As a product manager, onboarding can be a challenging task to handle. Getting users to use and appreciate your product and be with you for a long time. But, like any other journey, the first step is always the hardest, and getting it right can bring long-term benefits.
So, what is the first step you need to take to win the user’s trust and bring them into your product? Well, sending an onboarding email can do the trick! Onboarding emails are expected by users who signup to use your product.
It’s the first point of contact between the user and your brand. Therefore, making an excellent first impression is crucial as it can set the tone for future communication and user expectations.
This blog will discuss the benefits of onboarding emails, the best tips for writing an engaging onboarding email and highlight our points with email examples and some onboarding email templates.
Onboarding emails encourage new users to start using your product. They can contain a simple welcome message or educational resources to help get the user started with your product. But, the main aim of an onboarding email is to urge the user to start using the product and help them see value in your product from the first point of contact.
Users need to see value in a product that asks them for their time and money. That's where onboarding comes into the picture. Onboarding emails are the first place where you can exceed user expectations by showing them what your product has to offer and how valuable it is by sending them engaging content that helps them see your product's value clearly.
Besides that, onboarding emails get the most engagement. According to WordStream, onboarding emails see four times the open rate and five times the click-through rate than any other email marketing campaign. Such high engagement rates give product marketers opportunities to open communication channels and build trust and relationships with the users.
If you are still not sold on the idea that onboarding emails work, the next three benefits might convince you to think otherwise. Here are the reasons why sending onboarding emails is a great idea:
Emails are proactive conversation starters that can foster long-lasting relationships with users. Users like to receive emails because it provides valuable content from their favorite brands and a channel to reach out for support.
For a product to succeed, it needs loyal users that advocate the efficacy and value of the product throughout their journey, as retaining users is less costly than acquiring new ones. Thus, loyal users minimize the churn rate, increasing their customer lifetime value.
Greeting new users with a well-designed user onboarding sequence can make a great impression. Also, sending a welcome message can make users think you are dedicated to building long-term relationships with them.
An onboarding message can help you in sending relevant content to them. Apart from welcoming the user, you can guide them through the next steps of the onboarding process. Also, you can provide them with educational content that helps users understand your product, like a “get started” guide.
Your onboarding emails should serve a purpose higher than just welcoming new users. Here are a few goals that you should consider before designing your user onboarding emails:
The above-mentioned points are great starting points. But you need to quantify these goals to know that you are on the right track and that your onboarding strategy is working, or does it need some tweaking?
Before explaining how and where onboarding emails fit in the customer experience, you first need to understand what customer experience is and why it is important.
Customer experience is a user's overall experience when interacting with your product. A great customer experience can help the user realize the potential value of your product early and become paid users. In contrast, a bad onboarding experience can lead the customer to churn, hence, never return. Therefore, a bad onboarding experience is why more than half of users switch to other brands.
Onboarding emails fit perfectly into this equation of customer experience. They can speak on your behalf and help deliver your promise to the user. They can be used to send reminder emails that nudge the users into coming back to your product and continue exploring it.
So, onboarding emails are not just good-to-have tactics; they are necessary for delivering a satisfactory customer experience.
Onboarding emails aren’t just an isolated element of your onboarding process; they are a part of it. The “Bowling Alley” framework can help you create a cohesive onboarding strategy.
Wes Bush, the author of the book “Product-Led Growth,” expounded upon the “Bowling Alley” framework in his book.
In bowling, the task is to use a heavy ball and knock down ten pins at the end of a bowling lane. Sounds simple, right? But you can miss hitting the pins if your bowling ball goes into the gutters that run alongside the bowling lanes.
So, to keep balls going into the gutters, bowling bumpers were created. Using this analogy, the author expounds that user onboarding also requires bumpers that can guide users to the outcomes that your product promises. The two bumpers are:
Product bumpers are in-app experiences that make product adoption in the app easier for users. Product bumpers include:
As the name suggests, conversational bumpers are used to talk to users and help guide them through using the product or notify them of any possible updates. Therefore, conversational bumpers include:
Hence, onboarding emails need to be used alongside other onboarding bumpers to provide users with a smooth and seamless onboarding experience.
