The Gist: Your email welcome series is your chance to take advantage of a new email subscriber's excitement and interest.
Is yours worthy of the job? Let's see!
In this post we're looking at everything you need to rock your new subscriber onboarding with an email welcome funnel:
- The benefits of email sequences
- Best practices for your welcome email
- How to write your welcome sequence
- How to set up a welcome sequence in ConvertKit
Now let's get into it!
Note: Some links in this post are affiliate links. So if you decide to buy anything, I'll receive a commission at no cost to you. Thanks in advance!
When I first got started with email marketing, I was only sending newsletters, which is a great start.
I would send out a newsletter every other week, with no automation in between.
Not bad, right?
But once I started getting new subscribers consistently in between newsletters, I realized what this was like for my audience.
I was sending newsletters every 14 days and gaining 5-10 new subscribers per day.
That meant if someone sat and binge read my blog for hours and downloaded a free resource or training and became totally obsessed with me, aka ultimate goals, they wouldn’t hear from me again for up to 13 days.
At 10 subscribers per day, there’d regularly be up to 70 subscribers waiting a week to hear from me again after first opting in.
That’s a LOT of missed opportunities to further win those people over, and turn new acquaintances of my businesses into total BFFs. By the time they finally heard from me with my brilliant, brilliant emails, they cared about me WAY less than when they first signed up.
I wasn’t taking advantage of that momentum from when new subscribers first started throwing heart eyes my way and signed up for my email list.
Back then, it probably took wayyy longer than necessary to build a close relationship with my email audience. Sure, it eventually happened, but with a good welcome email series we could have really sped up the process, helped them more, and grown my business faster.
All I can say now is “you live and you learn.” ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
…And teach you how to set your own sequence up right away, of course!
This is a monster blog post I have for you today, so if you’d prefer to watch instead of read, here’s a shorter version:
What is a Welcome Email Series?
A welcome email series is an email marketing sequence someone automatically gets right when they first sign up for your email list.
Any email marketing software worth its Salt n Pepa will let you create a welcome autoresponder, even if it doesn’t have lots of fancy automation tools. Even free tools often let you set up one account-wide welcome sequence. Personally, I use ConvertKit, but I’ll get more into the details of that that later.
A welcome series is simple.
A welcome email sequence is the first thing new subscribers get from you. Make it BFF-worthy.
It’s about getting personal, continuing momentum that’s already there, building a relationship, and setting the groundwork for an amazing long-term customer and BFF of your business.
It’s simpler than a sales funnel email sequence and can be used alongside a dedicated funnel, where subscribers receive one and then the other.
BUT if you haven’t worked out the exact funnels for your business yet, you can still use an email welcome series to gain new customers and nurture followers until they become customers.
In fact, one of the most important times to have a really stellar welcome sequence set up is when you DON’T have a sales funnel or any email marketing automation running yet.
It’s 100% the first email automation any online business should set up.
That way, you have a “bare minimum automation” running while you learn more about your customers and further develop your marketing enough to build out things like more complicated sales funnels.
An awesome welcome sequence is the first email marketing automation every business should set up
The Benefits of Welcome Sequences
Why are welcome sequences SO awesome that you should postpone working on your sales funnel – the thing EVERY marketing expert can’t stop talking about – to get one running ASAP?
You build momentum from your initial conversion
When someone’s recently engaged with your content, especially in a way that requires making a commitment the way forking over an email address does, that’s a sign that they’re super interested in it.
But they’re interested in it NOW.
If you don’t email them again for weeks, that interest fades.
They get distracted by other things. By the time you pop up in their inbox, they still like you, but less actively. That email may or may not get opened since they’ve moved onto thinking about other things.
But when you email them again right away, and then again shortly after that, and then again shortly after that, you’re giving your new subscriber new things to engage with frequently enough that their interest won’t fade so fast.
Instead, you just keep throwing more awesome emails they’ll love, making THEM love YOU, and becoming long-term BFFs with your business.
An email welcome sequence lets you build on the momentum of someone’s initial opt-in. Here's how to write a good one.
You can get to know new subscribers
I’ll talk more about this later, but your welcome email series should provide a way for you to learn more about new subscribers.
