Thank You for Subscribing: How to Optimize Your Welcome Emails

Posted on April 6th, 2015

Think about the last time you moved into a new house or city. Maybe your new neighbors or the town's "Welcome Wagon" stopped by your front door with some baked goods, a handful of takeout menus from neighborhood joints, and coupons from local businesses. Welcome baskets were a gesture of goodwill, making sure that you felt at home in your new community as you started settling in.

Are you properly optimizing your welcome emails?

Welcome emails, unsurprisingly, work much the same way. Used by 81% of B2C marketers (including 87% of retailers), welcome emails are a type of transactional email typically sent after new subscribers opt-in to help foster long-term relationships with customers, whether through a one-shot email or a well-timed series of welcome emails. And while they're a gesture of goodwill to new subscribers and community members, they also have a positive effect on revenue as well; in fact, welcome emails have 320% more revenue per email than other promotional emails.

However, a welcome email needs to be more thought out than just "Thanks for joining, here's a coupon." In fact, there's an art to optimizing welcome emails for the best ROI. From your subject lines to the time you send the email to the words you choose, a number of different factors can determine the success of your welcome emails. Here's how to craft the perfect welcome email so that you start off on the right foot with your new neighbors.

Your subject line is what your new subscribers will read first; choose your words wisely. "Sale," for example, has been shown to increase open rates by 23.2%, while "save" only increases open rates by 3.4%. Other words to avoid in your subject line? "Report" and "webinar"; "news", "bulletin", and "video" all help your opens and clickthrough rates though.

The time you send the welcome email matters as well, as does who the email is "from." A real-time welcome email leads to ten times the transaction rate of welcome emails sent in batches, and emails from a generic email address (especially a 'noreply' address) make the interaction seem impersonal and prevent your new customer from engaging with your business. Instead, send your message through a SMTP relay and an email address that includes the name of an actual person; for example, 'Steve@coolbiz.com' instead of 'noreply@coolbiz.com'.

Of course, the copy in the content of your email is crucial as well. On one hand, you want to write persuasive copy that will catch the attention of your new customers, but on the other hand, you need to avoid spam trigger words that could send your email to the junk folder. Avoid the following words and styles in your email copy:

  • "Prize"
  • "Free"
  • "Bonus"
  • "Buy"
  • "Purchase"
  • "Order"
  • Excessive capital letters and exclamation points

However, try to work in the words "because", "you", and "imagine." "Because" increases compliance with a given request (such as adding your email address to their address book), and "you" and "imagine" work to personalize the email copy and prompt the readers to imagine using a product- thus involving them in your story and encouraging them to purchase.

Finally, be careful when offering a special offer or discount in your welcome email. Including incentive purchases, discounts, or special offers in your welcome email leads to 2.6x higher transaction rates. However, revenue per email is actually a little bit higher for emails not including offers, so the value of including a special offer in welcome emails can be debated.

Your welcome email is the way you present yourself to your new customers, and as they say, you don't get a second chance at a first impression. By following these transactional email best practices, you'll start your relationship with your new friends off on the right foot and set the tone for a long-term relationship.