3 Tactics to Make Your First Welcome Email Campaign a Success

CM Commerce Team

It’s a no-brainer that you need to use welcome emails. After all, most consumers know to expect a welcome email when they join an email list for the first time.

But if you’re new to ecommerce email marketing, you might not realize just how important they are.

The open rate for welcome emails is 91.43%. That’s four times the rate of the typical promotion campaign. Plus, welcome emails achieve five times the average click-through rate.

A key driver of these massive engagement levels is speed: The swifter your response, the higher the open and click-through rates.

After all, contacts receive welcome emails when they’re most excited about your brand and looking forward to your emails.

However, converting these new subscribers into lifelong brand loyalists ultimately comes from brand trust and the messaging strategy that reinforces their experience.

One tactic that helps ensure you reply quickly is to use autoresponders. That way your welcome emails go out almost instantaneously after someone provides an email address.

You might catch your newly engaged participants while they still have their eyes on their screens.

That tactic has worked well for Silicon Valley product design company ZURB. “Immediately after someone signs up, they get an automated welcome email,” the company notes in a Q&A for our blog.

“We’ve tailored the welcome emails per group—but they all have the goal of helping someone get started with some great information or helpful techniques—resources they can use right away.”

As ZURB’s approach makes clear, it’s important to plot out your welcome emails and to take time to think about not only the look but also the messaging and the desired action you want your recipients to take.

After all, when you succeed in getting someone to sign up to be part of your community in some way, your welcome email will be their first personal touch from you and your business. Don’t let that opportunity go to waste.

To help as you develop a plan for your business or startup, here are three pointers that make welcome emails winners and accompanying examples of real-world welcome emails.

1. Make sure your welcome emails reflect the essence of your business.

This might seem obvious, yet it’s often overlooked in the rush to create an email that can go out quickly.

But a welcome email needs to be well planned and designed to communicate your business’s mission and values, since this could be the recipient’s first in-depth exchange with your company.

It makes sense, then, to create a welcome email that immerses the recipient in your business. Barebones Living, a Certified B Corporation that promotes open-fire cooking, does this well.

Its “Welcome to the smoke show” email promotes the idea of outdoor cooking right away through strong imagery displaying outdoor, open-flame cooking (and, of course, smoke).

The Salt Lake City business paired engaging images with a recipe to encourage recipients to test their outside culinary prowess immediately.

Barebones Welcome Email Example

Source: Really Good Emails

Only then, after giving something to the email recipient, does the messaging move on to introduce related outdoor cooking products, which Barebones Living sells to support its mission of motivating people to cook and dine on whole foods in nature.

2. Always include a compelling offer in your onboarding email.

On its face, this recommendation might seem counterintuitive, especially if you’re just beginning to use email marketing for your business.

Why ask for more when you’ve just succeeded in getting your desired target audience to sign up for, say, a monthly e-newsletter or a rewards program?

Here’s why: They might not open the next email. You want to take advantage of the high open rates and click-throughs typical for welcome emails.

But your offer can’t be an afterthought. You need to make it worth the while of your newly engaged customers (or potential customers).

Here’s a smart play by Alamo Drafthouse, a small cinema chain serving food and drink. The Austin, Texas company makes the hurdle to becoming a member of its Victory Rewards Program low, asking only for name and email information.

Alamo Drafthouse email signup form

Source: Alamo Drafthouse

It then uses its welcome email to begin engaging with new members more intimately and to prompt them to provide more personal information.

To encourage click-throughs, it offers a free ticket every year on each new member’s birthday.

Alamo Drafthouse Onboarding Email Example

Source: Really Good Emails

Alamo Drafthouse also uses a modular format for the email, which makes it easy to scan and keeps the addition of multiple CTAs less distracting for the reader.

The hero image has the feel of a movie trailer too—in keeping with the company’s business (see No. 1).

3. Humanize your welcome email messaging and showcase real people.

People respond to their peers.

While we know that buyers today, whether consumers or businesses, do much of their pre-purchase research online, they still respond to what their friends, family, and colleagues say when it comes to making purchase decisions. It’s why social proof is so valuable.

In fact, 64% of businesses conduct research on the web before reaching out to a vendor, and 59% read peer reviews, notes this report on Digital Commerce 360.

Food52, a website catering to the home cook, uses this approach well in its welcome email to new members who join its culinary community. It’s the approach it takes toward all its ecommerce marketing.

“If you can be more human and treat people in a way that feels more memorable and real, that’s the most powerful thing you can do,” Merrill Stubbs, Food52 president and co-founder, says in this Sailthru blog post.

The New York business, which today counts more than 13 million members in its community, opens its welcome email with a concise headline and an image of its two founders, Stubbs and CEO Amanda Hesser.

It’s an image that clearly isn’t stock art. The photo appears somewhat candid and showcases the pair in street clothes, rather than chef gear or even aprons, cooking together and chatting in a noncommercial kitchen.

Food52 Welcome Email Messaging Example

Source: Really Good Emails

Following a brief paragraph is another subtle humanizing touch—signatures, but just first names. From there, a recipient can click a CTA to jump to the site.

Food52, realizing that its members will be inclined to use handheld devices or smartphones while in the kitchen, next serves up a mobile-optimized series of teases to onsite posts and links to products the company sells.

Consistently, the images used throughout have the feel of being in your own home or kitchen or that of someone you know.

An extra tip: Develop a strategy for a welcome email series.

Sending a series of welcome emails gives you the opportunity to bond closely with your newly engaged audience. It gives you a direct way to nurture customers and potential customers and to test a variety of engagement triggers.

The welcome email series approach can increase your long-term engagement by a third and also drive up revenue, according to reporting by Bitcatcha.

But proceed cautiously. You need to identify the best cadence for your audience members. That can vary widely.

Some might like receiving an email daily or weekly, while others want to find your messages in their inboxes much less frequently.

That’s why providing a link to an email preference center makes sense when planning to create a welcome series.

As with the single welcome email, you will want to plot out the look and messaging, the desired actions, and the cadence well in advance of your campaign.

You can get more pointers in our blog post “Best (and Worst) Practices for Your Welcome Emails.”

Wrap up

For the newbie in ecommerce marketing, being reactive without establishing your brand voice and humanizing strategy is understandable. But it might set your marketing efforts back in the long run.

Here’s why: Speed alone is not the goal. Establishing a positive relationship quickly is.

There’s often a tendency for first-timers to send out a quickly crafted welcome email as part of the marketing program once customers engage with subscriptions and rewards or loyalty programs.

Instead look to these three tactics:

  • Make sure your email reflects the essence of your business.
  • Always include a compelling offer.
  • Humanize your messaging and showcase real people.

And finally, you might want to try a series of welcome emails to keep your newly engaged target audience engaged.

From welcome emails to re-engagement campaigns and beyond, we seamlessly integrate with your ecommerce platforms—BigCommerce, Shopify, and WooCommerce—so you’ll have all the features you need to exceed your goals.

CM Commerce features:

  • Pre-made conversion campaigns to recover revenue from abandoned carts
  • Follow-up segmented and personalized emails for cross-selling
  • Product reviews that spotlight your happy customers and build trust (and sales)
  • Automated feedback to increase repeat revenue
  • Ready-to-go receipt templates or custom versions, coupons, and rewards with your branding

Try CM Commerce today for free.