Welcome Message Sequence

How our test site utilized its welcome message sequence to create a return visitor rate of more than 46% in just the first five days



This research brief will answer the following questions:

  1. What is an email welcome message sequence?
  2. How many repeat visitors can an email welcome message sequence generate?
  3. What kinds of messages should you use?
  4. What is the best way to optimize the effectiveness of your email welcome messages? (9 Techniques)


1. What is an email welcome message sequence?

An email welcome message sequence consists of a series of two or more messages sent to new members of an email list over a given period of time. The series is usually automated and sent automatically on schedule by list management software.

Both publishers and retailers can benefit from creating an email list with a welcome message sequence. The most common form the email list takes is a newsletter; however, you can also host an email list sign-up for sweepstakes, free whitepapers related to your products, or other valuable information for your audience.

2. How many repeat visitors can an email welcome message sequence generate?

In a recent four-month experiment, we set up a three-message welcome sequence for one of our test sites.

Here are the details:

  1. The primary purpose of the welcome message sequence was to generate click-throughs back to a page on the test site that was aimed at converting these free subscribers to premium (paying) members.
  2. The sequence was triggered whenever someone signed up for a free opt-in email newsletter.
  3. New subscribers received the first email immediately, the second email 24 hours later, and the third email 72 hours after sign-up.

Here are the results of our first four months of testing:

Test 1 – Email Welcome Message Sequence
New Subscribers Email 1 Email 2 Email 3
Month Total for Period Clicks CTR Clicks CTR Clicks CTR
June 267 43 16.10% 25 9.36% 30 11.24%
May 255 45 17.65% 53 20.78% 46 18.04%
April 347 50 14.41% 47 13.54% 47 13.54%
March 466 77 16.52% 78 16.74% 76 16.31%
Total 1335 215 16.10% 203 15.21% 199 14.91%

What You Need To UNDERSTAND: In the test above, we generated an additional 617 unique visits to our test site’s offer page. All three emails generated an average click-through rate (CTR) of 15% or better.

Of 1335 new subscribers over the test period, 617 clicked through to view our Test Site’s offer a second time. This represents 46.2% of the new subscribers (*1).

Although we are still compiling conversion data, we suspect that the conversion rate of these return visitors is much higher than normal: these leads have pre-qualified themselves and therefore should convert at a higher rate.

Setting up the message sequence took very little time and utilized features already built in to our test site’s list-management service.

KEY POINT: It is important that you reach your new subscribers within the first five days. These are generally people who have visited your site for the first time and chose to opt-in to your free email newsletter. An effective welcome message reaches your new audience in this critical time when your premium offer is fresh in their minds.

3. What kinds of messages should you use?

In order to help you plan your own welcome message sequence, we have included templates of the three messages we used in the test above.

Here is the first message, sent automatically when a person subscribes:

Subject: Welcome New Subscriber

Dear Subscriber:

Thank you for subscribing to NEWSLETTER NAME. You will receive your first issue soon.

The goal of this newsletter is to help you with (YOUR CORE VALUE PROPOSITION).

We are currently offering a FREE trial (or other special offer) for new newsletter subscribers only. If you are interested, you can find out more at:

If at any time you have suggestions or insights, please feel free to contact us.

Thanks again,

Signature and Email

Here is a template of the second email, sent 24 hours after the first:

Subject Line: For New COMPANY NAME Subscribers

Dear Subscriber,

We have included our most recent issue at the bottom of this email.

If you would like to get complete access to our exclusive members-only content, click here:

You will receive:

1. Feature/Selling-Point 1.

2. Feature/Selling-Point 2.

3. Feature/Selling-Point 3.

To learn more, please visit:


You will receive the first issue of our newsletter soon.

Thanks again,

Signature and Email


And here is the third email in the sequence, sent 72 hours after the first message:

Subject Line: Final Notice for New Subscribers

Dear Subscriber,

This will be your final reminder about our limited-time offer for a FREE TRIAL/FREE SHIPPING OFFER/DISCOUNTED SUBSCRIPTION/ETC.

