Congratulations! Not only has a new customer visited your site, she’s provided you with her prized email address, indicating that she’s interested in further engagement. We know it’s harder to win over new customers and get them to make a purchase than it is to get a previous customer to buy, so once you have even a sniff of interest from a new customer, you want to keep it.

Pre-purchase welcome emails continue the conversation with the customer, letting her know you appreciate her interest and telling her what to expect next. Triggered emails like these—or others for an order confirmation, re-order or abandoned shopping cart reminder, or special occasion announcement are based on a specific action or event—are extremely effective. Emarketeer reports that open rates for triggered emails are as high as 49%. Epsilon’s Q2 2014 study on email trends showed that triggered emails are 74.9% more likely to be opened than business as usual (BAU) emails. Additionally, triggered emails have a high click rate, performing 161.9% higher than BAU.

Epsilon’s report also says that triggered messages account for only 3.8% of total email volume. That means that despite their benefits, many businesses aren’t taking advantage.

If you’re thinking of adding triggered emails to your marketing efforts, the first place to start is with the welcome. It sets the stage for all future communication.

Triggering an Experiment

To find out how businesses greet new customers, we provided a soon-to-be-defunct email address to ten retailers (based on a variety of products with a combination of online and brick and mortar stores where we I like to shop):

  • Amazon
  • Zappos
  • Walmart
  • Target
  • Home Depot
  • Athleta
  • Nike
  • Bed Bath and Beyond
  • Belk
  • Nordstrom

Our research, combined with their responses, helped us craft our best practices for a triggered pre-purchase welcome email.

Best Practices for a Welcome Email

But first—
Before we talk about the welcome email, consider where on your website you want your customers to land after submitting their email address. For several websites, I was directed to the account page, giving the sense that establishing a payment method was tantamount to the shopping experience.


Contrast that with Zappos, which directed me immediately to a welcome page, which contained tips on what I could do next and how.


Remember, just as you welcome people into your home or into a brick and mortar store, it’s important to provide a transition that deepens a relationship and guides the customer to the next step.

Use Prompt Email Timing

When should the welcome email go out? Immediately. Your customer is interested in your products and is seeking more information. Now’s not the time to be coy. Of the ten retailers, seven responded within 15 minutes of signing up. (Bed Bath and Beyond responded with a 20% off coupon!). Nordstrom responded in 45 minutes. Walmart sent a welcome message the next day. I’m still waiting to hear from Athleta. (And no, it’s not in my junk mail.)

Picture your customers, on the computer, intrigued enough by something on your website that she’ll risk getting numerous emails from you. Why wait to cultivate that interest when it may be too late?

Create An Effective Subject Line

What should your subject line be? Most experts agree that subject lines should be short and descriptive, i.e. Welcome to or Welcome to the Home Depot.

Nike’s “You’re In” subject line, while catchy, was easy to overlook as being a registration confirmation.


It also helps when the subject line contains a little of the company’s personality or a statement to encourage the customer to click on the email. Bed Bath and Beyond’s email says, “Welcome! Your 20% offer is here!” Zappos’ says, “Welcome and thanks for registering…We heart you!” And Walmart simply says, “Welcome. Let the savings begin.”

Use the Email Tone and Message to Build the Relationship

What do you say after you say hello? The message should be warm, friendly and personal. One that begins with the generic “Dear Valued Customer,” without mentioning the customer’s name, refutes its intended message.

Although dry in tone, this email does effectively inform the customer of what she can do now that she is registered, with links to get her to her destination quickly.


My favorite welcome email was from Amazon. It was personalized, it was extremely easy to see the actions I could take, whether ordering or setting up my account. I especially liked the inclusion of the Help and Customer Service link at the top.


Incorporate Your Welcome Email as Part of a Series

Just as a greeting doesn’t complete a conversation, one welcome email will not be enough to build a relationship with your customers. Follow up emails that offer additional product and company information, introduce loyalty programs, provide coupons or invite to join you on social media keep the conversation and the relationship going.

If you’re ready to launch a welcome email or start a welcome email series, these examples and tips will help you create the foundation for a beautiful relationship with your new customer.

Mike Arsenault
Mike Arsenault is the CEO and Co-Founder of Rejoiner. He works with 350+ online retail & eCommerce companies like Hallmark, eTix, Liftopia, and Vtech Electronics to help them grow faster using lifecycle email. He once lived aboard a 36' sailboat in Boston.