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6 types of welcome emails – are you exploiting them?

Which type of welcome email is best for your business?

Welcome emails are key to establishing a dialogue with new email subscribers whether they are prospects who don't know you, or customers who have already bought a product from you. A well-designed welcome email sequence will keep new subscribers engaged and facilitate selling to them in future.

If no initial welcome message is sent, the open rate can fall by 25% a few weeks after signing up. So clearly welcome emails are amongst the most important you send and design, so are critical for subscriber and customer retention. In fact welcome campaigns tend to have the highest open rates of any type of email campaign, which makes them even more important to get right.

Developing a Welcome email strategy

So, the arguments for putting time into well crafted welcome emails are clear, but where do you start? Given their importance we have created a new guides for Expert members which gives best practices and examples, so they can set up more effective welcome email campaigns.

In this post I will be showcasing the various types of welcome emails used by different types of businesses so readers can get some inspiration for the features of a successful welcome email that could work best for your business. I’ve split welcome emails into 6 general categories, each of which come with their own set of pros and cons.

1. "The thank you"

This type of email keeps it simple and sincere. It thanks subscribers for signing up and gives them a bit of detail about what they will be receiving in terms of emails. The advantages of this are establishing trust with your subscribers and making them feel valued. However it may be less effective in driving e-commerce traffic as some of the other forms of emails we will look at.

welcome email

2. "The showcase"

This is a very common form of welcome email, where what the company offers the customer is showcased to the subscriber. This is good for engaging customers who will be happy to see the benefits of signing up, but make sure to keep it relevant. If you are scraping around to find enough good features that your subscribers can access and end up adding features that customers probably won’t be interested in, then I suggest you don’t opt for the “showcase” style of welcome email. Because it is so common, it may be less likely to grab attention that some other forms of welcome email, and sometimes a more minimalist style can be more effective when customers are becoming used to receiving large volumes of promotional emails. We like the way Karen Millen stylishly give their 'wall of benefits' as the psychologists call it.

Showcase welcome email

3. "The offer"

Simple but effective, this type of welcome email gives new sign-ups a special offer to try to get them to buy the company's products while they have attention. People like to feel they are getting a good deal, so offering a special discount can be a really good way to increase click rate and conversion rate from your emails. Just make sure your offer is enticing and try not to have it formatted as an image. 60% of email clients block images by default, so if your offer is the centre piece of your welcome email but is blocked on most of the recipients devices, then you are not going to achieve the desired click rate.

Offer welcome email

4. "The hello"

It might not always say ‘hello’, but that is the focus of this type of welcome email. It is about acknowledging and engaging with the customer, and giving your email a human touch. The Virgin America email in particular is just about saying hi and introducing how they will be communicating. It is simple and doesn’t bombard the reader with loads of different calls to action. This isn’t the best form of email if click through and conversions straight away is your goal, but if long term retention and engagement of your customers is what you value, then it is a good option.

hello welcome email

virgin hello welcome email

5. "The shopping cart"

Another fairly common form of welcome email, where the goal is clear; to get the customer to buy from you. If done right this can be the most effective way to convert leads into sales and deliver ROI. However because of the frequency of these forms of emails we receive every day, it is also likely to be ignored by a large percentage of recipients.

Shopping cart welcome email

6. "The Video"

Video in email can be effective and engaging or nigh on useless because it is so frequently blocked by email-clients. This impressively minimalist email from Path is beautiful in its simplicity, and so likely to engage users. However, I would advise testing click rates with video emails on a smaller batch of your subscriber list before rolling out as the main welcome email campaign, because blocking by the email clients of your users could leave your lovingly crafted videos unwatched.

video email

Welcome Emails can support the drive for long-term customer engagement

Customer engagement, retention or re-activation are all variations on a simple concept: getting existing customers to buy your products rather than searching for new customers.

Although ‘engagement’ can sometimes seem like a marketing buzzword, it makes cold, hard business sense. Attracting a new customer can cost as much as 15 times more than retaining an existing customer, and although the exact statistic varies between studies, it on average costs between 3 and 5 times more to find new customers than sell to existing ones according to the Chartered Institute of Marketing.

If you want a more in-depth resource to guide you through the creation of your automated email-communications strategy, check out our email sequence contact strategy template developed by Email marketing consultants Dave Chaffey and Tim Watson - it's available to our Expert members and one of our most popular downloads.

By Robert Allen

I was the Editor of Smart Insights between 2015-2017. I managed the blog and you will find blog articles on a range of subjects- Marketing Technology trends and latest tech developments are a regular focus, as well as exploring key marketing concepts. You can get in touch with me on Twitter and connect with me on LinkedIn. The new Editor is Carolanne Mangles.

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