9 Best Practices for Creating Your Welcome Email Series

9 Best Practices for Creating Your Welcome Email Series

By Joel Widmer | Email Marketing & Automation

May 03
Hands type a welcome email series on a laptop.

Welcome emails are a great opportunity to engage with new contacts and customers.

With just a little planning, you can create a series that will help you connect with your audience and build relationships with potential and current customers.

If you’re not sure where to start, here are nine best practices for creating an effective welcome email series.

What Is a Welcome Email Series?

A welcome email series is simply a set of pre-written emails you send to newly subscribed contacts. It’s also sometimes called an onboarding sequence or drip campaign.

Welcome series are automated and sent through email services such as Active Campaign or HubSpot.

Sending a welcome email series to new subscribers is important for two main reasons:

  1. Your subscribers gave you permission to receive emails from your business. It’s important to give them exactly what they signed up for as soon as possible, which will increase engagement. It will also keep your email sender reputation healthy, which improves deliverability in the long run.
  2. They’ve self-selected as people who are interested in your brand, products, or services. They probably haven’t purchased yet, but this is still an opportunity for you to build long-lasting relationships with potential customers and brand advocates who can spread the word about your offerings.

What Happens When You Get Your Welcome Email Series Right

A successful welcome email series can improve open and click rates, build trust and rapport with subscribers, and help onboard new customers.

But only if you get it right.

Here are a few benefits of sending a good welcome email series:

  • Improve onboarding and build relationships: A solid welcome email series allows subscribers to get to know you on a deeper level. You’re giving them something valuable to read that’s personalized for them. This is more than most businesses do with their onboarding process.
  • Direct new subscribers to your best content: For many readers, the first time they’ll interact with your content is through your welcome emails. Chances are, they haven’t spent much time on your website or blog (if any at all), so they probably haven’t read some of your best material yet. You have an opportunity here to guide them toward your top posts right away. Not only will this help set the tone for future emails, but it could also improve the ROI you see from those posts moving forward since more people are reading them.

So if a good welcome email series is this important, how can you make sure you get yours right? Let’s jump into some welcome email series best practices and tips we’ve learned from creating dozens of these for our clients — and ourselves!

1. Define the Goal of Your Welcome Email Series Before You Write It

It sounds like a no-brainer, but you’d be surprised how many companies go into email automation assuming they’ll figure it out along the way.

Before you write your first email, you must know what you want to get out of it AND what your subscriber will get out of it. Do you want more website traffic? More customer reviews? More revenue?

Most likely, the answer is “all of the above.” Define which goal is most important — and then build your series based on that one objective.

2. Send Your First Email Immediately After Your Reader Subscribes

You’ve got a new subscriber! Now what?

The first email in your welcome series should go out immediately after someone subscribes to your list. After the user signs up, send an automatic onboarding welcome email that thanks them for subscribing and explains what they can expect from you.

3. Surprise and Delight Your Subscribers With Unexpected Value

  • Delight your subscribers. Providing something they don’t expect is one of the best ways to delight them. Here are a couple of creative examples:
    • In one of our email sequences, we include free downloadable cheat sheets in addition to training that would normally be part of a course or require another email opt-in.
    • One of our clients in real estate — who we created an email series for — surprises subscribers with a downloadable checklist and videos that they’d normally only give to clients.
  • Don’t assume you know what your reader wants in an email series until you ask them yourself! Ask for feedback after an email or two and listen to what people have to say. It’s just another way to get a better idea of who your audience is, how they want to interact with you, and what content interests them most.

4. Tell Subscribers What To Expect When They Join

In addition to telling your subscribers what they’ll get from you, tell them what actions they can take or how you can help. The more specific and actionable your onboarding welcome email is, the better.

