Don’t sleep on welcome emails. They are one of the most effective forms of marketing automation you can set up. Here are a few reasons why…

  • The average open rate for welcome emails is 60.3%, which makes them 114% more attention-grabbing than standard emails.
  • Compared to regular email marketing, welcome emails make 320% more revenue on average.

When a customer signs up for service, they subconsciously seek acknowledgment. They want you to greet them upon their arrival. Remember the saying, “Great hosts greet their guests” and apply the mentality to your emails.

But alas, no one will open your message unless your subject line inspires them to. Here’s how to craft a compelling welcome email subject line that encourages opens.

3 Rules for Writing Great Welcome Series Subject Lines

Don’t overthink your welcome email subject lines. Straight-forward messages perform best. Follow these basic rules and you’re sure to catch attention.

  1. Use a simple hello, hi or howdy. Make it obvious what your message is all about. Your customers just signed up for utility services and are expecting to receive onboarding information. Make them feel welcomed.
  2. Offer a discount or immediate value. Give customers a specific reason to open your email. Include rebates, incentives or other benefits that customers can take advantage of right away. Make your value apparent.
  3. Suggest next steps. Include instructions, a CTA or action verbs to spell out what you want customers to do with the information you’re sending. Make it so they can’t miss the important stuff (like billing).

Best Performing Welcome Email Subject Lines

Check out the top-performing welcome series subject lines, pulled from Questline Digital’s industry-wide marketing performance data. Each example follows the tips outlined above and successfully compels customers to act.

Subject LineOpen Rate
Explore your billing and payment options94.7%
The power is in your hands94.1%
Welcome to [Utility Name]94.0%
[Utility Name] is here to help you93.3%
Billing and payment options – made easy91.7%
Convenient billing options for your business90.1%
Welcome to the [Utility Name] family!87.9%
Let us help you manage your energy costs85.7%
Account and billing options you need to know85.3%
3 outage resources you need to know about84.2%

What to Include in Your Welcome Series

An effective welcome series includes three to five emails. That’s why you’ll need multiple welcome email subject lines within your onboarding series. Lucky for you, that means you can test which topics and words garner the most attention.

Whichever way you choose to organize your welcome information, common topics include:

  • My Account set up
  • Billing options
  • Available discounts or rebates
  • Outage resources
  • Community involvement
  • Energy efficiency resources

Don’t make it overly complicated! Provide your customers with what they need and make it obvious what you’re offering or asking them to do. Remember, new customers want to hear from you. An effective welcome series should be the start of long-lasting — and highly satisfied — digital relationship with customers.

Learn more about Questline Digital’s proven solutions to build digital engagement with new utility customers.

No matter the brand, first impressions with new customers are everything. That’s why a great welcome message is essential in every industry, from retail to hospitality and everything in between. For the energy utility industry, an effective welcome email design has the power to increase customer engagement, drive program promotion conversions and build long-lasting satisfaction.

According to Questline Digital’s 2022 Energy Utility Benchmarks Report, 60.2% of Welcome Series emails were opened by customers in the past year — the highest engagement rate in Benchmarks history. Welcome Series also experienced a high CTR of 11.9%. A great welcome message sets the stage for successful digital customer relationships and provides a valuable introduction to your energy utility.

Welcome Email Design Best Practices

Welcome emails are the first digital interactions customers have with your energy utility. Typically, these communications are saved by customers and make a great point of reference. Your welcome email design should give customers exactly what they want and need. Set the precedent for the value they will receive by opening and reading the email.

“This is the introduction of your energy utility — that’s why it’s vital to think long-term,” says Joe Pifher, Questline Digital’s Creative Director. “Keep your branding as evergreen as possible. Once you have a good formula for the content in your Welcome Series, there’s really no reason to change it.”

According to Pifher, a great welcome message should incorporate these best practices:

  • Include more detailed information than a standard email.
  • Divide topics into sections for easy reading.
  • Use icons to help customers find topics at a glance.
  • Stay as true to your utility’s brand as possible.

“As with any communication, keep your email clean and easy to read,” Pifher explains. “Bucket topics together so they are easy to find when customers are skimming the content. I also suggest using icons to help with a quick search.”

