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Everybody talks about “welcome sequences” (and “nurturing sequences”… and “autoresponders”… and, and, and…) but the details are sometimes a mystery. In today’s episode, I’ll explain what welcome sequences are, where they came from, and how to make one effectively.
How long should they be? Can you sell? Should you sell? What the hell do we even put in these things? All this, and more, will be revealed. Give me less than 10 minutes, and I’ll explain… welcome sequences.
Just click play, and I’ll meet you there.
Transcript & Shownotes
Welcome back to Naomi Explains Marketing, the show where I help coaches, consultants, experts, authors, and other associated nerds, geeks and misfits sell the contents of their brains for cash money.
I am your host, Naomi, and today we’re talking about welcome sequences. What are they? How long are they? Do you even need one? All this, and more, will be revealed. Shall we?
A welcome sequence is an automated series of emails you send to new subscribers when they sign up for your mailing list. You may have also heard this series referred to as – God help me for saying this out loud with my mouth – an indoctrination sequence, a nurturing sequence, or simply, your auto responder.
Let’s take it from the top.
Once upon a time, if you were to be just about to sign up for a list, or newsletter as it is sometimes called, here’s how the whole thing shook down. You encountered some marketing copy encouraging you to sign up.
This said something like, “Wanna sign up for my newsletter? Put your email address in this box.” Maybe they offered you something in exchange – frequently called a freebie or list incentive. Or maybe it was just, “yo, here’s my list”.
After putting your address in the box, in a few moments, you’d get an automated email, that the sender wrote in advance, saying something like, “Hey, did you mean to sign up for this? Click this link and you’re good to go.”
This is called “double opt-in”, meaning the sender is verifying that it was actually you who put your email in the box, not me or your buddy or some joker who thinks it’s funny to put strangers onto mailing lists for weird porn. Once you clicked that link in the verification email, you’d get a second email. That was your welcome email. If you’d signed up for some kind of freebie, that’s where it would usually be. That was it.
From there, you’d get any email they sent to their list in real time, often called a blast email. They write and send an email on Tuesday? You get it on Tuesday. They write and send an email in four months? You get an email in four months. And on and on until eternity.
This was fine, I guess…
… but some marketers found some flaws in the model, mostly in that it was underoptimized. One email, maybe a freebie, and new subscribers are left alone until further notice. It’s not exactly… welcoming.
Enter… the welcome sequence. In this new way of doing things, instead of getting one email, you get several, spaced out over a few days, several days, or even longer. This new automated sequence sent out emails every day, or every other day, or every few days, and each new email theoretically brought new subscribers further into the fold. Everybody feels… welcome!
Now, what goes in those emails? Tons of possibilities, but some of the usual suspects are:
– Origin stories, basically a more narrative or story-based version of an about page.
– Content lists, little lists of options of what they can read or listen to or watch. Wanna know more about transitioning to a vegan diet? Read this. Want my favorite kid-friendly breakfast recipes? Watch this. That kind of thing.
– Product lists, service offerings, or catalogs. Hey, did you know I do book editing, website audits, and both short- and long-term business coaching?
– Managing expectations and setting intentions for being on the list. (I’ll send you weekly tips, daily exercises, or whatnot.)
– Sales pitches are very common.
– And invitations for engagement or communication – write back and introduce yourself, etc.
There are more, but these are the common ones.
So now you’re on a new list and you get several emails in a row welcoming, nurturing or, yes, indoctrinating you into the world of this new business, brand, or content creator.
So! Let’s tackle some common questions, shall we? First, and most obvious…
Do you have to have a welcome sequence?
Despite what you may have heard, no. This is a phase two or later activity. You don’t have to have this perfect out of the gate, and you don’t have to have it at all. By all means, be a keener and have something awesome in place right away. But you don’t have to. There are two situations in which I would strongly advise an email sequence for beginners, though.
One, if your name is very common, or your business name very generic. Jennifer Smith from Quality Living? She should have a welcome sequence. Otherwise, if she goes two weeks between newsletters, her new subscribers will forget who she is, and then they won’t remember if she’s selling water filters or running for office.
Next, if you mail infrequently. Infrequently here is, let’s say, you mail less than once a month. If it could be forever until they hear from you again, prioritize a welcome sequence. Specifically, a welcome sequence that’s content heavy and repeatedly sends them back to your main hub – website, or maybe YouTube or the social media platform you’re most active on, if that’s your thing. They’ll have a more visceral recollection of who you are if they’ve been to your place more than once.
How many emails should you include in your welcome sequence?
Great question. Somewhere between two and 20. The average is probably in the five range. Paradoxically, the longer your sales cycle, the shorter you can make this sequence. (We’ll talk about sales cycles soon.) My sales cycle skews long, so I can set up two or three emails and know that my regular content can do the rest of the job of orienting new peeps while they get situated.
But Kristen, from NaturalBirthAndBabyCare.com, who we talked about in episode 3, though? She’s on a timer. Her people are pregnant, the clock is ticking, so her email sequence is much longer – 18, last time I checked. She sends more emails to make sure she captures her prospects’ attention while they’re still in the honeymoon phase. But in general, the range is two to 20, average of let’s say five.
Can you sell in your welcome sequence and if so, how much?
Yes. You can sell. Many would argue that you probably should, to establish commercial intent, and create buying opportunities in that honeymoon period. How hard? That depends on your business priorities.
If you’re prioritizing short term product sales, sell as hard as you’re comfortable with. If you write above ground pool reviews and you want to sell your ultimate guide before they buy a pool? You don’t need or want these people on your list for 14 years. You want to sell them an ebook and send them on their way.
If you’re prioritizing long-term loyalty, on the other hand, you might want to pull back on the hard sell. Let’s say you have, or are in the midst of developing, a significant product funnel.
Like, you’re thinking books and courses and group coaching and a mastermind and retreats and so on? In those cases, you can sell a cheap trip-wire-style product pretty hard if you want, maybe a free initial session if you’re into that, but I wouldn’t inundate them with offers.
If you’re going long game, they’ll buy when they buy. Pushing very hard at the beginning can alienate potentially lucrative prospects who don’t fall for a big, splashy sell-o-rama spectacle off the hop.
Last, do you need to sell in your welcome sequence?
No. If you don’t want to sell here, you don’t have to. It’s a good idea to include a few references to products and services to establish that you’re a business rather than a free publication. But you can make this a sales free zone if you’d prefer.
So that’s your welcome sequence – a short series of emails sent automagically when a new subscriber signs up, welcoming them into the fold and nurturing them through the first days of your journey together.
On that note, I’ll leave you to getting on with having a wonderful day. Until next time, take great care of yourself. I’ll see you soon!
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