Most of us work really hard to get new subscribers on our email lists.
We run compelling Facebook ads…
We offer killer lead magnets…
We set up a landing page that compels visitors to sign up…
So when we get that Lead Notification that new subscribers are joining our lists, we do a happy dance to Meghan Trainor (just me?) and sit back to wait for the millions to roll in.
Well, nothing much happens.
No millions. No customers. No real change besides an uptick in our subscriber count.
Getting a new subscriber is only half the battle. If you want sustainable business success, you need strategic systems to turn those new subscribers into engaged readers…into paying customers.
The smartest and simplest way to do that? An email welcome sequence.
What’s a welcome sequence?
Quite simply, a welcome sequence is an automated series of marketing emails that a new subscriber receives when they join your list.
It’s a systemized process to welcome subscribers into your world and kick-start a strong relationship, helping you:
- warm up new subscribers
- establish who you are and what you have to offer
- make sales on autopilot
- become unforgettable so people keep wanting to open your emails for the long haul
…Which is HUGE, because attention is the most precious commodity you have, as an online marketer.
And best of all? Welcome sequences are automated. You’ll write your welcome sequence emails once...and they’ll keep going out and warming up EVERY new subscriber from now until the end of time.
For busy entrepreneurs who want greater return on their effort, a welcome sequence is a super smart use of your time.
Here are 8 strategies to help you create a welcome sequence that turns new subscribers into long-term customers:
1. Get real with your expectations
Abraham Lincoln famously said:
“Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I’ll spend the first four sharpening the ax.”
Think of your welcome sequence as a form of ax-sharpening. It will make everything else you do down the road stronger, easier, and way more effective.
Your welcome sequence is a tool to start a solid relationship — full of empathy, trust, and authority — with every new subscriber, automatically. It may generate sales (and we’ll talk about that in a minute) but making money is NOT your main goal.
That’s because we’re playing the long game…
61% of small- and midsize-businesses generate more than half of their revenue from repeat customers, rather than new business. And a repeat customer spends 67% more than a new one. (Source)
Your welcome sequence is a long-term strategy to create long-term customers.
So instead of shooting for cheap, quick sales, zoom back the lens and think bigger. We’re creating strong, genuine relationships that lead to consistent sales throughout a customer’s life.
2. First, map it out
Don’t just grab a venti macchiato, start your first email, and see where it takes you.
A welcome sequence is a thoughtful, strategic business tool. So it’s worth taking time to map out your sequence first.
As a persuasion copywriter, 50% or less of my time actually goes to writing. Most of it is spent on big-picture strategy and intentional campaign planning.
How do you map out your welcome sequence? You start with your two known data points:
- Point A: Where a subscriber is starting from (your lead magnet)
- Point B: Where you want a subscriber to finish (not sure where you want readers to go? Keep reading, we’ll get deeper into this in a bit.)
Now comes the fun part…how do you bridge the gap between Point A and Point B?
Keep it simple and decide on just ONE clear goal for each email in your welcome sequence.
Maybe you want to build rapport by sharing a helpful tip. Maybe you want to share a personal story to show vulnerability. Maybe you want to drop a credibility point to grow your authority.
Map out your sequence so that the journey — from beginning to end — makes sense and helps a new subscriber know, like, and trust you.
Not only will mapping this out improve the subscriber experience, it’ll also make the actual writing of your emails so much easier.
3. Show your human side
We like opening emails from people we know. We hate opening emails from dull corporations.
Imagine two messages in your inbox. Are you more likely to open…
An email from your buddy titled “omg ur gonna love this 🙌🏻😂”…
Or one from a clothing store titled “Is It Time to Stock Up on Shoe Polish?”
Friends and family members send content that’s relevant and enjoyable for us to consume. (…Usually. We’ve all got that weird uncle that sends far too many cat updates.) Businesses tend to send bland, self-serving messages that add nothing to our lives.
That’s why you should use your welcome sequence to become someone subscribers know, rather than just another marketing email in their inboxes. This makes them see you more like a friend than a corporation.
