the very start, have as the personal assistant to your customer. This may win you some trust but that depends on your company profile, whether you want a more personal relationship with your customer in the first place.

Whatever you do, let them answer your welcome email. They probably won’t but in case they want to, blocking this possibility can actually discourage your customer from reading your future emails or even be read as a sign of disrespect or laziness (as if you can not be bothered to check your emails under more than one address). Let them talk back to you, and see where it takes you!

Not a very good beginning of a relationship with the customer, wouldn’t you agree?

Time to say goodbye

How do you sign your email? This will be directly linked to the sender’s identity.

  • If you choose to send your messages from Jeremy (for example), let Jeremy sign the message, best with his full name.

  • For a more serious note, you may want to include a “message from The Man”, so show off your manager, director, CEO, whoever you think is right in the situation. You may also decide to use photos – if you do, make sure they are not stock images but real people; better just sign the email and skip the photo than to make it fake.

  • If you love them, let them go… away from your mailing list. It’s hard to give up on an email address you have only just acquired but trust me, it’s better to let your customer unsubscribe themselves than to have them mark your email as spam. So do not invite them out but keep the door open, just so that they don’t do any real damage when rushing out – you can suggest a change in preferences or encourage your customer to send their suggestions; all in all, be understanding and make the process simple.

Zalando’s footnote, as good as they make them

Your do's and don'ts

Since we demand a clear structure in the emails, here is a clear set of rules that should be followed in order to create a good welcome email. If you follow the guidelines we give you, you know your welcome emails will be well received.

Send a welcome email Don’t skip the welcome email
Be consistent with company design Don’t include images or links that may not open/work as intended
Address your target audience and sign your email Don’t use a no-reply email
Include an important piece of information Don’t include sensitive information such as password
Offer a welcome gift Don’t upsell them aggressively straight away
Test your emails Don’t send anything out without testing it first
Spend time on carefully preparing the first email for your customer Don’t send out a “hi there” message just to have something sent
Inform the recipient they’ll be getting an email Don’t include unnecessary information or attachments and risk getting blocked

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