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How to create an effective onboarding email sequence

Someone’s just signed up to your email list. What kind of onboarding email sequence do you have ready for them?

Whether it be through a purchase, or through submitting your opt-in form, they’re now officially part of your email club. Giddy up!

Now, imagine being part of the 27% of businesses who don’t capitalise on this and forget to send a single email within the first three weeks of someone joining your list. 

Or part of the 41% who don’t send an email  within 48 hours. 

Or, worse yet, a brand who doesn’t send a welcome email at all. 

You might be thinking — well, what’s the purpose of an onboarding email sequence? I’d just be adding more junk to someone’s inbox and they obviously know my brand already seeing as they just signed up. 

I don’t know about you, but I sign up to stuff ALL THE TIME. 

Could I name all of the things  I signed up for in the last week? 

Absolutely not. 

As humans, our attention spans are fleeting. 

So, when you have someone’s attention, you gotta make the most of the moment. 

In fact, new leads are most engaged with your brand in the first 48 hours after subscribing. It’s showtime!

The benefits of an onboarding email sequence


Aside from it being the polite thing to do (people actually expect to receive a welcome email when they subscribe), welcome emails also serve a pretty important function. 

Welcome emails allow you to lay the groundwork for what’s to come. 

You can let them know that they can unsubscribe anytime (hint: if they’re not vibing your content that’s what you want them to do!), and set clear expectations around what emails you’ll be sending, and how often. 

Trust me, starting their email experience off on a courteous and appreciative note will do wonders for your business. 

The stats don’t lie, either. There’s huge rewards to be gained from creating an onboarding email sequence. 

  • The open rate of welcome emails can reach up to  91.43%! That type of reach blows other marketing channels and types of email campaigns out of the water. 
  • Welcome emails (on average) generate 320% more revenue than other types of email campaigns. 


What else should go in my onboarding email sequence?

Firstly, you need to get clear on what your intentions are. What ideal action would you like your leads (or new clients) to take once they’ve signed up to your email list?

Is the ultimate goal to: 

  • Sell a high ticket product or service?
  • Get referred to more potential clients?
  • Gather testimonials? 


Once you’ve determined the ultimate goal of your onboarding email sequence, you can start fleshing out the emails that’ll get you there. 

An onboarding email sequence can be anywhere from one email to seven. 

Some marketers recommend 5-7 emails, others say that’s overkill. I’d recommend at least three to build a genuine connection.

But it all depends on what your sequence goal is, and what your business does. 

If you’re selling a high ticket product or service, for example, you’ll probably need to provide more social proof and put in a bit more persuasion to win a new lead over. 

Trust ultimately takes time to build. Your sequence length should reflect that. 

When you should send your onboarding email sequence

Similarly to the number of emails you send, there isn’t a hard and fast rule when it comes to timing your sequences either.

Personally, I’d recommend sending your first 2-3 emails in quick succession — one every 24 hours. But, and this is a big BUT, only if the recipient is opening your emails and demonstrating their engagement. 

As I mentioned before, once you have a lead’s attention, you want to maintain it. I’d rather send too many emails in this initial period, then miss my chance by not sending enough. 

After that, it’s up to you. It all comes back to what your goal is with your sequence. Are you trying to sell a high-ticket item? That’s going to involve a longer sequence that’s more persuasive and needs room to breathe. 

General rule of thumb being, if you have a longer sequence (let’s say 7 emails), you need to let it wane. 

With that being said, I’m a big fan of behaviour-based timing. If a lead is opening your emails, it shows interest. If they’re not opening them, they might be busy, their inbox might be overflowing, or your subject line might not be grabbing them. 

Instead of bombarding the person who isn’t opening the emails with MORE emails in a sequence they’re not engaged with, I scale it back to an email a week, or every five days. 

It all comes down to your business and your mailing list. There isn’t a one-size fits all solution — it’s about determining what works best for your audience. 

Once you have your emails mapped out, you can turn them into an automated onboarding sequence (which is why I love ActiveCampaign — it makes these email sequences super easy to build). 

Your email sequence could look a little something like this…

onboarding email sequence

Want to create an onboarding email sequence that’s completely unique to you and your business? Email marketing wizardry awaits.

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