Welcome Emails: How to Get Off to a Great Start

By Blake Miller


The first communication with a new subscriber is one of the most important messages you’ll send during the customer lifecycle. Here’s why customers respond to them — and how you can make sure your timing, content and format deliver a killer first impression.

Congrats! Another customer is about to receive a Welcome email from your team. Once again, you’ve accomplished one of the most challenging and important aspects of the marketing lifecycle — acquiring a willing recipient of your information.

Now, you must make the most of this one-time opportunity. It’s time to make a killer first impression.

Why Welcomes Matter

According to the 2015 State of Marketing Report, Welcome emails continue their reign as one of the top performing types of emails. 72% of marketers rank them as being highly effective. What makes them so successful?

First, they demonstrate you’re listening and grateful for the value exchange. Welcome emails produce open and click through rates four times higher than most other types of emails, and 74% of consumers expect to receive one once they’ve subscribed. Customers clearly appreciate and anticipate the acknowledgement.

Welcome emails also serve as timely reminders for what the subscriber signed up for. With 54% of consumers subscribing to over 20 brands, it is easy to understand why they may have short-term memory.

And finally, Welcome emails are a great opportunity to set the stage for what recipients can expect to receive in the future. They are the opportunity for subscribers to update their preferences, opt into additional content, and tailor information received to their specific needs and interests. The payoff? A better customer experience, and a more complete profile you can use going forward.

3 Key Elements of an Effective Welcome Message

Although sending Welcome emails is critical, three factors — Timing, Personalization, and Mobile-Optimized Design — heavily influence their success. Here’s what you must consider when it comes to each.

1. Timing is Everything

Not only do subscribers anticipate a Welcome message, they expect it soon. The ability to detect entry triggers such as first-time purchases, newsletter registrations, point-of-sale opt-ins, or virtually any other digital signal provide the opportunity for an immediate, automated response using a preconfigured content framework.

Automation Studio is an easy-to-use, drag-and-drop tool for automating sends. Here it is configured to detect new registrants who are immediately entered into the Welcome series.

A well-timed welcome also lays the groundwork for the remainder of the sequenced campaign. Each email in the series — which may span several weeks or months — should have a specific goal. For example, you may ask them to enhance their profiles or incentivize them to ‘like’ or ‘friend’ your brand on social channels.

2. Personalization is a Must

There are tangible benefits to personalizing Welcome emails. 84% of marketers report it positively impacts customer loyalty and retention — but only 18% consider orchestrating a personalized customer experience to be a top priority. Why the disconnect?

It requires a coordinated effort to provide personalized, unique customer experiences with an emphasis on creating the optimal journey for each individual customer. Companies need access to real-time data, tools to predict customer behavior, and technology that enables them to respond on those insights.

Diesel is a great example of a company that has acted on this requirement. Diesel has long been a leading pioneer in denim and casual fashion, known for moving outside and ahead of trends in its industry. Since its creation in 1978, Diesel has experienced extraordinary growth, leading innovation in the fashion industry and becoming a true alternative to the established luxury market. A long-time leader in the fashion revolution, Diesel is now quickly becoming a leader in real-time, personalized digital marketing.

With a 1.5 billion dollar global brand and a three-person ecommerce team to support it, Diesel understood the importance of more effectively leveraging their limited time and resources. They had visions of creating an intuitive, customer-centric online shopping environment, but their data was sparse, stored in multiple places, and difficult to organize. Additionally, the data they had was retroactive — it revealed details about past purchase behavior, but did not help inform user intent or predict future consumer behavior.

On November 1, 2013, Diesel made a significant change in they way they conducted their online business by investing in the Salesforce Marketing Cloud to support their automated email marketing and Predictive Intelligence initiatives.

Diesel recognized their need to be smarter about how consumer data insights were collected so they could create more meaningful, personalized offers that, in turn, helped nurture loyal customer relationships.

The Salesforce Marketing Cloud enabled Diesel to establish a series of automated emails (e.g., welcome series, abandoned cart responses) that were triggered by online customer interactions and established a more personalized relationship with each customer.

