Welcome Emails - Are They Effective?

I answered this question the other day on Quora and wanted to expand on it further.

Welcome emails are the emails you get when you sign up for a new product or service.

Kind of like an email our team just received from Medium for the new DailyStory Medium account.

Are they effective? Short answer. Absolutely.

Here are a few reasons why.

Confirm the user’s intent

As a user, when I signup for a service, app or product I expect to receive an email confirmation.

Even a simple message that affirms my intention and reminds me of what I signed up for.

Really it’s just a good customer experience.

It still surprises me when we work with new customers how often they don’t have something like this in place.

Even for something as simple as a newsletter signup.

One of our customers has an unbelievably successful multi-million dollar business.

They have great newsletter.

And they have an awful process for signing up for the newsletter.

The newsletter is published once every few months — yes, that’s a separate problem. But, if you sign up after the most recent newsletter was published, not only will you not receive a confirmation email, you won’t receive the newsletter for another 4–5 weeks!

Yikes!

Of course that introduces a whole new problem: when someone does receive the newsletter email, it was unexpected.

I don’t have their unsubscribe rates, but I suspect they are higher than they should be.

Discoverability

A lot of people save your welcome email so they have something to click on when they want to go back to your application.

Believe it or not, most products just aren’t that memorable.

Personally, I search my inbox once or twice a day to find a link I need that I know is in an email.

After spending the last 6 months heads down working on product, I’m signing up for a ton of services. My inbox is literally overflowing with newsletters, welcome emails and more.

Sound familiar?

Use your welcome email to clearly identify the links to get back into your application or service. People use those links, keep those emails, and rely on them for discoverability of your application.

I first got this feedback directly from one of my own customers. And it completely changed how I thought about the contents of my welcome email.

Validate that address

Another one of the reasons we advocate welcome emails to our customers — when you send a confirmation email you should also check if the email bounces.

This is actually one of the use cases for why I built DailyStory. At my last company we received loads of signups for free editions, newsletters and other offers.

The problem we had is that we would then add those emails to our lists and the emails would bounce — giving us bad stats in our list.

One of the ways our customers are using this is with exit intent. And exit intent has a surprisingly high conversion rate.

Here is how it works:

When someone is bouncing off your site you show an exit intent popup to offer them your newsletter. Then, before adding them to your email list you can scrub out bounced welcome emails. Finally, add the valid emails to your MailChimp or Salesforce email lists.

All automatically of course!

Doing this type of auto-scrubbing is a great strategy for ensuring you keep your lists clean.

And, email is still one of the number one marketing tools. It’s in your best interest to maintain clean lists.

Welcome emails should be a campaign

Ok, this bit may be of a soapbox — but I’d recommend sending a welcome campaign vs a single welcome email. Something we built DailyStory to do from day one.

You are competing for your prospective customer’s attention — along with hundreds of other businesses!

One way you can stay relevant it to show up routinely in the inbox.

A welcome campaign consists of a series of emails. With an option, of course, to opt-out at any time.

For example, when someone signs up for your awesome new product send a series of emails related to getting started with your product.

The first email can be a confirmation of the sign up and the next series of emails can include helpful tips & tricks to get that customer started.

Each of those emails should include links to other resources. Because people reference those emails again in the future!

Bonus — Higher average open rate

I don’t know about you, but I like for my content to be read.

Constant Contact put the open rate of welcome emails at 50–60% which is pretty darn high. Especially when you consider that the way email opens are tracked usually doesn’t work with Gmail.

Compare that to an average open rate of less than 10% for most newsletters.

That’s a captive audience!

In Summary

  1. Confirm a user’s intent with a welcome email
  2. Write emails for discoverability, they get saved
  3. Use a welcome email to validate addresses
  4. Try an email campaign