Boost Your Email KPIs By Learning The 5 Types of Welcome Emails (hint: first date)

Boost Your Email KPIs By Learning The 5 Types of Welcome Emails (hint: first date)

Increase your open rates and build rapport with your users by writing the right kind of Welcome Email

Think about how your most recent first date went down. It probably went something like this.

First — you got your target’s attention.
Next — you exchanged contact info.
Then — you agreed to meet each other again.

If you think about this process and your customers online, things aren’t so different:

First — you got your target’s attention. The customer found your website
Next — you exchanged contact info. They signed up to your service or blog
Then — you agreed to meet each other again. They confirmed their email address

At this point, it’s time for the first date — the Welcome Email — where you want to:

  • Make sure you see each other again. They open your welcome email
  • Start the relationship on the right foot. Set expectations and get them to take action

Why Your Welcome Email Style Matters

At best, only half of your Welcome Emails will be opened.

That’s like getting stood up for at least half of your first dates. Crazy.

The good news is that any improvements you make to your Welcome Emails have huge effects down the line. Nudging your open rates and clickthrough rates by a few percent directly reduces customer acquisition cost, as you’re converting more people into your funnel.

This is great for Marketing: with lower acquisition costs you can do other things. Also great for Product team: with a little effort, they now have more users, which is necessary for making improvements (and moving the sales needle).

If your team hasn’t put any thought into your product’s Welcome Email, you’re missing opportunities to tighten your funnel and build rapport with your users…and make more money.

Let’s now look at the 5 ways you can craft your Welcome Email.

1. The Direct Approach: Here’s What We’re Gonna Do

I’ve got our evening all planned out. From 7 to 8 we’re having dinner at this great sushi place, then we’re catching a movie at 9.

This Welcome Email uses specific, no-nonsense wording that tells the reader exactly what they’re getting and what to expect.

You’ll see these with businesses that are all about information delivery, or ones tailored to quant and process-minded people like PMs or Engineering.

Below are two examples of what this looks like. (Click on the images to enlarge)

Example: Teambox

Teambox is a project management tool, so it makes sense for their communication to be organized, clear, and straight to the point. Like all project management software, it uses a tutorial in the onboarding experience, and this email contains a condensed version of that tutorial.

From: Sara Springer [Teambox] <>
Subject: Welcome to Teambox – Getting Started


Example: HubSpot Blog

The HubSpot Blog is a spectacular marketing blog with an incredible amount of content. But sometimes the deluge of content can be overwhelming. In their Welcome Email, they’ve anticipated this and set the right expectation by letting you know that their emailing frequency can be reduced.

From: Pamela, HubSpot Blog <>
Subject: Welcome to the HubSpot Blog! Your Next Step …


By default, people will write the Welcome Email in this style. Obviously. I mean, how easy is it to write “here’s what you signed up for, and here’s what to expect”?

As with all marketing matters, ask why. Why are you writing it in this style? It should be a conscious, strategic decision as opposed to simply writing this way because it’s the most obvious way to do it.

2. Personal: Let’s Get To Know Each Other

Wanna go for ice cream? I’d love to hear more about your last vacation.

When done well, writing your Welcome Email in a personal style makes the reader feel like they’ve joined a community. You’ll often see these used by bloggers and startups who are interested in building connections with their users.

I use this approach on the Growth Hero newsletter, and I love it. It allows me to get to know my readership better.

Example: Buffer

Buffer is a social media scheduling service. Since they’re all about social media, it makes sense for their founder and CEO to be visible on social media; so he personally introduces himself to you in the Welcome Email and invites you to say hello.

From: Buffer <>
Subject: Joel from Buffer – Amazing to have you on board!


Example: Tropical MBA

Tropical MBA is a podcast for people who want location-independent careers. Since so much of the content is focused on personal stories and interviews, sharing things in great detail helps to foster a feeling of intimacy.

