As an eCommerce business, your primary goal is to generate sales and repeat customers. The most effective and widely used channel to help you achieve that –– email marketing.
Perhaps one of the most important emails you send to your new customers is welcome emails.
Individual welcome emails or a welcome email series are sent when customers submit their email addresses or sign up for your website. It can also be sent when a customer has purchased from your store for the first time.
You’re sure to have witnessed plenty of such emails in your inbox. But think about the ones you open and actually read. They’re probably from some of your favourite brands.
By setting up and crafting an eCommerce welcome email — that caters to your visitors’ expectations, motivates them, and conveys who you are — you can retain your visitors and generate revenue.
But, you don’t need to rely on forums and guesswork to figure out how to approach your welcome email strategy. We’ve covered everything from the fundamentals to the best practices (& examples) in this detailed guide.
How Effective are Welcome Emails in Converting Shoppers?
Most merchants assume that welcome emails serve only one purpose — to complete the customer experience.
But that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Welcome emails have much more potential than that.
Done the right way, you can use your eCommerce welcome emails to generate revenue — no kidding!
Let these welcome email statistics speak for themselves:
- Welcome email open rates are 4x higher than regular ones
- Welcome emails receive 5x more clicks
- Welcome emails are 86% more effective than standard newsletters
It’s true — welcome emails do provide customers with a holistic experience. In fact, consumers look forward to these emails, with 74% of them expecting a welcome email the moment they subscribe.
However, the revenue impact through welcome emails is undeniable. 45% of first-time purchases made by new subscribers occur within 24 hours of opting in.
Your new subscribers intend to shop from you — but that small nudge from your welcome emails seals the deal, bringing them back to complete their purchase. Despite being one of the first touchpoints of communication, welcome emails generate 320% more revenue per email than other promotional emails.
With value-adding and convincing copy, your welcome email can perform 3x better than your promotional and transactional emails, building a long-lasting relationship with your subscribers. Add a motivating offer to the mix and relevant product suggestions — and you’ll be able to successfully nudge the shopper to checkout.
Planning Your Welcome Email Strategy
Before structuring and crafting your welcome emails and automating them, you need to plan your strategy.
Here are some questions you can ask yourself to understand how to approach your welcome emails:
- Do you want to send a welcome email series to warm the shopper or just send one high-value welcome email?
- What do you want to offer your subscribers — a discount, a freebie, or your loyalty program?
- Do you want to use your welcome email to explain your brand story?
- Do you have a strong USP that you care to explain?
Now that you know what you want to prioritize — you can easily finish the setup and start boosting your sales through email marketing.
8 Welcome email best practices (& examples) to drive more sales
1. Send your (first) welcome email within the first hour of subscription
You want to reach your subscribers’ inbox while they still remember interacting with your brand. When automating your welcome emails, ensure that your (first) email is sent within the first hour of your shopper’s subscription.
This is because your subscribers will still have the curiosity and interest to receive and engage with your welcome email.
Note: This best practice is based on statistics that prove the effectiveness of sending welcome emails. There are other factors that affect this: time zones, industry, and consumer preferences. We suggest testing different timings — 1 hour after subscription vs 8 hours after subscription — to see which time delay performs best for your brand.
2. A/B test your subject lines to find the winner
Subject lines are tricky. Besides avoiding spam words and evoking a sense of curiosity, we always suggest A/B testing different subject lines.
By testing different versions of your welcome email subject lines, you can understand how your shoppers respond to it and which one brings more opens. This testing process can help you continuously improve your subject line and ultimately craft one that works best for your brand.
Hey, you'll love this: The A/B Test that Won an Election
Bite, a dental brand, builds exclusivity with its subject line: “Welcome! You’re one in a billion ⭐”. Meanwhile, Riley, a bedding brand, has a cheeky subject line that assures opens: “Life’s too short not to sleep with us.”