Knowing the importance, benefits, and goals of onboarding emails is good. But at the end of the day, you still need to write an onboarding email that is effective in its delivery and precise in its intention. So, here are nine writing tips for your first onboarding email:
It cannot be stressed enough how important it’s to catch your recipient's attention. A catchy subject line is, hence, needed. As 47% of recipients open emails based on the subject line, subject lines cannot be left as an afterthought.
For example, “Delighted to have you with us, John!” can be a great subject line for your first onboarding email. Also, your subsequent email, in which you can list the next onboarding steps, can have the subject line “A world of new possibilities await you!”
But before writing a subject line, you also need to consider one more thing, and that is what should be the number of words in the subject line. According to research, subject lines with words between 6-10 have the highest open rate at 21%. Hence, you should aim for this sweet spot while remaining creative with your subject lines.
Moving on from the subject line, we now arrive at the email copy. It’s where you have to shine to ensure your newly signed-up user is intrigued by what you offer.
Keep your value proposition at the front and center of your copy. Reassure the users that they have made the right decision by signing up and can achieve all your product has promised.
Once the user is convinced and has started to benefit from the content, you should provide them with contributory services for unique problems with complex solutions.
After showing the user your value proposition, it’s time to guide them about the next onboarding steps. Onboarding steps may vary for different SaaS companies, but usually, they include the following:
Moreover, if your product is complex or has a high-touch onboarding model, then you have to involve the customer support teams to guide the users about the next onboarding steps.
The success of email as a medium for marketing is because it can be used to talk about individual topics. Trying to talk about multiple things can mar the effectiveness of the onboarding email as it can confuse the recipient.
For example, in a welcome email, talking about the product's advanced features, which your users do not know, can create confusion in their minds and cause them to churn.
Instead, just stick to greeting the user to your community and guide them, one step at a time, towards the inherent value of your product.
After your user has this experience, they should reach the “Aha!” moment of your product. The “Aha!” moment is when a user realizes what the core value of your product is and how it can benefit them.
But first, find your product's core value. Then use both onboarding bumpers and create unique experiences for users that help them reach the “Aha!” moment quickly. By helping the users see the core value of your product quickly, your business can grow quickly.
If your product is complex and requires a lot of hand-holding, adding helpful resources in your onboarding emails is a way to go about it. For example, your users might need help using your product's advanced features; hence, adding a user’s guide in the email or links to customer support can help. Also, you can link blog posts that contain best practices, FAQ pages, and tutorial videos.
It is not possible to foresee all the problems that your customers may encounter while using your product. Therefore, you must provide them with a channel where they can bring their queries and issues to you and get help resolving them.
Provide the contact details of your customer support team. It assures the recipients that you are always available to hear and provide help. Moreover, adding this information to your welcome emails can lay strong foundations of trust that can help build a long-lasting relationship.
After you have shown your customer your product's value and explained how you could help them achieve it, end the email with a call-to-action button (CTA). Including a CTA helps make things easier for users who want to start their onboarding immediately.
Not all emails, as much as you try, will perform the same. Hence, you must test the emails to find out what works and what doesn’t. Try using different subject lines for your emails and see which emails have the highest open rate. Also, test different email copies with varying degrees of personalization. You can also test the CTAs and see which CTAs are being clicked on the most.
Now that you know how to write an effective onboarding email, it is time that you benefit from a few templates that you can use as inspiration.
Welcome to [Company name]
Thanks for signing up. We are excited to have you as a part of our growing community. [Product name] was created for people passionate about [Company mission].
With your new account, you’ll get the following:
If you haven’t completed your profile, be sure to complete it and add your [user preferences] so we can send you resources to get started.
We recommend new users check out the following resources:
If you have any queries, reach out to our customer support via phone [Phone number], email [Email address], or live chat [Live chat link].
Follow us on [Social media links] to remain updated!
Welcome [User name] to the [Company name] family!
Thank you for signing up! We created [Product name] to help people [Value proposition], and we are glad you chose us!
Over the next few weeks, we will provide you with resources and materials to help you get started with [Product name].
We’ll also check your progress from time to time. Please don’t hesitate to reach out if you have any questions.
Once again, welcome to [Product name]!
