How to Build a Welcome Flow

Do you remember the 3 secret ingredients to a great email marketing campaign? (Hint: you can find them right here.)

One of those ingredients is automation, where you set up emails that automatically go out to users after they take specific actions. 

Unlike your manually scheduled email broadcasts, automated emails can go out at any time, as long as the recipient has done a certain action to trigger the email.

In today’s blog post, we’re walking you through one of the most important series of automated emails you can create—your welcome flow.

The Basics

First things first: let’s establish what a flow is.

A “flow” is a series of automated emails, scheduled one after the other. The first email will only go out after the recipient makes an action that triggers your flow(in this case, signing up for your email list). Then subsequent emails will go out in the following days and weeks.

An email flow can be as short as two emails or as long as a dozen—or more. As a rule, all the emails in a single flow should work toward pushing the recipient to take one particular action. 

An email flow following the download of a lead-generating PDF might ask recipients to sign up for your weekly email newsletter. A post-first purchase flow will likely incentivize making a second purchase with free shipping or a discount code. An abandoned cart flow will encourage users to complete their purchase on your website.

Welcome flows have two major goals: to increase brand awareness and to guide potential customers further down their customer journey. 

Your Brand’s Customer Journey

“A customer journey?” you might be asking. “Isn’t this blog post about welcome flows?” 

Yes, it is, but you can’t have one without the other. 

The structure, content, and spacing of your welcome flow will depend on your customer journey

Nearly all customer journeys follow this pattern: 

  1. Customer Awareness.
  2. Consideration & Evaluation.
  3. Purchase Decision.
  4. Customer Retention.
  5. Customer Promotion & Advocacy.

But the details of these steps vary from business to business. To optimize your welcome flow, you need to consider a few things. 

How do you get the majority of your email sign-ups? Where in the customer journey does that fall? What is the next major step you want your customers to take? 

If most of your sign-ups come from people who have not purchased and want to learn more about your brand, your welcome flow will focus on customer awareness and moving recipients through the process of consideration, evaluation, and purchase decision. 

If your sign-ups are typically made after the first purchase, your welcome flow will be dedicated to customer retention, encouraging repeat purchases, and turning your customers into brand advocates.

You should also consider how long your average customer waits between purchases and the time it takes for a lead to move through the steps of the customer journey. These answers will affect the number and frequency of emails in your flow.

Introduce Yourself

The first email in your welcome flow is where you say “hello” to your potential customers. This is probably the first email anyone will receive from your brand, so it’s important to establish the voice, visual branding, and tone your audience can expect from you. 

Acknowledge the action the recipient took to receive this email, whether that was signing up for an email newsletter, making a purchase, or creating an account on your website. Thank them for taking that step, and welcome them into your business’s community. 

Don’t push your recipient to take any major steps with you yet. The purpose of the flow is to work your way to asking for a commitment, not to demand a purchase on the first email. As Donald Miller likes to say in Building a Storybrand, that would be like proposing marriage on a first date.

End your first email with a teaser of the next emails in the flow. Maybe you’ll include a discount code, your best blog posts, or a curated catalog of products. Get your reader excited about future emails, and make them look forward to opening your next one.

Ask for Small Steps Forward

To continue Donald Miller’s analogy, the first, second, or third emails in your welcome flow aren’t the place to propose marriage to your audience. Instead, you want to find smaller, more accessible steps for your audience to take, like asking them out on a second or third date. 

Chances are your recipients are still in the awareness and consideration stages of their customer journeys. Your welcome flow should help them get to know you better and establish how your product can meet their needs.

Here are some ideas for small steps you can ask your recipients to take as you prepare them to become customers: 

  • Follow your social media pages.
  • Read your most recent or popular blog posts.
  • Browse your catalog.
  • Take a survey about their communications and product preferences (that you can use to personalize their content later on).
  • Take a product matching quiz.
  • Watch video testimonials from satisfied customers. 

These CTAs will help your recipient deepen their relationship with your brand without asking too much of them. 

Pop the Question

The exact length of your welcome flow is up to you and your brand’s customer journey. HubSpot recommends sending 6 to 8 emails, with the final email going out 60 days after the user’s initial sign-up. If the user makes a purchase before the 60-day mark, suppress them from further welcome emails and add them to your main mailing list.

The final welcome email is your proposal—the time and place to ask your recipient to make a purchase. 

You’ve spent the last 60 days introducing your brand, showing off what makes your business special, and offering free, valuable information about your industry. Now, you’re asking for something in return: a purchase.

Offer a discount code, free shipping, or a freebie to help sweeten the deal. First-time customers often need a little extra encouragement to commit. If you offered a discount in previous welcome emails, increase the discount in the final email. (Remember, anyone who purchased earlier in the welcome flow should be suppressed.)

For better results, personalize the request in the final email. If you have specific data about a user’s preferences or interests, use dynamic content to populate the email with products that appeal to them. The more personalized you can make the offer, the more likely your recipient will become a customer. 

With careful consideration and a good understanding of your target audience, your welcome flow will move users through the customer journey with ease!

Building a welcome flow can be daunting, but you don’t have to do it alone. Schedule a call, and let our team of email marketing experts help. We’ll create a robust digital marketing strategy that turns prospects into loyal customers, and you can focus on running and growing your business. 

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