Pifher also recommends these basic principles for welcome email design:

Think about accessibility: To ensure ADA compliance, add alt tags to all images. In addition to tagging, use a Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) checker to make sure fonts and color contrast are readable for vision-impaired customers.

Use live text: If your hero image includes a headline, live text makes this copy visible if a customer has their “images” turned off. With live text, these customers aren’t missing important information.

Be mobile-ready: Mobile-optimized welcome email design is essential today. In fact, more than 63% of residential customers read emails from their energy utility on smartphones.

Be aware of dark mode: Many customers prefer dark mode, which helps reduce visual strain. Multiple surveys show that over 80% of consumers use dark mode on one or more applications.

To give your energy utility some inspiration, check out these welcome email samples for new customers from a wide variety of industries.

Welcome Email Design #1: Thrive Market

Thrive Market, an e-commerce retailer offering natural and organic food, begins its welcome email with a short letter from the co-founder and CEO. The letter speaks to the brand’s focus on health and sustainable living, which resonates with its target audience of eco-friendly consumers.

The welcome email design provides customers with a quick snapshot of resources to begin their journey with the e-commerce site, including an FAQ section, helpful health tips and recipes, and how to shop their exclusive products. Thrive Market also highlights their company’s efforts to make a positive impact on the planet, such as becoming a 100% carbon-neutral company.

Example of welcome email design Thrive

Takeaway for energy utilities: Based on this welcome email sample for new customers, the first email in your Welcome Series is a good spot for a short letter from your energy utility’s president. In your welcome email design, you could also include a message from a lineworker, giving the email a neighborly feel. Similar to Thrive Market’s approach, consider sharing helpful energy efficiency tips and promote your marketplace.

Welcome Email Design #2: Airbnb

Airbnb’s welcome message makes it easy for new customers to understand how the vacation rental company’s service works while providing imagery of enticing destinations and travel inspiration.

This great welcome message outlines what a customer can expect when booking a stay with Airbnb, including host verification, secure payments and cancellation policies. It also provides links where customers can learn more about the company and visit the Help Center.

Example of welcome email design Airbnb

Takeaway for energy utilities: Incorporate Airbnb’s educational approach into your welcome email design by providing customers with clear and easy-to-understand information about your energy utility’s programs and services.

Make it as easy as possible for your customers to enroll in My Account, paperless billing, outage text alerts and other essential services. Also, be open about what customers can expect from your energy utility, such as transparency and quick response during outages.

Welcome Email Design #3: Apple TV+

Apple sends out a welcome message to new Apple TV+ subscribers. This welcome email sample for new customers provides a brief overview of the streaming service and shares popular movies and series to encourage subscribers to start streaming. The email also promotes the Apple TV app, which makes it easy for subscribers to watch their favorite shows from any mobile device. The simple welcome email design features concise messaging, which resonates with today’s on-the-go consumers.

Example of welcome email design Apple

Takeaway for energy utilities: Energy utilities benefit from a clean welcome email design and straightforward messaging. Copy should be short and sweet while providing customers with a relevant overview of your energy utility. Instead of including too much copy in one email, provide a short description and link to your website for more information.

We see success with an average of four emails per Welcome Series campaign. This approach allows your energy utility to deliver information in smaller, targeted pieces over time, rather than one overly long email. Like Apple, your energy utility also has the ability to share recommendations, such as popular products from your energy utility’s marketplace.

Welcome Email Design #4: Lush Fresh Handmade Cosmetics

In this welcome email sample for new customers, the beauty retailer Lush shares product recommendations, encouraging customers to shop online. The welcome message also explains how customers can interact with the brand through product tips and behind-the-scenes videos on social media. The welcome email design utilizes vibrant, colorful images that showcase the brand’s fun personality.

Example of welcome email design Lush

Takeaway for energy utilities: Energy utilities might not have as bold of an image as a beauty retailer like Lush, but that doesn’t mean you should shy away from showing off your brand personality. For a great welcome message, consider sharing what makes your energy utility a cornerstone of the community, such as philanthropic efforts, employee volunteerism and other involvement.

