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8 Psychology-Backed Tips for Welcome Emails

Tap Into the Most Overlooked Marketing Tool

Open rates for welcome emails are three times higher than average.

This alone should keep you hunched over a double espresso while you devote 100% of your creative powers to crafting the most powerful welcome email sequence you can squeeze out of your brain.

As always, we’ve got you.

Here are eight psychology-backed tips to writing welcome emails.

Tip #1: The Recency Bias, or “How Effective Are Welcome Emails?”

The more recently something happened, the more importance we give to it. This is known as the recency bias, and it's one of the reasons most new sales come from new leads.

When a reader has just signed up for your newsletter, they are excited and interested. This is the best time to take action!

What Is the Objective of Welcome Emails?

8 Psychology-Backed Tips for Welcome Emails

Most newsletter publishers completely waste the power of the recency bias. They treat the welcome email as a housekeeping tool and leave it at that.

But the objective could be to:

  • Turn curious readers into loyal evangelists

  • Make more sales

  • Generate immediate and future revenue

  • Get more shares and referrals

  • Acquire valuable insight into your market

  • Gain more traffic and visibility on social media

  • All of the above, and more

The list of what you can accomplish with your welcome email is mind-boggling.

Take advantage of the recency bias. If the reader got on your list by making a purchase, this is a golden opportunity to upsell or make another fantastic offer.

This is also your best opportunity to cement the relationship. You can do this by offering additional content, asking your new subscriber to complete a survey, or implementing any of the tips we’re about to give you.

In fact, the recency bias gives an extra jolt of power to everything you do in your welcome email.

So let’s get started.

Welcome Email Tip #2: Grab Them in the First Line

Of course it’s good manners to thank your readers for subscribing, and take care of any immediate housekeeping.

But even with the advantage of the recency bias, it’s critical to show your readers as soon as possible that your newsletter is different, important, and (hopefully) fun.

The stratospherically successful Morning Brew welcomes new readers with this:

8 Psychology-Backed Tips for Welcome Emails

Their irreverent welcome sends the message that this newsletter is going to be tremendously valuable and sets the tone so readers know immediately what to expect.

Welcome Email Tip #3: The “Quirk Factor”

Every one of your readers is a unique individual. Most of them will be pleased to see that you are a unique individual, too.

Share a bit of personal quirkiness in your welcome emails. You don’t have to be intrinsically weird (although it might help!). Simply doing something that might seem out of place in a newsletter will help you stand out.

For example, if you subscribe to The Neuron, the welcome email will tell you “It is urgent” that you reply with a picture of your cat or dog.

8 Psychology-Backed Tips for Welcome Emails

The Neuron is all about AI, so asking for a photo of your pet seems a bit off. But founder Pete Huang grew The Neuron to 10,000 subscribers in the first month by using psychology-backed tactics like the cat and dog photos.

What Should a Welcome Email Include?

So far, we’ve been talking about why and how to write a welcome email. But several elements should go into your welcome email to make it more effective.

The rest of these tips will help you with the “what” of a welcome email sequence.

Tip #4: Use Your Welcome Email to Create More Connections

8 Psychology-Backed Tips for Welcome Emails

Robert Cialdini’s rigorously researched book, Influence, points out that people tend to like familiar people.

Showing up in your reader’s inbox every day, or even once a week, will make you more familiar, and therefore more likable.

But you have a special opportunity to build even more familiarity with your welcome email sequence.

Invite subscribers to engage with you on social media, and you have a better chance of success than you will at just about any point in the future.

This will give you more chances to “show up” and become familiar. You’ll help readers to know, like, and trust you. You’ll lay the groundwork for future engagement and, ultimately, future revenue.

Tip #5: The Sideways Call to Action

If you're running an e-commerce site, and a new subscriber gets on your list by making a purchase, then it makes sense to ask them in your welcome email to buy something else.

This action will feel consistent with what they have already done, and you have a good chance of gaining more revenue.

Cialdini calls this the power of commitment and consistency. His research found that when you take a small action, you will feel more inclined to take larger, related steps in the future.

To harness the power of commitment and consistency, add a Call To Action (CTA) in your welcome emails. If you don’t have something it makes sense to sell right away, you can still switch on the commitment and consistency juice with a sideways CTA.

For example, as we mentioned already, The Neuron asks you to send in a picture of your cat or dog. Many newsletters ask a question in the welcome email. One newsletter’s welcome email requests that you reply with the word “potato.”

A sideways CTA may seem trivial, or even nonsensical. But you’re making it feel normal and appropriate for the reader to do the things that you ask them to do.

Once a reader starts doing small things for you, they will feel inconsistent if they ignore a future request. This becomes a powerful, psychology-backed way to prime your subscribers to fill out surveys, provide referrals, and buy from you in the future.

Welcome Email Tip #6: Induct Readers Into Your Crew

8 Psychology-Backed Tips for Welcome Emails

We are social beings. Even the most timid introvert likes to belong.

Help your readers feel that they are now members of a club. (Remember, Morning Brew says, “You are now part of the Brew Crew” in their welcome email.)

Here are a few ways to create this sense of belonging:

  • Share your personal philosophy (which is likely to resonate with most readers who were interested enough to subscribe to your newsletter)

  • Lightly ridicule the “Muggles” who are not part of your circle

  • Create an identifying label, such as “cat dads,” that relates to the subject of your newsletter

  • Use the words “we” and “us” in ways that imply the reader is now part of your inner circle

  • Explicitly tell your reader that by subscribing, they have joined an exclusive club

Tip #7 Use Better Words to Set Expectations

It’s important for a new subscriber to know how often they’re going to hear from you, and what kind of content they can expect.

But you don’t have to be boring about this.

Shaan Puri of Milk Road instructs you in his welcome message to “think of this email like your smart, no-bullshit friend, whispering sweet web3 nothings into your ear every morning.”

8 Psychology-Backed Tips for Welcome Emails

That’s a lot more memorable than simply saying, “This is a daily email with news about crypto and NFTs.”

Be creative in the way you set expectations. Have a little fun with it, as you should be doing with all of these welcome email tips.

Tip #8 Reward Your Subscribers

8 Psychology-Backed Tips for Welcome Emails

No collection of psychology-backed welcome email tips would be complete without this classic: reward good behavior.

Just as you would throw a fish to a dolphin for jumping through a hoop, it’s important to reward the reader who just jumped through a hoop by subscribing to your newsletter.

Take a lesson from the newsletter that is literally called Psychology of Marketing. The welcome email offers three unexpected gifts.

8 Psychology-Backed Tips for Welcome Emails

The reward doesn’t have to be exceptional. A case study, a short checklist, or a link to a relevant video will work.

If nothing else, reward your subscriber with some laughter or entertainment in your welcome email, and you’ll be ahead of most newsletters.

Bonus Tip: Carry Out All These Psychology-Backed Welcome Email Tips (and More) With a Powerful Platform

As you can see, the strongest welcome email requires originality and playfulness. That’s why beehiiv does the heavy lifting on the technical side, leaving you free to be creative.

For example, we follow rigorous deliverability standards to keep your welcome email out of the spam folder. We have a whole suite of tools to create surveys, request referrals, and help readers share your newsletter with a few simple clicks.

If you want to craft a welcome email that’s packed with psychology-backed power tools, start a beehive newsletter.

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