You know the old adage: you never get a second chance to make a first impression.
That maxim is certainly true in the email marketing world. Your email welcome message is the first message new subscribers receive when they register for a free account with your site or subscribe to your email list.
A well-crafted welcome message creates an initial connection with a new subscriber. It’s the first step toward establishing a solid long-term relationship with that person.
But all too often, content marketers treat their email welcome messages as afterthoughts — notes they write as quickly as possible so they can get to more important tasks.
That’s a huge wasted opportunity. Read on to discover five essential elements of effective welcome emails. At the end, I’ll also share three optional elements you can try.
1. Recognizable information in the sender name field and subject line
If possible, include a real person’s name in the sender name field of your email, instead of a company name. Your new subscribers will be more likely to open your welcome email if it’s sent by a recognizable individual.
Also, don’t get too clever with the subject line of your email. It should clearly state what the subscriber has signed up for or what you promised in your opt-in form.
Here are two examples of clear, recognizable welcome message subject lines:
- From Anne Samoilov of AnneSamoilov.com: “[LWT Sample] Welcome, and your sample starts today!”
- From Kim Garst of Boom! Social: Welcome to Boom! Social … Here Is Where to Start, [NAME]
2. Access to the content you promised to deliver
Take a sentence or two to thank your new subscriber for signing up and trusting you with his email address.
After you’ve offered genuine gratitude, deliver what you promised as an incentive. This might be a link to a cheat sheet, login access to your membership site, or the first lesson in your online course.
Test this process carefully so you don’t inadvertently put roadblocks in front of your new subscribers. Double-check that your hyperlinks work. If you ask your new subscriber to download something, make that process as smooth and painless as possible.
Breanne Dyck of MNIB Consulting makes this download step really easy for her new subscribers.
In the image below, notice the big (and mobile friendly) red button you can click to get Breanne’s incentive.
When new subscribers receive a welcome message from Breanne, they’re tagged as “confirmed” only when they click on the button and download the free gift they signed up to receive. At that point, those subscribers are considered active, and they are eligible to receive more of her content and offers.
When subscribers don’t click on the button to get the download, Breanne sends them a follow-up email a few days later to see if they received the welcome message and nudge them again to click on the link and access the incentive.
She doesn’t send them any additional content (or offers) until they get the original gift they signed up for.
If after a few reminders and invitations to engage, a new subscriber still hasn’t downloaded the gift or indicated that he wants to stay connected with her community, she’ll tag him as inactive. Eventually, he’ll be removed from her list.
3. A description of what to expect next
It’s important to share exactly what’s going to happen next to set expectations and get your subscribers to look forward to your next message.
For example, tell them they’ll receive the next tip in your series the following day or that you send out a new blog post via email every other Monday.
4. A bit of your personality
Remember, you want your welcome message to be memorable, so tell a story, talk about how your company is different from your competition, or address a big problem your audience deals with in a unique way.
Here’s how Danny Margulies of Freelance To Win shows his personality in his initial welcome message:
5. A personal sign-off
When you’ve said everything you need to say, conclude your email message in a tone that matches the rest of your message (warm and friendly, funny and irreverent, etc.).
Leave your reader on a positive note, and aim to include a signature with a real person’s name, not just a company name.
Want to be a welcome message overachiever? Here are three additional elements to consider including.
Option 1: An open loop
You can leave your new subscriber wanting more by adding an “open loop” to your email content.
An open loop (or tension loop) is “a rhetorical device to instill curiosity by creating anticipation for what will come next.”
Add an open loop to your welcome message by:
- Hinting about a big breakthrough you’ll share in the next email in your series
- Mentioning an additional free cheat sheet, report, or case study you’ll share soon — and how that free gift will help your subscribers
- Giving a teaser about the next part of the story you’ve started telling
This is Danny Margulies’s open loop, which he adds in the postscript of his welcome message:
Option 2: A call to action
You can include a call to action in your welcome message, if there’s a logical (and easy) next step for your subscriber.
Ask your reader to connect with you on your favorite social media platform, attend a free event, or check out some of the best archived content from your site.
Danielle Walker of Against All Grain draws attention to her archived content in an attractive, visual way:
Option 3: An invitation to chat with you
When new subscribers have just signed up for your list, they’re probably excited to connect with you. You can leverage that excitement by asking your new subscribers to communicate with you.
Inquire about their opinions, offer a survey about the names or structures of your future programs — anything you want to know.
To get some useful (and free!) market research, you can ask: “What’s the biggest problem you’re having with [YOUR TOPIC]?”
If you’re going to add a question to your welcome email, though, decide in advance whether you’re going to respond personally to every message, and set expectations about the type of response (if any) readers will get. You might have subscribers write to you about deeply private thoughts, so be prepared.
Your launchpad for creating memorable, useful email welcome messages
Your email welcome message is an important element in your overall content marketing strategy, so it’s worth taking the time to craft one that is memorable, interesting, and useful.
Follow these steps for crafting your welcome message to turn new, uncertain subscribers into enthusiastic fans who can’t wait to open your next email note.
You’ll make them feel like they are now part of something really special.