To capture attention in your welcome email design, take advantage of eye-catching imagery, such as photography of people that reflect your service area’s demographics. Your energy utility could also incorporate actual photos of your lineworkers restoring power or employees volunteering in the community.

Welcome Email Design #5: The Glenlivet

The Glenlivet, a Scotch whisky distillery, takes a personalized approach to its welcome message. The eye-catching welcome email design is casual and conversational in tone, with the bold headline, “Hey There, Whisky Lover.” Perhaps most unique, customers have the opportunity to “create their own adventure” by choosing how they take their whisky. This fun quiz-style email directs them to an alcoholic beverage that is best suited to them.

Example of welcome email design Glenlivet

Takeaway for energy utilities: Energy utilities can increase engagement in their Welcome Series by personalizing the content to residential or business customers. You can further customize your welcome email design with segmented content for new customers and existing customers who recently moved within your service area.

When promoting energy efficiency programs, consider two different messages for homeowners and renters. These audiences have distinct needs when it comes to energy efficiency. For example, homeowners are more likely to make bigger investments, such as installing ENERGY STAR appliances and taking advantage of whole-house energy assessments. In comparison, renters are inclined to make smaller improvements like smart plugs, water-saving showerheads and LED light bulbs.

Look to These Welcome Email Samples for New Customers

A great welcome message gives your customers a glimpse into your energy utility — what programs and services they need to know about, as well as what makes your company an integral part of the community. As you can see in the above examples, the sky is the limit when it comes to saying “hello” to new and moving customers. What matters is finding a way to connect through creativity, personalization, concise messaging and clean welcome email design.

Build strong customer relationships from day one with a Welcome Series from Questline Digital.

Sending a warm welcome message to customers goes a long way in establishing rapport and familiarizing your audience with your utility’s offerings. An effective welcome email tees up your audience for more inbox communications and lays the foundation for a positive customer experience.

When following welcome email best practices, your messages should do five things:

  1. Thank customers for joining
  2. Help customers get the most out of your offerings
  3. Invite engagement through calls to action
  4. Provide immediate value
  5. Set the tone for future email communications

At the start of their relationship with your energy utility, customers are more receptive to messages about your programs and services (think paperless billing and outage alerts). And once they graduate from a Welcome Series, they will be more engaged with subsequent communications — by a lot. Questline Digital’s Benchmarks data shows recipients of welcome emails are 30% to 50% more likely to open future emails compared to customers who don’t receive welcome emails from their energy utility.

Don’t miss your opportunity to communicate essential onboarding information and build strong digital customer relationships.

Quick Tips: 7 Welcome Email Best Practices

Follow these seven tips to accomplish customer engagement and onboarding goals with your energy utility’s welcome emails.

  1. Use a straightforward subject line.
  2. Keep messages succinct and focused on improving customer lives.
  3. Use pre-scheduled, automated emails to maximize engagement.
  4. Send the first email immediately upon service signup and trickle in additional details over the next 30 days.
  5. Include three to five emails in your Welcome Series.
  6. Employ segmentation.
  7. Regularly test and evaluate email content.

Use a straightforward subject line. Welcome emails are not the place to try click-bait subject lines. Instead, be transparent and straightforward. Try something simple like, “Thanks for letting us into your inbox! Now what?” or “Welcome to [utility name] — Let’s get started.”

Keep messages succinct and focused on improving customers’ lives. Make your messages short and use subheads, icons and bullets to make reading easy. Customers are busy and don’t have time for complex emails. Similarly, only include information that is imperative to customer success. Welcome emails should serve as scannable resource centers.

Use pre-scheduled, automated emails to maximize engagement. Makes things simple for yourself and build automated workflows for your welcome messages. You can build a single workflow that spreads out messages, sending them a few days apart. Or you could build multiple workflows, sending secondary emails based on actions taken (or not taken) in the first send.

Send the first email immediately upon service signup and trickle in additional details over the next 30 days. Send email number one immediately upon signup and schedule the rest to follow a planned cadence. Consumers assume either they did something wrong or your systems don’t work if they don’t get a welcome email right away.

