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Marketing - 10 min READ

How to create and send engaging welcome emails

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Author photo: Siena Witte

Siena Witte


“It’s great to have you here.”

“I’m glad you came.”

Whether you’re greeted by a coworker or an old friend from high school, sentiments like these make you feel acknowledged and at ease.

That same idea applies to welcome emails.

These marketing messages are a great way to kickstart a relationship with customers (and potential customers) and can set the foundation for the overall customer experience.

Did you know that welcome emails can bring in 320% more revenue than other promotional emails? Unthinkable, but true.

If you’re not greeting new subscribers and customers with a heartfelt welcome email, you could be leaving heaps of revenue on the table.

In this post, you’ll learn:

But before we dig into reasons why welcome emails are a great idea for your business, let’s quickly go over the definition of this type of email.

What is a welcome email?

A welcome email is the first friendly interaction between your company and a new subscriber or customer. It’s your opportunity to let them know more about you, your business, and what they can expect. Usually, this email is sent automatically when a customer submits a signup form on your website.

New subscribers opt in fully expecting a welcome message to land in their inbox. This is especially true if you’re offering an ebook, a signup discount or another benefit.

If you have an audience anticipating a greeting from you, that’s reason alone to get going.

Here's an example of a welcome email from Typeform:

Why are welcome emails important?

Here are a few reasons why you should be sending out welcome emails.

1. They have a high open rate.

Welcome emails, on average, have an open rate of 50%, which makes them 86% more likely to be opened than email newsletters.

On top of that, welcome emails are more likely to be read—the read rate for these emails is 34% as compared to 24% of standard transactional emails.

2. They help set customer expectations

In a welcome email, the ball is in your court. You get to proactively shape your subscriber’s perception of your brand—maybe before they’ve even experienced your product or service.

Taking this approach can not only get your readers excited about your product, but also start your relationships off on the right foot by making sure that their expectations are aligned with what your business can consistently deliver.

3. They help build long-lasting relationships

Consumers today have a wide range of options when it comes to products and services to choose from. When they select yours over all the others, they deserve a little gratitude and recognition.

What better way to thank them for their business than to send a welcome email? It can make a positive impact on how customers view their relationship with your brand.

Best practices for sending welcome emails

An email this important needs to be done right. Here are seven best practices to help you create the best welcome emails for new subscribers and customers.

1. Send it within minutes or hours of first contact

There are dozens of studies that show the benefits of sending your first welcome email shortly after the customer provides you with their email address.

Research shows that welcome emails sent in real-time generated 88.3% more opens and 29.3% more clicks on links in the email, as compared to welcome emails that were sent in bulk once a certain amount of people subscribed. (For example, after you’ve amassed 1,000 subscribers.)

When you think about it, this makes a lot of sense—a new subscriber has you fresh on their mind, after all.

With this sense of recency, they’re much more likely to engage with a timely welcome email. If you wait too long, it just becomes more likely that they’ll go cold or forget they even signed up in the first place.

The best way to ensure real-time welcome emails is to use an automation tool. Specialized email marketing platforms like Constant Contact or Mailchimp offer this (which we’ll cover later).

2. Offer additional info and resources about your brand

If your company sells software, tech, or other offerings that come with a “user manual,” your welcome email is a key opportunity to start your users off on the right foot and show that you’ll support every step of their journey.

Transcription service Descript uses their welcome email as an opportunity to guide new users through the process:

Subject line: Welcome – here’s how to get started with Descript

It starts by telling them where to find the in-app tutorial, then explains that it’ll automatically load the first time they open the app.

It sets user expectations by explaining that the free account includes 30 minutes of transcription, and links to the app’s documentation where they can find answers to frequently asked questions.

As a bonus, the email also encourages users to reply to the email directly to ask the CEO any questions they might have. This shows right off the bat that the company is dedicated to good customer service.

3. Personalize and segment your campaigns

Research shows that using personalized subject lines boosts open rates by as much as 26%, and segmented campaigns (targeting specific groups of people rather than an entire database) can generate an incredible 760% increase in revenue.

The good news is that this can be as simple as writing the subscriber’s name in the subject line or body of your welcome email.