3. Hook them with a personalized headline
Your headlines should be relevant to the reader and contain a summary of the welcome email content. Personalized welcome email headlines result in higher open rates.
There are several ways to achieve this:
- Keep the headline clear and concise. Don’t try to cover everything in the headline.
- Don’t forget to use more action words and verbs
- Avoid using too many punctuations
The main job of your headline is to convince the subscribers to read the rest of your email.
Check this example from Bryan Anthonys.
4. Find and stick to your brand voice
Ever read an ad or marketing message and instantly knew who the brand was? This is where a defined brand voice helps. Your brand voice is curated based on the values that your e-commerce store aligns with and based on how you want to be perceived by your shoppers.
For instance, a women’s grooming brand would want to come across as the nurturing mother figure while a fast fashion brand usually associates itself with a fun, flirty voice.
The brand voice is powerful — making you more recognizable to your shoppers. When crafting your welcome email, it’s vital to stick to your brand voice.
Nutrafruit has been able to maintain its brand personality of warmth and prestige through its welcome email.
5. Provide clarity on what’s next
Do you know what kills conversions faster than you can blink? Uncertainty.
For a user who’s just interacting with your brand for the first time, spending time to understand what products you have is frustrating. Being clear right from the start can help a lot in edging them towards a purchase.
Like Airbnb does in their welcome email example. They state what the subscriber can expect from the brand right at the start. Then they go on to explain their products visually (and how!).
6. Place your CTAs strategically to drive action
One of the best ways to drive clicks and purchases through your welcome email (or any email, for that matter) is to place your call-to-action smartly for higher visibility.
If you have a lot of important information to share with your shoppers — like details about your subscription box or your brand benefits — it’s best to keep your CTA at the end of the email. However, if the rest of your email is non-critical — like sections about different collections — place your button above the fold and then structure the rest of the content under it so that shoppers can be directly taken to the website.
Moreover, ensure that your CTA button is bright and stands out against the rest of the email. This way, even if shoppers skim through your email, the button would capture their attention and nudge action. This is a fantastic way to ensure you keep generating revenue from your eCommerce welcome email campaigns.
Fracture sends a welcome email warmly greeting shoppers and offering them a discount. They have then placed a bright blue "Shop Now" button at the end of the email, guiding shoppers to that prominent button within their welcome email.
7. Analyze your email through your competitor’s shoes
When crafting your welcome email, it’s hard to remove bias and identify problems with your email — whether it’s the long wall of text or the lack of a personality within it. You can bypass this issue is by vetting your email among your team and asking friends for their brutally honest opinion.
There’s another way to figure out if your email is something your subscriber would enjoy receiving. Ask yourself this question — Would I want to read this email if (insert competitor here) sends this to me?
You’ll be able to pinpoint what isn’t working within your welcome email if you imagine that it’s sent from a brand you commonly overanalyze.
8. Use shorter sentences and keep your text crisp
These days, no one has time to read a long email. You’ve to keep your email short, retaining only the most important details and removing frills that aren’t necessary. The ideal length for your email is between 50 to 125 words.
Brooklinen is a bedding brand that has been able to make its welcome email engaging while informing shoppers about their benefits and offering a discount on their order.
9. Get the most of your new subscribers
What would you like your subscriber to do once they land on your welcome email?
It takes a lot to get new visitors to subscribe. It’s unforgivable to miss the chance to engage them once they sign up.
You should keep them hooked by offering different options for engagement. Like DogVacay does.
They definitely hold the reader’s attention with their copy. They also offer plenty of options—quizzes, videos, and products. Be it knowing more about the brand, engaging with their content, or making a purchase, their subscribers are sure to remain involved.
10. Stand out by making it interactive
The standardized email works but is it enough to compel a click when your subscribers already receive tons of email in their inbox every day? Your email needs to stand out — whether you’re drilling down on a pain point (and making the issue more pressing for shoppers) or through a playful email that entertains them.
