What Is an Email Welcome Sequence — and Why Your Business Needs One
You’ve read all about email marketing, you’ve made a freebie, and people have “opted in.”
You’re building an email list… but what happens after you deliver the freebie?
If someone gets your freebie and never hears from you again, it’s a bit like ghosting after a first date… and what’s worse about email ghosting is that you’re likely expecting them to buy from you when you show up in their inbox later.
The longer you wait to reconnect, the more awkward it gets, right?
The next step is sending the email welcome sequence — pronto!
What Is an Email Welcome Sequence?
Welcome emails are emails that are sent immediately after a person signs up for your email list. They can also be called a nurture sequence or autoresponder sequence — in case you want some industry jargon.
Think of it as having a new neighbor come over to your house. You welcome them, introduce yourself, and get to know each other a bit. You probably wouldn’t dive straight into the evening activities (especially if you were going to ask them to do something for you) without some light, polite exchanges.
This email sequence provides a warm welcome to your new subscriber and gives them relevant content right away. This person has just visited your website and submitted their email, indicating they are actually interested in what you have to offer — don’t miss this opportunity.
Another way to think of the welcome sequence is as a tour of your brand and a trust-building activity.
People like to buy from people, not vague, faceless companies. People want to know who you are. Subscribers want to know they’re supporting someone who aligns with their values, so be yourself and let them decide if they want to stick around.
A Welcome Sequence Is Essential for Your Business
According to Invesp1, welcome emails generate 4x more opens and 5x more clicks than regular email marketing campaigns. The average open rate for a welcome email is 50%, which makes them 86% more effective than general newsletters.
Welcome sequences are also the norm — 74% of people polled say they’re expecting a welcome email when they subscribe to a new email list. So when someone signs up for your list and they don’t hear anything from you, they may think they didn’t sign up correctly, or you just don’t have your ducks in a row. That’s not the first impression you want to give.
You have a short window of opportunity to welcome your new subscribers, explain the value you bring, and say why they should stay on your list. Don’t miss this opportunity.
How Many Emails Should Be in a Welcome Series?
Welcome sequences should be a minimum of 3 emails and ideally 4-10 emails depending on your business, offers, and expectations of your customers.
One email can’t possibly deliver your freebie, introduce you, let people know what to expect, and build a relationship with your new subscribers.
That would be one loooooooong email, and nobody has the attention span for that.
Having 4-6 emails in your welcome sequence gives you time to build a relationship and even start introducing or selling your offer. If you make the transition to sales too quickly, you’ll turn people off. (Like getting invited to a “party” that ends up being a sales pitch… I think we’ve all been there and it’s not a good feeling, right?)
The number of emails also depends on the price of your offer. If you have a $50 product, you won’t need as many emails to build trust and rapport with your customers. If you’re offering a $2-3,000 coaching program — you need a lot more time (aka more emails) to move the customer from skeptical to sold.
Finding the balance can be difficult. A sequence that’s too short will leave unanswered questions… too drawn out will cause people to lose interest and unsubscribe. (Unless they’re entertaining emails.)
The key is providing value and knowing your audience — what do they want to read?
What Should a Welcome Email Sequence Look Like?
Just as there are many ways to welcome guests into your home, your email sequence should be tailored to fit your brand and personality.
Welcome sequences tell your story and build a connection with your customer. So be yourself!
You don’t want to overwhelm your reader, so keep each email focused and fairly short. Focus on serving not selling as you invite them in your virtual door.
Here’s a welcome email outline to consider:
1. Freebie email
This applies if you’re offering a freebie (also known as a lead magnet.) Make sure they get it ASAP or you’ll lose their trust.
Give them exactly what you promised and make the link easy to find. Making customers work to find the link or not delivering what you promise is a fast way to lose trust and ruin your reputation.
Describe what your customer can expect from you going forward if they stay on your email list. Will they get ongoing valuable content, or will they only get sales emails from you? (Hint — value is the answer!)
2. About us email
Start telling your brand story. Who are you and where did you come from? Make an emotional connection with your customer and help them understand if they align with your company values.
Keep this email short and make the story engaging. (If you want to provide more background on your company, link to a blog post.)
3. Overcoming obstacles
Demonstrate your human-ness and how your customer is helping build a brighter future by joining with your brand.
What have you overcome? What does your brand help others overcome?
4. Benefits email
Now we’re getting into sales territory, but slowly.
List out all the features of your offer — but don’t put those in your email. For each feature, write what actual benefit your customers will get.
For example, a feature of my copywriting is professional edits + two rounds of revisions… but the benefit is clients feel confident that their copy is error-free and fully aligned with their brand voice.
5. Other Ideas: Tips, recommendations, or upcoming events.
Here’s another option for a welcome sequence outline:
1. Deliver the freebie — this is always the first step. (Same as above)
2. Who we are and why we’ll be fast friends
Explain about your brand values and story, but circle it back around to how it helps/connects with your customer.
3. What if you could solve the problem?
This email is focused on planting a seed for change and solutions.
Identify their problem and emphasize.
Paint a picture of what things could be like when the problem is solved. How could they feel without this burden?
4. It’s not your fault
This email shares that it’s not your customer’s fault that they can’t solve the problem. They either haven’t been taught or they were misled before — which is why they’re having their current struggle.
