Before we talk about email onboarding, let’s talk about you and your business first. I bet that your product is great. In fact, it probably has many more benefits and features than most people realize. In fact, I bet even some of your most ardent and loyal customers will often find out they’ve been missing out on and under-utilizing your products or services.
This is normal.
Even if you obsess with making the experience as intuitive as possible, this will still happen. You will never get to a situation where people just naturally discover all of the benefits and strengths of your products and services. You will always have to actually show and demonstrate the beauty of your product to customers and potential customers. There will always have to be some guiding by the hand involved.
This is where onboarding comes into the picture
Onboarding is a process by which you get people accustomed to and acquainted with your product or service. An ideal onboarding process should feel effortless and enjoyable for the customer, yet still engage them with all of the benefits and features of your product.
Depending on the nature of your product, it might involve video and audio tutorials, some personal chat, scheduled product demos and webinars.
Note: One common misconception is that onboarding is only for software companies
While software companies were the ones to popularize onboarding as a concept, it can and does refer to any business that sells any product. Let’s say that you sell bikes. Onboarding can be a process that helps the customer get acquainted with using their bike, understanding when to come for service, and what else you offer.
Perhaps you run a coffee shop loyalty program. An email onboarding sequence can get your customer acquainted with the loyalty program, when to use your services, give them tips on enjoying their coffee and so much more.
In order for onboarding to be effective, you need one main channel to tie it all together
And as always, email is still the most effective communication channel to engage both customers and potential customers.
In fact, in most businesses it might be enough to simply utilize email sequences, and with that create an amazing onboarding experience. At best, you might need to combine it with linking to short videos and written tutorials on your blog.
Email onboarding is a big subject, but it can be simple
While you can spend a lot of time learning about the intricacies and techniques of onboarding sequences, it helps to keep it simple when you’re starting out. For this article I’ve decided to share with you the best practices to email onboarding.
These are the most crucial things that you want to make sure that you have a handle on. Most of your results will come from making sure that you’ve implemented these main points first. With that said, let’s look into my list of best practices for email onboarding.
1) Research and understand the typical customer experience
In order to craft the best onboarding experience, you have to put yourself in the shoes of the typical person going through it. You have to know what are some of the typical obstacles they run into.
You have to find out what are some of the most common questions they have. And most importantly, you have to understand why they disappear or decide to stick with the process.
2) Create a consistent onboarding and use experience
Easier said than done, but you want the entire process from welcome email to first payment to feel like one process. This is why marketers love using terms like “flow” and “journey”. These words manage to capture the essence of a perfectly done process.
Instead of a collection of disjointed events that feel random, you want every and each email in the process to naturally flow from the previous email, their current stage in the journey or a behaviour they just engaged in.
3) Create a sense of constant communication
While it is possible to overdo your communication, most often I find that people tend to have the opposite issue. Their communication with prospects and customers is sporadic. Sometimes leaving long stretches with very little communication.
While yes, you don’t want to spam and pester the person with an endless amount of content and emails, you want to make sure to keep the line of communication going. This means making sure that there’s a regular ebb and flow to your onboarding email sequence.
Just make sure to define a good frequency in terms of the time in between emails. Keep a steady pattern for when they should get that next email in the onboarding sequence.
4) Give tips on getting the most out of the product
This one might seem obvious, but we still have to include it for the sake of completeness. Whatever your product, service or business, you will always want your onboarding experience to include tips for best utilization of your products and services. This is the one thing you will find is universal to all good onboarding sequences.
5) Utilize stories and emotion
Bonding between humans is created in several ways. Personalizing your communication is one way to achieve it. The other is to share stories that trigger emotions.
When done right, your storytelling should feel as if a caring big brother or mentor is trying to help someone get through the difficulties of life. It makes you seem more relatable and trustworthy.
The stories you share can be about the common issues experienced by your customers, and how someone overcame such obstacles. They can be inspirational, motivational or educational in nature.
6) Communicate value
This is a point you want to consider for every email that you craft at any stage of the onboarding journey. Let’s say that you’re sending an educational email that helps them understand how to best utilize a feature of your product.
If done right, you should convince them that using your product is easy, intuitive and a no-brainer. However, you should also communicate that choosing to use your product is the most beneficial choice they can make. Using your product will bring more value to their life than not using it.
7) Make it personal
You would be surprised how many people forget that email personalization is easy and fun with a platform like Emercury. It increases engagement to a substantial degree, yet most people simply forget to utilize it.
