by Oliver Brainerd
If you’re anything like me, you occasionally skim through your Netflix queue and discover about seventy zillion shows and movies that someone only watched for ten minutes then turned off. Odds are it was you, because this is your Netflix queue. You’d like to blame it on Netflix gremlins wouldn’t you? But that’s ridiculous. Everyone knows only Hulu has gremlins.
Welcome Email Sequence
An aptly named tool, a welcome email sequence is a term in digital marketing that refers to a sequence of emails used to welcome new and potential customers. Usually, email sequences use automation to ensure consistent results. With email management tools, we can set up automation to look for certain activities of email subscribers. Those actions trigger emails, written in advance, and encourage certain behaviors in your email subscribers.
The trigger for a welcome email sequence is generally new signups. People give you their email address, and the automation you’ve set triggers and sends the first in a series of emails.
The strategic purpose of a welcome email sequence is securing a solid and positive impression in your audience. Then you leverage that relationship toward profit making behaviors. Bottom line, you want to profit off your relationships. Turning marketing into profit is an exercise in persistently being not annoying. You want your email subscribers looking forward to emails from you, which means designing email sequences that people like receiving.
An effective welcome email sequence needs to be…
- On brand
- Crafted around calls to action
- Consistent with your overall marketing strategy
You ever get the impression that a holistic marketing strategy is a must-have for any business? There’s something to that.
Onboarding Welcome Email
One example of a first email in a welcome email sequence is an onboarding welcome email.
Say you’re a small business owner. (Hello!) You’re proud of your culture, and you’ve put a lot of work into your systems and processes, so you’re choosy about bringing new people into your little work family.
What you don’t have is an HR department. In today’s market, you very well may also have a workforce spread out across the whole face of the globe.
So you have a problem: how do you imbue new hires with a sense of your culture and your processes? And at the same time make them feel like they belong to a company where their nearest coworker might be two thousand miles away.
You can’t do an orientation, you can’t handhold every new hire into your workforce. So what do you do?
The answer is an automated email sequence.
An automated email sequence is your tool.
The automation is set up to trigger when the new person first gets their company email address.
- Email 1: A brief, “Welcome to the team!” email, outlining the most basic expectations for everyone in the company and available resources.
- Email 2: One week later, a “How are you liking it so far?” email. This one acts as an opportunity for new hires to give some feedback on the job so far and ask for help or clarification if they need it.
- Email 3: Maybe a couple of weeks later, a “Glad you’re with us! Let’s get to to work,” email. In this one, in theory your working relationship has become well-established. Maybe you can talk about some of the strategic realities of your company. Even if these realities don’t have any direct impact on your new hire, it goes a long way toward creating a sense of ownership of your company if your team all has a sense where the ship is heading.
The principles are consistent from one welcome email sequence to another: bringing people into the fold and motivating them to take action for your business. Now let’s take a look at how to write a welcome email series for a new customer.
How to Write a Welcome Email Series
While the specifics of your welcome email sequence will change based on your brand and your marketing goals, there are a few general guidelines that’ll get you started.
Series should be five to seven emails long.
- Purpose: Send this right away. Introduce your brand (with the assumption that this person has had a brush with your brand already, or else you wouldn’t have their email address). Hand out your first incentive–discount code, exclusive content, etc.
- What to say: Make them feel cool. This person has spent some of the most valuable currency in their possession on you: their attention. Express your gratitude. Then set baseline expectations about the relationship. This is important because you want them to know what they should expect in subsequent communications so they will continue to engage (or at least open the next emails). Include a call to action.
- Purpose: A nugget of value and an opportunity
- What to say: Do you have an surplus of something cheap but cool? Offer that for free. Or maybe you need some user-generated content. Ask for some Insta-worthy photogs of people with your product. I can’t stress this enough: craft it around a call-to action.
- Purpose: Values
- What to say: These people signed up for your email list because something about your brand attracted them. Speak to that.
- Purpose: Reward
- What to say: It’s been long enough that your signups are no longer new, and they might be wondering what they get out of this relationship. Prepare something cool for people who’ve stuck with you this far. Maybe this is where they get access to your exclusive Discord channel. That’d be pretty cool.
- Purpose: Reminder
- What to say: It’s not an accident that I haven’t mentioned selling your stuff yet. That’s because people don’t like sales pitches. But people do like supporting people they believe in. So in this email, your call to action is a nudge to review the product or service that you provide.
- Purpose: The Ask
- What to say: Make a time-sensitive request–do this by the end of the season/week/day. If you’ve built the sequence right, your audience will be excited to help.
- Purpose: Ask for feedback.
- What to say: Now listen, you might be the expert at your business, but if you had no room for improvement then what is there left to do? In this final email of the welcome email sequence, ask how you’re doing. Make yourself open to feedback.
Your brand will drive the best marketing decisions. When you build your welcome email sequence, guide yourself with your values.
Automation helps a lot. If you use it right.
So use it right.
Welcome Email Series Best Practices
- Promptness. Starbucks has this figured out. They make it their first priority to take orders. Human psychology responds well to feeling like you’re getting urgent attention. So make your automation send the first email in your welcome email sequence early.
- Call to action! Craft every email around a call to action, even if that call is just to go follow your TikTok profile. And make it sound like they’re helping you out. Since they would be, that won’t be hard to say. People like helping.
- Brand consistency. In a sense (quite a real one), a welcome email sequence is a first impression. It’s imperative to keep your brand tone and colors consistent across all channels. It’s also important to take care with any automated communication not to neglect updating how they represent your brand too. Last thing you want is for the robots to send an email still repping your colors pre-rebrand.
- Vary your emails based on sources. In the background of your email management tool, you should be able to set automations based on whether people sign up from your website–from direct invitation–if they give you their email address in person–via social media channels. Focused content creates a personalized experience.
- Frequent audit and review. Yes, you create automations so that you don’t need to baby-along every new lead. But you still need to check your numbers–check your language. If something isn’t working, you make a change. This will still take less time than, like, not having automation.
- Bonus: consider seasonal changes. Because why not? People’s lives follow the progress of the seasons. It changes their likes and dislikes. Use that to your advantage.
When you’re careful about implementing effective welcome email sequences, your email open rates and engagement rates will likely increase. And this could mean a large increase in ROI, which is what we all want.
So, help keep your clients or customers out of the unfinished Netflix cue by giving them an enticing start. After all, that’s what a good welcome sequence is all about.
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