By Nate Hoffelder
Welcome to the 4th installment of our ongoing series on newsletters. The previous posts in this series covered:
Today’s topic is the welcome email sequence.
“Welcome email” is a marketing term for the series of one or more emails that are sent to someone when that person:
- joins a service
- signs up for a subscription
- joins an online group
Amazon sends welcome emails to new Kindle owners, and in fact many specialty retailers now send welcome emails following purchases as ordinary as shoes. The emails usually contain:
- valuable tips
- a relatable anecdote
- details on what the reader can expect in their inbox
- suggestions on non-obvious ways to use the service that the reader just signed up for
- other useful info
Businesses send these emails in order to build a connection with their customers, and you’re going to use them to form a bond with your newsletter subscribers.
Or rather, you have the option of sending welcome emails; they are not mandatory or even strictly necessary. If I wanted to make them uncomfortable I could name several prominent and successful authors who have newsletters but do not send out welcome emails. On the other hand, I also have a list of experts who say that you should use welcome emails because the welcome emails give you an opportunity to connect with your subscribers.
That second list would consist of basically everyone in email marketing, and about half the broader marketing industry. (The other half would be too polite to ask why anyone would even ask this question.)
So yes, you should be sending out welcome emails to new subscribers.
But what should you send, and how often?
There are no hard and fast rules for welcome emails. (Well, there’s one: Don’t annoy your readers.) But, here are a few goals you should accomplish in your welcome email sequence.
1. Deliver on Your Promise
To start with, you should deliver on your promise. Did you offer a lead magnet? If so, you should send it in the first email. You should include it as a link in the very first paragraph, and while you are at it also mention the lead magnet at the end of the email.
I like to use big blue buttons instead of download links. They are quite visible, making it almost impossible for anyone to miss.
2. Introduce Yourself
Remember, the goal of the welcome emails is to help your readers get to know you, so at some point you should tell them about yourself and how you got where you are. This does not have to be a complete autobiography, just a paragraph or two.
Think of it as an opportunity to share who you are, and you also might want to show the reader who you are. You could include your photo in the welcome email. This way when the reader gets your next email, they will think of you as the person in the photo. I am told this improves future email open rates and creates more engagement, although I cannot confirm that.
3. Establish Your Authority
Once you have built trust by delivering your lead magnet, and you’ve introduced yourself, your next goal should be to demonstrate that you know what you are talking about.
Use one of the emails in the sequence to explain an arcane topic that will interest your readers and is directly related to what you are going to write about.
In my welcome email sequence I give a few tips on how to create a high-converting landing page. The email isn’t long but all of the advice is sound and readers can directly apply the concepts I share.
4. Talk About the Topics in Your Newsletter
One of the things you need to do in your welcome email sequence is to tell your readers about the topics you will cover in your newsletter.
This will ensure that your readers opted in to a newsletter that is relevant, and it gives anyone not in your audience an early warning that they might want to unsubscribe.
You don’t have to use a lot of detail, however. A short paragraph, or even a sentence like “Here are some topics we cover” followed by three or four bullet points, will be enough.
5. Set Expectations
One of the ways you can establish a rapport is to tell readers what they can expect from you, and then follow through. For example, how many emails do you send each month?
Use a simple sentence like “You will receive around two emails per month” to tell readers what they can expect from you, and it will also have the extra benefit of letting those readers who don’t want to get all those emails to opt out now, rather than later.
6. Start a conversation
And finally, you should use the welcome emails to start a conversation with your readers. (This is something I still struggle with.)
Give your readers a reason to respond – ask them about a topic that you know they will have an opinion on. Or, you could invite them to ask you a burning question they have about a topic where you are an expert. (I invite questions about websites.)
Welcome Sequence Emails
Now that you know what you want to say, the next question you should ask is how many emails you want to send in your welcome sequence.
Alas, there’s no single correct answer to this question. Many marketers say you should send at least three emails, while others say that you should send at least seven or even as many as a dozen emails.
I am a firm believer that less is more, and that you should send no more than 3 or 4 emails in your welcome sequence.
I myself send 4 emails (except for the period when I was sending two freebies by mistake) and one reason I limit the number of emails I send is because I used to hate the many welcome emails I got. I have encountered people who sent a welcome email every day for two weeks, and I swore I would never annoy my readers like that.
Recent experiences have led me to question my rule of four, however.
While researching this post I found Meera Kothand, an expert on email marketing. I am three emails into her welcome sequence, and I am enjoying every one, which is why my new rule is to only send as many emails as your readers are happy to receive.
Before you, go, I want to share one last idea I picked up from the Publicity Hound, Joan Stewart.
She has one final welcome email scheduled to arrive several weeks after you subscribe to her newsletter. That email has the subject line “Just Checking In” and it invites the reader to ask her questions.
I incorporated this idea into my welcome email sequence, and I think you should do the same. It’s a great way to invite readers to start a conversation
Be sure to catch the next post, where I will discuss what you can do to drive away readers.