As your email campaigns get more mature, you can segment your customers based on a range of criteria, like their stage in your sales pipeline, certain actions they’ve taken on your website, or how long they’ve been a customer.

You can then cater these emails to relate more closely to those segmented experiences, as opposed to blasting out the same emails to every subscriber.

Ecommerce company Jet sends a highly personalized welcome email, addressing the subscriber by name in the subject line and embedding a welcome video from the company’s founder.

Sure makes you feel welcome, doesn’t it?

Subject line: Not your ordinary welcome email, Smiles Davis!

4. Tell your background story to start building a brand relationship

You can immediately create and nurture a connection with your subscribers by telling a story about your brand.

There are many ways to do this, from an explanation of why the company was started, to how your process works, to what you have in store for your customers in the future.

Men’s personal care brand Hawthorne starts their first welcome email by explaining the gap in the market that led to the company’s birth:

“We started Hawthorne because there was no easy, hassle-free way for modern guys to discover and buy highest quality bathroom products.”

It goes on to describe the key selling points of the brand, and how those points translate into benefits for their customers.

Subject line: Welcome to Your Tailored Bathroom

5. Offer a freebie, discount, or perk to move the needle

Everyone loves freebies, discounts, and other exclusive perks that make them feel special.

Your welcome email is a strong opportunity to invoke this feeling, so use it wisely.

Tech company Light uses its welcome email as an opportunity to offer 15% off its L16 camera.

To drive home the camera’s value, the welcome email also includes a link to a gallery of photos taken by L16 photographers around the world, as well as a link to a Light webpage that explains the “revolutionary technology” that makes the L16 camera so unique.

As a bonus, the subject line gets straight to the point, and features classy emoji use that gives some context to the email without overdoing it.

Subject line: You’re in. Get 15% off an L16 📷️

6. Show your brand’s personality

Your welcome email is your number one opportunity to shine—and to set yourself apart from the rest by vividly illustrating the kind of experience that your subscribers can expect moving forward.

Alamo Drafthouse Cinema does a great job of expressing its fun, lighthearted, and “movie geek” personality.

The header image is a big, beautiful custom drawing that draws on the “victory” theme that the cinema’s Victory Rewards Program is named after.

As the email copy uses conversational language to explain the key details of the program, it injects self-aware lines like “It’s really that simple,” and “Did we mention the free movies?”

Subject line: Welcome to the Alamo Victory Rewards Program

7. Encourage them to follow you on social media

Email marketing is a great tool for regularly engaging your leads and customers, but there’s a limit to how many emails you can send before you cross into spam territory.

Fortunately, social media is an excellent and organic way to fill the gaps.

Dims uses its welcome email to let customers know what to expect from future emails, and offers a welcome discount for first-time shoppers.

Then, the company closes out the welcome email with a call to action (CTA) to follow its Instagram account. This CTA is supported by a few recent photos from the account, to give readers a glimpse into the Instagram account’s content and aesthetic.

Subject line: Welcome home to Dims.

How to streamline the welcome email process?

When you’re sending welcome and other types of emails, you’ll need to create an account with a service that can help you streamline the entire process.

Otherwise, if you try to send out welcome emails from your Gmail inbox, you can be penalized for not complying with spam policies. Moreover, it’s going to eat up a significant portion of your time.

That’s why you should sign up for an email marketing service (ESP).

ESPs like Mailchimp and GetResponse make it really easy to create and schedule welcome messages.

Here’s a video that shows how to do it in Mailchimp:

Pro-tip: If your CRM hooks up to Mailchimp or another email service provider, you can add and remove people to/ from your contacts list. For example, using Copper’s Mailchimp integration, you can easily add your existing prospects, customers, and other contacts to your Mailchimp list to quickly create a list of people to send welcome emails to.

Ready to send enticing welcome emails to customers?

When it comes to presenting your company to new subscribers and customers, first impressions count! So use the first email you send to them to say something compelling, show your personality and values, and give them a reason to come back.

By following the best practices in this post, you can create a compelling welcome email that hooks people from the start and makes sure your future messages get read and acted upon.

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