The first few emails your subscribers receive after joining your email list are some of the most important messages of the customer lifecycle. These emails make your subscribers accustomed to engaging with your brand via email and set the tone of your relationship.

Interestingly, 74 percent of people expect a welcome email when they join a list. If you don’t serve them something, there’s a good chance you’ll disappoint them.

Besides, welcome emails are effective.

The average open rate is 50 to 86 percent (far higher than typical newsletters). They generate 320 percent more revenue than other promotional emails. People who read one welcome message read more than 40 percent of that brand’s messages over the next six months.

Email welcome series
Image credit: easy-smtp.com

Just like abandoned cart emails, the welcome emails are usually sent as a series – not just a single email (although a single email is better than none).

The first few emails your subscribers receive are some of the most important messages of the customer lifecycle. Click To Tweet

What you include in your welcome series will vary depending on your business and your customer. The general purpose is to thank the subscriber for joining or purchasing, introduce them to the important elements of your brand, and convince them to make little steps (micro commitments) that help them take bigger steps later on.

Before you start writing and scheduling emails, it’s important to outline your welcome series.

Get the bonus content: Template for an effective eCommerce welcome series

Step 1: Plot your welcome series structure

Ask yourself what you want your subscriber to do or learn during the beginning of their relationship with your brand.

Do you want them to connect with you on social media? Should they fill out a survey to give you more data? Do you want them to know about your unique value proposition (like your generous return policy, charity work, or quality standards)?

Make a list of all the things you want to accomplish in your welcome series. Since it’s generally best to ask subscribers to take one action per email, each item on your list will be its own email.

Here’s a list of some common options for welcome series emails:

  • Invite them to shop a particular category
  • Invite them to check out a popular product
  • Ask them to watch a video about your products or company
  • Have them read a popular or important piece of content
  • Instruct them to set/update their subscription preferences
  • Invite them to connect with you on social media
  • Have them learn your brand story
  • Ask them to shop using a discount or coupon code
  • Remind them of the main features/benefits of your product(s) or brand
  • Ask them to whitelist your email address

Then, organize your emails into a logical structure. Place an email with introductory content at the beginning of the series, following by emails with progressively stronger commitments.

For example, your second email shouldn’t ask your subscribers to buy a product. Instead, it should ask for an easier commitment, such as liking your Facebook page.

Here’s a basic sample of a welcome series structure:

  1. “Welcome and thank you”
  2. “Learn about our unique quality standards”
  3. “Learn how to solve [your problem]
  4. “Follow us on social media”
  5. “Check out these popular products and use this coupon”

Step 2: Craft compelling subject lines

Each email deserves an enticing subject line to compel your subscribers to open your emails. It doesn’t really matter what’s inside if they won’t open the email.

The subject line has a single purpose: To get your subscribers to click. How you do that depends on your customer.

Some customers like straightforward and honest subject lines. Others like witty, clever, and ambiguous subjects. You’ll have to decide based on your buyer personas and your customers’ jobs-to-be-done.

For more information, read our guide on subject lines: How to write an eCommerce email subject line subscribers can’t help but click

Step 3: Set primary calls-to-action

Like we said earlier, every email should have a clear purpose. Your subscribers should be able to tell exactly what you want them to do in a first few seconds after opening your emails.

Your calls-to-action should direct your subscribers to make micro commitments. Micro commitments are small acts that, when put together, create a habit of taking action.

For instance, asking your subscribers to watch a video is a micro commitment. They aren’t committing much at all – just a few minutes of their time – but it primes them to follow the steps you ask them to take.

Even introductory or informative emails that only seek to pass along information (like a reminder that you’re part of a cause or that your products are made in a unique way) should end with a call-to-action. In this case, you can send your subscribers to a page where they can learn more.
If you find yourself adding copy or images that don’t lead the reader to that primary call-to-action, save them for another email.

That said, it’s fine to have links to other places throughout your email. Most eCommerce stores stick some helpful links in the header and footer. You might link to your return policy, social media profiles, product categories, blog, etc.

Sometimes stores display a selection of individual products in their newsletters and a call-to-action for each. These emails are fine, just don’t include too many (or you’ll paralyze them with choice).

Step 4: Include some personalization

Your subscribers may be new, but that doesn’t mean you don’t know anything about them. You can make some assumptions about their characteristics based on how they joined your list.

You can assume, for example, that someone who bought a bunch of products for women is interested in women’s products (pretty straightforward, right?). So make one of your welcome series emails include an offer for women’s products.

This means you should customize your welcome series emails for different customer segments. Yes, this sounds like a lot of work, but the benefits are undeniable.

Customize your welcome series emails for different customer segments. Click To Tweet

For instance, for high spenders, you might show more expensive products. Or, for a more specific example, if you sell mobile accessories, show customers who buy Apple iPhone cases other iPhone-compatible accessories, whereas for a customer that just bought a Samsung Galaxy case, show them Android accessories instead.

Jilt’s new segmentation features give you control over who receives your email campaigns. You can create a welcome series based on custom rules so you send the right messaging to your customers.

eCommerce welcome series best practices

Before you start creating your own welcome emails, let’s talk about some best practices.

1. Consider your timing

Send your first email the moment someone subscribes to your email list. That’s when they’re most interested in your brand, so it’s the best time to reach out.

Send your first email the moment someone subscribes to your email list. Click To Tweet

Send subsequent emails at the same frequency you send regular promotional emails. This conditions your subscribers to expect your emails on a consistent schedule.

2. Don’t bombard your subscribers

Prevent your subscribers from receiving other promotional emails while they’re on your welcome series. You don’t want to burden them with too many messages. Nothing should interrupt the welcome series. Move them into other lists and segments once the welcome campaign has finished.

3. Keep your emails simple

People generally don’t read long emails. Even if they love your brand, there’s a good chance they won’t take more than a minute to consume your email. The ideal length of an email is about 100 words, but feel free to include some images, too.

Make sure your emails get to the point right away. Don’t force your subscribers to read through a bunch of text to learn why you’ve emailed. Put the email’s purpose in a large font right up top.

4. Remain faithful to your branding

People are 83 percent more likely to remember text when it’s paired with imagery. Images make people engaged and help your messaging stick in their heads.

Email welcome series
Image credit: customer.io
People are 83 percent more likely to remember text when it’s paired with imagery. Click To Tweet

Include the same visual design elements in each welcome series email as you would in your other emails. Stick to the same header and footer, too. This creates a unified experience that reinforces itself every time your subscribers open your messages.

Free download: Template for an effective eCommerce welcome series

As always, test your results

While every welcome series should leave a positive impression on your new subscribers, there’s no one-size-fits-all approach. You should design a welcome series for your customers, which means it’s important to test your results and optimize.

With planning, personalization, and optimization, you’ll create a welcome series that delights your new subscribers and turns them into true fans.

About the Author Beka Rice

Beka is the head of product at Jilt. She works on app improvements, integration plugins, helping merchants improve recovery campaigns, and shares tutorials on reducing abandonment or improving recovery on our blog.

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