How to Create an Automated Welcome Sequence

Illustration by Mary Delaney the word welcome in glowing letters

Building an immediate relationship with your subscribers is essential. You need to establish the value of your newsletter, and your business as a whole, to ensure that people keep opening your emails. One of the best ways to do this is by learning how to create an automated welcome sequence.

In this guide, I will show you:

By the end of this article, you’ll have all of the knowledge you need to build an awesome welcome sequence for your subscribers.

What is an automated welcome sequence?

An automated welcome sequence is exactly what it sounds like: a series of emails that are automatically sent to new subscribers. These emails can be sent right away or scheduled to go out days, weeks, or even months after someone joins your list.

There are several benefits to using an automated welcome sequence:

  • Cement your brand’s reputation. Every email in your automated welcome sequence demonstrates your brand’s value and reminds people why they signed up for your newsletter in the first place.
  • Deepen relationships with your subscribers. Offering more content up front gives subscribers a deeper understanding of your brand right away. You can also use your welcome sequence to ask questions about what subscribers want from your brand.
  • Make sales. Your automated welcome sequence is a great place to remind people of your products or highlight products they might not have seen.
  • Get feedback. You can also use your welcome sequence to ask for feedback on your newsletter, your overall brand, or even the content of the welcome sequence itself.

All in all, an automated welcome sequence is a great way to further your email marketing goals.

How to create an automated welcome sequence

1. Choose a goal

The first thing you need to figure out is what the main goal of your automated welcome sequence is. Most of the time, the goal of your welcome series will fall into one of three categories:

  • Relationship building. This includes goals like receiving feedback or getting subscribers to answer a specific question, like “what do you want to see in this newsletter?”.
  • Sales. This includes goals like selling a specific product to a percentage of your subscribers.
  • Growth. This includes goals like getting subscribers to recommend your newsletter or products.

You also want to make sure that you’re setting SMART goals. These are goals that are Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Time-based. This goal framework makes it easy to track your progress and make sure that your efforts are pushing you in the right direction.

To create SMART goals, you need a basic understanding of your existing newsletter stats. Namely, you need to know a) how many subscribers you already have and b) how many of those subscribers are already interacting with your content. If you want to set a sales goal, you’ll also want to look at sales for products you’ve promoted in your newsletter.

Once you’re familiar with these statistics, you’ll have a better idea of what a realistic goal actually is. For example, if you have 10 subscribers now, you’re probably not going to hit 1000 subscribers in three months without a major advertising budget. On the other hand, if you have 700 subscribers, hitting 1000 in three months is completely reasonable.

If you’re not sure what a realistic goal is, consider asking colleagues or employees for their thoughts.

Sequences with multiple goals

Some brands can benefit from creating an automated sequence with multiple goals. Take a look at the goals of each email in the Author Marketing Club welcome sequence I’m planning:

  • Welcome email – Goal: get feedback from 5% of new subscribers about the content they want to see.
  • Second email – Goal: get 10% of subscribers to grab my Author Career Planning Workbook. This workbook is available for Pay What You Can pricing, so this can be a sale, but it’s more about building relationships/establishing trust.
  • Third email – Goal: get 20% of subscribers to buy my Branding for Fiction Authors workbook.

Each email in this sequence has its own goal. The first two focus on relationship building and the third focuses on sales. From here, I might expand the sequence to include emails about other products, requests for feedback on the newsletter itself, or surveys to get to know my audience better.

We’ll talk more about how to create automated welcome sequences with multiple goals in the next section.

2. Plan your automated welcome sequence

Once you’ve selected a goal, you’re ready to outline an automated welcome sequence to meet that goal. There are several factors to consider as you build your outline:

  • Your audience’s goals. What problem or desire brings people to your website? What do they expect your content, products, or services to provide them with? How can you provide some of that experience or assistance in your automated welcome sequence?
  • What your business excels at. Do you create excellent educational content? Offer a unique service? Sell high-quality products? What is your most popular product or service? How can you demonstrate this in your automated welcome sequence?
  • How you can encourage subscribers to take action. How can you use your automated welcome sequence to establish yourself as a quality brand? Can you share testimonials or reviews? Offer a discount? What about a free trial or sample of your work? Learn more about offering an incentive in this post.
  • How much time and money you’re prepared to invest. Do you have time to build an elaborate welcome sequence from scratch? Are you able to hire a designer to create branded email templates? Are you even interested in doing those things, or are you better off slapping a discount into your first email and reminding people about it a couple of times?

What you’re hoping to discover by asking these questions is the intersection between what your subscribers want and what you want. You can then create a welcome sequence that centers the subscriber experience while also achieving your goals.