This isn’t a hard sales email, it’s about creating empathy and connecting with your customers. You can seed the idea of your offer and solution for anyone who’s ready to buy early.
5. Benefits (not features)
What are the benefits of your offer that occur within days, months, and years?
Weave the benefits into a story and provide examples — if you just share about life-long benefits, your customers may not be believe you right away.
6. Urgency + sale
What urgency can you add to move your customer into action to make their first purchase? Psst… this doesn’t have to be a hard sell. You can use internal urgency to motivate people to take action.
If they’ve been following along, they understand the problem you solve, how you solve it, and they can see short and long-term benefits.
Typical external urgency examples are disappear bonuses or increasing prices.
Maintain a light-hearted tone still, but add in the urgency to spur some action.
At the end of the day, your welcome sequence should flow like a conversation you would have with a new friend. If it feels stiff or awkward, revise it and smooth out the rough edges.
You’re introducing yourself and your brand, finding common values, identifying your customer’s struggles, and demonstrating how you can help them. Adding in some extra valuable resources or advice keeps your new subscribers pleasantly surprised as well, so don’t be shy and don’t be stingy!
What Else You Need for a Successful Welcome Sequence
Every email needs a strong subject line and a preheader
You know what a subject line is, but the preheaders are often missed. When your phone pings with a new email, you see the subject line and a little bit of the email… that “sneak peek” is the preheader.
If you don’t enter a custom preheader, it automatically uses the beginning of the email, which is usually just your introduction. (Like, “Hey Tanya, We have news” — not very inspiring.)
With each email, you also need a Call to Action (CTA)
This is not a hard sell, but a warm invite to take a step closer to your company and brand. You’re encouraging your audience to interact with your emails instead of scan and delete them.
Your CTA could be inviting them to follow you on social media or telling them how to get on the list for an upcoming offer. Or maybe you’re asking them to share the email with a friend.
Your CTA could also be a survey question so you know more about your audience. (This can eventually be used for tags and segments… which are topics for another day.)
You must give people the option to unsubscribe
I know you want to keep everyone on your list… but the reality is some people will download your freebie and disappear. It’s OK to let these people go — they’re not your ideal customer anyway.
Plus… there are laws and regulations around email marketing. This is not legal advice, I’m not a lawyer. It is good to be aware of the regulations, and thankfully most email service providers have safeguards in place to help ensure you’re compliant.
Can I Sell in My Welcome Email Sequence?
The short answer is — yes — but also be intentional about how you sell in your welcome sequence.
Statistically, welcome emails have the highest open and click-through rates of all the emails you’ll send. They’re a great chance to sell your offer to your audience.
If you don’t sell your offer during this prime time, you are absolutely losing revenue. But if you hit them with a pitch too fast, you’ll chase them away.
That makes it sound really scary… but it’s not as bad as it sounds. You can experiment and figure out what works best for your customers.
Make sure you introduce your offers and ask for sales after you’ve shown them the benefits and built a relationship with them. Relationships first, then sales.
Also, don’t feel guilty about selling in your emails. Remember, they know you’re a business and they just gave you direct access to their inbox. They’re expecting you to provide value… and also run a business by selling some kind of offer.
Now that you’ve learned what a welcome sequence is, you may be wondering how you send it out to your email list. You certainly don’t have to do this task manually, and the next section will explain just how easy it is to automate your email welcome sequence!
How to Send Welcome Sequence Emails
Using an Email Service Provider (ESP) to send your welcome emails is best practice and makes your email marketing much simpler. If you plan to have an email list and send ongoing email campaigns, an ESP is essential.
ESPs are companies like Mailchimp, Active Campaign, Constant Contact, and MailerLite… and there are hundreds or thousands of other options.
They all essentially work the same, but I recommend you read about them, try them out, and decide which one feels best for you.
Using an ESP helps you stay in line with marketing laws and best practices with simple things like automatically adding the unsubscribe option.
When a person signs up for your email list, the ESP automatically sends emails in the order you decide, with the timing you arrange, and tracks your open/click rates so you can tweak your emails for optimum performance. (It’s kind of like email magic… you can set it and forget it!)
A Welcome Sequence Is a Win for Your Business
No matter which way you structure your email welcome sequence, make sure it fits your brand voice and tone. Customers want to “hear” you through your emails. They want to feel like they’re getting to know you and can trust you. A welcome sequence is an excellent way to begin that relationship.
There’s a lot to do when starting and running a business, and if you try to do everything at once you’ll get completely overwhelmed. (Been there, done that!)
One of these small but powerful tasks is creating a welcome email sequence for your business. Your welcome sequence is an evergreen piece of your marketing plan. This means once it’s put in place, it will keep nurturing your customers without any effort or time from you, so it’s worth the work.
If you don’t have time to map out an effective welcome sequence, I have some good news… a copywriter can take on the task for you.
Namely this copywriter. 😉
You can focus on running your business, and I’ll focus on mapping out how to move your subscribers from barely aware of your business to paying customers.
Are you ready for the email marketing load to be lifted off your shoulders & get incredible ROI at the same time?
Click HERE to learn more and apply to work together!