A Complete Guide to WordPress Welcome Emails (and Best Practice Tips)

Illustration by Camille Portales Illustration of tea and tea pot.

A welcome email is like a warm cup of tea: It lets you greet a friend (in this case, a subscriber) who shares a common interest (i.e. your business) and gives you the opportunity to get to know each other.

But unlike a cup of tea, welcome emails are capable of much more.

With a well-designed welcome email, you’re building the foundation for a long-term relationship with subscribers. The idea is that after initially getting to know you, they’ll continue opening your emails so you can keep them in the loop about your products or services and over time they’ll become customers and eventually loyal advocates of your brand.

That’s why it’s important to create a welcome email that sets the stage for the beginning of a beautiful friendship (as the Casablanca quote goes).

In this post, we’ll look at why you need a WordPress welcome email for your business or WooCommerce store, walk you through the different types, the process of creating one, and put a spotlight on best practices.

Why do I need a welcome email?

A welcome email is the first message from a business to a new subscriber. It’s not only an instant notification of a successful subscription to a list but a chance for you to connect with a potential customer and tell them more about your business.

It’s also the first impression you’ll make on new subscribers in their most personal online space—their inbox. Welcome emails can include images, videos, GIFs, special offers or discounts, or just a friendly hello to kick things off.

Since subscribers have actively signed up to your list and your brand is front of mind when when receive your welcome email, it’s no surprise they get the highest engagement rates of any emails. According to Inbox Army, welcome emails have, on average, 4 times the open rate and 5 times the click-through rate of a standard email marketing campaign.

Further, Inbox Army stats show welcome emails see more than 3 times the transactions and revenue per email over regular promotional emails.

That’s powerful stuff.

What type of WordPress welcome email is best for my business?

Before you dive into creating a somewhat generic, catch-all welcome email, think about what you want to say to new subscribers and why. What is the goal for your email? Do you simply want to say a friendly hello? Or provide links to help subscribers get started with your product?

Whatever your goal is, be specific. Your welcome email should be informative, clear, and actionable. You want to entice your subscribers by sending them a welcome message that encourages them to take that next step.

If you’re not sure where to start, make a list of what you want to communicate and what you want subscribers to do when they open your WordPress welcome email. This might include:

  • Details about your business and a CTA to visit their account
  • A special offer or coupon code and a CTA to purchase sale items on your WordPress website
  • A video that, when clicked, takes subscribers to your latest blog post
  • Information about getting started with your product and links to documentation
  • Product recommendations and a CTA to purchase popular items

Despite the proven effectiveness of welcome emails, surprisingly, not all businesses embrace them. Inbox Army stats also show only 57.7% of brands have a welcome email—that’s 42.3% of businesses that are missing out on the increased engagement and potential transactions that welcome emails can deliver.

The 8 types of welcome emails

Let’s take a look at the different types of welcome emails. I’ve split them into 8 general categories, each of which come with its own set of pros and cons.

As you’ll see, each example below showcases different tactics and strategies for engaging new email subscribers.

1. The “simple welcome”

When you just want to send a friendly “hello”, this type of email keeps things simple. It welcomes subscribers and usually includes a CTA that takes subscribers back to your WordPress website to learn more.

The Lalo email below includes some simple text and information about the business, product images, and links to social media accounts. It doesn’t bombard subscribers with loads of different calls to action.

This isn’t the best form of email if immediate click-throughs and conversions are your goal, but if you’re going for long-term engagement and retention then it’s a good option.

2. The “thank you”

Giving away your email is a big deal online when inboxes are bombarded with newsletter and marketing emails on any given day. So when a brand offers a sincere “thank you”, together with a few words from the founder, it can catch subscribers off guard.

Saying “thank you” to subscribers for giving you their email is a nice way to welcome them to your list. This kind of email, like The Modern Desk email below, usually features a short letter and sets expectations around email frequency and email content.

