Welcome emails are the Daryl Dixon of lifecycle email marketing. Soft-spoken, sometimes overlooked yet always kicking ass.
The success of your onboarding flow relies heavily on the first few touches. The welcome email should be actionable, informative and clear. The examples in this post cover a range of approaches. Some might work great for your business, other might not. Testing, as always, is highly encouraged.
The Purpose of Welcome Emails
One important thing to remember about welcome emails is that open and click rates are the wrong metrics to measure. Of course, you’ll want to tweak subject lines and body copy to maximize impact but the real purpose the welcome email is to move users through your onboarding process. The next step, depending on your software, blog, store, etc. could be encouraging users to complete their profile, download something, read your docs or something else entirely. Whatever that step is, it must deliver value.
The metric to measure is the conversion rate. How many people took the step you asked them to take?
With this in mind, let’s dive into the examples.
Uncertainty is a conversion killer. New users usually want to know how your product or service works before diving in. This Airbnb email alievates anxiety by providing an overview the booking process. Then, instead of asking people to “Book Now”, it prompts them to “Search Now”. It’s non-commital and friction-free.
Amazon is massive company. Sure, it’s mostly based on e-commerce but their welcome email needs to tell new users about other things too. For example, there’s a big emphasis on digital content in this email, probably because the margins are higher than physical products.
Think strategically about the call to action in your welcome email. Instead of driving customers towards popular products or content, drive them to high margin products and high converting content.
Read way more about Amazon’s use of email marketing here.
Basecamp’s singular goal in this email is to get the user signed in. They trust that the product will sell itself. The email is simply a bridge from the inbox to the app. If your product is great, that’s all you need.
They mention in the email that 1.5 million other organizations are using Basecamp. That’s a massive number and a great use of social proof.
The emphasis on taking action is what makes this Beatrix email work. The brief introduction tees up the call to action: Create a “New Assistant”.
Creating the assistant is what will actually make the software valuable to the user. The sooner that happens, the sooner a free trial user becomes a paying customer.
Now known as Macropod, this welcome email from founder Alan Downie is personal and simple. It sets the tone for the kind of experience you can expect when using the product. It might seem counterintuitive at first but this is one of the best ways to brand yourself to new users because of how it makes them feel … like they are a person, not a “user”.
Buzzsumo takes a similar approach with their plain-text welcome message. The difference, however, is that Buzzsumo is focusing on getting product feedback. They offer a number of ways to get in touch, which is key to getting people to “convert” on their goal.
Ello’s welcome email aligns perfectly with the rest of their branding … a unique typeface, lots of white space and little copy. The Ello experience is the same in the email as it is on the site. The welcome email bridges that gap nicely.
There’s a lot going on this welcome email from Fab but they make it work by making the email look great – the design is really beautiful – and using upbeat copy. Just look at some of the words they use:
- “discover fun, colorful products”
- “Smiles. Guaranteed.”
- “We promise you will love your Fab purchase.”
Overall, it’s a nice experience and there are a number of ways to engage with the site directly from this email.
The 1-2-3 formula is a good one for welcome emails. Just like the Airbnb example above, Goodreads show the user how easy it is to get started. The 1-2-3 formula is easy for readers to digest and, when done well, reduces anxiety about using a new product.
This is perhaps the most functional welcome email I’ve ever seen. iDoneThis users receive a daily email that looks almost exactly like this one. Replying with the tasks you accomplished that day adds your “dones” to your calendar. The welcome email explains how this works then gives you the opportunity to try it right away.
If your software requires that users download something, it’s imperative that they take action as soon as possible. Without that download, your product is worthless to them. This email could emphasize the download more but overall, I like the way it’s broken into sections with brief instructions accompanying each.
12. Inbox by Gmail
Because Inbox is a new concept to most users, Gmail has taken the “FAQ” approach to their welcome email. It’s likely that some users still don’t quite understand how it works. The video, along with the six questions and answers, make it clear how the product works and gets users excited to try it out.
This is as simple as the 1-2-3 approach gets. JustUnfollow uses as few words as possible to describe what users need to do and links to the appropriate places in their app. Often, less is more and that’s definitely the case here.
14. Lonely Planet
This is the first example featuring a coupon code. This a popular and easy way to encourage new customers to take action. Lonely Planet does a nice job building exciting in the intro paragraph, then incentivizing immediate action with the coupon code.
Like the Basecamp example above, Squarespace is confident that their product will do the selling for them. Their welcome email focuses entirely on getting new users signed in and the customer service plug at the end is like a safety net for people who might be intimated by the process.
Yet another example of the popular 1-2-3 method, this Strava email does a great job explaining what the app does and why users should use it. It fails, however, to include a strong call to action. A button asking users to login or record their first workout would make it near-perfect.
As we’ve said all along, you need to understand how your users get value so you can move them in the right direction. For SumAll, the key is getting new folks to connect other services so the data collection can begin. The contrasting colors and the strong copy make the call to action extremely effective.
This welcome email is remarkably similar to the SumAll email in that new users must take action to get value from the product. Without adding funds, the service is simply worthless. Waiving the fee is just like using a coupon code to incentive action.
For some reason, huge companies often think they need huge emails. They don’t. In fact, the customers would be better served by short, actionable emails. This welcome email from Target is too busy but it does a few things right:
- Uses positive, upbeat copy.
- Offers savings in exchange for immediate action.
- Has a picture of a dog. (Any excuse to use a picture of a dog, cat, koala bear or baby is a good one.)
Disclaimer: I wrote this email, but I really do think it’s good.
This is the email people got when they signed up for our holiday email course. The goal was to get them to spread the word, so we made sharing as easy as possible. We employed Noah Kagan’s Samuel L. Jackson email hack, which you can read more about here.
This email is welcoming users to Zapier‘s free plan, meaning their trial has expired. I like it because it’s turning what could be the end of the customer lifecycle into the beginning of something new and exciting. If you have an excuse to turn a negative event into a positive one, take advantage of it.
Any tips for welcome emails you’d like to share? Let us know in the comments.