Our Premium Service includes the following:


To take advantage of this limited-time offer, click here:


Thanks again,

Signature and Email

P.S. Special (Bonus) Offer and Tracking URL.

Note that these are just examples. Your own emails will be customized to meet the positive expectations of your own target audience.

4. What is the best way to optimize the effectiveness of your email welcome messages? (9 Techniques)

  1. Automate your message sequence. While it is possible to send them manually, it is not recommended if you receive more than a small handful of new subscribers every day. Most professional email list-hosting providers will feature functionality that will enable you to automate outgoing messages based on the actions of your subscribers.
  2. Use low-key, polite, and friendly copy. Don’t overwhelm your new subscribers with your sales pitch. Focus on being genuinely helpful and create a sense of community if possible. In this sense, the templates above could be improved greatly for your unique audience.

    For more on writing copy for skeptical consumers, see our report on Transparent Marketing:

  3. Test your delivery cycle and strive for timeliness. If at all possible, send the first message immediately after a user subscribes. If it is not possible, at least send it within the first 24 hours. Subsequent messages in the sequence should be sent on a consistent schedule.

    Consistency in your message timeliness will allow you to test and refine your mailing schedule. For your own unique audience, you may find schedule sequences that work better than the one outlined in the test above.

  4. Test your copy. Pay attention not only to click-through rate (as we did in the test above), but to conversion rate as well. Through micro-testing, refine your message as your business evolves over the months and years.
  5. Allow your subscribers (even the newest ones) every opportunity to opt-out. Permission should be respected at all times. Include clear unsubscription instructions in every email message you send.
  6. Utilize the post-script as a marketing device. If a subscriber has taken the time to read to the end of your messages, he or she may be perched precariously “on the fence” and may need only a small extra incentive to prompt action.
  7. Remove new paying customers from the sequence. If someone signs up for your offer, try to make sure that they don’t continue to receive the same (now irrelevant) marketing messages.
  8. Comply with the CAN-SPAM Act of 2003. There are numerous how-to articles on the web that cover this topic. The official compliance documentation is available at:
  9. Review our report on Email Campaigns for some additional ideas on how to improve your email marketing messages:

An email welcome message sequence is an effective marketing technique you can implement with very little effort. Over time, it will drive significant repeat traffic and create substantial sales potential.

We welcome your feedback on this report and we will continue to share our research and insights as we discover them.


(*1) This number does not take into account subscribers who may have clicked-through from two or more of the emails in the sequence. Still, we consider this campaign very successful.

Related MEC Reports:

Email Campaigns Tested:

Email Capture Tested:

Email Capture Pop-Ups Tested:

Content Sales Tested:

Landing Pages Tested:

Ideal Subscription Path Tested:

Offer Pricing Tested:

Order Process Tested:

Transparent Marketing:

Literature Review

As part of our research on this topic, we have prepared a review of the best Internet resources on this topic.

Rating System

These sites were rated for usefulness and clarity, but alas, the rating is purely subjective.

* = Decent ** = Good *** = Excellent **** = Indispensable

Seven Steps to Optimize Your Welcome Message ***

Growing an Email List: Five Practical Tips **

Choosing a Broadcast Email Vendor, Part I **

Choosing a Broadcast Email Vendor, Part II **

Using Email to Drive Traffic Online **

A Strong Creative Brief Optimizes Email Marketing **

Email Creative Checklist **

Begin at the Beginning **

Email Copy Clinic: The Power of Words **

12 Tips for Successful Opt-In Email Newsletters **

Email Marketing Tips **

Email Universe **

Email Sherpa **

Beginners Guide to Ezine Publishing **

About This Brief


Editor — Flint McGlaughlin

Writer — Brian Alt

HTML Designer — Cliff Rainer

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