Just pick one of the “merge tags” in the email editor, and you can refer to the person by their name, or reference their topic of interest. Furthermore, you can go to Assets > Fields Manager and define any kind of a custom field. This means you can collect any relevant personal data during the sign-up, or even later on. And then, you can use that data to personalize those emails even further.
8) Allow them to ask for help, in fact, encourage it
A big secret to our legion of raving fans is the fact that we go out of our way to help our customers get the most out of email marketing. Notice I didn’t merely say “most out of Emercury”. We go out of our way to help our customers actually get the most out of email marketing as a whole.
If you look at our Facebook reviews, you’ll notice a pattern. Everyone is raving about this fact. We get hundreds of emails and comments with similar sentiments. But the trick isn’t just that we go out of our way to help customers when they ask for help. We proactively look for situations where we can help them and encourage them to ask for help.
You should make sure to keep this principle in mind in every step of crafting your onboarding sequences. Don’t just assume that people will ask for help when they get stuck. Most people, if they get stuck, they just give up and you lose them as a customer forever.
Actually encourage them and remind them at every chance that you’re one email or chat away and always willing to help them get the most of your product. Onboarding isn’t a way to make sure people “get it” on their own without your help. Onboarding is about making sure that people get your product and how much it can improve their lives.
9) Define milestones (or stages)
Every customer goes through a journey before they become a customer. They don’t just see you one day and instantly become a customer. Some things have to happen in between that first interaction and the first time they pull out their credit card.
But it isn’t just about going from a non-customer to a paying customer. Most things in terms of your customer can be defined as a journey. They can also go from being a person ignorant to the value that your product has, to a raving fan who believes your product offers amazing value. And this journey also involves going through stages.
Understanding this is crucial to being able to structure the perfect onboarding journey. You have to understand that you have this person who initially doesn’t even get all the amazing benefits of using your product. Typically, they will go through several stages of “getting” why they need to use your product, or several “aha moments” if you will.
You actually have to sit down and really think about this and define those stages or milestones. This will help you in structuring the onboarding and deciding in which order to send those emails, that is when to introduce which point along their journey.
10) Utilize calls-to-action
This is another one of those things that should go without saying, and most marketing experts and teachers are tired of having to repeat it. The thing is, there will never be a point in time where you can just relax and no longer need to nudge people into taking action.
You always have to ask for it. And the same is true with every onboarding email that you send. It needs to have a clear goal. Do you want them to understand why using feature X of your product is crucial and super cool?
It isn’t enough to simply have great valuable content that communicates this point. You always need to include an action step of some kind. Perhaps it’s nudging them to go ahead and check out feature x right away. Perhaps it’s getting them to watch a video on the subject, or perhaps it’s to book a call with your sales team to discuss how “x” can help them.
11) Educate them about the topic in general
This is one of our biggest secrets at Emercury, and I don’t mind sharing it with you. We have some of the most loyal and amazing customers you will ever see. And a large part of that comes from the fact that we’ve decided to be more than just a platform for sending emails.
We spend a lot of time helping educate our customers about email marketing and how to get the most out of it. And this helps them see instant benefits in terms of their bottom line. Which creates trust and loyalty in return.
You want to utilize the same principle in your onboarding sequence. Your tips and content shouldn’t be limited to educating them about just your product. Be sure to educate them about the topic in general.
For example, let’s say that you offer a service that helps real-estate agents build beautiful real-estate directories. Don’t just educate them on how to build and manage their directory. Share stories and tips about how to succeed in real-estate in general.
12) Get a quality email business partner on your side
If nobody even reads your emails, it doesn’t matter how good your onboarding sequence is. And you know what determines how many people actually get to read your emails? If your answer includes things like “the subject line”, “timing” and such, you’re not completely off-track.
However, the major factor to whether people get to experience your email onboarding sequence, is whether they even get your emails. Now, if you’re reading this and experiencing confusion, it’s normal.
Most people in email marketing fail to even breach the subject of email deliverability. That is whether your emails even reach that inbox. So in turn, most newcomers assume that if you send an email, your subscribers actually get it. That’s not the case.
Unless your email service provider is obsessed with deliverability, like we are, chances are their deliverability rates are pretty bad. And yes, that includes even the “big names” in email marketing. You would be surprised, but most of them do not care if your emails actually reach the inbox. That means losing out on a lot of potential sales and profits.
When you get an Emercury account, you get an actual partner in achieving success with email marketing. Fortunately we’re currently giving away forever-free accounts, so be sure to grab a username while we still have this going.