Why You Need A Welcome Email Sequence

For email to work, subscribers have to remember who you are and what you do.

Are you learning about what a welcome email sequence or nurture sequence is for the very first time?

Or do you already have an existing welcome email sequence and want to explore ways to make it better and more effective?

Whether you already have an existing welcome sequence, or are just hearing about it for the first time, the tips below will help you ramp up your email marketing efforts and save you time.

Scroll down for helpful strategies and insights you can put into action today.

How Repetition Helps You Grow Online

In order to gain traction online, you have to be seen by your followers again and again. It takes several “touches” for people online to even remember who the hell you are.

In marketing, this technique is called effective frequency. There are several theories behind effective frequency; 3 of the most popular perspectives come from Hermann Ebbinghaus, Thomas Smith, and Herbert E. Krugman.

Hermann Ebbinghaus: The Forgetting Curve

Hermann Ebbinghaus was a 19th-century German psychologist who studied learning and memory. His research on learning curves and how frequency improves retention was transformative for both business and marketing psychology.

You probably have experienced the Forgetting Curve throughout your life; the more you revisit a concept, the better you remember it.

Figure 1: The Ebbinghaus forgetting curve. Only a small fraction of information is retained on the first pass; information must be repeated and applied to cement learning and awareness.

Thomas Smith: Successful Advertising

Around the same time that Ebbinghaus was mapping out his Forgetting Curve (1885-ish), Thomas Smith wrote a pamphlet entitled Successful Advertising.

This pamphlet has a famous passage related to retention. It reads as follows:

The first time people look at any given ad, they don’t even see it.
The second time, they don’t notice it.
The third time, they are aware that it is there.
The fourth time, they have a fleeting sense that they’ve seen it somewhere before.
The fifth time, they actually read the ad.
The sixth time they thumb their nose at it.
The seventh time, they start to get a little irritated with it.
The eighth time, they start to think, “Here’s that confounded ad again.”
The ninth time, they start to wonder if they’re missing out on something.
The tenth time, they ask their friends and neighbors if they’ve tried it.
The eleventh time, they wonder how the company is paying for all these ads.
The twelfth time, they start to think that it must be a good product.
The thirteenth time, they start to feel the product has value.
The fourteenth time, they start to remember wanting a product exactly like this for a long time.
The fifteenth time, they start to yearn for it because they can’t afford to buy it.
The sixteenth time, they accept the fact that they will buy it sometime in the future.
The seventeenth time, they make a note to buy the product.
The eighteenth time, they curse their poverty for not allowing them to buy this terrific product.
The nineteenth time, they count their money very carefully.
The twentieth time prospects see the ad, they buy what is offering.

Notice how a reader’s perception changes ever so slightly as repetition continues. When you have a way to reach readers regularly, you’re able to shift their opinion of you over time.

Herbert E. Krugman: “Three Exposures Is Enough”

Repetition certainly helps. But by the 1960s, a man named Herbert Krugman felt differently. While at General Electric, Krugman wrote an article for the American Psychological Association stating that three exposures is sufficient in advertising. This theory created drama!

According to Krugman, the three phases someone goes through when they’re learning about you are:


  • AwarenessWho/What is it?
  • ConsiderationSo what?
  • DecisionNow what?

Krugman’s theory explains why you sometimes buy from new brands on the spot or relatively quickly. If you know the product is relevant, and you have a chance to buy it, why wouldn’t you?

Information products, programs, and services usually require a bit more warming up before someone purchases, but it isn’t always the case.

A good mentality that encompasses all three approaches can be summed up as: “Guide your readers through the three stages of getting to know you – and use as many touches as needed (and within your budget) to do so”.

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Why You Need A Welcome Email Sequence

In that last sentence, I mentioned budget. This is important.

You need a cost-effective way to get in front of followers again and again. Paid ads can do this to a degree, but unless they perform, the cost becomes crippling.

Organic marketing, which refers to social media and blogs (like this one), is less expensive and lasts longer. However, reaching your followers on a regular basis can be unpredictable or subject to algorithm changes. The challenge to organic marketing is getting your reps seen.

This is why I recommend you drive readers or followers on the internet toward your email list. Email subscribers actually want to hear from you. And with email, you can create automated sequences of newsletters that go out to new subscribers in a certain order.

Figure 2: Welcome sequence chicken scratch. Users join your list in order to download a lead magnet, which should be delivered immediately. Subsequent emails create repetition and can be automated.

These readers need to get to know you. The content you send them in these first few days or weeks makes an impression on them; it’s the time window in which we want to cement with people who we are and what we do.

Can’t do these kinds of automations on social media, sorry! Serious online entrepreneurs, creators, and small business owners use email regularly to reach their audience frequently and at almost no cost.

More good news if you love writing

Email continues to dominate other channels when measuring a return on your marketing dollar; this is why 4 out of 5 businesses use email as their main customer acquisition channel (Sorry TikTok, you’re not as cool as you think you are).

You also only have to write this content once, and then you’re done and it hums along in the background. Stop creating so much new content and instead leverage what you already have!

