According to the First Impressions Email Marketing Study conducted by Ciceron, only 39% of brands send a welcome email.

41% of brands didn’t send a welcome email within the first 48 hours after a subscriber joined.

And 27% sent zero emails in the first three weeks.

You can put a lot of effort into your email newsletters and product launch automations. You can optimize your subject lines, preheader text, microcopy, and buttons. You can make sure to use bulletproof buttons and keep deliverability high.

All of that email optimization is important. But if you aren’t sending welcome emails, you’re missing an opportunity that blows all of them out of the water.

Here’s how to write great welcomes emails, along with some outstanding welcome email examples.

What is a welcome email?

A welcome email is the first email that a new subscriber sees after they join your email list. Because it’s the first email you send, it’s your best chance to engage with your subscribers and show them your unique tone of voice.
When someone gives you their contact information, it’s like a handshake.
It’s like they extend a hand and say “nice to meet you, I’m [name]. I’ve heard a lot about you” Your welcome email is you reaching out for a handshake.
It’s your first personal, one-to-one impression in the customer onboarding process.
a welcome email is like a handshake

You don’t want to have a weak handshake

That first impression can do a lot of different things. You can use it to increase sales, ask for referrals, get shares, point people to interesting content, help people get the most out of a purchase, or start a welcome series that leads up to a different goal.
Even if it’s just for your email newsletter and not trying to get sales—your welcome email it a huge opportunity. Make sure it does more than confirm a subscription.
There are a lot of confirmation emails out there that look like this.
Bad Welcome Email Example

 I think I’ll be clicking that unsubscribe button now

Your welcome email doesn’t need to be one of them.

Why is a welcome email important?

Do welcome emails work? Yes.

Your welcome email is your best chance to engage new contacts. Aside from being your first chance to make a good, personalized impression, a welcome email is your best opportunity to get people to take action.

New contacts want to hear from you!
Open rates and clickthrough rates are almost always highest on welcome emails. It’s your best chance to reach a new contact and get them to engage with you—whether that means reading a blog post or getting ready to buy a product.
Here’s a screenshot from the report for the welcome email from one of my blog posts.
Welcome Email Results

That’s a click-to-open rate of 90%

An 85% open rate! 77% clickthrough! That’s a click-to-open rate of 90%. I wish my sales emails got that kind of response.
New contacts are the contacts most likely to say yes to your call to action. They are excited. They are expecting you to email them right away.

Expert insight: Andy Crestodina on welcome emails

Andy Crestodina
“There’s one email that gets a higher open rate than all others: the welcome-to-my-list email.
It’s no surprise. The recipient is at their peak interest. They just converted into a subscriber, so they are want your content and trust your brand. Setting this auto-response it a no-brainer. Opens and click through rates are often 2x any other emails you send.
Think of it as just being polite. When someone starts listening, you should say hello, right? When someone asks for more, give them your best. I think of the welcome series as both smart marketing and common courtesy.”
– Andy Crestodina is a marketing expert, thought leader, and co-founder of Orbit Media Studios. He’s an expert in SEO, web design, and using data to guide marketing strategy.

If you don’t send a welcome email, you’re missing that opportunity.

What can you use a welcome email for?

You know that your welcome email needs to have more information than just a subscription confirmation. But what can you put in a welcome email?
Even once you know that a welcome email is your best chance to get engagement from your new email subscribers, there are other questions that need to be answered.

  • “What should I write in my welcome email?”
  • “Should I have a call to action?”
  • “How do I know if my welcome email is working?”

Those questions start to get answered when you think past the tactic.
What do I mean by that?
Instead of thinking “I should send a welcome email because welcome emails get a lot of engagement,” ask yourself—what value does a welcome email bring to your business?
How can you use this tool to achieve your broader business goals?

Here are 6 common ways to use a welcome email.

  1. Lead magnet delivery
  2. A pitch for a product
  3. Start a welcome series
  4. Get people to use your product
  5. Give people helpful information
  6. Segment your audience

1. Lead magnet delivery

If you promised to deliver a lead magnet, the welcome email is the time to do it.
This might be the simplest use of a welcome email, because people are expecting the lead magnet they were promised.
I once got a lovely email from a kind new subscriber that read “Dude, you suck at marketing. [expletive] you and [expletive] your site. Deliver what you say you will deliver.”
Unbeknownst to me (or, apparently, him), my lead magnet was being delivered to the Promotions tab of Gmail.
He eventually apologized—but the lesson is that people expect you to deliver on your lead magnets.
How can you deliver a lead magnet? A good email marketing or marketing automation service makes lead magnet delivery simple. In ActiveCampaign, for example, we have a pre-made automation that you can use to deliver as many different lead magnets as you like.
pre-built welcome automations
Once you’ve delivered a lead magnet, there’s still more you can get out of this first email. For more welcome email ideas, read on.

2. A pitch for a product

Your welcome email is likely to see the highest open rates of any email you’ll ever send. For that reason, it might not be a bad time to pitch a product.
Online business coach Graham Cochrane used to run a welcome email series that led to a free webinar and sales pitch. As he shared on GrowthLab, he was able to get an 89% increase in sales by moving the call to action for his webinar immediately after someone subscribed.
Getting sales with a welcome automation

Source: GrowthLab

Here are the exact steps of Cochrane’s email funnel, as he wrote about them on GrowthLab (in this context, a “carrot” is a lead magnet).
“This is the new funnel:

  1. Sign up for carrot (100%)
  2. Taken to “Thank you” page, emailed PDF download, invited to webinar
  3. Sign up for webinar (20%)
  4. Attend webinar (10%)
  5. Get pitched product
  6. Buy product

$24,759 / month avg.”
(That number is compared to his previous average of $13,101 / month).
This is often a good play for ecommerce businesses. If you know that products are related or frequently bought together, including a CTA or temporary coupon to related products can help a customer become a repeat customer.
Jordan Skole made this point during an ActiveCampaign live AMA:

“When someone buys one of my products, that gives me a sense of what else they might be interested in. What else do people who get the product usually buy? I can segment based on that information to make a targeted offer.”

Your welcome email isn’t always the right time for a pitch—some people will need more time before they’re willing to buy. A quick sell may also be more difficult if you sell high-priced products, where buying cycles are typically longer.
Still, including a sales pitch in your welcome email is absolutely worth testing.

3. Start a welcome series

A welcome series or automated follow-up sequence can help you nurture leads that aren’t ready to buy right away.

An introduction video to the topic of marketing automation

A welcome series is a simple type of marketing automation. This video, from the free course Getting Started with ActiveCampaign, gives you some good ways to get started with organizing your automations.

One of my favorite parts about Grant Cochrane’s new webinar pitch is that subscribers that don’t register for his webinar still go through his normal welcome series—so he has two opportunities to convert them.
A welcome series can have as many goals are there are types of businesses.