15 Tips for Welcome Email



Our last post, The Art of Email Sign Up: 18 Dos and Don’ts continues today with welcome email tips.

Optimize for the open

Send promptly

The welcome message is a type of triggered email, and as such, should fire when the context is hot. Ideally your welcome email arrives immediately, when the subscriber is in the mindset of receiving your email.

Of the 50 email lists I tested, 35 arrived the same day, 4 the next day (all within 24 hours). 6 e-tailers sent no welcome message, and an additional 2 have sent no message since sign-up (30 days since).

Use the word “Welcome”

Using Welcome in the subject line distinguishes the welcome message from other promotions. Ideally, this trigger word appears first.

A/B test your subject lines

The above advice can be challenged through A/B testing. Your conversion goal is a successful open (clicks and sales are related to message content), so experiment with persuasive subject lines, which may include offers, numbers or even colorful emoticons to stand out.

Ask for further engagement

Add to Safe List

Once the email has been opened, one action you certainly want subscribers to take is add you to their safe list. This should be prominent in every message, especially your first. Consider persuading with your value prop, and why they should never want to risk missing a message.

Ask for more information

Once you get the subscriber, you may ask for additional info you can use to personalize emails and the site experience. One way is to link to a preference center, like Threadless.

Another way is to encourage account creation. Target emphasizes the benefits of personalized shopping and faster checkout.

Ask for the social follow

Most retail emails use discreet social icons at the top or bottom of messages. The welcome email is an opportunity to ask for further engagement. Artistbe not only asks but incentivizes the social follow with an even better welcome offer than email subscribers:

Ask for app download

None of my test retailers used a prominent call-to-action to download the app. Considering more than half of email is opened on mobile, this is a huge missed opportunity.


Elicit warm fuzzies

Images have a powerful emotional effect, which is why they are so integral to branding. You may choose to use your welcome message as a glossy, magazine-style “ad” for your business, or use another type of hero shot (like the Target puppy above).

Reinforce your value proposition

Ideally your email sign up included reasons why subscribers should salivate every time you send a message, but the welcome email is also a great time to share.

Site-tour / tutorial

Though most ecommerce sites are straightforward, take time in the welcome email to explain how to make the most of your site, or highlight useful content sections and tools like product finders.

Promote your content marketing

Not all email has to be a sales pitch. Blogs, YouTube channels, eBooks, lookbooks – let ’em know!

This doesn’t need to be your primary call to action — Sherry’s Berries’ blog callout is a secondary CTA.

Tell a story

Site visitors that opt-in to email have an interest in your brand, and those that open your welcome email are especially interested – so tell them a story!

None of the emails I tested for this series had a strong welcome-email story, but one retailer Betabrand did have an incredible follow-up email that epitomizes email storytelling.

(This is not even the entire email content. See the rest here)



One of the most popular welcome tactics is the first purchase discount (or free gift).

It’s a great idea to time-limit the offer, as Chairish does below.

New arrivals

Chairish dovetails its first purchase offer with a call-to-action to the latest arrivals.

Selecting a single call to action (or limiting links to just a few) may have higher click through than mass-merchandising every category on your site in the welcome email. You may choose the home page section that gets the highest portion of clicks, whether for your site that’s New Arrivals, Best Sellers, Sale or Top Rated.

Put it all together

You don’t have to limit your welcome email to a single tactic. REI simply and cleanly lays out a number of calls to action, including customer service feedback.

Now that you’ve got ’em, they’re your subscriber to keep. But sometimes unsubscribes are inevitable. The concluding post in this series will cover how to maximize unsubscribe usability and opportunity. (Stay tuned)

Reprinted by permission.

Image credit: CC by Ged Carroll.

About the author: Linda Bustos

As Director of Ecommerce Research at Elastic Path, Linda Bustos works with some of the world’s largest companies to help improve conversion rates and profitability on the Web. In addition to writing the Get Elastic blog since 2007, Linda’s articles have appeared in Mobile Marketer, CMO Magazine, E-Marketing + Commerce, and Search Marketing Standard. She is a frequent speaker at industry events, including XCommerce, Conversion Conference, and Affiliate Management Days.

In 2010, Linda earned a spot on the DMNews Top 30 Direct Marketers Under 30 list. She has served as faculty for the Banff New Media Institute’s Career Accelerator Program and Marketing Profs University, and has appeared as one of the Top 100 Influential Marketers of the year in 2008 and 2009. Prior to joining Elastic Path, Linda worked agency-side, specializing in usability and SEO.

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