Jeanne S. Jennings

Welcome Messages: Are You Making a Good First Impression on New Opt-ins?

July 1st, 2010

I’ve just completed another MarketingSherpa Email Essentials Workshop Training session, and have another quick tale from the road:

In the recent Workshop in Atlanta, one attendee submitted the URL of his email sign-up page for a critique, but said that he wasn’t submitting a welcome message because he didn’t believe there was one. Lo and behold, when I signed up for his email list I received a welcome message. I then understood why he didn’t realize it existed — it was utterly forgettable.

There are so many things that a welcome message can and should be; so many ways it can get the email relationship off on the right foot. We critiqued this welcome message during the workshop; I look forward to seeing the marketer implement the ideas we discussed to make it more effective.


Do you know if a welcome message is sent to new subscribers to your email list? If it is, do you know what it says? Whether it’s text or HTML? Who to contact if you need to update or change it?

I’m often surprised at how many marketers overlook this critical aspect of a new email relationship. Here are a few tips on welcome messages (just a small taste of what we cover in the email list growth section of the Workshop).

Welcome messages are one of the most common types of transactional email messages. A survey published in MarketingSherpa’s Best Practices in Email Marketing Handbook found that:

– 54% of respondents stated that they open and read transactional messages “very often or always.”

– Only 21% of respondents reported opening and reading other opt-in email with the same frequency.

Bottom line: Your welcome message (and other transactional messages) are probably opened and read by two-and-a-half times as many people as your email marketing messages. They are worthy of your attention.

Yet many organizations don’t think much about their welcome messages. Case in point: Exhibit A below.

text-only welcome message

This welcome isn’t bad, but it’s not reaching its full potential. It does thank the reader for subscribing. Then it reiterates the information provided at sign-up — but why? There’s really no reason.

Contrast this with Exhibit B: A welcome email from NFL Shop.

HTML welcome message

NFL Shop’s welcome message is in HTML, not text. But that alone doesn’t make it better. Just as the previous message did, it thanks the recipient for subscribing. But then it goes a few steps further.

– The benefits of having an email relationship with NFL Shop are front and center, in bullet points so they are easy to skim. This gets the recipient excited about receiving future email messages from NFL Shop.

– They also provide a link to get a free team catalog. They are making it easy for people to learn more about the merchandise they offer to entice them to shop and buy.

– Speaking of which, I love the “Begin Shopping” button on the right side of the email. It drives people back to the site to browse and buy, which is NFL Shop’s bottom line goal.

As good as this welcome message is, they are still missing an opportunity. See all the blank space below the “Begin Shopping” button? Why aren’t they using it to provide a coupon for a discount on my next purchase? They could add urgency by having the offer expire a week after the date that the welcome message was sent. That would give recipients an extra incentive to go back to the NFL Shop site and buy.

In a nutshell, an effective welcome message should:

o Thank the subscriber for signing up

o Reiterate the benefits of the email relationship

o Include a call-to-action

o Offer an incentive to encourage the desired action

Dating analogies are rampant in the email world, so here’s another. When someone signs up for your email list, they’re expressing interest in having an online relationship with your organization. Sending an effective welcome message right away is critical for leveraging this “honeymoon” period and getting the relationship off on the right foot.

Jeanne S. Jennings

About Jeanne S. Jennings

Jeanne S. Jennings ( is an email marketing strategy consultant with over 20 years of experience in the online/Internet marketing realm. She will is leading the MarketingSherpa Email Essentials 2010 Training Workshops at locations around the United States and Canada. Jeanne works with medium- to enterprise-sized organizations, helping them become more effective and more profitable online. Her direct response focus gets results for her clients, which include Hasbro, The Mayo Clinic, The National Press Club, Network Solutions, Verizon Communications, and Weight Watchers International. Jeanne’s book, The Email Marketing Kit: The Ultimate Email Marketer’s Bible, was published by SitePoint. Since 2001 she has authored a twice-monthly column on email marketing for ClickZ Experts. Jeanne is a frequent contributor to marketing publications as well as a sought-after speaker on email marketing topics.

Categories: Email Marketing, Marketing Tags:

  1. July 1st, 2010 at 09:33 | #1

    Thank you for the reviews and tips. Need to go and check out my welcome and other transactional messages.

  2. July 1st, 2010 at 12:01 | #2

    Jeanne, another good example of welcome emails can be find at

  3. July 2nd, 2010 at 10:09 | #3

    Jeanne, excellent points. I just wrote up a full analysis of welcome emails from a number of large brands online. It’s still pretty stunning how companies still get it wrong in 2010.

  4. July 8th, 2010 at 14:05 | #4

    Would like more info on your upcoming seminar in Minneapolis: when and where?

  5. August 30th, 2010 at 21:26 | #5

    Good straight to point information. Welcome messages are low hanging fruit. Everyone should be leveraging them to entice further actions from the new opt-in. The visitor just opted-in you send them a message right after chances are you have their attention. It’s a very good time to thank them and then show them your value.

  6. Justin Bridegan
    September 28th, 2010 at 10:10 | #6

    Hey Becky,
    Glad you asked, here is a list of locations and dates for upcoming Email Marketing Essentials Workshops:

    -Toronto, ON October 19
    -Miami, FL November 9

    Please check here for any special discounts or offers:

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