Welcome Series with three to five emails perform best. With years of experience managing Welcome Series for utilities, Questline Digital data shows that sending too many or too few messages can equate to lost opportunities. The best-performing welcome email series templates include three to five emails.

Employ segmentation. Welcome email best practices include using segmentation to build multiple campaigns for different audiences. New customers, moving customers, small businesses and large businesses all need unique resources from their utility. Don’t disappoint customers with welcome resources that don’t address their specific requirements.

Regularly test and evaluate email contents. While automation allows you to technically “set it and forget it,” you should evaluate your welcome emails on a seasonal basis, or at least annually. Look to see if some topics receive more engagement than others, if CTAs are performing, and if the number of messages and cadence is successful.

Check out this mini case study from a fellow utility who whittled down their Welcome Series after evaluating the data. They dropped from six emails to five and reprioritized messages, ultimately improving engagement results.

Welcome Email Series Template for Energy Utilities

Every energy utility is different, but the content that often performs best in a Welcome Series campaign includes:

  • Introductory thank-you message. This is the most important message that receives the highest level of engagement. Keep it succinct and focused on improving customers’ lives.
  • Billing and digital channels. This message has the second-highest engagement rate. Introduce customers to your utility’s billing options and digital channels.
  • Outage resources. Inform customers of the variety of ways to receive outage updates and invite them to register for text notifications.
  • Community involvement. Use this message to focus on your energy utility’s community efforts and partnerships.
  • Safety or energy savings. Engage and educate customers on safety topics through videos, infographics or interactive quizzes. This message can also take a savings focus with promotions about energy efficiency rebates and programs.

Your utility may have different goals or messages to promote, but this flow of information — from thank you to must know to value-add — will help set up your customers for success.

Examples of Welcome Email Best Practices in Action

The best welcome email series follow a template. They always say “thank you” and help customers get the most out of company offerings. The following examples showcase welcome email best practices in action.

Nordstrom: This welcome message clearly illustrates the benefits of being a Nordy Club member and prompts customers to download a mobile app. Recipients feel taken care of and know what to expect going forward.

Example of welcome email best practices from Nordstrom

Amazon Prime: This welcome email has a clear CTA of “get started” along with secondary links to specific benefits. Amazon makes it clear they want me to finish building the customer’s profile in order to deliver the best customer experience.

Example of welcome email best practices from Amazon

Ahrefs: Using video to share a warm welcome message to customers helps to elevate your brand.This email also includes links to Ahrefs’ five main tools so customers can gain value right away.Subsequent emails include recaps and links to their most popular and helpful blog content.

Example of welcome email best practices from Ahrefs

Leverage Questline Digital’s welcome email templates to ace new customer engagement for your energy utility.

Whether you’re joining a cheese of the month club or signing up with a new video streaming service, you’re sure to receive some kind of welcome message.

Whether that message will be helpful or worthy of the trash bin is to be determined. You might not be wowed by the content (or find it very helpful), but it will be in your inbox waiting for you.

Some energy customers find their welcome experience to be similarly lackluster when starting service. But what if that welcome was truly valuable?

What Should Your Welcome Message for Customers Include?

A new utility customer will need to be informed of many things. Your utility will want to provide answers to common questions and guide them through an optimal customer journey.

But be careful not to overwhelm your audience. You can’t effectively answer all questions at once. A single email with “link soup” will make for a complex customer experience.

Instead, prioritize what you need customers to know or do first.

How many emails in a Welcome Series

Most marketers send just one welcome email, but Questline Digital data shows three to five email messages is best.

Going beyond five emails in a Welcome Series tends to result in lower open rates for later sends. If you need to include more than five emails, make sure important information like billing options, outage alerts and My Account setup are frontloaded in your communications.

Pro tip: Consider numbering the emails in the subject line or header (for example, first of four-part series) so subscribers know to look out for the subsequent messages.

How often to send welcome messages

The cadence of your welcome emails shouldn’t overwhelm customers or be drawn out. We recommend sending an email every two to three days or once every week. This frequency keeps your utility top of mind but doesn’t bombard customers.

