Advanced Email Marketing Techniques, Part 4: Welcome Email Automation

October 23, 2020

Author: Angela Noble

Author: Angela Noble

Email marketing is the most important digital marketing channel, with an ROI of $42 for every $1 spent according to a 2019 report from Data & Marketing Association

Are you ready to start using more advanced features and strategies in your email marketing efforts? Let us show you our top tips on how you can start increasing engagement and getting more conversions.

In this series of Advanced Email Marketing Techniques, we’ll cover the following:

Please let us know if you’d like to see any other topics covered in future series.

Welcome Email Automation

In part 2 of this series about subscriber list segmentation, we touched on using segmentation to send a welcome email or an email drip series to new subscribers. We’re going to explain exactly how to do that in this part of our series on creating a welcome email automation.

According to data from Omnisend, 74% of email subscribers expect to receive a welcome email. Email engagement rates are also much higher for welcome emails than for typical campaigns. With open rates between 50-60% (compared to 18%) and an average conversion rate of 2.24%, including a welcome email in your email marketing strategy is a no-brainer.

Welcome emails can either continue to nurture new leads or continue to build relationships with new customers.

Whether you want to push new leads further through your sales funnel, drive home your unique selling proposition, or incentivize customers or leads to make more purchases, a welcome email automation is your chance to “welcome” your new subscribers with appreciation.

Single Welcome Email Automation

The most common welcome email automation includes one email that is sent either immediately or up to 24 hours after someone subscribes to your list.

In MailChimp, you can easily adjust the time parameters for your welcome email automation. It could be set to send immediately when a new subscriber is added, or at any delay interval.

The strategy you employ for your welcome email automation will largely be based on whether you’re selling products or are in a service-based industry.

Let’s look first at an example from a leading e-commerce company.

Welcome Email Automation For An E-Commerce Business

Many times, e-commerce companies will entice people to sign up to receive a discount code on their first purchase. For emails like this, it’s common to send them right away so the visitor can convert to a customer immediately.

Here’s an example from the home decor and furniture store West Elm.

On their website, immediately upon entry, a pop-up displays encouraging visitors to sign up for 15% off their order.

pop up says "sign up and get 15% off" with submit button

We don’t typically recommend pop-ups on websites because they interrupt the user experience. However, in a situation like this where the primary action is shopping and the pop-up is a discount, we think it’s justified.

They actually have a more unique two-part submission where you can choose to get offers from their sister brands as well as provide your zip code, which they will surely use for more segmented targeting.

part two of pop up states, want to get the latest from our friends? with list of sister brands including Williams Sonoma, Potter Barn, Mark and Graham, and Rejuvenation as well as field for zip code with prompt to sign up now

Finally, they have a nice thank you message telling visitors to check their inbox.

pop up submission states, "thanks for signing up! Check your inbox for exclusive offers, inspiration & more from us and our family of brands" with button to start shopping

About 15 minutes after submitting my information, I received this Welcome Email from them.

Screenshot of West Elm email. Click for accessible version.
See full version

The email is quite long, however, there is no mention of the 15% off deal. This was the entire reason we signed up. It’s unclear if the discount will be applied at checkout or if it will be given at all. A key takeaway here is to deliver what you’ve promised and make it obvious.

Generally, the email does do a good job of introducing the brand. It also shows the types of products and quality to expect.

Welcome Email Automation for Service Businesses

For service businesses and many other types of organizations, welcome emails are less about encouraging a purchase and more about relationship building and information. For these, a slight delay might make more sense rather than an immediate email.

Niel Patel recommends setting up subscriber expectations right off the bat with your welcome email. Message frequency is the biggest reason for unsubscribes. Setting expectations for the message frequency your new subscribers should expect is important.

You can tell your new subscribers right in your message how many emails per week or month to expect. You can even let them opt-in to more or less messaging using a preference form. We also recommend using the welcome email to urge your new subscribers to opt-in to different interest-based lists. The preference form can also be used for this purpose.

West Elm actually did this in their two-part subscribe form. They collected additional interests in their other brands and collected a zip code as well. But, we typically want to lessen the upfront ask. We want to convert those visitors to subscribers without more than one input and click.

Using the welcome email itself to guide your new subscribers to a preference page is a great way to do this. Here, they can opt-in to more lists and tell you their location, birthday, or other bits of information. You could then use this data to segment or target them later.

Automated Welcome Email Series

According to MailChimp’s data, “On average, sending a series of welcome emails yields an average of 51% more revenue than a single welcome email.”

Converting your welcome email automation into a series is as simple as creating just one or two additional emails. Simply determine what your goals are for these additional emails, and set them up just as you would any other single email campaign.

A strategy example could look something like this:

  • Email 1: Say hello and encourage purchase with coupon code, or encourage preferences update with link to preferences page.
  • Email 2: Build relationships by encouraging follows on social media, or build trust with links to recent articles.
  • Email 3 for e-commerce: Re-engage those who have not made a purchase yet with a reminder of the coupon. (This last email, of course, excludes anyone who made a purchase after the first or second email.)
  • Email 3 for service-based: Drive subscribers further into the lead funnel with interest-based messaging based on their preferences updates.


Now that you have a strategy in place, you’re ready to get started. Follow MailChimp’s guide to creating either a single welcome email or a welcome series.

Whether you choose a single welcome email or a series of emails to welcome your new subscribers, this automation will continue to run as more and more subscribers are added to your list over time. Putting in the work now to set it up correctly will pay off as your list and business continues to grow.

If you need help creating an email marketing strategy, schedule a complimentary consultation with us today.

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