4 Step Formula to Writing Killer Onboarding Emails

4 step formula to writing killer onboarding emails

The process of writing good onboarding emails starts waaay before booting up Google Docs and typing out an email.

There’s a simple 4 step formula I use to create an onboarding sequence that converts.

If you follow it, you’ll have an onboarding journey 100x better than most SaaS companies out there.

1. Create Buckets of Customers

First, let’s put your customers into buckets. If you have CEO’s, Sales Managers and Salespeople signing up for your product, make sure you segment them when they sign up.

That’s as simple as asking: “To help us create a better experience for you, please select the option that best describes you. [DROPDOWN]”

2. Identify Success for Each Bucket

Now that you’ve got your audience in specific buckets, you’ll want to figure out what success looks like for each segment. Lincoln Murphy refers to this as “customer success”. What needs to happen for your customer to say “THIS is what I’ve been looking for!”?

If you’re just starting out, and not sure what success looks like for your customer, you’ll need to have conversations with your prospects and customers.

Don’t worry; this isn’t as painful as it sounds. With the right list of questions, these interviews are a breeze. If you’d like a copy of the questions I ask in these interviews, leave a comment below and I’ll send it your way.

Record these interviews and transcribe them. Sit down in your favorite chair with some Glühwein and a warm Stroopwafel and start highlighting phrases that stand out.

You’ll get SO many incredible insight from these conversations. But most importantly you’ll discover what success looks like for your customers.

3. Map Out the Steps Towards Success

Now that you know what customer success looks like, what are the steps they need to take to achieve success? There is no template I can give you for this; it’s different for every segment and every product.

I use Trello to map this out. I make a list of all the steps the user needs to take (be careful not to overdo it here. You can quickly start adding a bunch of steps that aren’t needed and overwhelm your user.) Keep it simple SaaSters.

I usually end up with about 5-7 necessary action steps.

4. Time to Start Writing!

OK, now you’re at the point where you can start writing the emails.

Writing the emails is actually the easiest part of this whole process.

TIP: If you’re not a writer or a native English speaker, start signing up for a BUNCH of SaaS products, find the emails you like and save them in a folder.

Then find a writer in the Cult Of Copy Job Board Facebook page, and tell them you want to write emails like the ones you found, and give them guidelines for what actions the emails need to contain.

I write what I like to call “Benefit Driven Emails.” They’re NOT focused on getting them to take action for the action’s sake.

Instead, they focus on a pain and how taking a specific action in your app can solve that pain for them.

Instead of: “How to add your first job listing.”

Try: “Start getting applicants in the next hour.”

See the difference there?

In the emails, be specific! Focus on getting your user to take ONE action that moves them closer to their desired outcome.

  • ONE pain point
  • ONE action
  • ONE link

If your onboarding emails are full of different links, videos, CTAs, gifs (and you KNOW how much I love gifs), strip ‘em out.

If you want users to go through a complex set of actions, send them to an in-app walkthrough that shows them what to do IN the app, not in an email. Ain’t nobody got time for that.

NOTE: With all the different options out there, there’s no excuse NOT to have a trigger based sequence that fires off emails if your users haven’t completed a certain task (think Drip, Autopilot, Intercom, ConvertFox).

That way each user will get a customized onboarding experience depending on what they do, and DON’T do within your app.

Now, let’s just say ONE of these changes adds two more paying users a month, and each new user has an LCV of $500.

That’s an extra $12,000 in revenue (and that’s if you don’t ramp up your traffic.)

Not bad, right?

You can hire someone to build out this sequence for you (including in-app messages and in-app walkthroughs), but if you’ve got time or have someone on staff who’s got time, you can do it yourself.