What’s the most important email you’ll send in your life?
Maybe it’s one that’ll close you the deal of a century. Or maybe it’s one that lands you a life-changing job. Or, for those more romantically-inclined, it’s the one that finds you your next amor (yeah, it’s a stretch, but I’m counting OkCupid messages as emails).
Let’s all cringe together at the first message I ever sent my girlfriend
You know what’s crazy? Even in those big scenarios, the email you think is the most important isn’t really THE most important one.
It’s the first email -- the one that starts the conversation -- that’s the most important.
The conversation doesn’t start without that first email. No matter how masterful your “ask” email is, if your first email sucks then you won’t even get the chance to hit “reply.”
But here’s the weird thing no one talks about with that first email…
It’s weird, seeing as there’s so much out there on how to write a good email (we even wrote an 11k word guide on sales emails).
But it’s 100% true. When you’re communicating in 2017, when you say something means more than what you say.
Think about it:
Even the best first email can go unanswered if you’re just a hair late. Add to that the rise of instant gratification, and missing your email window can certainly mean losing subscribers and customers.
You need to send your first, most important email at the right time.
That time? The absolute second someone signs up for your email list.
It doesn’t matter if you’re a blogger asking a reader to join your list or a multi-million dollar business asking people to buy. Your visitors want instant gratification, and the best way to give it to them is instantly sending an email.
Think about when you buy something from Amazon. What happens 10 seconds after you purchase:
Sending an email that fast used to mean one of two things:
It’s all confusing, expensive and time-consuming, and you don’t have time for that.
That’s why we created Auto Responder. It’s the busy person’s solution to being an email master (minus the years of struggling to learn).
Whenever someone opts in to your list via our List Builder 3 tool, we automatically send them an email for you. You don’t have to pay for it, it takes just a few minutes to set up and it works 24 hours a day, 365 days a year (read more on how to use it here).
And this is the part you’ll really love. I’ve taken the 10 most essential emails you should send your subscribers right when they opt-in and I’ve created templates you can use right now in Auto Responder.
Ready to copy and paste your way to happier subscribers and more sales? Then read on, friend.
Goal: Say hello to your new subscribers and make them feel instantly welcomed.
Great For: General blog opt-ins, general site opt-ins
The “Welcome Email” is the most basic first email you can send. If there was an evolution chart for automated emails, this would be the the thing on the far left.
And of course it would start and end with emails
Your welcome email accomplishes the two most important aspects of a first email: instant gratification and validation. All you’re doing is saying hello as fast as you can and thanking the reader for subscribing to your list.
It seems simple, and it is. Remember, this is usually used for general opt-in areas like a blog or your entire site. That subscriber gave you their email address because you’re so gosh darn interesting. All you need to do is thank them for doing that.
Away does a great job with their welcome email of letting their brand shine through and setting expectations. And you see the email is really minimal -- just a header image and a couple paragraphs.
The same goes for Electric Objects. They have a logo, image of their product and they welcome the subscriber to their family in a few short paragraphs. It sets the tone and tells the reader what they can expect from Electric Objects.
Don’t overthink it. If you’re new to automated emails, this email is an easy win that sets you up for more emails in the future. And, like any email in this list, it’s better to send any email (no matter how simple) than no email. So get on it!
Good news! I built a Welcome Email template into Auto Responder. Click here to use it for free.
Goal: Deliver the content upgrade to the subscriber
Great For: Blogs or sites giving away an extra piece of content in exchange for email addresses
Wanna know how we built an email list of hundreds of thousands at Sumo?
Content upgrades. They’re freaking gold, and they’re one of the best ways to build your list, too.
If you’re not using content upgrades, get on it.
If you are, I’ve got a question for you…
How are you delivering your content upgrades?
I doubt you’re hunched over the computer, constantly hitting “refresh” and personally sending them to anyone that opts-in to your list.
I also highly doubt you’ve paid hundreds of dollars for an email service provider and spent hours setting up automation just to send out a content upgrade.
So what are you probably doing? You just link to the content upgrade.
And that’s bad news. If you aren’t delivering via email, you’re opening yourself up to a list full of fake emails (see why that’s a bad thing). That’s why the content upgrade email is super valuable:
That type of email looks something like this:
Pixel Buddha keeps it really simple. Nothing more than a headline and a brief few sentences explaining what to do. The reader clicks the button and they’ve got the content upgrade.
If you want to get even fancier, you can add an image of the content upgrade like Flywheel:
Yet, even at the core, the email tells you what the content upgrade is and shows you how to download it. Content upgrade emails increase your list’s security and are a must if you’re giving content away.
Good news! I built a Content Upgrade Email template into Auto Responder. Click here to use it for free.
Goal: Delivering your discounts and coupons to subscribers
Great For: Ecommerce stores or general websites offering a discount in exchange for an email address
“Yeah, but how do I give my subscribers the discount code?”
