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Conversion Rate Optimization

How to craft a welcome email series that sells

An effective welcome email series will deepen customer relationships and drive sales.

Unfortunately, many brands do not make the most of the opportunity to craft a truly excellent welcome campaign. In this guide, we explore why investing in a welcome series will provide an excellent return on marketing investment. We then highlight best practices and break down examples from leading eCommerce stores.

If you'd like to skip straight to the examples, click here

Benefits of welcome emails

After cart abandonment campaigns, welcome email series are the greatest opportunity for brands to increase revenue. 

Investing in excellent welcome emails is worth it. The major benefits include increased engagement, mail delivery, and profits.

1. Subscribers who interact with welcome messages buy more

Subscribers are most engaged right after they sign up. 

In fact, this excellent study by Return Path shows that subscribers who engage with a welcome series purchase up to 62.23% more than those who did not.

This mirrors what we see in RFM analysis, where customers who just bought an item are actually most likely to engage with after sales offers than a behavioral segment which did not buy an item.

Subscribers who engage with a welcome series purchase up to 62.23% more than those who did from Return Path

2. Welcome emails have higher open rates than most other triggered email types

Likewise, welcome emails benefit from having much higher open rates.

While studies vary, some place welcome email open rates at 50%! In our own study, we consistently found triggered emails (including welcome emails) perform. 

In fact, for the past five years, we've seen average conversion rates from triggered email campaigns exceed 15%!

3. Welcome emails keeps you out of spam folders

List hygiene is imperative for brands that want to use email as a marketing channel. 

Keeping the contact list engaged aids in keeping your emails out of spam folders. Welcome emails allow you to quickly identify accounts that have incorrect addresses.

Welcome email series best practices: How to create a successful campaign

Below, we explore best practices for your welcome series. 

Like other triggered email campaigns, welcome series emails need to be personalized. A personalized email is sent at the right time and carries a relevant message to the reader. 

1. Send an opt-in confirmation immediately

The first email in a welcome email series ought to be an immediate auto-triggered email on sign up. 

This allows you to confirm opt-in immediately. 

2. Confirm opt-in

Requiring opt-in keeps bots from being subscribed to your lit. 

Additionally, it serves as an important hurdle. Subscribers who take the time to confirm opt-in are expressing they are truly interested in your brand. Taking the action also increases the likelihood of future engagement.

3. Delete email subscribers whose email bounced

When a new subscriber submits an invalid email, you should delete that contact.

This not only helps limit ESP expenses. It also improves your engagement metrics and curtails being placed in spam.

4. Set expectations

Within your welcome email series, you should set expectations for future emails. 

  • Email frequency - How often will subscribers hear from you? The truth is, any number of frequencies work if communicated well and value is provided.  We've covered before how Holla uses daily deals in their retention marketing strategy to drive repeat purchases.
  • Types of content - Further, subscribers should know what types of content they will receive. Types of content include promotions, news, events, contests, as well as format, rich media, or ongoing series.
  • Value proposition - Finally, it should be clearly communicated how the reader will benefit from continuing to interact with your brand. Importantly, the welcome series ought to set the tone for how they will be rewarded.  

4. Offer choices for personalization

Content personalization, ideally based on previous behaviors the reader took, should be utilized to create compelling offers.

However, often you don't have enough information about customers when they first opt-in. One excellent way to insure relevancy in these scenarios is to offer choices for email personalization.

Amazon is an excellent example.

They've grouped their email communication by both domain and frequency. At any time, customers can let Amazon know exactly what types of products they are interested in hearing about - and how often. 

5. Drive sales with embedded offers

Similarly, within your welcome series, you should make explicit offers.

Newcomer benefits, one time deals, and exclusive products are all excellent ways to initiate a customer relationship. 

Welcome email series examples

1. How Sephora deepens customer loyalty with their welcome email campaign

Sephora is a titan in eCommerce. 

As of 2020, Sephora operates 1,970 stores worldwide and has built one of the most effective omnichannel retailing strategies, recently pioneering Instagram's checkout experience.

Despite COVID's effect on brands with large retail footprints, Sephora actually gained market share through "unprecedented success of its online sales...(the) inventiveness and the effectiveness of its omni-channel strategy."

All brands can learn a lot from Sephora. Below, I've gathered their welcome series emails, with some notes below. 

Welcome series example email #1

Inclusive yet scarce centered copy

Everything about Sephora's copy is inclusive. 

They make you feel a part of something. First, they've named their program "Beauty Insider". 

The leading body sentence is " Hey Stephan, you're in the club."

In fact, just above the fold they manage to say the word "welcome" 3 times, "insider" or "inside"  twice, and variations of insider like club, family, community, and member.

Communicates the types of content they will receive

Sephora does an excellent job underlining the benefits of inclusion.

The center message reads: "'ll get rewards for shopping, a gift on your birthday, and did we mention free Beauty Classes?"

They follow this up with a fantastic benefit graph. The image quickly communicates the number of benefits customers receive by becoming insiders while at the same time communicating additional benefits by becoming a full "VIB" or "ROUGE" member.

Embedded Offers

Finally, Sephora has two clear call to actions.

The fist is a simple Shop Now prompt.

And the second is a personalized product recommendation widget offering various Best Sellers I may be interested in. 

Welcome series example email #2

Following the theme of inclusivity, the second welcome series email is all about invitation to other channels.

Welcome email #2 Subject Line

Welcome series subject line: "You're in. Connect with us @Sephora".

The subject line confirms successful enrollment in the program, and opens the invitation to connect. As we'll see, the main objective of this intermediate step is maximize touch points with the new customer.

Connect to brand channels: developing Sephora's omnichannel strategy

The main thrust of the email is to get email subscribers on additional channels.

There are several invites, including to Instagram, Youtube, and their own native app. 

2. How Nike introduces new customer's to membership benefits.

Nike provides another excellent example of how to bring first time customers closer to your brand. 

Their welcome email sequence consists of four emails, before blending in with their regular nurture campaigns. While we won't cover all of them, I do want to highlight some special tactics they use.

1. Generating repeat purchases with time centered benefits

Nike celebrates members on their birthday, giving them a fantastic discount of 20%. These types of rewards are helpful to bring new visitors back to your site.

Not only does it setup a future email celebrating their birthday, but it helps lower improve overall customer lifetime value.

2. Adopting to customer behavior: tying online engagement with offline purchases

Both Nike and Sephora do a great job inviting customers to other channels.  As part of Nike's omnichannel approach, they've layered in benefits of being a member to the retail store experience.

They make sure to highlight this benefit early and often. Above is an excerpt from their second email in their welcome campaign. 

Noticing that customers increasingly research online and purchase offline, they've built functionality into their app to support this user behavior. 

Next steps....

This post showcased email series examples - detailing best practices to make your own campaigns successful.

Welcome series represent one part of a suite of tactics known as triggered emails. 

If you'd like to learn more about how to use triggered emails to drive conversions, and if Barilliance is the right technology partner for you, request a demo here

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