Here’s an example of what this might look like for an ecommerce business that sells office supplies with a unique aesthetic:

  • Welcome sequence goal: Sell desk organizers to 20% of new subscribers.
  • Audience goal: To create an attractive, organized workspace they can thrive in.
  • What my company can provide: High-quality desk organizers in several different colors.
  • What incentive subscribers get to take action: A 20% discount + photos/testimonials of the desk organizer working in different spaces.
  • How much time and money I’m prepared to invest: $100 for a personalized email template + four hours to build content.
  • Email sequence: Welcome email with discount – Discount reminder with new testimonials/photos – Second discount reminder with more photos/testimonials

This email sequence is effective because each message focuses on the benefit provided to the customer. The emails are also short and direct, showing that you respect the time of your audience. You can use a similar outline for any sales-focused welcome sequence.

Planning an automated welcome sequence with multiple goals

You can use a similar process to plan a welcome sequence with multiple goals. For example, if you want to build strong subscriber relationships so you can sell an expensive course or coaching program for aspiring entrepreneurs, your plan might look something like this:

  • Welcome sequence goals: Attract 100 new subscribers per month, receive content suggestions from 5% of those subscribers, and sell the flagship course to 10%.
  • Audience goal: To advance their careers by acquiring new skills and sharpening the ones they already have.
  • What my company can provide: Resources on business planning, financial management, and marketing skills.
  • What incentive subscribers get to take action: Testimonials/personal stories of how resources or activities have helped other users + a 10% discount on the flagship course.
  • How much time and money I’m prepared to invest: 10 hours to build content + $100 for a personalized email template
  • Email sequence: Welcome email with business planning worksheet – Resource list to help people complete the planning worksheet – Feedback request: how did the worksheet help you – First offer of 10% discount – Discount reminder with testimonials & photos – Second discount reminder with new photos/testimonials

This email sequence includes three emails dedicated to relationship building. The opt-in bonus of a business planning worksheet also encourages more website visitors to join your list.

Email courses

One of the most effective types of automated welcome sequence is the email course. This is a series of typically 3-7 emails with lessons and/or worksheets related to what your audience wants to accomplish.

How to create an email course is a subject worthy of its own article, but there are a few best practices to remember as you plan it:

  • Choose a hyper-specific topic. You want to choose a subject you can provide powerful insights about in a small series of short emails. People will expect a course email to be longer than a marketing email, but you still want to respect their time.
  • Establish a student objective. This is the thing your students will learn, do, or create by the end of the course. You want it to be something students can easily measure, establishing your value as an educator.
  • Include links to more advanced resources. Ideally, these should be links to articles on your blog or information products you’ve created.

Want to offer a more in-depth course? Consider recording a webinar or video series and giving your subscribers links to each lesson. This lets you deliver more advanced information without weighing down your subscriber’s inbox. Leanne Wong has done this, including a link to her SEO Bootcamp on Teachable in her welcome email:

Leanne Wong SEO email

3. Draft your automated welcome sequence

With your plan in place, it’s time to start creating your automated welcome sequence. You can do this directly in the MailPoet editor, but I prefer to draft all of the emails in a Google Doc first. This makes it easy to view them all together and make sure the content flows well from one email to the next.

There are some best practices to keep in mind as you work on your drafts:

  • Make an offer for every call to action. In other words, every time you want your subscriber to take action, the action should benefit them too. This might come in the form of learning more from an article on your site, the opportunity to shape future content or products, or a direct discount. The key is to incentivize every call to action.
  • Keep your content short. The average person sends and receives 121 emails every single day. They don’t have the capacity to spend more than a minute or two on each one. There’s some wiggle room for educational content, but the data shows that the most successful emails contain between 50 and 125 words.
  • Focus on the visual experience. Your emails should use large text, clear images and complimentary colors. You also want to avoid cluttering your emails with too many elements or links close together.
  • Use a mobile-friendly template. If you hire someone to create a branded template, make sure it uses responsive design to look good on small screens. You can also guarantee that your design will look great on phones by using one of the templates included with MailPoet.

With these rules in mind and a customer-centric approach, you’re sure to create content that will win your subscribers over.

4. Schedule your automated welcome sequence

The final step in how to create an automated welcome sequence is to schedule your emails. As a MailPoet user, you can do this by opening your WordPress admin panel and going to “MailPoet > Emails“. Click on the “+ New Email” button to open a page where you can select the type of email you want to send:

Choose an email type in MailPoet

Select “Welcome Email“. This will open a page where you can choose when the email is sent and what list it will go to.

How to create an automated welcome sequence - MailPoet welcome email setup

Once you’ve confirmed these details, you’ll be walked through the regular editorial process. You’ll note that there are already numerous templates on MailPoet for welcome emails:

Examples of Welcome Email templates in MailPoet

You’ll need to repeat this process for each email in your automated welcome sequence.