Let’s take the example of Glenlivet, a whiskey brand, that has been able to make its email more interactive. They've placed their CTA early on at the top of the email.
Below this, they’ve created a fun chart that helps shoppers decide the kind of whiskey to choose from the brand's extensive catalog.
This way, shoppers have a little fun finding the right whiskey for themselves, simplifying their purchasing decision and making the experience more memorable.
11. Be proactive in avoiding unsubscribes
Unsubscribes never feel good, although one benefit is that it helps self-clean your email list.
Statistically, if your unsubscribe rate is within 0.5%, then you’re doing a good job.
Keeping the unsubscribe button is good practice for brands. However, your job should be to convince customers to not have to choose to click it.
Some ways you can avoid unsubscribes for your welcome emails are:
- Use double opt-ins to ensure that you’re on the right side of customer privacy. If your subscribers are caught by surprise, then it won’t take a lot of time for them to unsubscribe anyway.
- Always stick to creating relevant content. To do this, you need to have a fixed goal, a well-defined strategy to achieve it, and a clear understanding of who your customers are.
- Keep your welcome emails mobile-optimized. Most of your customers will be viewing your emails on mobile. Keep your content short and your CTAs touch-friendly.
12. Remind subscribers of the benefits
Let’s face it. Your subscribers have limited attention. You’ll have to keep reminding them what they’re going to receive from you so that they hold on to your brand.
It’s also a great way to bring them to take action. Once you keep reminding them of the benefits of sticking to your brand, they’ll have more motivation to actually take the next step.
Check out how Royalty Soaps reinforces the benefits of subscribing to the newsletter to their customers.
They treat their customer like a VIP and explain in a friendly way exactly what the subscriber can expect. This helps them take the next course of action.
13. Give them a reason to shop (like a discount)
Brands often promise a 10% or 20% discount when store visitors subscribe to their email list. This tactic works because most online shoppers love a good deal. With the right motivation, you can get shoppers to purchase from you instantly.
In fact, eCommerce welcome emails with offers can boost revenue by 30% per email — compared to welcome emails without. Don’t underestimate the effectiveness of an offer within your welcome email. If you have an ongoing offer on-site, consider adding it to your welcome email as well.
14. Avoid the pushy sales tactic from the get-go
Don’t drive your customers away the moment they land on your welcome email by trying to get a sale.
Most customers take time to understand the brand and explore the products before finally buying. Once they’re convinced, they can even be long-term customers.
So by not being too pushy, you can actually increase your chances of getting repeat customers. If you try to be too salesy, they may be put off and avoid buying from you even once.
Check out how subtly Adore Vintage appeals to their customers.
The content and visuals all stick to the brand image. The copy is also warm and aesthetic. When the discount comes at last, it doesn’t seem too sales-y but quite in sync with the other elements.
15. Don't forget your mobile users
Mobile-friendliness is no longer a buzzword. It’s a must for every single brand.
There are several tools such as MailChimp or Aweber to use for mobile friendliness. If your welcome emails get skewed on other devices, it’s definitely going to leave a bad impact on your conversions.
Some of the ways to create mobile-friendly welcome emails are:
- Keep the fonts readable. The standards are 13 pt for the body and 22 pt for the header.
- Test the subject line. Anything within 42 to 70 characters in portrait mode is ideal.
Keep the CTAs clear and easily visible. As per an MIT study, 57 x 57 px is the ideal size for touch-friendly buttons.
16. It can't hurt if they reply back
If your aim is to engage with the customer, it doesn’t make sense to send it from a ‘no reply’ email id.
A ‘do not reply’ message implies that you don’t want your customers to get in touch with you. That’s lost conversions right there.
Interactions improve satisfaction which in turn leads to engagement and conversion. You halt the process right at the start by removing the option to reply.
Check out how Papier offers an email id as well as a phone number for anyone who would want to reach out to them.
Welcome email series vs a one-off welcome email, which actually works?
