Why first impressions mean everything

Once you realize the cost of engaging a lead (cash and sweat), the case for rolling out the red carpet to onboard magnificently becomes evident.

Each click costs so much money and brainpower that by the time you have obtained a prospect’s email address, you have achieved a major accomplishment. Now that momentum is on your side, make sure to onboard or “indoctrinate” your new leads with an email sequence intended to educate, entertain, motivate, and build top-of-mind awareness, if not create sale-and-expand purchase patterns. 

The welcome email is the first in an indoctrination series of 3 to 15 emails and sets the tone for the entire relationship. Typically, the welcome email has the highest open rate of them all, averaging 35-40% compared to other emails at approximately 25%.

According to the Harvard Study of Communications, research shows that it only takes 7 seconds to make a first impression. What’s more, it takes 7 more interactions to change that first impression—an expensive proposition.

So, let’s work hard to create good first impressions on those hard-fought leads. And the beauty of the welcome email is that once you craft it, you can use it with everybody.

A word on design

Because the brain interprets the design elements before it reads a single word, make sure to spend some effort on the design. Create simple, clear, visual elements that invite the reader to start and keep reading.

Subject lines

Nothing but nothing replaces A/B testing (a.k.a. “split testing”) for determining successful email strategies. Every subject line rule that we know of we have also broken in favor of testing a different strategy, with often surprising results. Here are a couple of guidelines for welcome email subject lines:

  • Be clear
  • Be engaging
  • Use the word “Welcome”; the audience is expecting it
  • If you have the subscribers first name, use it.


Make a personal greeting and use second-person point of view. That means that in all cases you will never use “we” or “I,” but instead use “you.” The narrator talks to another person and addresses him/her as “you.”  This example from Ann Taylor illustrates the personal, second-person style:

The Art of the Welcome Email

Notice that this welcome email also gives the pay-off: exclusive offers, which is what lured the person to register to begin with . . .

The apparent purpose of the welcome email

The ostensible purpose is to give them what you promised. Usually, your welcome email will be combined with the answer to an opt-in. For instance, if your website promises a “Guide to Acupressure Points of the Foot,” then you might provide the download with a welcome email (and both would be mentioned in the subject line):

Welcome to Foot Therapy, Jeremy | Your acupressure download 

It’s super-strategic here to offer even more value (a free gift) at this point too. If the value-added offer is clickable, you can count the action as engagement.

The actual purpose of the welcome email

Your real aim is to give a positive experience and get your subscriber to take another action. So, begin with the end in mind, and recognize that your goal is to keep the momentum and get them to take the next step in the sales funnel, which could be making a small purchase, qualifying themselves with a quiz, warming themselves up by reading something educational, or enrolling for something more. Ask them to refer you or “like” you and to follow you on social media.

Ask to be whitelisted

Don’t forget to ask to be cleared to go straight to the inbox. They’re looking for your “welcome” now because they just asked for it, but later your emails will go unnoticed no matter how enticing the subject line unless you ask subscribers to sort you correctly. It will make a difference in the open rates of your list.

Note: As a requirement of CAN-SPAM, you must include an unsubscribe option on bulk email—make sure you have. It’s probably already provided by your email service provider.

Tell them how you will contact them

Tell them that you have some useful, helpful, exciting info for them at what rate (every other day for about a week, and then you’ll just touch base once a month after that.) This will keep them from unsubscribing during the onboarding period where you are rolling out the red carpet with more frequent contact.

Give an opportunity to go deeper

While you’ve got the subscribers’ undivided attention, give them an easy way to navigate to your catalog, your explainer videos, your demos, your infographics, your educational videos, or other interactive content, including a scarcity offer for the product (a.k.a. a timed offer).

Final Thoughts

You can draw a lot of customers from an email sequence, so make sure the most important one, the welcome email, is crafted superbly so that you can begin your customer relationship on the right foot. Master this marketing gem and watch your ROI go through the roof. 

Be a marketing Titan:

✓ Create an inviting design that begins with “Welcome, [customer’s first name]

✓ Give customers an opt-in and ask them to “like” you on social media

✓ Ask customers to move you to their in-box, so your emails don’t get lost in SPAM

✓ Include an unsubscribe option, but offer useful, helpful, exciting info to keep them from choosing it

✓ Make accessing your info as easy as a click, and offer time-sensitive offers that get them to act

✓ Contact the experts at Titan for advice on how to create an outstanding sales funnel

Esteban Rodriguez

Esteban Rodriguez is a lover of Rock music, Latin food, and fantasy football. Having earned a Bachelor’s in Mass Communication and Journalism degree from the University of Southern Florida, he is a talented writer, photographer, or videographer. In his free time, Esteban enjoys playing video games, cooking, spending time with his son, and playing a sick air guitar.