The best schedule for your welcome sequence will depend on your audience and the content of your welcome emails, but there are some rules to keep in mind:

  • Send your first email right away. This immediately establishes a positive relationship with your subscribers.
  • Space out your other emails. Sending an email every day might seem like the smart move, but this approach makes your content more likely to overwhelm subscribers or even feel like spam.
  • End the sequence within a month. Your regular emails will still be going to these users during this time. Too many additional emails can alienate users, causing you to lose large numbers of subscribers.

All in all, the key is to make sure your emails are consistent enough to keep your offer in the forefront of subscribers’ minds without being so frequent that they feel like spam.

5. Promote your automated welcome sequence

If one of your goals for this automated welcome sequence is to draw in new subscribers, you’ll need to promote what you’re offering. There are several places where you can do this:

  • In your signup forms.
  • On your social media pages.
  • At the end of relevant blog posts and pages.
  • During the checkout process.
  • In your professional bio.

For more ideas, check out our Ultimate Guide to List Building and Management.

Awesome automated welcome sequences

1. Patch

Automated welcome sequence example from patch

Patch is an online retailer that sells house plants. When you subscribe to their newsletter, you’ll receive a course that shows you how to keep your new plants healthy. Once you’re able to keep one plant healthy for several months, you’ll most likely want more, and you’ll trust Patch to deliver them.

When you finish the course, you’re also told to contact the company’s plant doctor for help if you need it. This invites you to build a stronger relationship with Patch and further establishes the company’s expertise.

How to create an automated welcome sequence: example from patch

These emails are also highly visual, with a one-column layout that looks great on mobile phones. All in all, this is a great example of how to create an automated welcome sequence.

2. Double your freelance income

How to create an automated welcome sequence - Double Your Freelance Income

Double Your Freelance Income takes automated welcome sequences to the next level with personalized email courses. You enter your email address, answer a few basic questions, and receive content tailored to your current situation as a freelancer.

Double Your Freelance Income First Email
How to create an automated welcome sequence - Double Your Freelance Income 3

You’ll note that these emails are formatted in a much simpler way. They’re also significantly longer than the recommended 50-125 words. This is both because the primary focus is on the educational content and because the primary audience is writers.

3. Sleeknote

How to create an automated welcome sequence - Sleeknote

Sleeknote also offers an email course for new subscribers, but their emails include more visual elements. The first email also contains an immediate bonus: access to 35 premium resources subscribers can use to send better emails.

4. MonsterInsights

The MonsterInsights email welcome sequence is a great example of a sequence with multiple goals. In the first email, you’re reminded of the benefits MonsterInsights provides to your website:

How to create an automated welcome sequence - MonsterInsights

The second email contains a simple piece of marketing advice, along with a link to a more detailed resource on the subject.

MonsterInsights 2

This establishes a level of trust between MonsterInsights and new subscribers, which is needed for the goal of the third email: to sell the Pro version of MonsterInsights.

You’ll note that this promotional email includes a 50% off coupon. Even after establishing trust, MonsterInsights still partners its ask with an offer.

5. MailPoet

How to create an automated welcome sequence: MailPoet Email Course

And last, but by no means least, we had to give our own welcome email sequence a mention! MailPoet offers subscribers a 4-part email course explaining core aspects of successful email marketing. These emails are quite long, offering detailed information and step-by-step processes:

MailPoet email course 1 - 2

You’ll note that while the email itself is long, the information is broken into short sections, with lots of white space between pieces of information. This makes it easier to read, especially on small screens.

Each email also includes multiple links to resources on the MailPoet site. In fact, the final email consists mostly of a resource list:

How to create an automated welcome sequence: Final MailPoet email lesson

This encourages people to visit the MailPoet blog while also providing immense value for subscribers who are new to email marketing.

Make sure you sign up to see them in action 😀

Final thoughts on how to create an automated welcome sequence

Automated welcome sequences are powerful tools for building customer relationships, making sales, and getting feedback from your audience. You can create a successful automated welcome sequence by remembering some best practices:

  • Choose at least one SMART goal. You can take this a step further by having a different goal for each email in the sequence.
  • Find the intersection between your goal and your audience’s goal. Use this information to plan content that helps both you and your subscribers.
  • Plan your content in advance. Outline the sequence of emails in its entirety before you start drafting.
  • Remember email marketing best practices. Things like mobile-friendly design and clear calls-to-action are especially important in an automated welcome sequence.

Once you’ve drafted your automated welcome sequence, it’s incredibly easy to schedule using MailPoet. So start building your first automated welcome sequence today!