Lessons from an Epic Analysis of 50 Welcome Emails
How do you create a valuable welcome email? The “Hello! Hi! Welcome!” part is clear enough, but what else should you consider? Welcome emails aren’t just a formality but a crucial opportunity. Minutes before, your customer was excited enough about your service to sign up for an account. A good welcome email capitalizes on the momentum of that sign-up, rewarding customers for their behavior and enticing them to stay engaged. We analyzed 50 welcome emails to figure out how to best guide customers along their customer journey. Let’s dive into the data we found.
The variation in copy length makes sense—the amount of text you use depends on what you have to convey to new users. It can take longer to explain to someone how they can generate leads than it might to show them a dress to buy.
Despite the variation, it’s possible to be both concise and thorough. This email from Zillow, coming in at only 32 words, is a good model. It has all the component parts (welcome text, image, CTA), and explains all of Zillow’s core functions (home listings, mortgage pre-approval, and “zestimating”).
Zillow sums up the basics of their service and invites you to use it, showing that you don’t have to use a lot of words in order to be comprehensive.
It’s not hard to address your customers by name, as long as you’ve got that information. (In Customer.io, you use a simple Liquid tag.) And because personalization tends to increase conversions, any little effort is worth trying.
In terms of content personalization, we found that none of the emails we received were personalized based on use personas. Because few companies are doing this, this is an opportunity to make your welcome emails exceptional.
Clearbit, a business intelligence tool, gathers data to determine their customers’ job roles and sends different welcome messages based on those roles. A new user’s job affects how they approach and use Clearbit’s products.
Here’s a marketer-focused welcome, offering integrations with tools they’re likely to already use and calling out the potential to “becoming a marketing god.”
In contrast, here’s what Clearbit sent to their developer customers. The message prompts them to test and learn about their enrichment APIs—which may turn off a marketer who isn’t very technical.
The important takeaway here isn’t about inserting a name or other personalized field but about delivering relevance. Understanding your recipients’ motivations is key to an effective message.
In the case of a welcome email (and many other lifecycle messages), the text aims to invite customers to engage in some way, so you have to make that invitation appealing. And different elements of your service or ways to frame your message can effectively appeal to different segments of people.
The first image, which includes the logo and a picture of a book, occupies the email header—helping you understand what Blurb is all about.
The second set of images gives you a visual representation of the types of publications you can create with Blurb, showcasing the product’s core benefits.
The third set of images are small, but our associations with the heart, the book, and the barcode help us understand the process of using Blurb at a glance.
The way Blurb uses images helps customers get the gist of each element of their messaging, even if they end up scanning the email.
While some of these companies had blue in their logo, not all did. So it wasn’t necessarily overall branding that led to a blue choice, which often showed up specifically for their welcome email.
The color psychology surrounding blue aligns with the mission of the welcome email. A welcome email is supposed to help give a positive first impression and build trust, and the color blue symbolizes trust, integrity, and efficiency. For a subscription service, you need to present these qualities to help keep your customers around.
Of course, a blue welcome email isn’t a must-have, but incorporating blue into your color scheme may give you a little boost, as you’re acclimating customers with your service and earning their trust.
This was the least deviation we saw in any of our findings. But the consensus that all welcome emails need a CTA is pretty basic. The deeper problem remains: you don’t just need any CTA, you need the right one.
With ten different links in this email, there’s no one area that draws your eye. It’s harder to pick from ten options than to follow one clear direction, as too many options creates choice overload, which often ends up in inaction.
On the other hand, look at this email from productivity tool Trello. There are multiple hyperlinks in this email—links to the Getting Started Guide, social media channels, and Trello’s blog—but the design shepherds you to a clear next step.
Customers see a clear path instead of getting blocked by too much or irrelevant information.
Maximize click-throughs with a button
Much like Trello’s clear next step, using a button rather than linked text or photos can boost click-throughs. Buttons are hard to miss and hard to misunderstand. It’s easy to gloss over a hyperlinked phrase or miss how clicking an image leads to a dashboard.
This email from the Moz Community has both hyperlinked text and a “Start Exploring” button. Here’s the body text:
There are six CTAs in total, but only one is the star. Our eyes go right to the yellow “Get Started” button. The other links are easy to gloss over while available for anyone interested enough to explore.
While we recommend using a button to lead your customers on a clear journey, using hyperlinks can provide the context they need along the way.
The Anatomy of a Welcome EmailWe looked at welcome emails from 50 subscription services, with a mix of B2B and B2C. We learned that every good welcome email has these three things:
- Welcome Message. This is where you welcome, invite, and inform your customer. (Tip: use the goof-proof Princess Bride welcome copywriting formula!)
- Images. Appeal to visual learners and provide brand context.
- A call-to-action. Invite your customers to start getting value from your service. For example, if a customer just signed up for your survey tool, you’d invite them to make a survey.
- The welcome text explains your new benefits now that you’ve signed up.
- The image breaks up the text, makes the email visually appealing, and promotes the message of collaboration.
- The call-to-action prompts you to “Get started” in Dropbox Teams with a clear next step.
Welcome Text: Engage Your Customers Immediately—Or Lose ThemA study from the Nielson Group about email newsletters showed that recipients only allocated about 51 seconds to read each email, and often just glanced at the content. Even though newsletters don’t serve the same purpose as welcome emails, the takeaway is the same: no one will pore over your email’s flowery language. Customers should get your most valuable information right away, from day one, and that can help retain them down the road.
Optimize your word countIn our findings, a good majority (65.4%) of welcome emails had between 50 and 150 words. About a quarter of the emails were over 150 words. Here’s the exact percentage breakdown:
Personalize your message to increase conversion ratesPersonalization improves click-through rates. And most marketers claim to prioritize personalization. In our analysis, we looked for two types of personalization:
- Name personalization: Think “Hi, Ellen!” or “Welcome, Jake!”
- Content personalization: Tailoring content based on information you have about a customer, like whether a customer downloaded your productivity tool for business or personal use.