There are two main ways to tackle this aspect of your welcome email series:

  • Tell subscribers exactly what they should expect from their new relationship with your brand. This can include things like:
    • What kinds of emails will land in their inbox (e.g., industry news, product offers, etc.).
    • How often emails will be sent (e.g., once weekly or twice monthly).
    • How they can unsubscribe if they aren’t interested or aren’t a good fit.
  • Tell subscribers what else you have to offer that could solve their problems or help them achieve their goals — in addition to the actual value you provide in the email.

5. Don’t Set It and Forget It: Always Look for Ways To Improve

Your welcome email series is not a set-it-and-forget-it project. You should review it at least once every few months to ensure it’s still working for you. Are you getting the results you’d like to see? If not, your emails might be missing something.

When reviewing your welcome email series, ask yourself:

  • Is there anything I can do to make my welcome emails more effective?
  • What messages and CTAs could I experiment with to improve results?

6. Avoid Over-Designing Your Emails

Simple is better. It’s best not to over-design your emails and strain your subscribers’ eyes. Instead, follow these best practices for welcome email series design:

  • Avoid using more than four colors and two fonts.
  • Limit images to no more than two per email, MAXIMUM. Too many images distracts your reader and makes the email seem overwhelming and complicated.
  • Use bullet points. They’re easy to read because they break up large chunks of text and make messages easier to understand at a glance.
  • Keep important details “above the fold.” Don’t force users to scroll down to read copy or to click on links or buttons.
  • Don’t include too many links. This can confuse subscribers about what’s important as they read through the email.
  • Make sure your emails are mobile optimized. Don’t trust your email service to do this adequately on their own. Always send a test email to yourself and view it on your mobile phone.

9 Best Practices for Creating Your Welcome Email Series Infographic

7. Choose the Right Number of Emails for Your Sequence

How many emails you need depends on how long it will take your subscribers to reach the goal(s) you’ve set for your sequence.

  • If the goal of your welcome email series is to get subscribers to take a single action, like buying something or signing up for a free trial, then one or two emails should be enough.
  • If the goal of your welcome email series is more complex, then you’ll likely need more than two emails. For instance, if you want to increase engagement by giving away free software and also grow your Facebook or Twitter following, you may need three or more messages.

8. Write Like You’re Speaking to Your Subscribers in Person

When writing your welcome email series, remember that you’re talking to people who want to hear from you. So write the same way you would talk to them in person.

Using a conversational tone when you write will help your readers feel like they’re getting a personal message from a friend. Here are some tips for doing that:

  • Use the word “you” over “I” or “we.” This is all about making your subscribers feel special and letting them know how much their business means to you.
  • Use contractions, such as “don’t” instead of “do not,” and avoid using words that sound too formal, such as “utilize” versus “use.”
  • Try not to sound too serious with overly complex language — unless it’s necessary for your brand voice. If so, go ahead and use it! Just make sure it doesn’t seem out of place in an email conversation with your subscribers. Keep things easy-going and casual. You can even throw in some humor or colloquialisms if they fit well. Just don’t overdo it; no one likes reading entire sentences littered with !!!s or LOLs.

Check out this article for more writing fundamentals tips.

9. Let Subscribers Know What’s Next When Your Welcome Email Series Is Finished

The last step in your welcome email series is telling subscribers what’s next.

Consumers expect transparency from brands they choose to engage with. It’s important that you don’t leave your subscribers wondering what might happen after your email series ends. Instead, let them know exactly what they can expect from you next.

In the final message in your welcome email series, let readers know when they should be on the lookout for more emails from you and what kinds of topics those emails will cover. Let them know if there are other email sequences they can sign up for.

Get Started

Now that you know these welcome email series best practices, it’s time to start planning your own sequence. And keep an eye out for more welcome email series resources in the coming weeks!


About the Author

Joel Widmer is the Founder & CEO of Fluxe Digital Marketing—a content marketing shop that helps smart businesses create, produce and promote their content through a unique one-on-one interview process. When he’s not working, Joel can be found trying new restaurants with his wife, son, and daughter.

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