You can also keep the tone of your email conversational and informal. Here’s how you can do it:
Welcome to the [Product name] community, where exciting things await you! Now, to get started, complete your profile information. Once you have done that, expect the following content and resources in the next few weeks:
Never hesitate to reach out to us if you have any queries.
The following template is for users who upgrade to a premium subscription.
Welcome, [Use name]
Congratulations on upgrading your subscription. We are thrilled to continue working with you and move forward in achieving our goal of [company mission/product value proposition].
With your upgraded account, you’ll get:
We know you are familiar with most of our features, but we recommend new users check out the following resources for the upgrade.
Please let us know if you have any queries about your new account. Reach out to us via phone [phone number], email [email address], or live chat [live-chat link]. Our support team is always ready to help!
If your users are facing issues with their onboarding, and have contacted customer support with their query, then you can send them a response email based on the following template:
Hi [User name]!
We received your email regarding the [onboarding issue]. First, we are sorry that you have to face such an issue. We will make sure that it is resolved. Here are the steps:
[Outline all the steps].
We are driven to provide a seamless experience to our users. However, don’t hesitate to contact us again if the issue persists.
If your user has taken the desired action, like inviting a team member or ordering their first meal, you can send them an email encouraging them to use the app more.
Hi [User name]!
Congratulations! You have successfully ordered your first meal! To make your experience with the app better, here are some tips that you can follow:
[List all the tips]
We hope that you order more from [Product name] with the help of the tips mentioned above. However, if you face any issues, feel free to contact our customer service representatives, who are always available.
You can use onboarding emails to inform users of their expiring trial periods and nudge them to become paid customers.
Hi [User name]!
We hope you are doing well.
This email informs you that your free trial expires on [date]. If you have enjoyed using [Product name], then you can continue enjoying it by upgrading to our premium subscription. With our premium subscription, you get:
[List all the benefits]
We are always here to help in case of any issues. Please feel free to reach out to our customer support team.
If your user wants a demo of your product, then you can use the following template to schedule an onboarding demo session.
Hi [User name]!
Thank you for your interest in [Product name]. We are delighted to see such an enthusiastic response from you and want to take your onboarding to the next level. Please let us know when you are available, and we can schedule an onboarding call with you.
Onboarding email campaigns are made of multiple onboarding email sequences. These onboarding email flows are:
The welcome email flow is triggered as soon as someone signs up for your product. The main aim of the welcome flow is to make the new user feel welcomed and a part of a community. Also, the welcome flow consists of product tips, case studies, and links to subscription upgrades.
Let’s discuss all the emails in a welcome flow individually:
Compared to traditional marketing emails, welcome emails receive 86% more unique open rates and 196% unique click-through rates. Also, welcome emails have a 336% transaction rate and provide 320% more revenue per email than other emails (according to Encharge).
With such high engagement statistics, marketers might be tempted to be aggressive in their approach toward welcome emails. They might want to include as much information as possible and multiple CTAs. This approach is wrong.
The purpose of a welcome email is to set expectations and introduce users to the software. So, a single CTA can suffice.
For inspiration, let’s look at an example from “Heroku,” a cloud application platform. From the beginning of the email, recipients get an idea of what to expect and what they can achieve with Heroku. The next part of the email tells the recipient how they can start using Heroku by following a list of steps.
Marketers are usually more focused on generating leads and on user acquisition but forget that educating the user about the utility and benefits of their product is key for acquiring and retaining long-term and loyal customers. Therefore, marketers must keep emphasizing providing information about the product from the start of user onboarding.
A product tip email aims to provide users with valuable and value-based information about the product and encourage them to use it more. Welcome flows can be used to provide that valuable information.
This product tip email from “Miro” substantiates the above point brilliantly. The email is about the comment features that allow team members to collaborate and share their opinions about a project. The recipient is also told how they can add comments on the board in the app.
Social proof always comes in handy in convincing users that your product can help resolve their issues. Case studies can help address all your users' objections and provide solutions.
You don’t have to produce an in-depth case study to assuage users pretentious about your product. A 5-star rated review, a customer success story, a video testimonial, or a live chat with a happy customer can equally do the trick.