For example, the first email in a series is commonly something asking a question and prompting the subscriber to reply back.
It seems simple and natural – which it is. But it’s also EXTREMELY strategic.
- Replying is a new action that engages and actives your subscribers *even* further, and the more engaged, the better for the long-term.
- You can learn important things about your audience to help you shape your products, positioning, and future marketing – and get the insights to design those coveted sales funnels.
With this running on autopilot and asking subscribers questions, you get a constant, automatic stream of audience insights. And I mean, that’s gold.
They can get to know you
Your welcome series is also a great chance for new subscribers to get to know you.
Total bonding fest all around.
They directly get to know your business when you include something like an email laying out your brand story in your email sequence, or when you share your social media profiles and old content that contains more details about you.
But dripping out a lot of content to new subscribers right away also lets them get to know you indirectly as well through your writing. They get to know your brand voice, style, etc.
Take the connection further
Someone’s making a pretty big commitment when they sign up for your email list, compared to other ways of connecting, like a social media follow. We tend to allow way fewer people into our inbox space than our social media feeds.
That connection is worth so much, but you still want to take it further. The more platforms you can connect with your audience on, the better.
There are tons of calls-to-action you can use in welcome emails, and welcome content themes you can cover in them, that it’s easy to connect with your email subscribers everywhere else they hang out online.
Use your welcome series to:
- Gain YouTube subscribers
- Get subscribers using branded hashtags on Instagram and Twitter
- Earn new likes for your Facebook page
- Find new attendees for your Twitter chat
…You get the picture.
Guide new friends to old content
Finally, a welcome autoresponder that repurposes content lets you build your own “Greatest Hits” sequence.
These people getting your welcome emails are brand new to your brand – they’ve likely seen very little, if any, of your own content.
But if you’re like most businesses using content marketing, you’ve dropped a ton of awesome knowledge in the past that’s still super relevant to your audience. Your new subscribers will WANT to know about it, for their own good.
So use your welcome sequence to drive subscribers to your older, best and brightest pieces of content.
Use your welcome sequence to drive subscribers to your older, best, and brightest pieces of content.
Whether that’s blog posts, YouTube videos, infographics, livestreams, etc. – any piece of content people really loved in the past is a great topic for an email in your welcome sequence.
I talk about multiple ways to repurpose blog posts for your email marketing strategy right here:
Want to repurpose your own old blog posts into a welcome sequence? Download my free content repurposing worksheet for help strategically mapping it out.
Now, don’t you see that these are SO awesome?! Let's get to talking about how to write a good welcome sequence, because that's the only way they work.
Best Practices for Your Welcome Emails
But before you drop everything (don’t drop your laptop or cell phone, please ) and go create yours, keep in mind that there’s gotta be some strategy and intention behind it. Like everything great in marketing!
So before you dive in, keep the following in mind:
I mean, I could say this for your overall brand voice – I do love a good, casual brand voice.
But even if you normally take on a more formal tone, now would be the time to get as casual as your brand ever does. Your voice in a “getting to know you” email should be a little less buttoned-up than in an “official” newsletter email.
Why is that?
Again, the whole point of these emails is to build a close and personal relationship between your brand and its subscribers.
You know how you get personal? By talking like one person talks to another person.
Plus, it’s a great idea to use your welcome emails to get people replying to you and having a literal conversation. To have a conversation, you need to be conversational.
I know, I’m blowing your mind with this advanced, complicated knowledge.
Keep each email focused
Again, we’re not writing newsletters here.
It’s okay for a newsletter or regular email to bounce around a bit as long as it all stays within a theme. After all, you only send newsletters now and then – like every week or every month – so dropping a few things at once isn’t overwhelming.
But welcome emails get sent way closer together than newsletters, so throwing five things at a time to your subscriber in each of them is MAJOR content overload.
It’s just too much.
Think of your overall welcome series as ONE piece of content, instead of thinking about each email individually. The series overall can span multiple topics, but each section (or individual email) should then stay nice and tight.
Email marketing tip: Think of your welcome email series as one piece of content instead of individual emails
Don’t ask for people to read four blog posts and follow you on three social media channels, all in ONE email.
