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What Makes For A Good Welcome Email?

This week on the Wednesday Edition of Talk Business With Howard on Blog Talk Radio, the guest is DJ Waldow. DJ is the co-author of the book,  The Rebel’s Guide To Email Marketing: Grow Your List, Break The Rules, And Win. To listen to the conversation with DJ, join us for the live broadcast on Wednesday, March 13 at 11 AM/Eastern Time. Or bookmark this page and revisit later on Wednesday when the replay of the show will be posted to top of this page. Thank you, DJ, for the blog post and being a guest on the radio show. -Howard-

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DJ WaldowWhat Makes For A Good Welcome Email by DJ Waldow


According to a recent study the Experian CheetahMail Strategic Services Group (download),“welcome emails generate four times the total open rates and five times the click rates compared to other bulk promotions.”*


That report includes some other pretty compelling stats …

  • Welcome emails have transaction rates that are nine times higher than bulk mailings. Additionally, revenue per email soars well above bulk rates, with an average that is eight times higher.
  • Both real-time and bulk welcome emails with offers tend to have higher transaction rates and revenue per email than those without.
  • Other than free shipping, “15% off” had the highest revenue per email for both real-time and bulk welcome emails.

According to the Experian whitepaper, here is its methodology:

Data in this report was collected by Experian CheetahMail, based on the email campaign performance of 65 clients across all industries with welcome email programs from May 2009 through April 2010. More than 17,000 welcome emails were compared to the bulk campaigns by client for the same time period.

Ok. So now that you’re convinced you must include a welcome email as part of your overall email marketing program, what exactly makes for a good welcome email? Experian offers some “welcome email best practices” at the end of its whitepaper, all of which I agree with.

I thought it would be helpful if I illustrated some of those “welcome email best practices” using an example from a recent email I received.


5 Components of A Good Welcome Email

Before we even talk about a welcome email, it’s critical to ensure that your opt-in process is sound. Do you make it easy for folks to subscribe? Is your email opt-in button/link/form hidden or is it front and center?

Last week, I went to the Premier Yarns website. No, I’m not taking up knitting, but instead was doing some research for a new client. The first thing you’ll notice if you go to Premier’s site is that the email sign up is pretty obvious. You found it immediately, right?

One suggestion for Premier is to include a bit more “What’s In It For Me?” language on the sign up form. As you can see on this page, they include the following text:

Subscribe to our free newsletter and be the first to:

  • know when we release new yarns and new colors
  • take advantage of special product offers, exclusive to this website
  • download new patterns
  • read about exciting ideas in knit and crochet, provided by none other than Deborah Norville herself!

There is one thing missing from these bullets. Any guesses?

Once you’ve ensured that your email opt-in easy and obvious, it’s time to double check your post-opt in landing page. After opting in for Premier Yarns emails, I was taken to the following page:

Premier Yarns Post-Opt In Landing Page

Feel free to test this for yourself by opting in here.

Not bad (at least they have something) but it certainly could be optimized. Instead of just telling me that I’ve been “successfully added” and to be on the lookout for my first email, how about telling me EXACTLY what to expect and when? How about adding something of value? Including some humor?

Here’s what one of my post-opt in landing pages looks like(By the way, you are subscribed to The Waldow Social Weekly, right?

Okay. So now that we are clear on the opt-in process, what does a good welcome email look like? What are the 5 important components?

1. Timeliness: Remember those stats above from Experian? If you have someone’s attention (they just opted in), why wait to send that welcome email? If your email provider allows for it – which most do – send the welcome email immediately! If you wait a few hours or days or weeks (yikes!), the subscriber is more likely to forget who you are and why they are receiving this email. The Premier Yarns email landed in my inbox several days after I had subscribed. It took me a few seconds to recall that I had opted in. I nearly deleted it!

2. Subject Line: This is not the time to get fancy. Keep your subject line short, sweet, to the point, and actionable. Give me a reason to open. As can be seen in the Premier Yarns email below, they did just that. The subject line read:

Your Welcome Offer: Save 15% on your next purchase

Perfect! It was clear that this was a welcome email. It was clear it was an offer. They used a percentage to draw my attention and told me when I could use the discount.

Premier Welcome Email

3. Copy: This is an area where many email marketers miss the boat. Most tend to fall towards one extreme or the other. Either the email is not descriptive enough OR it’s chock full of way to much detail. Keep the welcome email simple, direct, and actionable. Premier Yarns does a nice job in this case. They welcome me and tell me they are glad I’m in. The call to action is very obvious (reminds me of this Banana Republic email). The key: There is no doubt what action Premier Yarns wants me to take. Don’t over-think the welcome email copy!

*Note: One thing that Premier Yarns missed in its email opt-in was to entice subscribers to subscribe by offering that 15% off the next purchase. I would have included that in the “What’s In It For Me?” language.

4. Redeeming Offer: Assuming you include some sort of incentive – like 15% off next purchase – which I recommend, be sure you make it easy to redeem that welcome offer. If possible, depending on your website software, try to pass the incentive through to the checkout. Notice the wording in the bottom of the Premier Yarns welcome email – *15% will automatically be applied to your order at checkout when you click through this email. Only 1 offer per order, per customer can be redeemed. PERFECT! If your website backend does not allow for that level of sophistication, it’s certainly okay to include a discount code, but don’t make it something that’s difficult to remember. I can’t tell you how many crazy discount codes I’ve forgotten when I finally make it to the checkout. Try using codes such as WELCOME15 or 15OFF.

5. The Next Email: The final component of a good welcome email is … the next email. Many marketers stop with the initial welcome email. Consider sending a “Don’t forget to use your discount” type reminder email. Then drop that subscriber into your regular email series.

What’s Next?

Take a few minutes and review your current opt-in process. Is your email subscription form obvious or do people have to search to find it? Do you provide some sort of compelling reason to subscribe? Next, do you send a welcome email? If not … start – and follow the 5 steps above!

If you have examples of great welcome emails, please share them in the comments below. I’d love to see them!

DJ Waldow
Waldow Social

DJ Waldow is an email marketing consultant, writer, blogger, speaker, and co-author of The Rebel’s Guide to Email Marketing. He is the founder and CEO of Waldow Social, a company that creates opportunities for social engagement and community development through a fresh approach to email marketing. Waldow Social “bakes” social media in to your messages to compel a response, and build the relationships that matter most. DJ has spent nearly 8 years in the email, social, and community-building world, advising clients on how to optimize their email marketing campaigns and–on occasion–break some of the “best practice” rules. DJ can be found on most social networks under the handle “djwaldow” or by searching “DJ Waldow.” 


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