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Use Welcome Emails to Drive Engagement and ROI

by Loren McDonald  |  
December 9, 2008

A good opt-in procedure lays the foundation for a strong email program, but a well-thought-out series of welcome emails will help turn your newcomer into a long-term subscriber.

Oh, and the automated "confirmation" email your system generates as soon as somebody confirms the subscription request? The one that says "Subscription Confirmed"? That doesn't count.

A true welcome program is an automated series of emails that launches right after confirmation. It actually does double duty:

  • It makes your reader feel welcome with your email program and speeds up engagement.
  • It helps reduce list churn because you reach out to your new subscribers and establish inbox recognition while the opt-in is still fresh in their minds.

Why List Churn Hurts Your Email Program

If you wait too long to send your first email, subscribers can forget that they gave you permission or no longer care about your email. Either way, they lose interest rapidly.

That leads to unsubscribes, spam complaints, or inactivity. Including hard bounces, you'll typically lose about one-third of your list each year. On top of that, about one-fourth to one-half of the typical list's members will have gone inactive.

Research studies also show that interest, as measured by open rates, starts to disintegrate two weeks after opt-in. Within two months, the open rate can fall 20-25 percent.

The Welcome Message: Three Key Elements

  1. A transparent opt-in procedure. On your subscription page you explain clearly what kind of email to expect, how often, and in which format. Also, explain how to whitelist your sending email address. The double opt-in confirmation email you send is not a welcome message, but it can explain that a special message welcoming the new subscriber will come next.
  2. A multipurpose welcome message. More than just saying "welcome" and "thanks for subscribing," the welcome email confirms subscription details, affirms your email or company value proposition, redeems any opt-in incentives you offered, and invites recipients back to your site to take an action, such as to make a purchase or complete their profiles.
  3. Welcome series/follow-on emails. Following the initial welcome email, these additional emails form a series of "drip" emails designed to bring new subscribers into the relationship step by step and minimize early subscriber inattention and attrition.

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Loren McDonald is vice-president of industry relations at Silverpop, an email service provider for B2C marketing initiatives and B2B lead-management processes. Reach him via

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  • by Marcia Scaggs Tue Dec 9, 2008 via web

    Good information. Clearly sets up the next step and stages.

  • by Jay Wed Dec 10, 2008 via web

    Good article. We are working on improving our mailers at in our effort to promote use of our Tell-a-Friend widget. Thanks for the tips.

  • by ilizabeth Wed Dec 10, 2008 via web

    I like #3, it is difficult to maintain, but worth a try. offers a free travel newsletter.

  • by Shekar Prabhakar Mon Dec 15, 2008 via web

    Good tips. Would be useful on what needs tweaking in a B2B situation, where unlike B2C offers and new product introductions are few, if any, and far between. Keeping the engagement and interest level high in the welcome period is always a challenge.

    Shekar Prabhakar

  • by Tim Sat Jan 10, 2009 via web

    Where can I find people who know how to do these sorts of things?

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