Of all the email campaigns you ever build, your welcome series is the most important.
Welcome emails see an average open rate of 63.91 percent—almost three times higher than all types of promotional emails combined. And their click-through rate is twice as high as the average email, at 14.34 percent.
But the impact of your welcome series goes way beyond mere metrics.
Get it wrong and you’ll turn customers off before you’ve even started to build a relationship with them. Get it right and you’ll pave the way for a lifetime of engagement, sales, positive reviews, and customer referrals.
Working on your first welcome emails? Optimizing your existing series? As part of Drip’s Beyond the Inbox podcast, we spoke to marketing leaders at some of our favorite ecommerce brands to find out how they use welcome emails in their promotional strategies…
1. Share One Message Per Email
When you capture a new ecommerce lead, it’s extremely tempting to tell them everything about your brand right away—your story, your values, your best products and promotions…
Patience, young Padawan.
Cram too many things into a single welcome email and you risk diluting your messaging, leaving customers confused.
“There was a class about how, when you go into the museum and see the little description on the piece of art, someone will only read 50 words. And that was a long time ago, so it’s probably even less than 50 at this point.”
However long ago Margaux heard it, this learning has stuck with her, and it informs TWEE’s welcome series to this day.
“We really tried to make one message for every email. The first one is ‘Welcome’. The second is to tell you about how we're a women-owned business.
Later messages in the sequence touch on other key messages and values—from TWEE’s most popular products to the brand’s eco-friendly credentials.
“They're not selling emails,” Margaux explains. “They're used to bring these people who have maybe only experienced us one or two different ways into our world. Because then you see how special we are—and then you buy the product.”
Scott Brown of Paddle Smash uses this same method for giveaways. According to him, they drive email sign ups through giving away a certain number of Paddle Smashes per month.
2. Join Up Your Workflows
Remember: your welcome series doesn’t exist in isolation.
Even if every subject line, hyperlink, image, and sub-clause in your welcome emails is absolutely perfect, it won’t deliver the desired results if it doesn’t fit cleanly into your other automated sequences, such as:
- Post-first-purchase emails
- Post-second-purchase emails
- Customer review emails
- Loyalty program emails
- Referral emails
At everyday carry brand Urban EDC, their welcome series lasts for 10 – 15 emails.
If that sounds long, that’s because it is—but only customers who don’t make a purchase within that time frame actually receive the full sequence.
“We only send the welcome series until the first purchase is made, then we take them off the welcome series and bring them into another series, which is the first-purchase series,” explains Yong-Soo Chung, Urban EDC’s founder and CEO.
This stage in the customer’s lifecycle is critical. Research shows that after a single purchase, a customer has a 27 percent chance of returning to an online store—but that leaps up to 49 percent after the second purchase and 62 percent after the third.
Or, as Chung puts it: “We really want to get that second purchase because we found that once they make the second purchase, the purchases that come after that are a lot easier.”
Haute Hijab is another brand that understands the value of removing the friction between different sequences and campaigns.
Lindsay Dreyer, the company’s Website Director & CRM Manager, spells out how its messaging looks from the perspective of a new email subscriber:
“We give them a double opt-in because we want to do quality control for our list and make sure somebody really wants to be there. The second email they will receive is a promo code from us saying, ‘You've got 20% off on your first order.’
“From there, I put them into a welcome campaign where I let them know what our brand is all about and introduce them to [co-founder and CEO] Melanie Elturk and why she founded the company.”
At this point, the welcome series introduces customers to another core element of Haute Hijab’s marketing: its brand community.
“We have a really robust Facebook page where members communicate with each other, just talk about styles or what's going on with our brand. They let others know, ‘Hey, they've got a sale going on right now,’ or ‘Check out this new color, this new fabric that Haute Hijab just launched.’ So we let people know all of that information upfront.”
Then it’s time to introduce new email subscribers to the brand’s loyalty program…
…and, if they’re ready to make their first purchase, help the customer get the most value from their new product.
“Our new customer drip is a little more detailed about what they can expect now that they've made a purchase,” Lindsay explains. “Here's some information about how to care for your new hijab. Here are some styling tips. And don't forget to redeem those points when you come back.”
In short, Haute Hijab has built a series of customer-first workflows. “All of these different automated flows are really geared to where the customer is in their journey with us as a customer.”
3. Promote Your USPs
There might be thousands of other brands in your niche, but none of the others is exactly like yours.
However, you can’t expect consumers to figure that out for themselves—you need to spell out what makes you unique. And your welcome series is the perfect place to do it.
Sensi Graves from Sensi Graves Swim says her brand’s welcome series—comprising four emails sent over a couple weeks—is all about sharing her story and explaining their key differentiators, from carbon neutrality to sustainable materials to being designed by an athlete. “If it's for you, awesome. Welcome to our community, here are some other ways you can connect with us.”
That brings us to the second component of the brand’s welcome series: cross-marketing.
