Did you know triggered email messages average 70.5 percent higher open rates and 152 percent higher click-through rates than traditional bulk messages, according to Epsilon?

Yup. You read that right.

Automation is one of the easiest ways to take your marketing operations to the next level – and make your life easier.

At Emma Email Marketing, we created an e-book about this topic that’s designed to help modern marketers learn how to build an email automation program that gets great results right away. (Interested in downloading the e-book? Click here.)

Of course, every journey begins with a first step – and it just so happens the road to strategic email automation starts with a welcome series.

There are lots of good things about new subscribers. They’re more engaged, they haven’t seen most of your content before and they’re statistically more likely to click and open your emails.

But there’s a problem: The story you’re telling your long-time subscribers in your main marketing emails may not make sense to these new contacts. That’s why you need a welcome series – it puts you in control of how your subscribers are introduced to your brand. In addition, it creates trust and helps you establish a relationship with your customer. First impressions are crucial, and sometimes, a single welcome email isn’t enough to set the stage.

Here are three easy steps to mobilize a welcome series using email automation:

Step 1. Create custom messages perfect for your new subscribers.

It’s tempting to build a welcome series based on the number of emails you think you should send. Instead, start with what you need to say, and then determine how many emails it’ll take to say it.

First, consider the basics. If someone is new to your email list, what do they need to know about your brand?

If you sell a product or service, your series might look like this:

  • How our product or service works
  • How we’re different from our competitors
  • People rave about us (testimonials)
  • A special offer

For nonprofit organizations, a series might include pieces such as:

  • Our history and mission
  • Stories of impact we’ve made
  • A calendar of the year’s events
  • Exclusive perks for donors/members

Step 2. Build a framework for those messages.

Once you know what you want to say, decide when you should say it. Create a schedule of emails, and plan a regular – or random — messaging plan. For example, you might send 4-6 messages every few days, so it feels random. Or if you think more structure is a better fit for your program, consider offering new subscribers a daily tip or weekly “Top Five Tips” countdown.

Don’t forget to keep in mind the length of your sales cycle, too. If your typical subscriber is most likely to buy in the first 48 hours, it might be more effective to front-load your series. If your sales cycle is longer, plan meaningful, periodic touch points over the course of a few weeks.

Finally, identify and schedule the appropriate trigger for each email in the series. If you have planned a weekly series, schedule the first email to trigger immediately after someone new joins your list. The second email should trigger one week from the date the new subscriber opted in, the third email two weeks from the date they joined and so on, until all messages have been doled out.

Step 3. Consider removing new subscribers from your primary contact list until they’ve worked their way through the welcome series.

Have you ever walked into a theater after the movie has already started? That’s often what it’s like for new subscribers. The next email on your calendar might mention campaigns or promotions your newest subscribers aren’t ready for yet, creating confusion or worse, frustration.

To make sure your new subscribers are primed for your primary messages, take them out of rotation until they’ve cycled through the full welcome series. There are several ways to do this depending on your email service provider and list structure.

If it sounds easy – it is. And a welcome series is just one impact device you can deploy to nurture leads through email automation.

(To learn more about how automation can elevate your marketing efforts, download Automation Demystified: A modern marketer’s guide to email automation for free here.)

About the Author: Cynthia Price is director of partner development at Emma, an email-marketing company. With an extensive background in sales and marketing, Cynthia represents Emma at conferences across the country, where she can be found geeking out about everything from subject lines to audience segmentation.