8 Great SaaS Onboarding Email Examples

Great news – a new customer has signed up for your free trial or purchased your software. But what happens next? These first few weeks of your relationship with your new customer will set the tone for the rest of their time with you. Start off well, and you are much more likely to retain them for the long-term.

These first few weeks of your relationship with your new customer will set the tone for the rest of their time with you. Start off well, and you are much more likely to retain them for the long-term.

Most SaaS companies understand the importance of sending new subscribers a welcome email. But the best ones go beyond just that initial email, with a full onboarding sequence that engages the new customer, builds trust, and helps them get the most from your service.

So, in this article, I’m going to look at what makes a great onboarding sequence, using examples from SaaS businesses that are getting it right.

What Is Customer Onboarding?

Onboarding is the process of getting a new customer (or prospective customer if they are on a free trial) familiarised with your services.

It usually starts with a welcome email. But it shouldn’t stop there. If you want to retain customers, you need to show them how to use your software.

Customers who understand how your tools work and use them regularly are the customers you hold onto. They are also the ones most likely to upgrade or buy add-on products.

So, customer onboarding does a few different things:

  1. Welcomes your new customer and begins to build your relationship with them
  2. Helps them get started with using your products
  3. Signposts training resources and guides
  4. Gives them a way to contact your company if they need help

Why You Need an Onboarding Sequence as a SaaS Business

Acquiring and retaining new customers is the top focus for most SaaS companies. But smaller businesses report extremely high churn rates.

Those that make less than $10 million a year lose an average of 20% of their customers annually, according to research by 99Firms. The picture is even worse for start-ups, who report churn rates as high as 60%.

What can you do to improve churn rates and make sure you retain as many new customers as possible? The key is to catch them when they are most engaged, which is at the point they first subscribe to your services.

While the average email open rate for software companies is just 21.29%, your welcome email and onboarding sequence will normally come in much higher – many companies report open rates of above 40%.

This means a good onboarding sequence is your best opportunity to grab your customers’ attention and demonstrate how your tool can improve their lives.

Once you have them using your services confidently and regularly, you’ll have a loyal customer who will stick around for the long term.

In summary, an engaging onboarding sequence helps your SaaS business:

  • Teach new customers how to use your software effectively
  • Convert more people from the free trial to paid-up customers
  • Retain more customers overall

Purpose/Goals of Onboarding Email Sequences

While the overall business goal of your onboarding sequence is to retain more customers, the more specific purpose is to increase your new customers’ engagement with your product.

That means each email in the sequence should give your customers genuinely valuable information to help them get the most from your service.

To do this effectively, you need to understand your customer’s perspective. Why did they sign up in the first place?

It helps to use the jobs-to-be-done framework as you plan your emails. This recognises that your customers don’t buy your services – instead they buy a solution to a problem or a vision of a better way of doing things.

Your services are simply the tool they are hoping will get them to where they want to be.

Create your emails with this in mind. If you know roughly what problem your customers want to solve, you can demonstrate how your services meet that need through your onboarding sequence.

If your customers have a variety of problems, you can use segmentation to build automated onboarding sequences that speak to their needs. The best onboarding journeys are ones that branch according to how your customers respond to each email.

8 SaaS Onboarding Examples (and Why They Are Great)

1. Sleeknote

Sleeknote says changing up their onboarding sequence gave them a 52.41% increase in open rates and a 1213.3% increase in click-throughs. Here’s one of the emails they used to achieve that:

Source: Really Good Emails


What is great about it?

Sleeknote’s whole onboarding sequence works on segmentation, so their goal was to discover as much as possible about their new subscriber from the very beginning. And they have cleverly articulated how segmentation helps their readers too – making it more likely they’ll take action.

The email design is clean and uncluttered, and the tone is friendly and personal. Having an image of the CMO builds a human connection. There’s also a clear call to action – the reader knows exactly what to do and why.

The only negative – this email isn’t addressed to an individual. It would be good to see a less generic greeting.

2. Encharge

Marketing automation tool, Encharge, has no excuse to have a poor onboarding sequence, bearing in mind email automation is part of its offer. Fortunately, it doesn’t disappoint.


