Welcome Emails: Best Practice, Analysis and Examples
Welcome emails are sent once a user has signed up to your newsletter, or has created an Account on your site. Welcome emails are often the first piece of correspondence your contact has received, and can achieve open rates of over 50% so it’s important that brands make the most of this valuable opportunity.
This type of email can be sent by your eCommerce platform provider, or could be sent by your Email Service Provider (ESP) like us. The choice is yours – it’s worth researching which sender will create appropriate emails for your strategy and goals.
Welcome emails allow you to capture more data about the consumer and nudge them towards a purchase.
A recent study by emailvision analysed the welcome emails of over 100 UK e-tailers against best practice criteria. Here are 7 best practices taken from the study. These tips are aimed at helping brands make the most of the opportunity.
1. Be specific
To ensure your emails are seen as relevant, you should tailor your welcome message so that it’s clear why you’re sending emails, who you are, and where the email address was collected from. If you mention the original contact point, it makes the email appear more personal to the consumer.
2. Send them immediately
If a consumer subscribes to your newsletter via your website, they will expect an almost immediate email, or they’ll assume something is wrong. If a welcome email takes hours to arrive, interest in your product will have dropped.
The study found that 64% of brands sent their first email within 15 minutes, 18% sent it between 15 and 120 minutes, and 18% of brands sent an email more than 120 minutes after a user subscribes. If the email address is acquired offline, then a confirmation email should be sent within two days.
3. Use the subject line
The majority of welcome subject lines will say ‘Welcome to..’ or ‘Thanks for signing up to…’ and whilst this is good, and will still achieve high open rates, you can afford to be creative.
As consumers are expecting a welcome email, they will be more likely to open it, hence why the open rate is around 50% on average. However, the subject line still needs to give the consumer a reason to open the email, for example:
- ‘Hi Amy, welcome to blah.com. Enjoy 10% off your first online order!’
- ‘Welcome to blah.com – enjoy your membership benefits now’
4. What do you want to achieve?
You should think about what you achieve with your welcome email, here are a few things to consider:
- Offer a shopping incentive. Your consumer is obviously interested in your products so make the most of it.
- Set expectations. Let the user know what to expect from your email marketing.
- Collect additional data. This data will help you with future campaigns, capture info such as birthday, or wedding anniversary to focus campaigns.
- Double opt in. Ask the consumer to validate you are a safe sender, by setting up a double opt in. This ensures the email address is correct, and they still want your emails.
5. Encourage users to add you to their Safe Senders list
Whilst this may seem like second nature to some people, not everyone is an email know-it-all. It’s likely you’ll need to inform your contact how they can do this. The majority of email clients will include a link at the top of the page which user can right click to ‘Add contact to Safe Sender list’ but you may have to go one step further.
Consider including instructions within the email to help your contact.
6. Don’t say too much
Due to the high open rates and high click through rates, it can be tempting to try and cram too much into a welcome email.
Limit the welcome email to two or three good points, and then send a series of emails with more information over the next week or so. Let the contact know that they will be receiving several welcome emails so that they stay engaged.
7. Don’t forget them!
It can be easy to forget about welcome emails, especially if you’re balancing lots of plates in the air, or you’re thinking about your next email campaign. Remember to review your welcome emails on a regular basis to ensure they are consistent with your brand, and convey the correct message.
So now you know what makes a good welcome email. Let’s take a look at a few examples that I have gathered today. I have chosen a range of retailers, from high end luxury retail, right down to a budget retailer.
This email is welcoming, but doesn’t follow the above best practice conventions – it isn’t specific to me, there isn’t an offer included, which isn’t a problem, but at the moment, I cannot see why I should continue to subscribe to Versace’s newsletters. This email came with the subject line ‘Welcome to Versace and Versus Versace’.
I like this welcome email, even if the design isn’t as striking as others. This email came with the subject line ‘Thank you for subscribing to the Clarks Newsletter’. It tells me everything I need to know. I’m aware of the different ranges they offer, the call to action is bright, albeit a little small, and they inform me about what I’m likely to receive as part of their campaigns in the future. Nice!
Liberty’s lacklustre welcome emails have let me down. Liberty is a high end retailer based in London, and is famous for offering products to ‘sophisticated’ customers. I received two emails from Liberty, one thanking me for signing up, and one offering me an introductory discount. So I understand why I’m receiving the emails, and I appreciate the offer, but the lack of design strikes me as slightly odd. Their website is colourful and full of great graphics, so the brand consistency is missing.
However, I can understand why Liberty has sent an email like this. In the majority of email clients, images are blocked, and if the recipient doesn’t choose to view the images, then the content may not get seen. If an email is sent in plain text, as Liberty have done, they are ensuring the content is seen, and all links are working correctly, no matter what device or what email client the reader is using.
This email ticks all the boxes. I have been given an offer, I know why I have received the email, and Adidas are showing off some items of clothing at the same time. The original email was much longer, but they’ve placed the call to action in a prominent place, the top left, to ensure it is seen, even if the email is opened in a preview pane.
Just like the Liberty email I received, I was puzzled as to why the email featured no HTML, but of course, they’ve sent it in plain text to ensure no pieces of information are missed.
This email is short and snappy and gets straight to the point – but that’s about all it does. North Face have my first and last name, and are obviously using HTML, so I’m not sure why they haven’t included any personalisation when it could’ve been so simple to implement.
I’m also not a great fan of ‘Please do not reply directly to this message’ as it’s a negative statement and will put subscribers off replying and asking questions.
This email is one of my favourites from this selection. It is very plain, but all the information is in the correct place. I know why I’ve got the email, I know what I’m expecting to receive, and I can easily access different place on their website, and I can find them across all social media sites. All of the information is justified to the left to ensure those with a preview pane will see the content.
Fabulous welcome email – well done Mr Porter. Safe sender link, view in browser link, a nice thank you, a plan of emails to come, social sharing links, and a simple call to action. The email even has links to returns policies, and shipping options – giving the user every last drop of information before they’ve even bought anything.
The original email was much longer than this snap shot I have taken, and the majority of it was filled with images and call to actions taking me to specific lines or genres of clothing. I feel as though this welcome email could have been more welcoming, especially as I had to create a membership style account before I could start receiving emails, so they have my name, date of birth and location, but none of this information was used. However, this email was sent almost as soon as I signed up, so points for Burberry for getting off the mark quickly.
Marks and Spencer
This is a straight forward to the point welcome email. There isn’t much personality in this email, although I do appreciate the use of my name and title, which I had to input when signing up for emails. The email design itself is quite plain, and as first glance I assumed the email was created in plain text, but as their logo features at the top of the email, they are using HTML – just in one place.
There are 3 plain looking links in this email, and a negative sentence at the bottom stating the email address is a ‘no reply’. I hope the next email I receive will feature some of Marks and Spencer’s great photography that we are used to seeing on their TV adverts.
I also signed up for Topman, Topshop, French Connection and ASOS emails, but unfortunately did not receive the welcome email for over 12 hours after sign up.