Oh God, no, don’t do that.
Instead, that’s, like, a whole welcome series right there.
Mind the email order
Think carefully about how you order the different emails in your sequence.
This has two parts.
Of course, drip information out in the order that people need it.
If one email talks about how your story impacts how you run your business, you need to have already told them about your story. If you’re sharing some press coverage or reviews of your best products, it’ll help if you’ve already shown them your best products.
Then on another level, be aware of how people tend to interact with email sequences.
They’re most engaged at the beginning when they’ve just subscribed to your list (after all, that’s why we’re doing this). These emails help people stay engaged but realize they WILL start to drop off.
The emails at the end of your autoresponder will be seen by a lot fewer people than the ones in the beginning. That’s just how it is. So you might not want to put the most important email in your sequence last.
String your series together
Like I mentioned earlier, it helps to think of your whole autoresponder as one big “thing.” Like a TV show season with each email being an episode (you should know by my #gifgame how I love TV ).
And you know how helpful those “Previously on…” blurbs at the beginning of TV episodes are? SO helpful.
(Especially on Jane the Virgin – that show has the BEST voiceover!)
Your emails need something similar to string the story together and catch your reader up to speed with each email. Remind them what happened last time before moving on to your story. Explain what the last email has to do with the next one.
All it takes is a simple sentence or two.
For example, you can put a simple transition like this at the beginning of your email:
“In my last email, I talked about what repurposing content is. Now that you know, let’s talk about why it matters…”
Or, at the end of each email, tease what’s coming up next:
“That’s all for today! Look out for my next email to learn how you can create a whole new welcome sequence from repurposing one blog post.”
Don’t space the emails out too far apart
A lot of people have really complicated spacing and cadences for email sequences.
Stuff like “wait 1 day between these two emails, then 12 hours before the next one, then 2 days, 3 hours, 32 minutes, and 10 seconds before sending out the next one.
It doesn't need to be that complicated though.
Don’t worry about spacing too much, you just want to find a good balance between consistent but occasional.
Depending on how many emails are in your welcome series, I like to send the messages either every day or every 1-2 days.
A shorter sequence can make great daily content for 4-5 days, but daily emails can be a lot the longer they go on. Instead, that’s when you might consider spacing them out more so that you’re checking in every few days over a longer term.
Use with other email sequences
By combining this automated email sequence with other ones, like a sales funnel or automated newsletters, you can build a long-term, passive engagement strategy with your subscribers.
A welcome sequence is especially great if you have more than one product with a sales funnel.
When someone opts into your mail list NOT through a sales funnel, you can use your welcome sequence to promote those offers and guide people into funnels where you can convert them.
What to Say In Your Welcome Series
Now it’s time for the good stuff! So you’re going to write a welcome sequence – what should these emails actually be about?
Honestly, it depends. I know, that’s sometimes a sucky answer to hear.
But what you want to write in your welcome sequence will depend on stuff like:
- Whether you sell products or services
- How many products or services you sell
- If you have other sales funnel
And a whole lotta complicated stuff like that.
So instead of laying out an EXACT series for your sequence, I’m going to start with the staples you can build onto.
These five ideas can each be their own email, multiple emails, or two (for example, the first and second ideas I suggest) combined into one message.
Take these and complement them with other email content ideas that are more specific to your niche and audience, and you’ve got a strong as hell relationship builder!
If you're ready to tackle your welcome sequence but know you're not the strongest writer, download my free content skeleton worksheet to help you break down the writing process!
Just say “hey”
First of all, every welcome sequence should start with introducing yourself.
Drop a note saying “hi” and introducing your business a bit before moving onto other stuff.
This can be a longer email going into your brand story and creating an emotional connection. For example, explaining why you got into graphic design before going on to talk about your specific services in other emails.
This can be a *super* quick note that’s all, “Hi, here I am, who are you?”
This is the tactic I like, and not because the email’s short. I like it because it prompts your audience to respond and share themselves with you. This creates a connection right off the bat and gets you great audience insights on the new people joining your email list.
Ask a question
If you don’t ask a question to prompt some engagement in that first email, you def want to do it in other emails.