This example from Airtable can help you understand the point clearly. The case study is about how the New York City Ballet uses Airtable to manage its marketing pipelines.
It doesn’t matter whether you are sending a welcome email, a product tip email, or a case study email; you got to include a call to action button in it. You don’t have to be shy at the onboarding stage for fear of hurting your conversion rates. Instead, you can be a bit more aggressive and ask the user to commit to your product by completing their onboarding or upgrading to a paid subscription.
Look at how “Calendly” promotes its premium plans in this email. The email includes a CTA to a guide that can help users to get the most out of their experience with Calendly.
App usage flows consist of trigger-based emails. These emails are sent to the users according to their interactions with the app (or lack thereof). App usage flows are the difference between outstanding user onboardings and mediocre user onboardings.
Building app usage flows extensive planning with your development team. Some companies have the foresight and the willingness to build app usage flow some, however, don’t have, and therefore, don’t build them.
This can be a huge missed opportunity for you and your business. App usage flows allow businesses to see how users interact with their products and provide them with data they can use to tweak their campaigns.
Moreover, trigger-based emails allow marketers to send the right message to the right people at the right time. Apart from onboarding, they can be used across entire customer lifecycle communications.
As app usage flows depend upon your product user experience, you can create endless trigger-based emails.
This email from “Skeddly” is a perfect example of an email in an app usage flow. The email starts by acknowledging that the user has used the app. Next, the recipients are told how they can configure their notification settings to their liking, and they guide the recipients to the configuration page with the “configure notifications” CTA.
Trial expiry warning flows are a great way to remind users to upgrade to a paid subscription. They leverage the inner psychological triggers of scarcity and urgency to help you convert users.
Urgency is linked with the timing of the email. It’s pointless to flood someone’s inbox with warnings about a trial expiration before they have the opportunity to start exploring your product.
According to Encharge, send your trial expiration email 1-3 days before the expiration date or 1-7 days in case of an extended trial.
On the last day of the trial, you should send a trial end email highlighting all the things the user will miss if they don’t upgrade to a paid subscription. FOMO can be a factor that motivates users to take action. It’s called loss aversion in psychology.
This trial expiry email from “Squarespace” can help you understand the intent behind trial expiry flows. The headline “We haven’t given up on your dreams” and “You shouldn’t either” perfectly sets the tone of urgency in the email. The body copy then informs the recipient about the end of their trial, and they can still access their account if they wish to extend their trial.
Win-back flows are built to engage users who have lost interest in a product and need to be won back by showing them the product's value.
It’s not the fault of users that they forget about your product. In this day and age, many products are competing for their attention. Thus, users need a nudge to remind them why they signed up for your product in the first place, and win-back emails are perfect for this job. You can use these emails to resolve all the user’s pain points and set them on the path to success with your product.
“Grammarly” offers a bade to its’s churned users to win them back. The email reminds them about the importance of using Grammarly when they used to write and how they can still come back to using Grammarly for writing.
SaaS businesses need reviews to thrive. 92% of B2B buyers are more likely to purchase after reading trusted reviews. Moreover, SaaS companies that invest in 4 or more review sites earn 36% more revenue than those that don’t.
Emails can be leveraged to improve your visibility on review sites. Capterra and G2 are the most prominent review site on the internet. You can urge users, through your emails, to leave reviews on these sites.
Choose users who have already become paid users to write reviews. You can offer them gift cards and discounts in return for their reviews.
This email from “Chameleon” exemplifies everything that we have discussed above. The sender asks the recipient to do them a favor by leaving a review of their product. Also, the sender offers the recipient a $10 gift card. At the end of the email, there is a “Leave A Review” CTA to take the recipient to the review page.
So, there you have it. All you need to know about onboarding emails, how important they are, and what tips you can adhere to write effective onboarding emails. Moreover, we have provided you with a few templates that you can use for writing your emails and have also shown you some email flows that you can use for these emails in.
But if you want to supercharge your onboarding experience and craft highly engaging onboarding emails, then you need to check out Appflows!
Content writer by day and a book nerd by night, Ammar Mazhar has been writing for 3 years for B2B and B2C businesses. As a wordsmith, Ammar knows how to write SEO-optimized content that your users will find insightful, igniting results for your business.