Pop quiz! Which of these three people is likely to get you the most sales?

  • Someone who’s been on your email list for a long time
  • Someone who has just signed up for your free email list
  • Someone who has just visited your website for the first time

The traditional answer to this question is “A”—after all, that person has had plenty of time to check out what you do and get “nurtured” from lead into customer.
But the real answer is B.
Think about it—someone who’s been lounging on your email list has already decided not to buy from you. Or else they would have done it already.
That doesn’t mean you should never sell to them, or that they’re not an important part of your business—but for most businesses, most new sales come from new leads.
That’s what makes a welcome email series so important. It’s what you use to capitalize on “sign-up momentum.” It’s what you use to say hello.
It’s what you use to sell.
By the end of this post, you’ll have the blueprints for a straightforward, 6-email welcome series (that you can steal and use right away). I’ll show you…

  • Exactly what you need to put in each email (and the timing of each email)
  • How “stages of awareness” help you turn questioning readers into satisfied customers
  • Examples of people who get incredible results with their sequences. I’m talking 70% more revenue, 89% more revenue, 332% more sales—even a 5,000,000 dollar week

Here’s how to make a great welcome email series.

Why should you bother writing a welcome email series?

“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 email 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, Chief Marketing Officer, Orbit Media

When someone signs up for your list, they are introducing themselves. When you send a welcome email, you’re offering them a handshake.
It’s just polite. And yet…
According to the First Impressions Email Marketing Study conducted by Ciceron, only 39% of brands send a welcome email. 41% of brands don’t send a welcome email within the first 48 hours.
27% sent zero emails in the first three weeks.
Yikes. Then consider: a lot of welcome emails look terrifyingly close to this.
bad welcome email example

Yeah, that unsubscribe button is gonna get some luv.

When you do it well, a welcome email series is your best opportunity to say hello and turn leads into customers.
If you’re only sending blog posts to people who join your email list…you’re missing a huge opportunity with your email strategy.

Need an example? Look no further than Grant Cochrane, a small business owner who teaches people how to record and produce their own songs. When he moved his sales pitch earlier in his welcome series, it increased revenue by 89%!
Moving the pitch earlier increased sales

Almost double. Just from moving the pitch earlier. (Source, GrowthLab)

Even if you don’t sell something at the first opportunity, the open rates and click-through rates of your welcome email are going to be the highest you get on any email campaign.
Here’s an example from one of my welcome emails.
welcome email series results

Whoa! Imagine if every email could get a 90% click-to-open rate

Whatever you want people to do—whatever action you want them to take—it will be easiest to get from them during your welcome email series.
Does your goal have to be just selling? What if you want to do something else? What if people aren’t trying to buy right away?

Expert insight: Tarzan Kay on selling with welcome sequences

Tarzan Kay, a conversion copywriter
“A lot of people think that welcome emails can’t sell something. I was even told once that you should send at least 12 nurture emails before selling something. I totally disagree.
What I teach my students is, before you write that welcome sequence, think about what you’re going to sell on the tail end of it.

  • Send a couple of nurture emails
  • Slowly introduce them to who you are and what you do
  • Share one or two of your core stories (make them emotional and really engaging)
  • Start thinking about getting them to buy whatever thing you want them to buy

Ideally it’s connected to the thing that they opted in to get—because very few people will join a newsletter just to get a newsletter. For the most part they’re only signing up because you gave them a reason and they wanted to get your free thing.”
– Tarzan Kay is a conversion copywriter who specializes in launches and email sales funnels.

Example goals of a welcome email series

Possible goals of your welcome series include getting…

  • First-time buyers of your product or service
  • Cross-sells and upsells
  • Phone calls and conversations with new contacts
  • More information
  • More onboarded clients or customers
  • More members for a community
  • Testimonials
  • Feedback to help improve your business

The world has a lot of people, and most of them aren’t your customers—that’s why most welcome email sequences tend to focus on new leads and subscribers.

But there’s no reason you can’t use great welcome emails to delight your existing customers too.
Sarah, an ActiveCampaign customer and founder of Miss Efficiency Bookkeeping, uses a welcome automation to onboard new clients, collect information, and ask for feedback.
Here’s what she puts into each email:

  • Email 1: Welcome. Sarah welcomes the new client to the business. She also sends a handwritten thank you card that coincides with this email.
  • Email 2: How we work. Sarah builds trust by introducing her team and sharing a little bit about her team’s background.
  • Email 3: What to expect from us. Bookkeeping is a topic that comes with a lot of anxiety, so this email lays out exactly what Sarah’s clients can expect.
  • Email 4: What we need from you. There are various documents and forms. This email has a checklist that makes it easier for clients to dig up everything they need.

At the same time as this series, Sarah mails her clients a thank you note and a physical copy of her book.
handwritten note as a welcome

Actual examples of the notes Sarah sends her new clients.

Then, once the book is sent (about one month in), the welcome series continues.

  • Email 5: Review Miss Efficiency. Online reviews help Sarah get more business, so she asks clients to provide them after they’ve been onboarded.
  • Email 6: Ask for feedback. Now that clients are fully onboarded, their feedback can help Sarah improve her business – and retain clients at risk of dropping out.

No matter the context, a welcome series is your opportunity to say hello. It’s a way to welcome each and every person—and make them an offer—automatically.
Imagine if Sarah had to manually go through that process for every. single. Client.
Or if Grant didn’t move his pitch earlier—and made 11 THOUSAND fewer dollars a month because of it?
If your question is “should I bother writing a welcome email series,” the answer is a clear, resounding…YES! Shout it from the rooftops.

Expert insight: Sarah Anderson on defining welcome email goals

Sarah Anderson, a conversion copywriter focused on email
“A welcome series is the perfect way to introduce a new subscriber to your brand. They’re new here. Take a minute to bring them up to speed on all the awesome things you do.
You can use your welcome series to showcase the best you have to offer. Share your top pieces of content, give a ton of value, and show that you’re here to help.
To plan the individual emails, start by defining the main goal of each one before you sit down to write. What do you want a subscriber to do after reading it? Hit reply? Read your blog? Book a call?
Choose the one most important action you want the reader to take. Make it the clear next step after reading the email. If there are multiple actions you want a subscriber to take, write multiple emails in your series to guide the reader through that journey.”
– Sarah Anderson is a conversion copywriter and email strategist. She writes at Pro Email Copy.

How many emails should you include in your welcome email series?

We recommend sending 4–6 emails as part of your welcome series. You need to have enough emails to build trust and help your contacts out before you push for the sale—five emails gives you space to devote each email to a specific topic.
Ryan Johnson, the head copywriter at GrowthLab, is the master of designing email funnels and launches. Here’s how he lays out a 5-day funnel for GrowthLab’s course Mental Mastery.
a sales funnel outline from GrowthLab

Each email has a specific purpose—it helps move people to the next step of the sales funnel. (Source, GrowthLab)

First, GrowthLab attracts attention with an interesting question.
Then they capture interest, and start getting people to want the product.
In emails 3 and 4 they keep building desire (and open the course for sale.
And in email 5 they make a hard sell.

Here’s what to put in each email of your welcome series

How can you create the kind of welcome series that makes people jump to click on your emails?
And, more importantly, that gets them to do the stuff you want them to do?
One of the hardest parts of creating a welcome email series is figuring out what to actually put in your emails. Lucky for all of us, there’s a framework that can help: stages of awareness.
Stages of awareness w