Even if you’re a bigger company, you can still build a human connection in your emails. If possible, send your welcome sequence from one person, like a CEO, founder, or marketing manager — so the new subscriber will have one person to connect with.
I use three main strategies to layer in human elements to welcome sequences:
- Brand voice. This is essentially how a reader “hears” you in his/her head. A quick way to hack your brand voice is to pick a few keywords and phrases to intentionally repeat throughout your welcome sequence. At the end of your seven emails, this repetition will help readers recognize the “sound” of you.
- Stories. Include personal stories to show you’re a three-dimensional human. We don’t just like seeing the glossy finished product, we want to see the unpolished raw levels in between. Showing vulnerability and times you struggled is one of the most powerful ways to connect with your welcome sequence.
- Fun tidbits of who you are. These emails aren’t strictly business — remember, the main goal is to build a connection. Sprinkling in specific details about what you like, what you don’t, and quirky facts about you is a great way to add human depth to your emails. Readers like tangible examples they can connect with.
4. Choose compelling topics
When it comes to your welcome sequence, don’t think about what you say or want to say. Think about what subscribers want to learn. #marketingautomation Click To Tweet
When it comes to your welcome sequence, don’t think about what you say or want to say. Think about what subscribers want to learn.
Scratching a true itch — a prickly, niggly one — is a great way to show readers you get them and position you as a generous, helpful resource.
Here are a few questions to help you come up with compelling content ideas for your welcome sequence:
- What problems or challenges do subscribers have?
- What beliefs currently hold them back?
- What stresses them out on the daily?
- What do they really want (like, too-afraid-to-say-out-loud want)?
- What are they scared of?
- What do they wish they could do?
- Why did they sign up for your list? What do they want from you?
Take your answers above…and create content that speaks directly to those topics.
A few content starters:
- Give a tip to solve one of their biggest, most annoying problems
- Tell a personal story about when you struggled like your subscriber is now
- Give an analogy to help reframe and shift problematic beliefs
- Talk openly about potential objections and show how they can be overcome
- Walkthrough a case study showing how someone else achieved what subscribers wish for
- Share resources that will reduce their stress and calm their fears
Basing your welcome sequence content around true problems, wants, and fears is the best way to build a real connection and show readers you get them.
5. Prove yourself (in a smart, sneaky way)
One of the beauties of your welcome sequence is that you don’t need to cram everything in at once. You have multiple emails to lay the groundwork for a strong final impression.
We want new subscribers to see you as a trusted expert by the time your welcome sequence is finished. Start by listing out all the little proof points that show you’re legit.
Here are a few examples (pick the ones that work for you):
- Number of years experience in your field
- Number of clients worked with
- Number of projects completed
- Number of subscribers, followers, etc.
- Any notable clients or projects you’ve worked with/on
- Press features
- YouTube or podcast interviews
- Powerful customer testimonials
- Guest posts you’ve written for well-known publications
Now, go back to your sequence map and intentionally sprinkle one or two proof points into each email.
When you casually pepper these throughout your emails, you’ll never seem braggy or pretentious. But by the end of your sequence, you’ll have built up a whole bunch of trust and subscribers will look at you like a true expert.
6. Make it easy to read
We want your welcome sequence to be easy and fun for subscribers to consume. There’s a very scientific reason for this…
Because we don’t read emails that aren’t easy to read. 🙂
To keep eyeballs moving down the page (or more likely, smartphone screen,) follow these best practices for email readability:
- Keep it to 1-3 sentences per paragraph.
- Use good spacing between paragraphs and wide margins. Keep your email body around 600px wide, maximum.
- Use a large font size that’s easy to read. Write in black text on a white background. (I know, designers. It’s not as pretty as blush text on an ivory background…but trust me, readability matters!)
- Style your text with things like bold, italics, all caps, dashes, ellipses, and colored text to add interest to your writing. Any way to keep your emails from looking too same-y throughout will keep readers moving down the page.