Source: Really Good Emails


What is great about it?

Firstly, it is personalised to the recipient. An unexpected image interjects some humor and personality, immediately catching the reader’s attention.

It clearly shows how Encharge will help new subscribers tackle common problems. And the reader knows exactly what the next step is to get started.

3. Flock

Flock is a team collaboration and communication tool. It get those who sign up to the free trial off on the right foot straight away:

Source: Really Good Emails


What is great about it?

The personalisation in this email is well done– not only does it address the reader by name, but it also refers to their role as an admin.

The key features are introduced quickly and clearly, and the call-to-action appears at both the top and bottom, making it easy to click-through.


4. Twist

Like Flock, Twist is a team collaboration platform. And its team understands the importance of getting new customers familiar with their tools as quickly as possible.

Source: Really Good Emails



What is great about it?

The design of this email is simple but effective. It makes it clear who it is from with consistent brand colors and a discrete but still noticeable logo.

The copy speaks straight to the concerns of the reader, selling them on the vision of a peaceful workday. This incentivises them to learn how to use the tool. And the signposting of various resources gives readers some choice, without it being overwhelming.

A personalised greeting would have been good but this is still a solid example of an email further on in the onboarding sequence.

5. Filmsupply

Filmsupply provides stock footage and video clips to companies. And it takes customer service very seriously.


Source: Really Good Emails


What is great about it?

Even in today’s digital world, people prefer to interact with other human beings. This is what Filmsupply has recognised and addressed so brilliantly. Introducing the ‘human touchpoint’ by image as well as by name creates an instant connection between her and the customer.

It also means the customer knows exactly who to contact with questions or issues. Plus, a personalised greeting and a restrained but impactful email design instantly catch the reader’s attention.


6. Upscope

Upscope is a screen-sharing tool that uses email onboarding sequences strategically to get users comfortable with their platform. New subscribers who haven’t yet used the tool receive the following message:


Source: Really Good Emails


What is great about it?

The design of this email is very basic, but it works. Because it greets the reader by name and directly references their use of the app so far, it almost seems like it isn’t an automated email at all. This is a good example of an onboarding journey that responds to the actions of the customer.

Its no-nonsense approach means there is no distraction. The customer can easily see how to use the tool, or how to get in touch if they need help.

7. Drift

Drift is a platform offering customer engagement tools and insights. So, of course, the team wanted to make sure they were engaging their own customers in the right way.

Source: Really Good Emails



What is great about it?

The tone of this email creates an instant connection between the reader and the sender, which is reinforced by the friendly image. It sounds like it has been written by a human, to a human.

The suggestions are simple and actionable, while also addressing some common issues their users may be experiencing. And the signposting to training at the end gives customers an easy way to learn more, while not detracting from the main copy.

8. Dovetail

Dovetail helps companies collect customer feedback and carry out user research. Their onboarding sequence aims to get new users set up quickly.


Source: Really Good Emails


What is great about it?

Although this is much longer than most onboarding emails, Dovetail gets away with it because of the clever use of color and visuals.

The email showcases all the main features and relates them to the customer’s needs. The personal greeting is a lovely touch, and the tone of the copy is very genuine – nothing clever, just a desire to help. And there’s a smart use of social proof in the introduction, with the mention of the number of other companies using the service.

Tools

Once you’ve understood the importance of onboarding sequences and mapped out your own journey, you need to decide which tool you will use. There’s plenty of options out there, so I’m just going to briefly introduce three that work well:


1. Intercom

Intercom lets you do more than just create automated onboarding emails. With in-app messaging, chatbots, and pop-ups, you can easily tailor your messages to your customers.

2. ActiveCampaign

ActiveCampaign specialises in automated marketing and customer engagement. You can use their powerful segmentation tools to give your customers exactly the information they need when they need it.

3. Autopilot

Autopilot helps you to build tailored onboarding sequences by using their visual drag-and-drop interface. It is a user-friendly way of creating new email journeys.

Conclusion

A well-designed onboarding sequence is one of the most powerful tools any SaaS company has to kickstart their relationship with their new customers. Done right, your email welcome series will do wonders for your retention rate and your bottom line.


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