How to Create an Onboarding Email Sequence

Published: 04-Mar-2022
Last Updated: 19-Jan-2022
How to Create an Onboarding Email Sequence

An email onboarding sequence (also known as a welcome email sequence) is a series of emails that are sent to a new customer or new subscriber. The purpose of this type of email sequence is to:

  • Introduce the subscriber to your product
  • Set them up for success with your product
  • Nurture the customer relationship
  • Move the subscriber down the sales funnel

Every business (large or small) can benefit from this type of email marketing automation. A well-planned email sequence enables every customer to have a great initial experience without having to engage with sales or customer service reps for help. 

A welcome email automation sequence will look something like this. 

  • Day 1: Confirmation Email & Welcome Aboard 
  • Day 3: Product Demo Video 1
  • Day 5: Product Tip 1
  • Day 7: Social Proof Case Study 1
  • Day 10: Product tip 2
  • Day 12: Social Proof Case Study 2
  • Day 14 Product Tip 3 & Let us Know How We Can Help

But it can also be more complex (based on user actions), spread out over a longer or shorter period of time, etc.

According to WordStream, 74% of consumers expect a welcome email as soon as they subscribe. Despite the statistics in favor of sending onboarding emails, businesses are lagging behind the trend. 

Here are some things to consider when crafting your onboarding sequence:

Don't Forget About Branding

Marketing team discusses branding for an email campaign.

Your email campaign, regardless of type, should be on-brand. We don't care if marketing or sales is sending it. We don't care if it's the only sequence you send that isn't on brand.

EVERY email that you send, especially this email marketing sequence that welcomes new customers and subscribers aboard should follow your branding guide. Good branding doesn't take breaks, it is present in everything you do.

Send Relevant Content 

Young man creates video content.

Just like the first topic on our list, this addresses email marketing best practices. The pieces of content you share in your email series should be helpful to new customers. A helpful onboarding email campaign might include blog posts, links to product videos, or a calendar link to set up an appointment with a customer service rep. It should also lead them to additional resources (blog content, video content, customer service, or technical documentation) in the event that they still have questions.

Segment Subscribers and Customers 

Game pieces are separated into different groups.

A successful email marketing strategy depends on content and segmentation. You want to make sure that you're sending the most relevant email content possible to your email subscribers. You can do this by separating your email list into different segments. When we're speaking about segmenting your email list for an onboarding email campaign, there are a few different ways to slice the cake. Here are two examples of how you might want to segment your email list for a welcome email marketing sequence.

The first, and most obvious, is segmenting by product. If you sell multiple software solutions, you wouldn't send the same drip emails to both customers. The second is by the customer journey stage. Some onboarding sequence recipients might be email subscribers, trial users, or those who have recently purchased. The content you send might be relevant to every audience (especially the trial user and new customer), but the copy should be written to speak to each individual audience. 

Number of Emails and Email Frequency

Man draws email sequence on whiteboard.

These two factors are critical when mapping out your onboarding sequence and will have a large effect on how your sequence is perceived. If you send email subscribers too many emails or emails in quick succession, they will be annoyed and consider it to be spammy. So how many emails should you send? And how long should you wait in between emails?

The number of emails in your sequence will depend on the nature of your product or service. For a software as a service company, your onboarding sequence may need to be longer.

You will also need to decide the length of time that your email series will be sent over and the amount of time between individual emails. 

Speak Their Language 

Man writes a marketing email.

When writing the copy for a welcome email sequence, keep the language simple. This email series should be written at a level that every customer can understand, and shouldn't overuse jargon or brand/software-specific terms without explanation. Using overly complicated language during your onboarding sequence can make customers feel like your product is more complicated than it is. 

Add a Personal Touch 

Personalize spelled out on blue background.

According to the Direct Marketing Association, personalized email marketing generates a median ROI of 122%. We aren't suggesting that you write a unique email for every customer you onboard. We are suggesting that you use merge tags to make your email automation seem personalized. You can add personalization to the subject line, greeting, or body of your email. 

Although if you have a small customer base or clients with a high lifetime value, you may want to consider kicking off this sequence with a truly personal email.  In this situation, it’s beneficial to assign ownership of the account to a member of your staff. 

Time-Based vs Action-Based Emails 

Mapping out email sequence on sticky notes.

This is a big decision when creating an email sequence. You can choose to create an email sequence that sends solely based on a preset period of time or create custom paths for your new subscribers based on a variety of triggers.

Time-based sequences take less work and time to set up and manage, but they don't account for user action. Action-based emails require more time and attention, but they account for user action and provide a superior customer experience when well executed. Either type of sequence can be built using an email management tool like ActiveCampaign

Wrap Up

A welcome/onboarding email campaign is an opportunity that your organization needs to take advantage of. Check out these statistics to fully grasp the situation:

  • According to a 2020 study, welcome emails generate 4x as many opens as other email types. 
  • According to the same study by GetResponse, welcome emails generate 10x as many clicks as other email types. 
  • According to a 2018 study, welcome emails have a 91.43% open rate.

This period of time where potential customers and new customers are uniquely interested in clicking on and opening your emails shouldn't be wasted. Use this time to create an excellent customer experience and turn them into loyal customers. 


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