7. Be consistent and clear
The success of your welcome sequence depends on the psychology principle of classical conditioning. I promise not to get too nerdy with this, but basically, classical conditioning shows that if you repeatedly pair two unrelated things together, they take on a similar meaning.
Classical conditioning is why my dog goes nutso when I open the cabinet door that holds his food.
We want to do the same thing with your emails…
Your name + valuable content = subscribers going nutso* when they see an email from you in their inboxes.
(*In this case, “going nutso” means excitedly opening your emails.)
For classical conditioning to work, the two stimuli need to be paired together often. If I kept my dog’s food in a different place every day, he wouldn’t jump up and down when I opened one particular cabinet.
This is why I recommend sending seven emails, daily, for your welcome sequence. You’ll pair good content with your name frequently enough to create a strong connection.
As long as you’re writing emails about things subscribers care about (see the tip above about choosing compelling topics) they’ll be happy to hear from you. You’d be thrilled to have a friend in your inbox daily with tips and stories that improve your life, right? Your subscribers are the same.
Plus, sending a week-long welcome sequence makes you look like a true-blue professional. And isn’t that how you want all new subscribers to see you?
You also want to include a note at the start your welcome sequence about how often readers will hear from you. This allows you to show you’re trustworthy by doing what you say you’ll do when you say you’ll do it.
You can use something simple like:
Every Tuesday, I send my weekly newsletter full of smart tricks to help you eat organic on a budget. And over the next few days, you’ll get my “greatest hits” tips to save money and make delicious, wholesome food for your family.
When your welcome sequence finishes, readers should receive regular broadcasts, along with the rest of your list. As long as you’re emailing your list regularly (at least weekly) this transition will feel natural.
Like everything in online marketing, it’s important to test this for yourself! Different brands and audiences may have different rhythms that work best for their welcome sequences.
8. End with a feel-good pitch
While selling isn’t the #1 goal of your welcome sequence, you want to train subscribers to expect that you’re going to put out offers from time to time.
That’s why you want to end your welcome sequence with a feel-good pitch. This should be an offer that feels 100% good to your new subscriber.
Ask yourself: what’s the most relevant offer to pitch to someone who was a complete stranger seven days ago?
For example, if I downloaded your “5 Resources to Get Over a Breakup” free guide, it would feel 100% good for you to offer a $19 ebook to help me get back my confidence at the end of your welcome sequence. That product makes sense, based on where I am in the customer journey.
It would feel 100% gross if you tried to sell me on a $25K retreat for lonely spinsters. It’d take months or years before I’d be comfortable with that kind of purchase. So selling it in your welcome sequence would feel pushy and would likely turn me off to opening your emails in the future.
I always encourage people to keep their pitches under $99 here. We want this to be a no-brainer “yes” so subscribers can take the next step with you to develop the relationship. (Remember, this is a long game we’re playing!) If you can offer a discount or other incentive to purchase, even better.
Here are some effective offers to pitch at the end of your welcome sequence:
- Free evergreen webinar
- Consult call
- Low-priced digital program
- Audio training
- PDF guide
- Video course
- Another lead magnet
- Strategy call
When you’ve settled on an offer, double-check the feel-good factor with this:
Will sharing this product/service strengthen the relationship between you and your new subscriber? Then share it.
Will it degrade that relationship? Go back to the drawing board and find a great offer that brings you closer together, not further apart.
Remember, your welcome sequence is just the beginning.
When you have a welcome sequence in place, you have a tool that sharpens your ax so every future swing slices more cleanly. You’ll warm up new subscribers and build a strong sense of trust. You’ll lay a highly professional first impression for every new person who enters your world.
And best of all, you’ll do it automatically.
Whitney’s been helping small businesses and entrepreneurs make more money with their copy (without ever feeling salesy, sleazy, or other gross words that end in a “zee” sound) since 2010.
She specializes in creating real-ationships with subscribers and leans on her background in psychology to create captivating emotional copy that moves readers to action.