Like I talked about earlier, getting people really engaged is crucial, and getting them talking helps you understand your audience in order to serve them best.
It’s like wins all around.
At any point in your autoresponder, you can send a dedicated email asking a question about:
- What they’re currently up to or working on
- A struggle they’ve had
- Their current daydreams
Or anything else that helps you better meet their needs.
You can also tie engagement questions into emails on other topics. Like in your introduction email, prompt subscribers to reply and introduce themselves. Or at the end of any other email, include a question asking for their thoughts on the topic.
Connect on social media
You also want to send an email or two driving email subscribers to engage with you on OTHER platforms.
They likely joined your list through your website, but you’re dishing out greatness all over the internet. Facebook. Twitter. Instagram. YouTube.
Anywhere your business is being awesome online, make sure your subscribers know about it.
A lot of welcome sequences will include an email listing out the business’s social media profiles with invitations to connect with them. This is a great start! Even better is one or two emails dedicated to individual social networks.
We talked about staying focused before, right?
Try going into the specific value provide for an individual platform with a single, strong call-to-action to connect there.
Repurpose your greatest hits
Next, you’ll want to make sure you’re sending new subscribers to old content. This means emails repurposing old blog posts, videos, podcast episodes etc.
I talked about this earlier.
If someone just joined your email list, they probably found out about your business pretty recently. That means they haven’t read that completely, ridiculously amazing blog post you wrote six months ago. I like to call these your Greatest Hits.
Either repurpose the content from some of your best pieces in the emails of your welcome sequence or use the emails to drive traffic back to the original pieces themselves.
This is a great way to consistently drive traffic to these posts, and it shows your expertise and authority to new subscribers. They see your best stuff and build their impression of your business based on that.
Remind people how to pay you
Finally, while the *primary* purpose of your welcome email series isn’t to drive sales, you still want to make it possible. Just like, “oh, here’s how you can gimme money…”
You are still running a business, after all. 💁🏻♀️
So please remember to include reminders of your products or services!
You don’t even need to hard sell.
The two ways I see lots of people “gently push” subscribers a welcome sequence are pretty much:
- Including a single email about products and services with a call-to-action to learn more elsewhere.
- Including a P.S. in each email with a quick link to your services or sales page.
I like both, and as a subscriber, both have been enough to get me to convert as a customer, even without a “hard” sales funnel.
How to Set Up a Welcome Email Series in ConvertKit
Like I mentioned earlier, I use ConvertKit for all of my email marketing, so before we part ways today, I want to walk you through actually setting up one of these babies using their automation builder.
This is how you can set things up so that multiple ConvertKit forms, landing pages, content upgrades, etc. can all lead into a welcome autoresponder. (Note: these directions are assuming you don’t have any other opt-in sequences or sales funnels set up.)
1. First, let’s create the sequence itself. In ConvertKit, go to the “Sequences” tab and click the “create sequence” button. You’ll be asked to enter a sequence name, then be taken here:
2. Adjust the “delay sending by” field to the sequence timing you want.
3. Enter the subject line and content for the first email in your autoresponder.
4. Set its status to “publish.”
5. Click the “Add Email” button to start the next email and repeat steps 2-4.
6. Once you’ve added all the emails to your sequence, save them all and head to the sequence settings. Here’s where you can adjust the days and times of day the emails send. Head over to the Automations tab, click on “Rules,” and go to “Add new.”
7. Add each form that you have leading to the welcome sequence, as a trigger for the automation. This makes it so that “all roads” lead to the autoresponder.
8. Add subscribing people to your welcome sequence as the automation’s action.
9. Save it, baby! You’re done!
So simple, right?! And now all new subscribers get your BFF treatment!
Get Your Welcome Sequence Running
If you don't have a welcome funnel up and running yet, it's high time to get one together.
Especially since with repurposing content you already have, you can put one together in one afternoon. (Truly...this is a service I offer, and it often takes just an afternoon.)
If you're ready to get started, check out the Repurpose With Purpose worksheet to help you plan out your welcome emails!
Already got one up and running? Tweet to me and tell me about what's in it!