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Using your welcome email to establish expectations and build trust

Welcome Emails

If you are like me, you are tired of all of the re-engagement emails you received last month as the GDPR took effect. If you are like me, you also received emails from people you either didn’t know or had forgotten you signed up. That constitutes a problem with email engagement which we will touch on in a bit.

Over in the copywriting world, we snickered at some of the emails we received, especially some of the more creative ones.

Of course, there were the (blah blah blah) boring emails saying something like, “We just wanted to make sure you still want to receive our emails, etc.” Of course they came from companies that hadn’t emailed us since last year.


There’s nothing worse than hearing from people asking you to confirm your information when you had forgotten about them and thought they were in your rearview mirror. One copywriter compared it to all of your past dates showing up again at the same time.


There are two keys to rocking your email marketing and staying — ahem — GDPR compliant.

Being compliant
Being compliant

Note: Once again, this is not legal advice regarding GDPR compliance. Please consult an attorney and research the information relating to the European Union law. 

First, the good folks passing this law just want you to be honest about what you are doing with the information (ie. Name and email address). That goes along with being transparent. These days, that’s a good practice anyway. Now sure, there are concerns about how you store the data, what you do with it long term, if there has been consent, etc., but for email list purposes, it comes down to transparency and consent.

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Consent should be given by a clear affirmative act establishing a freely given, specific, informed and unambiguous indication of the data subject’s agreement to the processing of personal data relating to him or her, such as by a written statement, including by electronic means, or an oral statement. Recital 32

Second, you can ease the tension by being consistent in your communications. That’s right, don’t wait six months to send an email. I listened as more than one person said they knew exactly what lists to unsubscribe from, the ones that hadn’t sent emails in months or ones that absolutely don’t want to be a part of anymore.

So, while you worry about whether or not to put a checkbox on your email sign up form, how thorough your privacy policy is, or whether or not you even should spend time being compliant, we are going to discuss how you can use your email newsletter to establish the trust you need to keep your subscribers happy.

To help with GDPR compliance for your email newsletter, we are going to discuss four things to include in your welcome email.

Four things to include in your welcome email

Confirm the subscription

Confirming your subscription goes without saying, but I will anyway. Send a confirmation email. There are a couple ways to do this.

In MailChimp, you can choose to have a double opt-in method for subscribing. This automatically sends a confirmation email to the one subscribing. The user has to respond to affirm they intended to sign up. Your email software should have a double opt-in option for your email sign-ups.

Now, it used to be that using a double or single opt-in was debated. Experts extolled the benefits of each and let the user decide. With the passage of GDPR, the expectation is that users know exactly why they are subscribing to your list. In this case, look for double opt-in to be the standard moving forward.

There is another way you can confirm a subscription. If you set up an autoresponder, or a welcome email series (you should set one up), you can create the first email as a welcome or confirmation message.

I typically create an email just to welcome to the subscriber and it also serves as the confirmation. I give them a few things they need to know such as the expected frequency of my emails, what they can expect from the emails, reminder to whitelist my email, and how they can benefit from the relationship. Additionally, if there is a lead magnet, I will include that in that first email.

Deliver your lead magnet

By now I hope you have created some kind of lead magnet for your audience. Make sure you deliver that early. It might be in the first paragraph of your Welcome Email.

This is important for a couple of reasons. First, you promised it to them. Did you create a killer PDF download or content upgrade? They signed up so they could see the document. They are ready for it. Keep your promise. It builds trust.

The second reason it is important is that builds trust. That is a natural benefit of keeping your promise. You are starting to build trust. Delivering your lead magnet is a super easy thing to do to build trust, however, if you don’t send that email and that lead magnet, you will deliver a negative experience to the customer and the likely will never do business with you.

Scott Cohen, from InboxArmy, explains in an article on Wordstream,

Keep every promise you make and only make those you can keep. If you promise a sign-up incentive, information, or deal, deliver it. And keep any promises you make in the welcome email later as well. Any good relationship is built on trust—don’t abuse yours.1

Welcome your users
Welcome your users


Welcome your subscriber

Have you ever worked in retail? Have you ever shopped in a retail store? The local pharmacy I visit, almost daily, welcomes me. There is a local burrito place called Moe’s Southwest Grill. When you walk in that place, almost without fail, you hear, “Welcome to Moe’s!”

This is the art of welcoming your guest. The same is true with your email list. If you have a friend or family member to come to your house, you make them feel at home.

In fact, copywriter Val Geiser calls it the Dinner Party Strategy.

Imagine inviting someone over to your house for dinner. Your dinner guest shows up to find the porch light is off and your front door shut. They dare to knock anyway and, when you open the door, you barely say hi.

Maybe you take their coat. Maybe you don’t. And you and your guest are left standing there, staring at each other.

Trust me: a little house tour and the offer of a drink or snack would go a long way to make your dinner guest feel welcomed.

With my list, I welcome subscribers and tell them I am excited to have them on board and often insert a GIF of someone celebrating or dancing. People have a choice. Welcome them to your home.

Outline expectations

Another way to build trust is to set expectations. Let them know what they can expect in terms of emails. Are you sending marketing emails? Let them know. How often are you sending the emails? Let them know. Are you looking for feedback? Let them know that too.

Liz Willits explains at OptinMonster,

Explain what kind of emails you’ll send them. Will you send a weekly newsletter? Or let them know every time you’re offering an exclusive deal? Will they be the first to know about new features or products you’re introducing?This will define the relationship and prevent subscribers from being taken by surprise by your email content – which can increase spam complaints and unsubscribes. It can also get them excited for what’s to come and what value you’ll provide them.3

Additionally, make sure they have a clear link to your Privacy Policy page. This will give your new subscribers an opportunity to see the way you use their information.

Wow them!
Wow them!

Wow them with your best stuff

Look, I know you gave them your lead magnet, you welcomed, you gave them expectations, confirmed their intention to subscribe. What more could these people want?

What are your blog’s greatest hits? Your blog’s best content? Add that to the email. Let your new fans know where they can find your best content.

Aman Thakur explains at Smart Blogger,

One of the best ways is to use your welcome email to point them toward your most valuable content – the posts that have already proved to be popular with your audience.

Wrapping it up

To help adapt more to a new era of email marketing, one in which transparency and GDPR are a part, it is a good idea to deliver an email that helps address some of these issues.

It is likely you will not solve all the GDPR issues with one email. You still have to take other measures to be compliant. Nevertheless, a good welcome email can help make things a little more efficient.

What kind of welcome email do you send for new subscribers?

Images courtesy of Pexels

2 thoughts on “Using your welcome email to establish expectations and build trust”

  1. Hi,

    Great article as usual Todd. I have to fully recommend your advice “consult an attorney”, but would add “or data protection consultant”, as perhaps a more cost effective solution. I would also like to highlight that there are 6 lawful bases of processing “general” personal data. While consent is one of them (and in spite of what some third party providers are advising), it is not necessarily required for all general processing.


    • Appreciate the comment Nigel, as always! I definitely am not an expert on the new law, but this will help some of the consent stuff for sure. It’s definitely not a fix all.

Comments are closed.

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