From: Dan Andrews <>
Subject: WELCOME to the family (please read)


3. Quirky: Pique Their Curiosity

Meet me at the children’s shelter at 5, my magic show for orphans will be finished by then.

Writing the subject line and email in a way that piques curiosity is an excellent way to get those Welcome Email metrics moving, as long as your message is congruent with the rest of your business.

Example: Buzzfeed

Buzzfeed is a pop culture and entertainment website. One visit to their site and you’ll see that it’s focused not only on fun, but also user engagement — there are social share buttons on nearly every page element!

This philosophy carries over into their Welcome Email, where you automatically win the “New User award”. This signals that there’s a gamified user system on the site, and that the site doesn’t take itself too seriously.

Subject: You have won the New User award!


Example: Social Triggers

Social Triggers is a blog about applied psychology on the web. It’s run by Derek Halpern, whose energetic personality is communicated right from the subject line of his Welcome Email.

From: Derek Halpern
Subject: You’ll think I’m crazy…


4. Actionable: Let’s Do Something Right Now

Do you have to go anywhere right now? Let’s get a coffee, I know a cute place down the road.

These emails arrive almost immediately after you click through the Confirm Email, which helps maintain user signup momentum by immediately presenting you with something to do.

If your team is having problems with retention, or has terrible Welcome Email clickthrough rates, it’s a no-brainer to test sending this kind of email.

Example: Pinterest

Pinterest is a breeze once you start using it, but the idea of “pinning” something takes some getting used to. They’re essentially asking you to form a new habit and introduce a new verb to your vocabulary: to “pin” something.

No wonder, then, that they repeatedly mention the word “pin”, starting from the subject line. The rest of the email is then focused on easy, low-friction actions you can take to begin using Pinterest.

From: Pinterest <>
Subject: You’re ready to pin!


Example: 8tracks

8tracks is a music service where people can share playlists. It’s a strange concept when you really think about it (why would I want to listen to some random strangers’s playlist?) but you immediately understand the value when you check out the playlists they’ve curated in their Welcome Email.

From: 8tracks <>
Subject: Thanks for joining 8tracks! Here’s a playlist for you.


5. Incentivized: We’ll Do Something Awesome

Are you free this Friday? I’ll take you somewhere fancy.

A Welcome Email with the right incentive can be really powerful. But it’s contingent your ability to build up the perceived value of whatever it is that you’re giving away.

Do this well, and not only will your Welcome Email open rate be sky-high, but you’ll also train your users to open your emails.

Example: CoasterVille

CoasterVille is a free game you can play on Facebook. And like all Facebook games, they’re free, but you have to pay to really get ahead and accomplish significant things in the game. Their Welcome Email gives you a basket of goodies to entice you to return to the game. By the time it arrives in your inbox, these are things you need but have already run out of.

From: CoasterVille by Zynga <>
Subject: A welcome celebration – 200 coins, 100 Goods, and 5 Energy


Example: I Will Teach You To Be Rich

Ramit Sethi’s personal-finance-slash-career-development blog is packed full of great stuff. It’s so packed full of material that he gives away content as an incentive for signing up for his email newsletter.

From: Ramit Sethi <>
Subject: Here’s your free bonus material (you asked me to send this)


Remember: Test, Don’t Copy

In your quest to improve your Welcome Email metrics, remember that everyone’s situation is unique; what works for Pinterest may be a complete fail for you.

By looking at these 5 types of Welcome Emails, I’ve given you some ideas on how you can improve your open rates and clickthrough rates while making your users just a bit more invested in your product.

Always be testing your Welcome Email, from split-testing subject lines to trying different writing styles.

Your Turn: Show Me a Great Welcome Email

Can you think of an outstanding Welcome Email that you’ve received?
Leave a note in the comments!

Photo credit

David Fallarme

Hi, I'm David Fallarme. I've been doing marketing in companies big and small. I like learning new things, so I'll share what I know with you.

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