The main advantage of this type of welcome email is that it establishes trust and makes subscribers feel valued, even if it’s an automated email. However, keep in mind that it may be less effective in driving traffic to your WooCommerce site if conversions are your goal.

3. The “getting started”

If your goal is to help new users get started with your product or service, the “getting started” email is what you want. This kind of email sets out the next steps for users after signing up.

The aim is to help users understand what they should do next in a simple, focused emails. Numbering each step, like in the AWS email below, will not only make it easy to get started but on a psychological level will encourage users to check off each action. It will also help establish habits around using your product.

4. The “showcase”

This is probably the most common form of welcome email, whereby brands showcase their products or services to subscribers. A “showcase” email will typically include information about the brand and what makes it a cut above the rest.

This type of email is great for conveying value to subscribers, who’ll be happy to know the benefits of signing up. However, make sure you don’t bombard subscribers with too much information or even irrelevant information.

Since showcase emails are fairly common they can get lost in inboxes. So if you decide to use this type of email, be sure to use great imagery, sharp copy, and—like the Twyla email below—keep things minimal so subscribers aren’t distracted from your key messages.

5. The “special offer” or “discount”

Including a special offer, discount or coupon code is popular with ecommerce and WooCommerce sites and a great way to encourage immediate sales. After all, when a subscriber signs up to your list they’ve shown obvious interest in your brand and a discount might be all they need to push them towards making a sale.

Make sure your offer is enticing enough for subscribers to want to click through. Since this type of welcome email is popular, subscribers might expect an offer from you, so—like Good Eggs below—make sure it’s a good one.

6. The “shopping list”

There’s nothing wrong with being blatant and the “shopping list” welcome email is a perfect example of this. This kind of email is like a shopping catalogue that displays popular and/or sale items. The goal is clear: you want the new subscriber to buy from you.

When using this type of welcome email, design is everything. Make sure your email isn’t cluttered and your CTAs are obvious and clear. Barnes and Noble, for example, shows popular boos from bookseller-curated collections, inviting the subscribers to click-through to see more.

7. The “video”

Including a video in your WordPress welcome email can be effective and engaging, particularly if you have a strong brand identity or want to give users a walkthrough of your product.

The minimalist email below from Airtable is a great example of video in a welcome email done well. In place of the video is a fun graphic, together with clear copy and a hard-to-miss CTA button.

Unfortunately, the way emails are coded and delivered makes incorporating video especially difficult. That’s why you’ll usually see images with a fake play button in place of an actual video.

You can read more about how to use video in Using Video in Your Email Marketing: A How-to Guide.

8. The “how-to” or “educational”

Similar to the “getting started” welcome email, the “how-to” or “educational” email aims to help users get to know your product or service and learn how to use it. Where this type of email differs is in its approach—it’s more detailed and provides information and resources rather than actionable steps.

For example, Candor’s welcome email features a step-by-step guide on how to use their product before and during meetings. Using a clean, simple and minimalist design, the information is easy to understand and digest, which in turn helps to remove any obstacles the user might have about getting started with the product.

Example of Candor email.

Creating a welcome email

By now you should have an idea of what type of welcome email would best suit your business. So let’s take a look at the process for creating one.

First things first: you’re going to need an email plugin for your WordPress site that includes the ability to create welcome emails. For this example, I’m going to walk you though how to use MailPoet.

MailPoet is a user-friendly and powerful WordPress plugin for email that allows you to create and send WordPress welcome emails, newsletters, WooCommerce emails and more.

It comes with a beautiful collection of welcome email templates, which you can customize to suit your business.

Step 1: Install and activate MailPoet

MailPoet is available to download for free from the WordPress.org plugin repository. From the backend of your site, search for MailPoet and install and activate it.

Once activated, go to MailPoet > Emails to complete through quick 4-step set-up process.

