The Secret to Onboarding Emails That Successfully Get And Keep New Customers

Getting users to sign up for your free trials is much easier than getting them to part with their cash and dive into a paid version.

If you’re finding that it’s a walk in the park attracting the right users for your free trial but there’s a discrepancy in the amount of people who are paying for your products, you might be falling short in the onboarding process.

What do we mean by the “onboarding process”?

This is the initial moment of interaction, dialogue, and connection with your new users, where you can establish the core values of your product and cement your product as the perfect solution to their problems.

When you create an onboarding process that continually converts free trial users to paid users, retention rates also goes up. A direct increase in revenue, and up to a 500% increase in customer lifetime value.

Why Should You Use Email For Onboarding?

Think about all the times you’ve signed up for a free trial of a product or even just handed over your email address to a company because you like what you read about them.

You expected an email from them right away, didn’t you?

People actively expect a welcome email from you when they sign up and, in that moment, they are primed and ready to engage with your onboarding messages.

When you consider their interest in your product is peaking around the time they sign up, it seems like a no-brainer to build that interest and convert it into action (and sales) with some well thought-out messages.

How to Make Your Onboarding Emails Convert

1. Set a Goal for Each Email

Goals are important in every part of business. If you don’t know what you want to achieve with your onboarding emails, how will you know if they’re doing well and getting you the results you want?

The answer is you won’t.

This is why it’s vital that you set goals not only for your onboarding process as a whole (do you want to convert 10% of subscribers? What about 20%?), but also for each email. For example, you might want users to click through to a specific tutorial in one email, or you might want them to activate a discount in another.

2. Think of each email as a sales letter

Most marketers think about email as exactly that… a series of emails.

These are short messages that we mostly use to send reminders about meetings and to ask for updates from colleagues, which is why it’s easy to think that the shorter the better when it comes to your onboarding emails.

People don’t have time to be reading lengthy emails, right?

Well, that’s not entirely true.

In fact, if you’re trying to convince people to part with their hard-earned money, you have to dig into the details – and that takes words. Instead of trying to keep your emails as short as possible, think of them as sales letters. Take as many words as you need to make the sale.

Remember, you’re trying to tackle potential objections and that can take longer than a couple of hundred words.

3. Drive Users to an “Aha!” Moment

The generic goal of any onboarding process is to take users from a free trial to a paid version. To get them there, they need to have what we call an “Aha!” moment, which is essentially a series of revelations about what they know, feel, and do.

Img source Samuel Woods

Within that “Aha!” moment, the user is suddenly aware that your product is the solution to all the problems they’ve been having – they know that it is, because you’ve highlighted how it can help; they feel that it is because you’ve tapped into their imagination and helped them envision their successful future with your product; and so they act (a.k.a. they invest in the paid version).

4. Personalize the Journey

Not all users are the same, which means the journey they went on to find you and your product is going to vary from the next user. For example, some users might come to you through social media or the app store, while others might have got a recommendation from a friend or seen an ad.

Some users will sign up and be ready to start using your product right away, while others might take a bit more coaching before they feel confident enough to get started.

A killer onboarding process won’t be the same for everyone either. You don’t want to push for a sale straight away from someone who doesn’t know they need your product yet. That could lose you a customer forever.

Instead, segment your users and create different welcome messages depending on the experience they have had with you so far.

  • A user who has already signed up and has starting playing around with your product might benefit from tutorials around different features they can use.
  • A user who isn’t quite sure they need your product might need you to highlight the benefits of your product before they go any further with it.
  • A user who is looking for a solution and knows they need your product but is on the fence might benefit from a couple of case studies from previous customers

Research has shown that segmenting your users in this way and providing an element of personalization to their onboarding experience can boost click-through rates by up to 100.95%.

6 Onboarding email examples

If you’re looking for inspiration here are a few examples of the types of onboarding emails you can send:

  1. The free trial extension – some people take longer to sign up for a paid product than others, and by extending their free trial you might give them the extra time they need to make that decision.
  2. The educational email – a lot of free trial users fail to convert to paid customers because they fail to see how your product can really help them after they’ve signed up. Send them an email that shows them how to use your product in a way that benefits them.
  3. The discount email – price is an important factor when making a purchase. For people who are on the fence because their budget is tight, try offering a discount to see if that pushes them over the edge.
  4. The secondary product – if you’re convinced a user isn’t going to convert into a paid customer, you can send them a link to another product, like a detailed guide, ebook, or video series to continue to nurture and educate them.
  5. The re-engagement email – you’ll find that a lot of users sign up for your free trial and then never come back. In this case, you can send a re-engagement email that reminds them about their account and shows them how to start using your product again.
  6. The feedback email – unfortunately, the majority of your free trial users will never sign up for a paid account, but that doesn’t make them a lost cause. You can send them an email asking them why they didn’t invest and use that feedback to make your product and onboarding process better in the future.

Email is the Perfect Onboarding Tool

Catching the attention of your users as soon as they show an interest in your product and sign up for a free trial is absolutely vital – and email is the perfect way to do this.

It means you’re not relying on new users to actively login to your app and are instead reaching them in a place that they know well and are regularly in (their inbox).

By making sure you’re setting goals, coming at your emails as if they were sales letters, personalizing where you can, and driving users towards that all-important “Aha!” moment, you’ll start to see the benefits of successful onboarding.

That means you’ll get an increase in subscribers going from free trial to paid product, a surge in revenue, and a higher retention rate from your customers – what’s not to like?

Scott Miraglia

Scott Miraglia

Scott is the CEO of Elevation Marketing. He is a balanced risk-taker with nearly three decades of experience starting and growing advertising and marketing agencies. His business acumen is matched with a drive to build creative teams that thrive in open, collaborative work environments. Scott seeks out the best creative individuals, not only to provide quality service to clients, but to also help shape the future direction of Elevation Marketing. He remains dedicated to helping his talented teams develop unique and effective integrated marketing programs that help employees realize their full potential while serving up impressive business wins for clients.