Welcome emails give you the second chance to make a good first impression. Here’s how to make them shine for your brand using the principles of JTBD theory
If all your eCommerce emails made up their own Justice League, welcome emails would be Batman.
These emails have the highest open rate for marketing emails: according to Klaviyo 2020 eCommerce benchmarks, welcome flows have an average open rate of 44.75% and a click-through rate of 5.72%, aggregated across industries (click on the link to see your industry’s specific benchmarks).
Welcome emails are automated emails that let you build an intimate relationship with the subscriber right from the start, and assure them that their decision to trust you with their email was the right one.
That’s why you need to pay specific attention to your welcome flow.
Screw the pooch, and all subsequent emails will be banished to the Promotions tab, or worse, land up in spam.
In this post, I am going to apply the principles of Jobs-to-be-done theory to help you create standout welcome emails.
ABOUT JOBS TO BE DONE
Jobs-to-be-done theory seeks to understand why people buy or use a certain product over a competitor. It’s used to uncover actual customer motivations, help design better products, and make marketing more efficient.
Getting JTBD right in the context of your product can help you craft high-converting, revenue-generating welcome emails, and turn subscribers into raving fans, brand enthusiasts, and ambassadors.
Mistakes brands make with DTC welcome emails
Before I climb up on my JTBD soapbox, I want to step back and highlight some of the fundamental mistakes brands make with welcome emails.
Ignore these issues at your own peril.
1. Just sending one welcome email
Many brands will send just one welcome email before inundating your inbox with promotions and offers.
That’s a mistake, because welcome emails have a lot of heavy lifting to do.
DTC welcome emails can’t be like 2017’s 2hr Justice League, directed by Joss Whedon, which was a steaming pile of embarrassment. They need to be like the long 4hr Snyder Cut, which has become a critical and a fan favorite.
You should send at least 4 emails as a part of the welcome flow, with the first email being sent to everyone and subsequent emails going to people who have not converted yet.
These 4 emails should each cover different aspects like brand, product education, community, social proof, while also focusing on sales.
2. Botching the design and number of calls to action
DTC welcome emails should have a primary call to action. Neglect this rule, and you are likely to see poor conversion rates, regardless of what your gut tells you.
This principle should also inform your email design. On average, text-only emails seem to have better conversion rates compared to design heavy HTML emails because the former would have a prominent, single call-to-action button.
This email snippet has two calls to action, one of which is harder to spot. This design hurts click through rates.
3. Sending the same welcome emails to buyers and non-buyers
People who have given you their email addresses are different from people who have bought from you for the first time.
While you should welcome both segments into your world, the latter group would actually need a Thank you flow. This flow will focus less on customer acquisition and more on retention, upsells, cross-sells, and community building.
However, you can use some content in both types of email flows as long as you frame it appropriately.
Want an example? This is Warby Parker’s welcome email, with an introduction to the brand, some educational information along with calls to action to buy (not seen in this screenshot)
Their Thank you email is very different, with a call to fill out a customer survey.
4. Sending promotional emails only instead of content
While the first email of your welcome flow will have the highest open rate, it doesn’t mean that you start peddling your wares right off the bat.
Even when you show off your top-selling products in the first email it should always have a non-transactional vibe.
Thank the user for subscribing, talk a bit about the brand, tell people why customers love you, give them the discount code AND then, show them the top-selling products in your inventory.
5. Not persuading subscribers about your product’s benefits
It’s not enough to simply show subscribers the most popular products in your inventory and send them off with a generous discount.
Nah, in a sea of similar products, you need to be able to convince people why your product deserves to be in their life.
Use logic (even though people buy emotionally) to make your case, and give subscribers reasons beyond price point (competing on price is the worst thing you can do, especially in consumer products).
For reference, check out the Kettle & Fire’s second email in their welcome flow that answers FAQs.
Depending on your specific product type, there might be other ways in which your welcome emails are not hitting the mark, but fixing these mistakes will get you there 90% of the time.
The JTBD principles powering kickass DTC welcome emails
Now that you are aware of the mistakes, here’s how you can avoid them in your emails by deploying the learnings of JTBD theory.
Before diving deeper, check out this presentation which illustrates how to use the principles of JTBD in writing emails.
Briefly, your product needs to help the user complete a number of different jobs:
- Make their life simpler and more convenient
- Make them look and feel good
- Make economic sense
From a cursory look at Kettle & Fire’s welcome series, check out how these priorities have been balanced (based just on the subject line).
With DTC welcome emails you don’t want to focus too much on the economic outcomes (leave that to the cart abandonment series).