Here’s the deal — some brands see great success with a one-off welcome email while other brands have better clicks and conversions with a welcome email sequence. Choosing to set up one welcome email as compared to an email sequence depends on your marketing priorities, your needs, and the performance of your welcome emails in the past.
We’ve compared the priorities that a merchant has when choosing to set up a one-off welcome email, as compared to a welcome email sequence.
Depending on your priority as a merchant, you’ll be able to easily choose one of the two strategies.
The Blueprint for a high-converting welcome email series
What does a high-converting welcome email sequence look like? There are several welcome email templates out there.
We’ve compiled some of the best welcome email examples — so that you can visualize and replicate email copy that is compelling for your shoppers.
Note: If you are setting up an eCommerce welcome email series, you can pick up ideas and tactics from the sequence below.
Email 1: Introduce your brand and welcome them to your community
The first welcome email is typically sent within the first hour of subscription, while the shopper is still fresh off their experience in your store.
Many brands use this first email to greet the shopper and unlock an offer for the subscription — whether it’s a first-order discount or a freebie.
Harry's is a men’s grooming brand that offers its new subscribers a free product when they place their order, making this offer the first thing that recipients see when they open their email.
Email 2: Build a relationship by telling them your brand story
Your second email can be less driven by agenda and more about building a qualitative bond with the subscriber. Many brands send this second welcome email within 2 days of the first email.
Within this welcome email, you can appeal to the shopper on a more personal level: share your brand story, the benefits of being part of your brand’s community, and even subtly recommend products to them.
Casper does a brilliant job at setting up a welcome email sequence that people want to engage with. Their email goes into the benefits of being part of the brand, with adorable illustrations accompanying their short and witty welcome email copy.
Email 3: Showcase your offers and products
Your third email can be a hard sell of your products, collections, and offers. When you send this welcome email is solely based on your preference. Many brands set up this email a day after the previous one or even 3 days later — giving shoppers time to miss them.
The first two emails built a relationship, creating a foundation to sell to the subscriber. So, the third welcome email can essentially be the one that drives in the revenue.
With this email, you can display your bestsellers and your broader collections, displaying your well-shot product images. You can even remind shoppers about their first-time shopper discount to give them the motivation to shop.
BYLT sells premium basic clothing. Within their welcome email, they've displayed different collections that guide shoppers to browse collections based on their gender, as well as a few best-selling products that subscribers would want to buy.
How many emails should be in a welcome email sequence?
You don’t want to be forgotten too soon but you also don’t want to bore them with too many emails. You need to find that balance in engaging your shoppers. Different e-commerce experts recommend a different number of emails within your welcome sequence, from 3 emails up to 5 emails.
How many emails depends on what works for you. Test different numbers of emails within your sequence to figure out what converts your shoppers best. You can compare how different emails in your sequence are opened and their engagement rates to tweak your strategy.
Measuring the success of your welcome email campaign
The key to higher conversions and better revenue with your eCommerce welcome emails is constant optimization. Your analytics can help you find problems and areas of improvement — letting you polish your welcome emails and improve their conversions.
Once set up, analyze the results of your welcome email(s) in a month or two and make changes based on its performance. Here are a few metrics to look at:
- How long did subscribers take to open their email?
- Which subject line had better and sooner opens?
- Which subject line ended up in spam?
- Which emails had higher clicks?
- Which welcome email converted best?
If you’ve set up just one welcome email, we suggest testing different tactics to figure out which one performs best among your subscribers. You’ll then be able to automate a welcome email that is known to bring in better results.
Turn First Impressions into Purchases with Your E-commerce Welcome Emails
Welcome emails are a crucial part of the customer experience, helping you nurture your subscribers and creating that pivotal first impression. Merchants must tap into this sales opportunity and drive revenue to your e-commerce store.
We hope this guide helped you plan your welcome emails and understand the different best practices you need to follow and the tactics that you can implement.