Don’t You Dare Delete My Welcome Emails

If you’ve been in internet marketing for even a day then you understand how the gig works. You give away something worthwhile for free in exchange for access to your prospect’s attention. And then you use their (limited) attention to sell them on your bread and butter offer, or at least on the next step in your ascending ladder of offers. Whatever it is, you are trying to get this prospect hooked on you, and move them closer and closer to your inner circle of buyers. 

And if any part of that strategy depends on email…

Then you have something in your marketing plan called a welcome email… and I’m gonna guess two things about it. Number one, that email has great open rates, and number two, that customer’s attention dies with that email. Unless you’ve given that customer some other reason to stick with you, that prospect is gonna take that free thing, delete your email, and go on with their lives.

But it doesn’t have to work this way…

It’s possible to craft an email that’s engaging, rewarding, AND hard to skip. Once you’ve done that, you can stick your freebie in the middle or even at the end of the email, where the prospect is much more likely to actually use the darn thing because now they’ve: 

  • Gotten more information about how to use it
  • Have the context about where it came from, 

… and most importantly to your future with this prospect… 

  • an actual investment in your brand. 

If you’ve taken time and money to create the e-book, special report, checklist of tips and tricks, or even a full access free trial of your product… then why do so many brands assume the prospect has to get the goods – for free – right up front? If you’ve created something valuable enough that your prospect entered their name and email, and then went to their inbox, overflowing with offers, to find and to open that first email from you, don’t you think maybe you can take a little time to introduce yourself and give some background before you give them this extremely valuable thing, completely for free?

If you go ahead, like so many brands and companies, and open that first onboarding email with something like, “here you go… here’s that [report, checklist, e-book, login link] you asked for,” you’ve lost the point of this email before you’ve even gotten going with it. Most people, again, unless they have some external reason for wanting to learn more about you or your company, are not going to spend one second extra of their time with you if they feel like they can get away from your email without missing out on anything. If you give them the thing they think they want first, why would they stick around for more? I mean sure, if you follow up with really compelling promises, and list all the benefits of your freebie in bold print or bullets immediately following that download link, yeah, some people are going to stick around to see what you have to say. But are they invested? Are they hooked? Do they even remember your name?

Instead of making your email…

Look like a templated email that your prospect has seen from a zillion other companies you’ve got to go for the guttural right from the beginning. You’ve got to use those age old copywriting techniques to grab your reader and send them down the slide of your email, get them into the goods and actually get them to taste what you have to offer them. And you can’t make it too easy for them. If they see the writing on the wall, the bullets of how awesome the benefits are, right at the top, they’re toast. They grab their link, their freebie, and that’s it, that’s all they wanted from you, and they don’t want to hear you mouth off about how great you are. 

So the best way to grab your unaware reader, your first encounter that will get them in your doors and seated at your virtual desk and completely riveted by your every word..

Tell them a story.

You can almost always hook someone with a story because it’s in our nature to want to see how the story ends. And the perfect thing is, you get to tell this prospect about yourself, and about what their success looks like, all while they are being entertained. But surprisingly, very few companies are using this approach, not because it’s hard, but because it appears too easy. People, especially b2b people, want to be taken seriously, they want to look the professional part, and represent their company in this stiff, expected, professional way. They feel like anything that deviates from that is salesey and slimey, and is going to cost them credibility. In the SaaS market, forget it, tech companies want to keep their emails as clean and templated as possible. But the problem is, especially for B2B saas, the person reading your email, doesn’t have those same expectations. They don’t want to be sold to, they don’t want to waste their time, and they definitely don’t want to be bored. The templated, expected, graphic heavy emails are dismissible, because they make your company look like everyone else…

It’s kind of obvious, but in marketing, you want to stand out. The problem is, very few brands know how best to do that without looking like a fool. That’s where the stories come in. I read saas emails all day long, I love this stuff and I’m constantly devouring saas emails from innovative companies solving all sorts of different problems. But I can count on one hand the number of times I’ve seen a b2b email that starts off with a story, and when I do see it, it hooks me every time. And it’s going to hook your readers too. 

If telling stories…

Has you worried, here’s the good news; you don’t have to include a story in every single email (even though I think you could). But you should try using a story in the beginning, because you have to get them listening, A story is really the most successful, and endlessly unique, way to do it. Other methods that hook readers, like making big promises, or hinting at the big secret your company has the answers to, are going to feel salesy in this context and are going to lose your brand some credibility with a skeptical audience. 

A story is just a way of delivering information in the most interesting way possible, and luckily it’s something we all do fairly naturally in our everyday lives. Here’s the basic process: you figure out what you need your prospect to know or understand or what you want them to feel, and then you figure out a story that is going to get them there. Most often, the origin story of your company, how you developed your solution, or at least the story of the newest innovation that brought your company to where it is today, is going to achieve that goal, because the origin story gets to the meat of your message. An origin story tells the audience, “Here’s what we do and why.” But once you’ve figured out what the story needs to do in that first email, a perfect story may come instantly to mind. Maybe your company has a quirky story about the founder, or the early days, that the sales team already uses on a regular basis. Or maybe there is an exciting case study that is simple to explain and highlights your company’s best qualities. Whatever it is, turning that story into a quick email, where you highlight the most important turning points in the journey, and add in some interesting moments that give the story life and texture, and maybe even some humor… is going to be the surest way to get your prospect to listen.

Now, I understand, a welcome email is about giving the person what they asked for, and then taking some time to sell them on why they need to use it and stay tuned to learn more from your company. But so many brands and businesses make the mistake of following a templated email format that is just too easy to ignore. And that template always puts the give away first, so your prospect can grab what they asked for and skip all the rest of your message. 

So take a look at your welcome email and ask yourself…

Is it dismissible? 

Do you give the goods away up front?

Are you giving your audience a reason to stick around and learn more about you? 

Do your metrics show an immediate drop in open rates on the second and third emails?

If you said yes, to any of those questions then I want you to sit down and revise that welcome email and try some of these ideas. 

But before you even begin writing… I want  you to picture one of your customers who is about to open up the email you are preparing to write… and I want you to tell them squarely,

“Don’t you dare delete my welcome email!”


Hi! I’m Annie Aaroe, a b2b email marketing strategist. To find out more about story-driven, conversion email copy and strategy that’s tailored for e-com apps and SaaS brands, visit my website, aaroewriting.com, or shoot me an email at annie@aaroewriting.com.

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