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Mailchimp Onboarding Email Breakdown

An email marketing service sending me marketing emails.

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Series Overview

Technically, I didn’t sign up for a free trial, since Mailchimp has a free plan. However, for the purpose of this breakdown, I captured the onboarding emails sent during my first 30 days. I chose 30 days since there’s free email and chat support for the first month on free accounts. Over that time, I received nine emails — including one authentication message.

One interesting choice to note is that Mailchimp emails sent like clockwork every fourth day. I received emails on the 4th, 8th, 12th, 16th, 20th, 24th, 28th, and 1st. Goes to show you don’t have to overthink the cadence of a time-based sequence too much.

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Day 1.1: Authentication

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Subject Line: Activate Your Mailchimp Account

Sender Name: Mailchimp Client Services

Send Time: Immediately after signup

Objective/Content: Confirm account

CTA: Activate Account

Strengths:

Pretty straightforward as far as authentication emails go, but I do like the warm welcome. They also let me know why they’re asking me to press the button, in case I wasn’t sure.

What to learn:

  • You don’t always need a fancy email, but it is nice to be nice

Day 1.2: Introduce the Building Block

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Subject Line: We’re So Glad You’re Here

Sender Name: Mailchimp

Send Time: Immediately after authentication

Objective/Content: Get the user to design their first email campaign

CTA: Try it out

Strengths:

Mailchimp is back at it with the niceness! The subject line from Day 1 is very welcoming. I also appreciate their very straightforward headline.

My favorite part of this email, and the emails below, is the time symbol. Users may hesitate to click through an email and learn more or act because it may take a lot of time. By letting readers know this is a 5-minute task, they’re making it more enticing to click through.

What to learn:

  • If a task is easy to complete, make sure a user knows! Take a play from Medium and Mailchimp’s playbook and let a user know how long it will take them to read through/accomplish a task.

Weaknesses:

I feel like Mailchimp totally skipped past Welcome and straight into Building Block. The subject line makes it feel like a welcome email, but once inside there’s no introduction to the company and what they stand for. They just get right down to business. Getting a user to act right away is great, but I think a tiny statement of their mission or values would be nice.

What to learn:

  • You don’t always have to spend an entire email re-introducing your brand, but a little intro is nice

Day 5: Feature Spotlight

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Subject Line: Build your list with a little help from us

Sender Name: Mailchimp

Send Time: Day 5, 3:43 PM CST

Objective/Content: Get the user to add email list

CTA: Start Building Your List

Strengths:

I went back and forth between categorizing this email as a Feature Spotlight or Introduce the Building Block message, and I don’t think there’s a right or wrong answer. The first non-authentication email from Mailchimp covered the basics of designing an email, which is undoubtedly important. But, you need someone to send the email to. That’s why this email, which talks about building an email list, is also a building block. When considering an email and an email list, you can’t utilize one to its full potential without the other.

As far as the email contents go, they’re nearly identical to Day 1. But I ain’t mad. The copy is simple but effective; it highlights the importance of this step while removing barriers or objections someone may have to get started.

They also have value-add content at the bottom of every email.

What to learn:

  • You can send a dedicated Value-Add Content email or include relevant resources within each email

  • Simultaneously push and pull users forward. Pull them to try with the benefits and outcomes, and push them forward by mitigating objections

Day 9: Feature Spotlight

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Subject Line: Pop-up forms when and where you need them

Sender Name: Mailchimp

Send Time: Day 9, 3:45 PM CST

Objective/Content: Introduce pop-up forms

CTA: Preview Your Form

Strengths:

One word stands out most to me in this email: preview. I know it has a practical use — you do preview a form before implementing it. However, and it could be a coincidence, it makes taking action feel less intimidating. I don’t have to commit to something, I don’t have to go here and do something that’s final — I just gotta check it out. Ease into it.

The subject line also makes me feel in control. Put the pop-ups when and where I want. Cool. It’s also useful that there’s a simple image of what a pop-up form is. A strong stat doesn’t hurt, either.

Also, I see you with all this value-add content!

What to learn from it:

  • If you’ve got rockin’ stats, flaunt ’em (but avoid too many, or their magic starts to fade)

  • You can use words to make users feel like they’re in control, as opposed to being told what to do

Day 13: Feature Spotlight

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Subject Line: Welcome your new subscribers automatically

Sender Name: Mailchimp

Send Time: Day 13, 3:46 PM CST

Objective/Content: Introduce welcome automation

CTA: Create a welcome email

Strengths:

The most straightforward of subject lines that ever existed. I’m not mad, though! This email is about a feature, but they do a good job intertwining the benefits and reasons you should care within the email. Set myself up for success? Don’t mind if I do.

What to learn from it:

  • Benefits can be subtly sprinkled throughout

  • Set expectations — this is a slightly longer task and Mailchimp is upfront about that with the clock + time estimation. It’s also interesting to note that the features/tasks and associated time requirements have gotten longer over the series

Day 17: Feature Spotlight

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Subject Line: Send a personalized birthday email to your subscribers

Sender Name: Mailchimp

Send Time: Day 17, 3:47 PM CST

Objective/Content: Introduce happy birthday automated messages

CTA: Say Happy Birthday

Strengths:

Nobody grasps “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” quite like Mailchimp. If you read through all of the subject lines and compare all of the emails you’ll see formulas and patterns pop up. It’s tempting to always strive to be fresh and new, but the benefits of novelty have to be weighed against the time and energy to design and implement completely unique emails.

What to learn from it:

  • Find what works, and stick to it. Test subject lines, designs, and copy styles and then base future emails on what performed best

Day 21: Feature Spotlight

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Subject Line: Grow your list and sell more stuff with landing pages

Sender Name: Mailchimp

Send Time: Day 21, 3:47 PM CST

Objective/Content: Introduce landing pages

CTA: Try It Out

Strengths:

What more can I say that hasn’t already been said?

Weaknesses:

The only weak point in this email is the CTA — the others have been much more specific. “Try it out” could be changed to “create a landing page” or “convert more customers.”

Day 25: Feature Spotlight

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Subject Line: Recapture people’s attention with Google remarketing ads

Sender Name: Mailchimp

Send Time: Day 25, 3:49 PM CST

Objective/Content: Encourage users to connect their site to Mailchimp to utilize retargeting ads

CTA: Get Started

Day 29: Feature Spotlight

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Subject Line: Grow your audience with Facebook and Instagram Ads

Sender Name: Mailchimp

Send Time: Day 29, 3:50 PM CST

Objective/Content: Introduce the ability to target email subscribers with social ads

CTA: Give it a Try

Series Review

Overall, the Mailchimp onboarding email series was a great baseline sequence. Each email was clear and effective, but there was nothing too wild or interesting about it. There were, however, subtleties in the emails that showed a progression.

First, the level of involvement needed to take advantage of each feature grew over the course of the series. Gotta start small. The features also started inward facing, and then grew to include an external audience. For example, early emails were about setting up basics, such as an automated welcome email. Then, they got into optimization and finally, marketing and remarketing.

Want to know when to send SaaS emails and what to say?

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