Sound like you? Don’t worry -- this is the #1 question I hear when talking to ecommerce owners.
You know how effective discounts are for building your list. Yet there’s a disconnect between the moment a visitor subscribes and the logistics of delivering their discount.
Do you need a fancy discount generator? An expensive email service provider? A carrier pigeon to drop coupons from the sky?
Not really. You just need some Sumo love and a “Discount Email”.
Say you’re an ecommerce store and you want to give 10% off anything in your store in exchange for an email address. Quad Lock did that:
They created a Smart Bar at the top of their site to collect emails. You enter your email and they send you a discount code (you create that code in your ecommerce platform).
Then, in less that 30 seconds, you get an email with that code:
Slick, right? And when you create that email in Auto Responder, we automatically send that email for you fo’ free. Take THAT, literally every other email service provider in existence!
But say you’re a brick-and-mortar store with a website. You may not necessarily sell products on your site, but people do visit your site.
This email is just as valuable for you. You can set up the same thing on your site, yet your email would contain a coupon redeemable in your store:
That’s what Friendly’s did with their 50% off ice cream (and whatever an ice cream beverage is). You’re not going to buy a scoop of ice cream online, so it makes sense to turn your discount into redeemable in-store.
You don’t want a delay when you give discounts. If your visitor opted-in to a discount, it means they’re ready to buy NOW. Every second that passes between when they signed up and when they get their discount only decreases their chances of buying.
We’ve made the delivery lightning-fast, easy to set up and FREE in Auto Responder. Plus, we have a pre-written Discount Email template ready for you to use.Click here to set up your discount email.
Goal: Keeping your unhappy customers from going nuclear
Great For: Small companies that don’t have a dedicated support staff
How do you feel when something expensive breaks? Annoyed, yeah. Angry? Sure.
But how do you feel when you reach out to a company to fix it and they don’t get back to you for days?
I will never turn down a challenge to include a Blood Sport reference in one of my guides
It’s so infuriating. I’m sure it’s happened to you once in your life. And that company ends up on your shit list for the rest of time.
I can’t overstate the importance of quick response times in support. And this, the Support Email, is an easy way to let an unhappy customer know you’re listening (while buying you time to reply).
All you’re doing in a support email is letting the customer know you got their message, saying you’re sorry something’s wrong and providing a window when they should hear back from you.
This email is key because it makes the customer feel like they’ve been heard. Check out these two scenarios:
Scenario A is the norm, and it pisses you off. You sit in the dark, wondering if your message was even received (let alone when you’ll get a response).
Scenario B has the same response time, yet your message is acknowledged and you’re given a time frame. You might not like it, but at least you know someone will get back to you.
Think you need a fancy email for this? You don’t. Look at how Google (freaking GOOGLE!) structures their support email:
It’s nothing fancy (and honestly, they could benefit from adding an expected response time in there). But it hits your inbox within two minutes of submitting your complaint.
Using the Sumo tools, you’d set up a popup in List Builder (most likely a Click Trigger). Then, if someone has a complaint, they can click a link, write a complaint and send it. And if you set up a support email in Auto Responder, they’ll get an email within a minute.
Goal: Building up a bigger following on social media
Great For: Turning your interested subscribers into social media fanatics
“At least three-quarters of U.S. social media users made an online purchase within the last year, but only 46 percent of non-social media users made an online purchase during the same timeframe.”
Social media: not JUST for cat pictures anymore. It’s where the purchasing decisions happen. The bigger your audience, the more people you reach. The more people you reach, the more sales you make. And we all know more sales = more money for Minnesota Twins baseball tickets.
No? Just me? Alright. It’s hard to get people to subscribe to your social media channels. Granted, it’s just a button press for your visitors. But generally you have to ask, which means you’re not asking for something else like reading an article, visiting a page, etc.
That’s why the “Follow Me On Social Media” email is a devastatingly effective first email to send a new subscriber.
If someone recently opted-in to your email list, most likely they aren’t ready to buy. BUT, they’ve more than shown interest in your business or blog. You build on that interest with a simple ask to join your social media networks.
Handy sends this email after someone opts-in to their list:
Theirs is a more visual email, but the calls to action are there -- Instagram, Twitter and Facebook are all mentioned.
If you don’t want to dip into the visuals as much, you can do what Good American did:
Seems like something you’d see in an optometrist's office, eh? Clicking any of those words will bring the reader to that respective social media channel.
This small ask in the beginning can lead to strong relationships and stronger sales in the future. Do it right away when your subscriber is most interested in your brand.
Goal: Turning your blog subscribers into blog devourers
Great For: Blogs that want to show their best content first
Okay, we get it. You write amazing content and someone loved your stuff so much they opted-in to get updates from your blog.