Instead, you would want to ensure that the subscriber understands how the product will help them with their core job (getting a clean shave/ eat healthy/stay hydrated during workout/sleep well….).
Then, in the second and third emails, you want to focus on the emotional and social aspects of the product: sustainability, community, altruism, etc.
Check out this snippet from Truff’s second welcome email, which establishes social proof.
And then, of course, you can talk about economic benefits like low prices, subscriber discounts, etc.
But the welcome series should not make the subscriber feel hounded or pressured to buy.
The foundational principles of a well designed DTC welcome flow
So once you have the superstructure of the welcome series in place, you need to deal with the specifics: how many emails in the welcome flow, what subject lines to use, or specific design considerations.
Here are some concrete ideas:
1. At least 4 welcome emails, sent to non-converting users
You are going to send a minimum of 4 emails to non-converting users.
So if someone buys off your 2nd email, you will want to take them off the welcome flow and move them to the thank you flow.
Each of these emails will lead to product pages, but the trick is not to sell the product front and center. Tell stories in each of these emails and use the call to action to close the loop.
Here are some more details to help you write these emails:
- First email: It should offer the discount code, thank people for subscribing and introduce subscribers to the brand. You can also suggest popular products to buy (keep the discount code time-barred and change it often to prevent it from being used off of coupon sites.
- Second email: Send to customers who don’t convert from the first., This email should be brand heavy, telling the story of the brand, introducing the team, offering up social proof in the form of celebrity endorsements or press mentions.
- Third email: Make this email a bit more product-centric. Talk about what makes your product special in terms of processes, ingredients, formulae, design, and return policies.
- Fourth email: If someone still doesn’t buy off the third email, hit them with social proof. Show them testimonials, customer case studies, community events, unboxing gifs, etc. Your goal is to show that ordinary customers have gotten value out of the product.
Bear in mind that this isn’t a set-in-stone guideline: you can and should test different copy angles, the number of emails, mix between educational, brand, and promotional content.
2. Segment right off the bat
I have in a past post talked about the insane, unfair advantages that a segmented list will grant to any DTC brand.
Segmentation, however, isn’t some end-of-quarter tax filing you need to get out of the way. It’s like eating healthy, sleeping early, and staying positive, akin to a lifestyle change.
You need to segment your subscriber list and send emails based on :
- Geographical location.
- Time zone of the subscriber
- RFM metrics
- Time of the year
Some of these segments, like the RFM metrics, time zone, or locale can be automatically set up by your email software based on user activity. For others like age and gender, you will need to ask subscribers directly.
You can do so using form fields, birthday flows or simply through a quiz.
3. Test everything
With email marketing, constant testing is essential for optimizing performance.
Even though email as a medium is the oldest form of Internet communication, the sheer complexity of the infrastructure powering emails means something new comes up every day with the potential to give you sleepless nights.
Here are some of the variables you should test regularly:
- Subject lines: The most critical variable dictating email performance. While you need to A/B test your subject lines, you can set up your email solution so that the test is run on 10% of your list/segment. The winner is then sent to the remainder of the list.
- Body content: Body content for DTC welcome emails can be simple or complex, based on whether you are sending a text-only version or an HTML email. When testing, go big. Play around with different copy angles instead of limiting your test to button color.
- Images and GIFs: Your email’s click-through rate can vary widely depending on its visual content. For image-heavy emails though, you also need to test delivery and deliverability, given that the likes of Gmail are known to flag emails above a certain size.
- Calls to action: Don’t just test out call-to-action button copy, but also test conversion rate by target URL.
- Text only vs HTML: Both types of emails have their fans. While you need to test for your list, text-only emails are known to have a higher click-through rate, mainly because subscribers perceive them as less salesy.
- Date and time of receipt: An obvious variable to test, date and time can hugely influence open and CTR. With Klaviyo, you can set up welcome emails so that they will be automatically delivered at specific times based on the recipient’s time zone.
- Duration between emails: For the welcome emails, you will also want to test the frequency between the individual emails in the flow.
Winning at DTC welcome email: copywriting guidelines
Welcome emails are your most hardworking marketing emails, and they require a mix of brand storytelling, product education and product promotion to reach their full potential.
When you are writing welcome emails, keep in mind the following points:
- Do you know the actual reason why the customer uses your product (based on actual interviews, not educated guesses)?
- Are you reducing the hidden anxieties a customer might experience when making the change to using your product?
- Does the email acknowledge the ‘Now’ of the customer and make them feel heard before it seduces them with the product’s benefits?
- Are you clearing the air on friction points that the customer are dealing with that they would want to avoid?
These points, based on Jobs to be done theory will keep your welcome emails rooted to customer requirements, instead of making them all about the product.