How to Set Up a Welcome Series for Email Subscribers
If you are actively growing your email list, you probably have sign-up forms scattered throughout your website, perhaps you've created an opt-in offer, and maybe you are even using several content upgrades. But what are you doing with those subscribers once they sign up?
I often hear from a lot of bloggers that they just don't know what to send after someone has opted into their email list. I'd like to suggest a welcome series.
A welcome series is a great way to introduce new subscribers to everything you do in a way that isn't overwhelming or pushy, but informative and welcoming. I'm going to show you how to set up a welcome series for email subscribers, whether you're in MailChimp or ConvertKit, and I'm also going to give you some ideas for the kinds of content to put in the emails. (This post contains affiliate links.)
It's perfectly acceptable for new subscribers to simply drop into the regular rotation of your normal email newsletters, but if you'd like to really add value right from the start, a welcome series is the way to go.
Alright, let's dive right in...
WHY CREATE A WELCOME SERIES
A welcome series is a great way for you to establish your authority within your niche, build trust with people who may not be very familiar with who you are, and set the tone for future email communication.
Introduce Old Content to New Readers
I say it all the time: Old content isn't old to new readers. A welcome series allows you to put new eyes on some of your older content, essentially giving subscribers an organized tour of your blog.
Showcase All You Do
If you're anything like me, you have a lot of projects going at once, and while I'd love to have every subscriber sign up for ALL THE THINGS, that's a surefire way to turn them off immediately. A welcome series can help you share all of your projects, but in a more inviting way, without overwhelming them with too many options.
HOW TO CREATE A WELCOME SERIES
MailChimp calls this an Automation Workflow, and is a paid feature within MailChimp.
Start by clicking "Automation" in the top menu bar, then the "Add Automation" button on the top right of the screen.
MailChimp provides many different types of automation workflows, and there is one specifically for a welcome series. Choose "List Activity" from the menu on the left, then click the "Add Automation button" for the "Welcome Series".
Give your series a name and choose which list you will be using, if you have more than one. Click "Next".
The next screen will show a list of three emails. The first thing to note is the initial trigger. MailChimp's default setting is 1 day after subscribers join your list. I recommend editing that trigger for the first email to set it to send immediately. To do this, click "Edit trigger".
Choose "immediately" from the menu and save. You can change the delay in the same way for every email in the series. I recommend sending the first email immediately, then each consecutive email 1 day to 1 week apart.
The next thing to pay attention to are the settings for each email, including the schedule, segment and action. The schedule defaults to "every day, all day", meaning that no matter when a new subscriber signs up, this email will be triggered and sent. I recommend leaving the default setting.
The segment setting is a great way to send a different welcome series to each segment of your list. Simply click "edit segment" to choose the segment(s) of your list to which to apply this welcome series.
The action setting allows you to tell MailChimp to do different things based on the opening of this email, such as adding them to, or removing them from a particular segment. For a simple welcome series, I recommend leaving this at the default setting of "none".
After you have updated your settings, click "Design Email" to write your content. Repeat this for every email in the series.
MailChimp defaults to three emails in the welcome series, but you can add more by clicking the button at the bottom. Alternatively, you can delete emails from your welcome series by clicking the drop-down menu to the right of the "Design Email" button and choosing "Delete". Finally, you can hold your mouse over the three vertical dots to the left of each email thumbnail, then drag & drop them to reorder.
When you have finished designing your emails and customized the settings, click "Next" at the bottom of the screen.
On the confirmation screen, you will be able to see the list of emails in your welcome series, verify your settings, then click the blue "Start Workflow" button at the bottom right of the screen.
Note: You can add, delete, or reorder your welcome series at any time after starting the workflow by navigating back to Automation --> Choose the workflow you wish to edit and select "Pause Workflow" from the drop-down menu to the right of your chosen workflow. Make your changes, then restart your workflow.
ConvertKit refers to an email series as a Sequence and is part of every ConvertKit plan.
To get started, choose "Sequences" from the top menu bar, then click the "Create Sequence" button on the top right of your screen.
Give your sequence a name then click the blue "Create Sequence" button.
This is the screen you will see. There's a lot going on here but it's pretty straightforward. Let's break it down.
