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How to Write an Onboarding Email for New Customers

An onboarding email is an essential first step in engaging a new or potential customer. This type of email marketing stream offers immediate next steps based on what action they took on your website or app, such as subscribing to a service or your newsletter.

An onboarding email or email sequence is an ideal tool for building a strong relationship with your customers. They can help your customer better use and understand your product, serve as a reference, and, as a result, help customers remain loyal to your brand.

How To Use Onboarding Emails

After acquiring a customer, the next obvious step is getting that customer onboarded with your offerings. You may consider offering an onboarding email sequence that includes several of the following use cases.

To Say Hello

While onboarding campaigns are best for customers that are already familiar and are further along in their customer journeys with your company or product, companies may still need to introduce themselves to establish their messaging interactions with their users. Onboarding emails are often confused with welcome emails, but welcome emails are actually just one component of onboarding.

Companies that introduce themselves via a welcome campaign as the initial part of their onboarding stream demonstrate they care about each potential customer and want to make a more lasting connection. Life is also busy, and online interactions can be short-lived if the customer isn’t reminded why they sought out your company, product, or service in the first place. The initial hello in an onboarding stream is a way to bring the subject right back to the customer’s inbox by reaching out to them immediately after their interactions with your company.

To Provide Essential Information About the Product

Onboarding emails are a great place to say just a bit more than is possible on a website homepage. These emails can be customized to present a product in a way that’s unique to the customer and different from the content they’ve already seen on your website, giving the customer more personalized options for how to use your service or product. This helps your company establish itself as knowledgeable, trustworthy, and caring.
Informational emails include a variety of strategies you can align with your user’s interaction data. Usage reviews are one example. They highlight how much other customers love a product or service. Many online purchasers consider reviews before they make a purchase decision. Providing “social proof” can help you build trust in your product and pique your customers’ interest.

To Ease Interaction with the Product or Website

If your product or app needs further explanation or instruction, this is a great opportunity to give the customer gentle guidance around any potential pain points. FAQs, guided instructions, or educational content you’ve created are helpful for showing customers how to get the most out of a product or service. For example, a software company might send out a sequence of onboarding emails that each feature a short demo video for getting started with their product followed by a link to a landing page with more information.

To Encourage Immediate Purchase

All companies need to keep their bottom line in mind. An onboarding email can be a great opportunity to share a promotion or discount with a new customer, enticing them to go ahead and make that purchase or upgrade. After the initial purchase, you can also use sales touches to suggest additional products or accessories the customer might need.

To Direct the Customer to Your Other Sales Channels

Onboarding email campaigns should always engage the customer further with your company and invite them to keep coming back. Include links to your website, app, and social channels to help your customer connect at a deeper level.

The “Dos and Don’ts” of Onboarding Emails

Try these tips for building best-in-class onboarding emails to engage your customer base from the very first touch:

DO Make it Personal

Personalized content is the best way to ensure the customer engages with your email. All of the messaging in the email should include dynamic content built around user actions or history. For example, user browsing can trigger an email with product recommendations based on items they’ve browsed or purchased in the past.

DON’T Add Too Much Content

One of the fastest ways to lose a user is to throw too much at them. Don’t overwhelm customers by writing too much or displaying too many images in a single email. In general, try to keep the copy length between 50 and 125 characters. If the customer will need a lot of information to take the next step, make it a series.

DO Use Cross Channel Marketing

Although onboarding email alone is a successful tool for onboarding, using sequenced marketing automation that incorporates all channels including tools such as email, SMS, push notifications, in-app messages, social, and direct mail is highly recommended to fully engage the customer. With cross channel marketing, the user's response at each point sets off the next event in the chain. The goal is to make the marketing as responsive to the customer as possible.

DON’T Neglect Opportunities to Find Out More About Your Customers

Each customer is unique, so make sure to continue collecting their preferences throughout the entire onboarding sequence so that you can deliver personalized content that fits their specific needs. For a media company, for instance, you might ask them which topics of news they’re interested in learning about so that you can customize their daily news feed.

The Final Check

Onboarding email streams are designed to keep your customers coming back. An engaged customer is likely to continue interacting with your brand and take the next step in their customer journey.

Many marketers will create a style guide before any campaign is planned and then use it as a checklist before publishing. Some checklists can be fairly specific. However, there are important elements that are fairly universal.

Onboarding sequence checklist:

  1. Remind users how they came into your database with your initial email confirmation
  2. Educate users about the benefits of subscribing
  3. Promote other ways to connect with your brand, such as apps and social media channels
  4. Incorporate progressive profiling to make sure each message collects more data about the user's preferences and behavior that can be used for further customization
  5. Use a sequence of messages to distill more complex information into small snippets in each email

Making sure your onboarding email campaigns are following best practices creates a better customer experience resulting in higher engagement, revenue, and brand loyalty.

Iterable is a cross-channel marketing platform that powers unified customer experiences and empowers marketers to create, optimize and measure relevant interactions and experiences customers love. Leading brands, like Cinemark, DoorDash, Calm, Madison Reed, and Box, choose Iterable to power world-class customer experiences throughout the entire lifecycle. Discover our growth marketing solutions for personalization, increasing customer engagement, and more. Discover our platform and schedule a demo today.