You rock up to a party. There’s a great vibe. Your kind of people. Someone invites you into a circle of like-minded peers. You shout “HELLO!”, wave enthusiastically, then disappear.
That’s the first impression you give when you ‘welcome’ people to your email list, without following up with any other juicy details about your business.
Here’s how you can switch things up and start making a better impression on your newest recruits.
What’s an automated email welcome sequence?
If you’ve got a list, you’ve probably set up an automated ‘HEY + prove you’re not a robot’ email. It’s the email equivalent of sticking a cute welcome mat at your front door. But, that’s all it’s doing. And it’s a missed opportunity. Big. Huge.
A welcome sequence goes beyond that first ‘hello’ and is a series of automated emails that are sent straight to your shiny, new email subscriber. The emails can trickle in within hours, or days, of getting your sign up. Before any of your regular scheduled email content kicks in, this sequence is what your newbie sees.
Why should I create a welcome sequence?
When a subscriber first signs up to your list, they’re expecting to hear from you. Which means, they’re more likely to open your email AND more like to engage.
You’ve got their attention. And that attention will fade fast, so by automating a sequence of emails you can give them flavour of why they should stick around and continue opening your email content.
When set up strategically, it can also serve as way to get people on your list that are in it for long-haul. If you kick things off with an overview of what your business is about, what you’re going to be sending them, and what you offer (products/services), they’re better equipped to decide whether to stick around (and be a warm lead for you) or leave. Don’t be afraid of being upfront, setting expectations (here you’ll get exclusive offers/first dibs at launches/weekly news), because in doing so you will attract and repel the right people.
How long should my welcome sequence be?
There is no set number to follow. I’ve seen all sorts of shapes and sizes, but most fall somewhere in the range of 2-8 emails. The way I judge it and shape the welcome story with my clients is by asking – how much have you really got to say?
If you have lots of strong content ready to roll, an evergreen product/service you want to push, and a community page over on social, you could fill a 5+ email sequence with no trouble.
But, if you feel like you’re trying to hit a set number because a trusted expert told you to, leaving you sat there synonyming the crap out of the word ‘Welcome’, then less is more my friend.
A common mistake I see is cramming TOO much information into one email. If you find yourself featuring multiple messages/call to actions or it’s running too long, then start chopping it up and turning each new idea into its own standalone email.
Swipe this fool-proof welcome sequence
A templated sequence I like to kick things off with, looks a little bit like:
EMAIL 1: Welcome
Content: Warm welcome to the list/community. Short and to the point.
Call to action: An ‘opt in’ or ‘confirmation’ link to validate your new subscriber.
EMAIL 2: Teaser
Content: Confirming the sign up + a teaser of what’s to come now you’re an ‘insider’ eg. This is where I will be sharing the latest offers/content/early-bird event tickets etc. Remind them why they should stick around.
Call to action: Website URL/offer
EMAIL 3: Free content
Content: Share something for FREE. This does vary business to business, but you get off on the right foot if you GIVE before you TAKE. This is a great spot in your sequence to share a nugget of wisdom in the form of a blog post/how to tutorial/piece of game-changing advice.
Call to action: Article URL/invite conversation around the topic
EMAIL 4: Sell
Content: A chance to introduce product/services. And before you think it’s too soon, your ideal customer will know this is coming – so if a shudder of ‘ickiness’ goes down your spine, shrug it off. I wouldn’t start pushing a high-ticket service/product here, think an entry-level-dipping-their-toe-in-the-water product. For service-providers this might look like a Power Hour consultation. For an ecommerce biz you might want to give them a flavour of your best-sellers. Or if you don’t want to sell an actual thing (service or product) use this email to sell yourself. Ask a question to spark a conversation and let the selling part slide and instead focus on connection.
Call to action: Your offer
EMAIL 5: Another voice
Content: Introduce a new voice. A testimonial. A podcast feature. A third-party who can add that social proof that you really know your stuff and are worth hanging out with.
Call to action: Case study/content
What happens after the welcome sequence?
Think of your welcome sequence as your prospect initiation. If you’ve done it right, you’ve warmed them up and piqued their interest. They may have also unsubscribed at some point along the sequence, and that’s totally OK – do you really want them on your list anyway fudging up your numbers and laying low?
Your welcome sequence should be an integral cog in your big-picture email strategy. It needs to set the scene, set realistic expectations of the type of content they have signed up for and then – and I can’t stress this enough – follow through.
Here's my Jerry Springer-style final thoughts on welcome sequences.
Your welcome sequence in your warm-up act to the main event and I see so many business owners stressing about nailing the welcome sequence without investing time/resource in delivering consistent email content. It needs to feed into your big-picture email marketing plan for it to serve its purpose.
Keep it up-to-date, keep reviewing and tweaking it, and keep it working hard for you.
Need help with your email marketing strategy?