The first thing to pay attention to is the interval at which each email will be sent. The first email in the series defaults to 1 day after the sequence is triggered. For a welcome series, I recommend changing this to send immediately, which you can do by changing the "1" to a "0", then saving the sequence.
You'll be able to change the number of days in the same fashion for each email in the sequence.
ConvertKit creates their version of a sales funnel with suggested email types and intervals between each email in the series. For a welcome series, you can ignore their suggestions and create your own.
You'll also notice three lines next to the name of each email in the series. Hold your mouse over these lines to reorder the emails in the series.
At the bottom of each email, you have a drop-down menu to change each email's status from "Draft" to "Published". Only emails in the sequence marked as "Published" will be sent to subscribers, which allows you to gradually add emails to the sequence, rather than all at once.
After creating all of the emails in your sequence, click over to the "Settings" for this sequence (in the top right above the sequence). On this screen, you can change the name of your sequence, set the days and time for your emails to be sent (I recommend keeping the default to send everyday), choose the email template you wish to use, exclude anyone from these emails, duplicate or delete this sequence.
Note about exclusion: One of the nice features of ConvertKit is allowing you to choose who NOT to send emails to. For example, if you have a registration sign-up form for a webinar that has it's own sequence, you might choose to exclude those subscribers from your welcome email.
To tell ConvertKit who will receive this sequence, choose the form that new subscribers will use, and go to that form's settings. On the "Main Settings" tab, choose your new welcome sequence from the drop down list, then save the form.
Now that you know the mechanics involved, what exactly do you write in this welcome series??
WHAT TO WRITE IN A WELCOME SERIES
Always Start With An Introduction
A welcome series is meant to be...well, welcoming, so start with a warm "hello". The first email in your welcome series should be a warm greeting and an introduction to you and your blog.
I tell my subscribers a short version of how Sweet Tea, LLC came to be, what my business stands for, and then I provide them with options as to which types of emails they want to get from me, since I offer both a Blog + Biz Weekly and a Weekly Digest. (I also describe the two email types to help them make a smart decision, and give them the option to get both.)
Finally, I let them know that, over the next few days, they'll receive a few emails from me to tell them more about Sweet Tea, LLC. This lets them know that they won't normally get so many emails from me, but I want to educate them on my business and all that I offer.
One Blog Category Per Email
If your blog covers several categories, you may choose to create one email for each blog category, giving your subscribers a tour of your blog and introducing old content to new readers.
Choose the best posts in each category, and rather than simply telling readers to "click here to read the post", give them a short background story as to why this particular post is special or significant, then invite them to click through to read it.
One Facet Of Your Business Per Email
As I mentioned a moment ago, I let my subscribers know in the initial welcome email that I will be sharing more about my business with them over the next several days. If your business has many facets, use your welcome series to share this information in an organized, not overwhelming, manner. What I mean is, don't stuff everything about your business into one huge email.
Instead, break it down into manageable pieces. For example, the second email in my series asks subscribers about their learning style. I go on to let them know that I offer blog posts, webinars, video content, a podcast, courses, and ebooks. I explain that, because everyone learns differently, I try to have something for everyone. Under each category of content, I list 2-3 links for them to click through to learn more.
My third email dives into more detail about The Mason Jar, my upcoming membership site that will house all of my educational content plus exclusive members-only challenges, workshops, and coaching.
If you have several different calls-to-action for your business, spread them out into separate emails so as not to overwhelm your subscribers, but to educate them on all you have to offer.
If you have an opt-in offer and/or a resource library, be sure to link to these things in the initial email in your welcome series, even if they were redirected after confirming their subscription. It's always a good idea to provide something more than once just in case the subscriber neglected to save the information the first time.
You may also consider creating one email in your series specifically to tell subscribers how to connect with you online, particularly if you hang out on one social media platform more than others. Let them know what you share there and how they can engage with you. This is very helpful if you host a Facebook group.
If your business receives questions regularly, it may be helpful to create one email in your series that serves as a FAQ, or Frequently Asked Questions, guide. Particularly if you are a service-based business, you can answer common questions potential clients may have prior to working with you.
*post contains affiliate links