I have three questions though:
Unless the answers are 1) Within a day 2) I’m a wizard and 3) I’ve never written a bad article, then you’re missing out on an easy way to guarantee your new subscriber stays hooked on the blog.
Instead of waiting and hoping your next article is great, why not immediately send them your very best articles?
By looking at your blog stats, you can cherry pick the best articles you’ve ever written and send them to your new subscriber. Again, first impressions matter, and by leading with this email you build tremendous value from the get-go.
It can look a lot like what Classy does with their “Best Of” email:
Once they’re done reading, they’ll be drooling waiting for your next article.
Goal: Finding out information from your subscribers
Great For: Gaining blog ideas, understanding your audience
Imagine you’re a comedian and you spent all week working on some hilarious sports jokes.
Yet you get on stage, and the room is full of hardcore Dungeons and Dragons players.
You can guess how well your set will go.
You could spend all week writing an article you think your audience wants. And you could create products you think your audience would love.
But wouldn’t you rather know what they want and deliver that instead of guessing and missing?
The Question Email is the best way to get those answers.
In this email, you’re asking your new subscriber a simple, open-ended question that helps you gain insight into some area of your business.
A popular one is “Why are you here?” It’s the most high-level question you can ask, and the answers you get can blow you away.
Customer.io asks it:
And so does Groove:
If you want to build on it, you can ask things like:
When you understand the goals of your audience, you can create better products and content for them.
Learn more about your audience with
Goal: Getting a review from your subscriber
Great For: Apps, podcasts, plugins and products that thrive on reviews
Did you know 88% of people trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations?
That goes both ways. Good AND bad reviews have serious influence on your business. I don’t know about you, but I’d rather take the initiative and ask my new (enthusiastic) subscribers to flood the boards with positive reviews.
The Review Email helps you take that first step and ride the new subscriber compliance wave. They already subscribed, so small asks like this have higher odds of being fulfilled since they already said yes to you.
Check out what Casper sends to their new subscribers:
They ask for reviews on their sheets (amazing, btw). You can essentially take this formula and insert any type of review in:
The beauty of this email is it’s a small ask to the subscriber, but it has MASSIVE benefits for your business. Positive online reviews are slowly becoming the lifeblood of online purchase decisions. Send this email and watch your sales soar.
Goal: Getting more attendees on your webinars
Great For: SaaS businesses that want to turn leads into users
Wanna know a secret?
Webinars are the secret “lead to subscriber” weapon of any SaaS business. If you’re not a SaaS business, go ahead and skip to the last email. This one might not be your cup o’ whiskey.
You sassy SaaSers still here? Awesome. Here’s the deal: if you go into almost any massive, automated email sequence, you’ll see almost all of them end with driving to a webinar.
Why? Because it has one of the highest conversion rates of any marketing channel. It’s like one of those “Skip The Line” passes you get at theme parks where you get to cut the line in front of all the regular folks (like me, ya jerk).
So getting a new subscriber on a webinar is like skipping to the bottom of a marketing funnel. You don’t have to wait for them to become a customer -- you force the issue with a compelling webinar.
That’s why you send the Webinar Registration Email.
Check out what Shopify does with their email:
If you just subscribed to Shopify, you’d certainly want to know how to turn first time buyers into loyal customers. It’s no coincidence this email finds its way to new subscribers. They know it’s like catnip to the newbies.
When you think of creating a webinar email, think of it as if you were a new subscriber -- what interests them, why did they subscribe, how can you help them. Knowing where they subscribed (on your blog, on your home page, from a landing page) will help you with that.
Nail this email, and you can save money by fast-tracking your new subscribers to the end of your sales funnel.
Goal: More downloads of your app, duh
Great For: Companies that have apps
If you have an app AND you’ve done your content marketing correctly, this is an automatic “must send” email. It’s no secret your content should promote your app. If a new subscriber gave you their email, then they’re right on the tipping point of downloading your app.
That’s why the Download My App email should be your go-to first email for a new subscriber. They’re interested, which is more than I can say for other non-app companies.
You have the distinct advantage of not having to sell anything. Downloads are commonplace. Hell, I just downloaded an air horn app yesterday. I’m the life of every party now (Editor’s note: he’s not).
You don’t have a ton of convincing to do in this email. Look at what Evernote says in their email:
That’s about as simplistic as it gets. They remind you (the new subscriber) who they are, then tell you how to download their app.
If you’re up for giving things away, though, Uber shows you how it’s done by gifting you a free ride AFTER you install:
You won’t have a more prime opportunity to ask for an install than the moment someone subscribes to your list. The intent is there, you just have to give them the opportunity to act :)
Maybe you made it this far and couldn’t decide on which template you wanted to use.
No biggie. I’ll give you every one of the 10 templates in this guide for free. I put in the work writing these emails so you don’t have to. I even link to Auto Responder in the doc so you can set up your emails in that (Hint: it’s the only free tool in existence that automatically sends any email).