Naysayers will point to the low open rates of emails. But nearly every email list sees higher open rates from new subscribers in their first one to two weeks.

In this screenshot from 2020, I can see that the first few emails to my subscribers received open rates of 72%, 55%, and 51% respectively. I am average, and these numbers are common for new subscriber engagement during week one.


Even if subscribers don’t open your emails regularly (which is most people), they’ll still see your name and be reminded of you. This golden advertising window is completely free and completely automated — why pass that up?

A welcome email sequence helps you cement with readers who you are and what they can count on you for.

So what types of emails should you put into a nurture sequence? Here’s what to consider.

Welcome Email Sequence Ideas

(Click the bullet to jump to that section)

📬 Elements Of A Welcome Email Sequence

📬 Education Emails

📬 Cross-Pollination Emails

📬 Relatability Emails

📬 Offer Emails

📬 Validation Emails


Elements Of A Welcome Email Sequence

Before we dive into the sequence, I have one caveat.

If your new email subscribers receive a free gift or lead magnet when they sign up for your list, that email should be sent out immediately. This is sometimes called an autoresponder email and functions as the first email of your nurture sequence.

Think about it: If you just told people you’re going to send them a checklist of tips, a body fat calculator, or a free copy of your book, you’ve gotten them hyper-focused on this freebie. They only care about this freebie for the time being; deliver the goods, then continue the nurturing process in a separate email the following day.

Here are some different types of welcome sequence emails to consider:

Education Emails

Content marketing is, first and foremost, about education. When you give your readers clarity and value, they are more likely to lean in and connect with in the future.

This is because of a phenomenon called the Law Of Reciprocity: When you go above and beyond to help someone, they are more likely to return the favor in some way down the line.

Here’s an example: In this past newsletter of mine, I used a trend – online chatter about cryptocurrency and NFTs – to give my audience two tips about messaging.

Quality, helpful content initiates this energy exchange, and when you’ve proven to subscribers that consuming your material actually helps them, they’ll more likely to buy from you or refer you down the line.

Think about the problems or challenges your readers have. Then develop content that will give them clarity and the tools they need to overcome those challenges.

Cross-Pollination Emails

Are you active on certain other platforms on the internet, such as Instagram or LinkedIn?

Do you have a free online group you want people to be a part of?

Consider using one of your nurture sequence emails to tell people about the other places you’re hanging out in on the internet.

If you do this… make following you on that other platform the only call to action of the email so that your subscribers remain focused.

It’s best to have your cross-pollination email be a few emails into your nurture sequence. You’re making a micro-request and asking readers to do you a favor, so build up some trust first.

Cross-pollination is a good strategy, because if readers decide to prune their email list subscriptions down the line, they’ll still have contact with you on a different platform.

Relatability Emails

Sharing your personal stories, anecdotes, or experiences can be a great way to humanize you to your readers. These emails also help subscribers take you off the pedestal and relate to you as a person, building rapport.

Ensure that when you share a personal story, your story relates back to something your reader is experiencing for themselves. Otherwise, the content becomes all about you all the time and starts to feel egocentric.

Here is a screenshot of one of my relatability emails. In this email, I tell a story about a career experience I had in 2016, but thread in details throughout on what subscribers should prioritize in their email marketing to gets results.

Pro tip: Whenever possible, âlways make the body of your content about your subscribers first and yourself second.

Offer Emails

Do you sell a service, program, or product? It might be a good idea to make your readers aware of this during your welcome email sequence.

This email doesn’t have to use flamethrower-level copy to get the point across. Keep it laid back: Describe your offer, who it’s for, why they should care, and what next steps look like if they’re interested. A smart approach is to tease your offer, then let interested subscribers click a link if they want more information.

We want to lay groundwork here because open rates are much higher during a nurture sequence than they are for a regular newsletter. Your subscribers are hot for you when they first join, then often cool off over time; consider using one email to make a gentle pitch. Some of your readers may end up joining on the spot!

Validation Emails

Many people sign up for an email list and then immediately unsubscribe. If readers have stuck around for a week or two, validate them. This email is unexpected and gives a nice customization twist.

Here’s a fun example of a validation email in action: Meg Wheeler, a CPA and money coach, sends an email expressing surprise that I’m still reading – and then tells me that the real newsletter experience has only just begun.

Remember: Email marketing is one of the best ways to build the feeling of relationship with readers while also operating in an automated, one-to-many format. Love on your subscribers – they’re your biggest fans!

Final Takeaways

A welcome email sequence can feel daunting at first. Know that it doesn’t have to be perfect from day one, and you’ll likely tweak it and adjust it over time.

Challenge yourself to power through and set up your nurture sequence now so that new subscribers have a deep connection with you for months and years to come.

Thanks for reading. 🙏🏼


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Nick Wolny is a media and marketing strategist for entrepreneurs. Named a “40 Under 40” by the Houston Business Journal, he’s a contributor for Entrepreneur and Fast Company and a technology commentator for NBC and FOX with over 60 live TV appearances.