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Customer Onboarding Via Email Marketing

Sales funnels are well-known tools at this point, and email marketing plays a pivotal role in moving people along from “prospect” to “customer.” But it’s the middle of the funnel that relies most on good email strategies.

Converting a prospect into a lead is pretty easy. All you need is some interesting content — blog posts, social media content, YouTube videos, downloadable assets, etc. — and you usually collect someone’s email and a few personal identifiers.

Turning that email capture or free account into a committed paying customer, however? That tends to take a lot more work. And that’s why a good onboarding email process can make a huge difference for your business’ long-term growth.

It’s a system that can repeatedly create good results for you, which means it’s worth putting in the time and effort to get right the first time around. So let’s take a few minutes and look at the steps you can take to achieve effective customer onboarding via email marketing.

First Impressions

You have 27 seconds to make a first impression. And when it comes to sending emails, you can only be sure of your subject line and preview text to hook someone. Even customers who sign up for emails or request a confirmation may not actually open your emails.

So if you know people will open a particular email (like a welcome email, or a downloadable asset) then you’ve got to make sure it’s a home run, buzzer beater, and every other “clutch moment” sports metaphor you can imagine.

The best part of an onboarding email is that you get to make an instant, personalized connection with someone who has already shown interest in your brand. You know their interest level since you’ve probably tracked their progress so far; that means you are able to cater the process to their unique needs and experiences.

In other words, you get to send out emails that feel like artisanal, handcrafted gift baskets. That’s how you should think about your welcome email, and it’s the best kind of first impression that you can deliver to a new user.

A Personal Touch

Personalization is more important than ever, especially with more and more companies focusing on their online, social media, and ecommerce presence. Consumers see personalized content as a way to cut out the junk and get what they want more easily. 

A 2018 study showed that 83% of customers will share data if it means they’ll benefit from personalized experiences. And 91% said they are more likely to stick with brands that remember them and their preferences.

That same mentality includes email too. Emails that include personalized subject lines are 26% more likely to be opened, and once these people open the emails they are instantly more likely to engage with your brand and remember their great welcome email experience.

Personalized email content means you’re going to be using dynamic content sprinkled throughout each message. And you know what else benefits from dynamic fields?

Split testing.

Never Stop Testing

A/B tests are invaluable. And because you are always getting new email signups, you’ll have an endless number of opportunities to test different parts of your onboarding email sequence.

From subject lines to CTA copy to images, you can — and should — test every piece of the email to see what has the best results for people that might be unfamiliar with your brand. And if you’ve already built customer persona groups into your email systems, you can streamline things and get even more benefits from testing your emails.

(And for bigger email sequences, dynamic fields are some of the best ways to keep that personalized feel in emails, even if you can’t afford to write each message individually.)

Choose Useful CTAs

Emails that focus on a specific, individual CTA increase clicks by 371% and sales by 1,617%. That means that picking the right CTA is more important than almost any other piece of your email strategy. Once someone opens an email, you want to make sure they’re being shown a CTA that directly corresponds with the situation or question they are most likely facing. 

With that mentality, onboarding emails aren’t the best place to push new services and upgrade plans. However, it’s a safe bet that new customers are going to have questions about your products, customer care options, and how they can connect with your brand.

CTAs are important in every email, and that includes onboarding emails. But you’ve got to make sure you are thinking about the right CTA if you want people to take another step and further integrate themselves into your products, services, and brand.

Keep It Helpful

Email quickly becomes second-nature for people in your contact list. Sure, you’ll let them know about updates, new products, and upcoming sales via email. But email can also be a support channel for customers, or a way to get newsletter content with value they appreciate.

In other words, your onboarding email sequence should be helpful. Provide educational content like tutorials, step-by-step videos, or even testimonials from existing users talking about the product.

(If you personalize this content to a specific item or product variant the customer just received, that’s even better. It’s how brilliant marketers manage to check off every item on this list in one single email.)

This particular tip should be the north star of any email campaign. Yes, you’ve got KPIs to hit and probably limitations to what templates or CTAs you can use. But the goal of every email should be to help the user become more comfortable and connected with your brand.

In an ideal world, you won’t have to choose between “user-first” and “goal-first” directions with your email marketing. A great email can and should do both, especially when it’s intended to onboard new users into an unfamiliar product ecosystem.

Author’s bio: Drew Gula is the copywriter at Soundstripe, a company that helps businesses and creators with royalty free background music by providing a range of stock music, like documentary music.

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