Additionally, it’s important to send the first email of your welcome series within 24 hours of account setup. If possible, reduce lag time to 10 minutes or less from the time of the service signup. Given the multitude of other marketing messages competing for consumers’ attention, you’ll want your welcome message for customers to hit inboxes while your utility is still top of mind.

What to include in your welcome message for customers

Within your series of messages, it’s essential to answer commonly asked questions, point to available resources and prompt customers with actions you want them to take.

An example Welcome Series could look like:

  • Email #1 – Welcome and community message
  • Email #2 – Instructions on how to set up My Account preferences
  • Email #3 – Explanation of billing options
  • Email #4 – Prompts to sign up for eNewsletters and/or programs
  • Email #5 – Resources to help you save energy

Case Study: Optimizing Welcome Messages for Customers

Questline Digital worked with an energy utility client to develop and send a new residential Welcome Series. One year later, we took a deep dive into the performance metrics to see how we could enhance the series to achieve even greater engagement.

We found that how many emails in a Welcome Series matters, and so does the cadence of information. With small tweaks, customer communications can be optimized. Let’s take a look.

Year One Welcome Series

Six emails sent to residential customers starting new electric service:

  1. Storm and outage resources
  2. Sign up for our energy utility newsletter
  3. Explore our My Account resources
  4. Tools to help you manage your energy bill
  5. Tips to reduce your bill
  6. Resources to help you save energy

Overall Open Rate: 32.9%

Overall Click-to-Open Rate (CTOR): 26.6%

Year Two Welcome Series

Five emails sent to residential customers starting new electric service:

  1. Explore our My Account resources
  2. Storm and outage resources
  3. Sign up for our energy utility newsletter
  4. Billing payment options
  5. Resources to help you save energy

Overall Open Rate: 41.7%

Overall CTOR: 31.7%

By looking at the overall email content, design and key messages, our team determined:

How many emails in a Welcome Series matters

Five emails were more effective than six. Emails five and six from the original series were comparable, with both offering savings tips and resources. In the revamped series, only one savings email was sent.

Less content was more

In the first series, each email was jam-packed with links, images and multiple messages, which could have distracted from the main point and call to action. In the updated series, supporting content was pared down and the visual design was refined.

New branding elements could be easily incorporated

The energy utility had recently refreshed its branding, making this Welcome Series a perfect place to include new identity requirements. There was also an opportunity to add links that connected customers to new website content.

The customer journey needed a little guidance

While much of the content was similar from the first series to the second, the order of those messages shifted. For example, the original series began with a message about storm alerts and outage resources. In comparison, the second series opened with a message about taking control of one’s utility account — a topic of much higher interest to a new customer.

By restructuring the order and number of emails and adjusting the content, the second Welcome Series was able to better connect with customers, boosting the open rate by nearly 27% and driving 19% more engagement.

With careful planning, thoughtful strategy and inspiring writing and design, you can achieve real results. As our data demonstrates year after year, crafting a series of welcome messages for customers can set the stage for a long, strong relationship.

Welcome new customers to your utility with a proven Welcome Series solution from Questline Digital.

Customer journey mapping is essential for energy utilities. As the industry focuses on becoming more customer centric and improving the customer experience, utilities must optimize every interaction.

Where once customers were seen merely as account numbers or “ratepayers,” new technologies and advancements across all industries are changing customers’ expectations of how they interact with their utilities.

Energy utility customers interact regularly with many other businesses, and it’s their experience with those industries that sets expectations. The more businesses like Disney, Amazon and Apple improve their customer experiences, the more consumers expect from their energy provider.

The importance of utility customer experience management

Because of this dynamic change in relationships, utility customer experience management — the intentional planning and implementation of interactions across all channels and touchpoints — is critical to deliver a consistently excellent experience.

Why is utility customer experience important? For a variety of reasons, but primarily because well-designed and implemented experiences increase customer engagement. Increased customer engagement in turn builds customer satisfaction. The outcomes of customer satisfaction can include:

  • More participation in programs
  • Increased enrollment in paperless billing
  • Higher use of self-service channels
  • Lower cost to service
  • Greater customer advocacy and loyalty

Mapping the customer journey for energy utilities

A great way to approach the process of improving the customer experience is by developing a utility customer journey map that looks at these events collectively.

