Email subscribers are literally inundated with messages; the average office worker receives more than 140 emails a day!
This is according to the Email Statistics Report, 2014-2018 by The Radicati Group, Inc. which also reported that more than 269 billion business and consumer emails were sent and received every day in 2017.
But your onboarding emails are vital to business. Potential customers have shown awareness of your business and are interested enough to sign up for updates (or at least grab the free opt in offer), but with so many messages being sent, how do you cut through the clutter and deliver a compelling sequence that converts readers into customers?
Executed correctly, a killer email sequence builds trust and credibility with email readers, engages potential customers, shares value-driven information about your product, and ultimately leads subscribers to take action.
On the flip side, an onboarding email campaign can flop, and your brand new subscriber may simply disappear. This often happens as a result of boring, spam-filled, or irrelevant emails with no value for the reader. No wonder we see emails being deleted without having been read or a higher-than-optimal unsubscribe rate.
Getting attention is no small feat. Start by making your message stand out with a dynamic email design; think interactive design elements and quirky animation-based designs. Once you’ve captured the imagination of your readers with your first email, it’s time to continue creating compelling content and a sequence of emails that converts.
A successful onboarding plan starts off value-heavy before you ever hit send on a sales letter.
Here is a 7-step sequence for onboarding emails that converts new users into paying customers (without boring or spamming your readers):
Email #1: The Welcome Email
Start at the beginning! The Welcome Email goes out to new subscribers after they sign up for a free trial, an opt-in, or newsletter.
Use a valid “from address” in every email you send out so that a potential customer can get in touch easily. A frustrated subscriber is more likely to unsubscribe than search for a working contact address.
ACTION STEP: Welcome your subscribers with an email that shares more information about your brand and lets them know what you offer.
Check out the captivating example below by BrightTalk. They have an interesting email that talks about what the subscribers will get from their newsletters and what they can expect in the coming weeks.
Email #2: Focus on benefits (not features)
As marketers working with our products day after day, we often forget how a newcomer views our services. We send emails from our perspective, experts who already know all about the benefits of the service.
But that leaves the subscribers in the dark.
Don’t assume your reader knows, or remembers, anything about your company, product, or service, and don’t expect a reader to do their own research; bring the information to them in the body of your emails.
A common mistake is to tell a reader about the features such as fees, duration of service, logistics, etc. That’s needed info, but the selling points for the consumer are the benefits. To uncover the benefits from your customers’ point of view, find out what they hope to achieve (the big dream) and articulate how your product helps them reach that goal.
Does your product increase sales or conversions that’s coveted financial freedom to your customers or does it free up more time so they can spend it with friends and family?
Those are the real benefits of your product that will convert readers into customers.
ACTION STEP: Don’t send out an email without a clear strategy behind it; each email should add value and be written as if your reader has never heard of your product before.
Freeletics nails this in the screenshot below. We come away from reading this email with no clear idea of how long the coaching sessions last, how many classes make up a session, or how the classes are delivered, but we are pretty darn sure we are ready to sign up because we can see the results the coaching brings (for example, “fast efficient results”), and want it for ourselves!
Email #3: Social Proof
The proof is in the pudding. So far your emails have come from you (or your team); knowledgeable experts but still a one-sided, subjective message. To make a bigger impact, let satisfied past and present clients do the talking.
ACTION STEP: Got a killer case study, 5-star recommendations, or a personal email from a client who is convinced your product is the bee’s knees? Now is the time to break it out and let others sing your praises.
TradeGecko does this beautifully. In that email you’ll see an interview with satisfied customer, Amber Thibaut of Coco Moon, who’s using the platform to successfully run her business.
Email #4: Get into their heads
Onboarding emails give you the best platform to address frequently asked questions about your product to a large group, all at once.
This takes a little detective work because you aren’t answering questions individually but taking time to address each concern to your whole email list. This pre-emptive measure makes the assumption that if one person has a question, many others will have similar concerns.
ACTION STEP: Take a look at your blog or social media comments, messages to customer service, and direct queries to pin down some of the most common issues received. Respond to frequently asked questions in one email or spread responses out over several messages.
We love this email by Ritual, a company that is dedicated to creating vitamins from suppliers they trust, with good-for-you ingredients. In this email, Ritual has identified that their customers would need to know the benefits of this particular nutrient before considering a purchase.
Email #5: Give (another) freebie
So far you’ve welcomed your new readers on board, captivated them with animated email design, and answered their most pressing questions. Just one more step before the sales email.
Studies have shown that by giving something away right before sending a sales letter, you increase the likelihood that the reader will make a purchase.
ACTION STEP: Freebies don’t have to cost a lot to be valuable. Think of sending out a helpful ebook, webinar, or video training.
Aweber, an email marketing platform, offered 10 free GIFs just in time for their potential customers Valentine’s Day email marketing campaigns. This generated excitement in subscribers who wanted to create a campaign specifically to use this great freebie; which they may be even more likely to do via Aweber after this added incentive.
Email #6: The Sale
Over the course of onboarding emails you’ve gotten to know your potential customers’ desires, and by responding to their queries, you’ve been able to help them understand how your product will serve them.
Now it’s time to convert subscribers into bonafide customers. Use an enticement, such as early bird pricing, to add a sense of urgency. The sales emails should be spread out. You can send email reminders that the sale, trial period, or early bird pricing will be ending soon. If they’ve been using a free trial of your service, let them know they’ll need to upgrade in order to continue enjoying the benefits.
ACTION STEP: One way to add a sense of urgency to your sales letter is by using countdown timers built right into your email. This is an effective way of convincing a reader to take action!
Who doesn’t love a little spring shopping? In the example below, Scoutmob sweetens the deal with an added discount; but only on orders placed before midnight the same day. We’re willing to bet that added sense of urgency was a big boost for sales because it didn’t allow for a potential customer to think – and forget – about making the purchase.
Email #7: Re-engage prospective customers
Truth is, most subscribers won’t convert the first time you pitch the sale but that doesn’t mean they won’t convert at all.
There are many reasons they didn’t make the purchase, but as long as they are still subscribers, they are potential customers who may buy in the future.
Continue to build a relationship through regular emails and in time, encourage them to become customers by repeating email steps #5 and #6 periodically.
ACTION STEP: Add coupons for discounts and personalized messages to help revitalize the purchasing potential of these subscribers.
Here Simple devised a short ‘n sweet email reminder to an almost-customer who had started the checkout sequence but didn’t follow through. Sometimes a potential customer may have a complete change of mind, or fear of commitment, before finalizing the sale. Other times, as this cheeky email reminds us, a consumer may simply get sidetracked before finishing their purchase.
Take time to brainstorm and plan out the content and topics for your 7-step sequence and you’ll soon be converting subscribers into paying customers with your onboarding emails.
Kevin, the Head of Marketing at Email Uplers, specializes in crafting beautiful email templates, PSD to HTML email conversion, and much more. He loves gadgets, bikes, jazz, and breathes ‘email marketing.’ He is a brand magician who loves to engage and share insights with fellow marketers.