“I'm introducing some of our highlighted Instagram posts in that welcome series, so it's all feeding into one another,” Sensi explains. “We just want to bring people into the brand, show them what we're all about, and hopefully help inspire them to feel stoked and amazing.”
Another online merchant relies on common-sense USP. Steven Sashen from Xero Shoes says it's about fundamental truths about how the body moves. He relies on those truths to highlight how Xero Shoes enhances the bodys performance, rather than impedes it.
4. Build an Emotional Connection
Purchasing decisions aren’t all about cold, hard facts; sometimes a brand just gives us a good vibe. But for that to happen, we need to form some sort of emotional connection.
To’ak Chocolate aims to build this connection in its welcome series by sharing details about its brand story and history.
“We thought about how we could make this more conversational and more of a personal insight from the co-founders and farmers,” explains partner and CEO James Le Compte. “It’s really about creating an emotional connection with the brand before we do any selling.”
“Our welcome series gently encourages customers to purchase, but it's really about building the brand story,” she says. “I'd rather have people who love us so they're encouraged to purchase, rather than being put off by us trying to upsell.”
This is especially crucial in Ourside’s niche because, for many customers, fragrances are an emotionally driven purchase. “It's really important that we're able to tug at their heartstrings using our story and what we're all about,” Keta says.
5. Outline the Types of Emails You Send
Did you know that more than half of consumers unsubscribe from marketing emails because the content they receive doesn’t match their initial expectations?
In other words, there’s a major disconnect between the emails customers think they’ll receive and the stuff brands are actually sending them.
Fortunately, this problem is easily solved by taking the time to explain the types of content you’ll be sharing with your new email subscribers.
That’s precisely what snack brand FFUPs does with its welcome sequence:
“For me, it's about brand education,” says founder and CEO Sam Tichnor. “What are they signing up for, getting to know the brand, versus doing something that's more like, ‘Thanks for signing up, here's $5 off.’”
6. Encourage Customer Self-Segmentation
According to Mailchimp, segmented email campaigns achieve…
- 14 percent higher open rates
- 11 percent more unique opens
- 101 percent more clicks
…than non-segmented campaigns.
So it sounds like segmentation is an obvious win for ecommerce marketers. But there’s a problem: segmenting customers who’ve only just signed up to your email list is tough because you don’t know much about them (yet).
For that reason, deodorant brand Duradry has built an element of self-segmentation into its email capture process and welcome series.
“The initial idea was to collect customer data right away [through] a multiple-choice form,” explains founder and CEO Jack Benzaquen. This approach enabled the brand to share targeted messaging from the get-go.
Here’s an example of Duradry’s personalized quiz
Interestingly, Duradry experimented with ditching the multiple-choice form to see if it had a positive impact on email signups. In reality, the opposite happened.
Jack believes customers like to know that you genuinely care about their goals and preferences. “When you're asking for some information that's related to the reason they're at your site, they feel that you're interested in them.”
7. Welcome Flows Aren’t for Everyone
Remember when I said your welcome sequence is the most important campaign you’ll ever build?
Actually, that’s not true for every brand. Sorry.
For instance, Bare Kind exclusively sells low-cost products: sustainably made socks priced at around $10 per pair. That means the path to purchase is typically extremely short, explains founder and CEO Lucy Jeffrey: “It's easier to convert someone straight away to buy a pair than it is with other products that might be a lot higher-value.”
Given this immediacy, a multi-step welcome series isn’t necessarily the best approach. Instead, Bare Kind typically focuses on steering customers toward its collections page via emails and social media ads.
Click-tracking software reveals that customers typically land on that page and simply click through each product in turn.
“Our customers want to make sure they've seen everything that's possibly available to them,” Lucy says. “It's literally just one page that shows all of the socks and they will click through every single one.”
Bumpin Blends is another brand for which a traditional welcome series isn’t necessarily the smartest play. Not because customers convert immediately, but because most of its leads come from an unconventional source: an onsite quiz.
Rather than enrolling those leads into a typical welcome series, Bumpin Blends sends them emails based on their responses.
“If you don't check out within three minutes, you're getting an email like, ‘Hey, here’s your quiz results,’” Lisa explains. “Then, 15 minutes later, we share a discount code. The next day, the discount code's expiring and they're in our funnel.”
At this point, the brand reverts to a more traditional welcome flow: “We just welcome them into the family. Because they took the time to fill out a whole quiz on our website, they're interested, but there's just something keeping them from checking out.”
Send More Engaging Welcome Emails With Drip
The success of your welcome sequence isn’t all about the messaging you send in individual emails, or how those emails link up with other campaigns and sequences. It’s also about how your emails look and feel.
That’s why you need Drip in your corner.
Our intuitive point-and-click builder makes it a cinch to craft stylish, on-brand emails in just a few clicks. Start with one of 50+ professionally designed templates, then customize every element to match your branding.
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