McKinsey describes a journey as “the process a customer goes through to complete a particular task, such as opening an account or resolving an error.”

These journeys often encompass multiple departments and varying mediums. For example, a customer journey to purchase a smart thermostat might involve touchpoints in multiple channels — website navigation and search, e-commerce, email, phone calls, a technician visit for installation, etc.

When developing a utility customer journey map, be sure to capture the key moments of truth. Those specific positive and negative touchpoints that make or break how customers perceive their utility.

Other journeys might include customer onboarding, bill payment, an outage, interacting with customer service or various program enrollments. These journeys work together to build the entirety of a utility’s customer experience.

To truly be customer centric, utilities must map out and understand all the possible touchpoints and outcomes along the customer’s journey.

Here are key journeys your utility should consider:

WELCOME

First impressions are everything. This is when your new customer decides if it’s easy or cumbersome to work with your utility. Can they easily find all the information they need? Do they know where to turn for help? Is your utility going to be an ongoing resource? Or will they face headaches down the road?

Answering these questions upfront and setting the right tone is essential for the launch of your customers’ journeys. Build an onboarding workflow that gives customers everything they need.

Through deployment of thousands of Welcome Series, Questline Digital has determined that it’s best to send between three and five emails upon the start of service. These emails include the following information:

  • Welcome message from leadership
  • Instructions for My Account set up
  • Prompts for eBill enrollment
  • Payment assistance resources
  • Guidance for eNewsletter or Preference Center sign up
  • Outage alert enrollment reminders
  • Explanation of available programs
  • Energy efficiency and cost savings tips

Depending on your community, your energy utility may need multiple welcome workflows that speak to different audiences. Common targets include first-time customers, moving customers, commercial business owners and small business owners.

PAYMENT OPTIONS

Ensure clients are aware of the payment options available to them. Look at the experiences for those who pay via mail and online. What hurdles do they hit along the way? Where can improvements be made?

Paperless billing enrollment is known to increase customer satisfaction. According to Fiserv’s Eighth Annual Consumer Billing Household Survey, 68% of consumers acknowledge increased satisfaction with their biller when they receive electronic statements.

So, set the stage early and get customers enrolled in My Account and eBill as early as possible. The sooner customers are enrolled, the better their overall utility customer journey will be.

OUTAGE COMMUNICATIONS

An outage experience is a key moment of truth, as it will certainly impact a utility’s J.D. Power customer satisfaction score. Customer journey mapping before an outage could include:

  • Ongoing outage education
  • Outage preparation communications
  • Registration for outage notifications
  • Inspiring interaction and two-way conversation

These steps would be delivered as emails, texts, automated calls, social media posts or conversations, website tools, bill inserts and brochures.

Other forms of outage communications would then occur during a planned or an unexpected outage. Whether your utility is providing a single report, or sending updates along the way, every touchpoint must be thoughtfully executed.

PROGRAM PARTICIPATION

Beyond the basic customer lifecycle and outage communications journeys, utilities are also now exploring customer journey mapping for specific programs and products.

Solar program customers, for example, will not only rely on their utility for educational resources ahead of making a decision, but also throughout the financing, contract, installation, monitoring and maintenance phases of their solar use.

The more holistic a utility can make specific interactions along a product journey, the higher customer engagement, satisfaction and advocacy will be later.

ONGOING COMMUNICATIONS

We see consistently stronger engagement metrics with customers who receive ongoing communications, as compared to customers who receive only sporadic, one-time messages from their energy company.

In-between journeys, there is the overarching and long-term utility customer experience. This includes what happens between traditional bill payment and outage alerts, including:

  • Providing energy efficiency advice to customers during high bill seasons
  • Encouraging customers to take advantage of available rebates and promotions
  • Signing customers up for your monthly eNewsletter

Stay top of mind and enhance the customer journey by giving customers helpful information exactly when they need it.

Map out your utility customer experience

Start your conversation today about the importance of customer centricity and journey mapping a positive customer experience.

How do customers begin their journey with your energy utility? Build a strong relationship from day one with a Welcome Series.