The true magic though, came from Diesel’s use of Salesforce Marketing Cloud’s Predictive Intelligence capabilities. With Predictive Intelligence, Diesel is able to collect a more granular level of customer data than ever before. This data helps them determine how each customer interacts with the website and how those interactions influence purchasing behavior. Armed with these insights, Diesel is then able to provide personalized product recommendations based on real-time consumer activity.

“Essentially, Predictive Intelligence does the job of personal merchandising on our behalf,” explains Dasha Gastol, Digital Marketing Manager. Gastol also admits that automation is the key to success for Diesel. “With such a small ecommerce team, we’d never be able to sift through all our granular data and actually do something productive with it.”

Once Predictive Intelligence technology was introduced online, Diesel began using it in email communications as well. “These communications really resonate with our consumers,” Gastol says. “We create a seamless experience when their online behavior is reflected in their personalized messaging. That’s pretty powerful.”

For Diesel, real-time data is changing the retail game. When customer data is instantly actionable, personalized messaging is more impactful. “We can immediately send a t-shirt recommendation that complements the leather jacket a customer just purchased,” explains Gastol. “Timing is everything in that situation.”

The Salesforce Marketing Cloud has helped Diesel change their marketing focus. Now, instead of marketing to a group of similar consumers, they cater to every individual customer.

The intuitive interface of the Salesforce Marketing Cloud enables Diesel’s ecommerce team to more easily visualize, access, and respond to the customer journey. They’re better able to listen to customer cues, and the rich data from their consumers’ online behavior drives all their personalized marketing content.

Diesel is able to create one email template that is distributed to millions of customers, but at the time of open, Salesforce Marketing Cloud technology renders automated predictive content, thus personalizing each individual email. In addition, Diesel can optimize their sends in real-time based on their predictive analytics.

The combination of triggered emails and personalized content has resulted in some impressive statistics for Diesel. Benefits include an increase in sales conversion rates by 15–25%, increase in click-through rates by 25–35%, decrease in opt-outs and unsubscribes, and achievement of a higher subscriber engagement score.

With every open, click, purchase or search, customers provide valuable insights into their preferences. The Predictive Intelligence Engine consumes both implicit and explicit customer behavior, in real time, in order to build a profile of preferences for every customer.

3. A Winning Mobile Optimized Design

More than ever, it’s critical to deliver a seamless customer experience across channels and devices. While today’s marketers clearly understand the importance — 70% of those surveyed consider mobile marketing to be a critical enabler of their products and services — email conversion rates on smartphones are about half of what they are on desktops. The culprit? Poor mobile design.

Although rapidly changing, some marketers still send emails that are desktop centric. The content is optimized for viewing on large monitors and has small, tightly clustered links and buttons well suited to mouse clicks, not fingertips. These designs require mobile users to zoom and swipe left and right as well as up and down to interact with emails. The user experience is far from ideal.

Great content drives action — and Marketing Cloud makes it easier than ever to create inspiring messages. With our brand-new, user-friendly content editor, you can design and build intelligent content with drag-and-drop smart content blocks and mobile-optimized templates.

But with the Salesforce Marketing Cloud, marketers no longer have to choose between emails that are optimized for particular screen resolutions or a desktop. The platform’s email features include drag-and-drop templates to create a single email that serves both needs. The layout automatically adjusts to accommodate attributes such as columns, images, and buttons based on the device in the user’s hands at the time of receipt. The result is email messaging that not only looks great, but functions as intended.

A Positive First Impression

Welcome emails are the first step toward what is hopefully a long and rewarding journey with your subscribers. By using automated triggers for timely responses…predictive content for a personalized experience…and solid mobile design strategies, you’re sure to make a great first impression!

Blake Miller is Director Product Marketing, Salesforce Marketing Cloud with 20 years experience in the Media and Internet Industries. He earned an MBA from DePaul and a BA from Baylor. The Austin native now resides in Indianapolis.


Want to learn more? Download 5 Blueprints for Building Smarter Emails for proven tips delivering the right content, at the right time, throughout the customer lifecycle.

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