Step 2: Create your WordPress welcome email

Next, go to MailPoet > Emails and hit “Add New.” Choose “Welcome Email” from the four available options.

On the next page, you’ll be asked when you want to send your welcome email and which list you want to send to. Select the options that suit your needs and click “Next.”

Step 3: Choose your welcome email template

Next, choose a template. MailPoet comes with a collection of well-designed templates created specifically for WordPress welcome emails. Choose the email template you like before before continuing onto the next step.

Step 4: Customize welcome email

MailPoet comes with a user-friendly drag and drop email designer that makes customization super easy.

To the right, you’ll see a sidebar with options for styling email content and columns, which you can drag and drop into your email in the main part of the screen. The style panel lets you control universal fonts and text sizes for your email.

Go ahead and change the text, swap out or remove any images, change colors, fonts and more.

To preview your email, go to the bottom of the sidebar and click “Preview.” You can choose to email yourself a copy of your email or view it in your browser.

Once you’re happy with your email, hit “Next.”

Step 5: Activate welcome email

The final step involves checking over the details of your welcome email, including the subject of the email, email list, sender details and giving your email campaign a name if you’re using Google Analytics.

Once you’re satisfied your email is ready to start sending, hit “Activate.” The next time someone signs up to your list, they’ll automatically receive your newly created welcome email.

When should I send my welcome email?

The MailPoet team recommends sending your welcome email to subscribers the same day they sign up.

In the brief tutorial above, I activated welcome email to send immediately upon signup. Subscribers are most engaged in the few short hours after signing up and, as Experian reports, real-time welcome emails have significantly higher open and click rates compared to welcome emails sent in bulk:

Users have come to expect welcome emails in their inboxes as soon as they sign up to a newsletter or make a purchase—this has become the norm. So don’t disappoint, schedule your welcome email to send same day while your brand is still fresh in the subscriber’s mind.

Welcome email best practices

So what makes for a perfect WordPress welcome email? Let’s take a look at some best practices.

  1. Personalize your welcome email. Use shortcode generators to insert names (e.g. Hi Sarah!) rather than use generic greetings (e.g. Hi there!). This ensures your email content speaks directly to your subscribers.
  2. Tailor your emails for short attention spans. Use headings, subheadings, bullet points, images, and good design to communicate quickly and effectively.
  3. Don’t skimp on design. Make sure your welcome email is nicely laid out and easy to read. Ensure it matches your brand identity.
  4. Keep your email messages concise and to the point. Now is not the time to write an essay! Introduce your brand and ensure your words are consistent with your brand tone of voice.
  5. Creating an excellent subject line will help boost your open rates. For inspiration, check out 11 Best Subject Line Styles to Increase Your Open Rates.
  6. Storytelling makes your brand more relatable so don’t shy away from sharing your brand story and including some real facts.
  7. Think strategically about the call to action. What action to you want people to take when they open your welcome email? Make sure it’s big and bold so new users don’t miss it.
  8. Automate your WordPress welcome emails. This one’s a no-brainer. Automating your emails means they’ll send automatically and you can track performance and monitor open and click rates.
  9. Keep it mobile-friendly. Mobile continues to be the most popular reading environment for emails with 42% of all emails being opened on smartphones or tablets in Q1 2019, according to the Litmus 2019 Email Client Market Share report.
  10. Test your emails. Sending emails without proper testing can leave you open to mistakes. Check out 20 Best Tools for Testing Emails.

Wrapping up

The success of your email marketing efforts relies heavily on your first few interactions with subscribers—and starts with your welcome email.

In this post we’ve explored all you need to know to get started creating your own WordPress welcome email. For more inspiration, check out How to Improve Your Email Open Rates.

For WooCommerce store owners, check out our Complete Guide to Email for WooCommerce, and you’ll want to know how to send WooCommerce abandoned cart emails.

Have you had success with a welcome email campaign? Maybe you have tips and tricks you’d like to share? Let us know in the comments below.