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SaaS Onboarding Email Blog

What are you in the mood for? I’ve got onboarding email breakdowns, strategy how-tos, and SaaS email marketing best practices. Or, just browse the latest down below.

CoSchedule Onboarding Breakdown

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What makes a great SaaS onboarding series? There are a variety of tactics to choose from, and in all honesty, it varies between each company. However, it’s still useful to see real-world examples of complete sequences. Today I’ll be taking a look at the free trial onboarding email series for CoSchedule.

Series Overview

CoSchedule is a marketing calendar tool with a 14-day free trial. Over the course of two weeks, I received 10 emails.

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Day 1: Introduce the Building Block

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Subject Line: …ready to get organized?

Sender Name: Emma from CoSchedule

Send Time: Day of signup, 12:27 AM CST

Objective/Content: Congratulate users on taking a step toward better systems, and an invitation to connect social accounts to get started.

CTA: Connect your social profiles to CoSchedule

Strengths:

CoSchedule knows their tone and sticks with it. As you’ll see in the emails that follow, the company is casual and relatable. They use GIFs, emojis, slang, and lowercase subject lines. I’m all about kicking stuffiness to the curb, so I think this is great.

The emails are also simply designed, or rather aren’t designed at all. They look like an email sent from a friend, which contributes to the relatable vibe.

This initial email also includes an introduction to the building block of the service, which is connecting your social accounts to CoSchedule. Just like creating a note in Evernote, connecting social accounts within CoSchedule is the first step a user needs to take to be successful.

What to learn from it:

  • Establish a company tone and stick to it. If you want to be serious, go for it. However, don’t be afraid to be casual and humorous if that’s your brand culture.

  • I’m also an advocate for actually starting, as opposed to seeking perfection. Don’t be afraid to start with simple text emails if you don’t have the resources to create custom designed emails.

  • Finally, keep your building block feature front and center. You need customers to take action, no matter how small.

Weaknesses:

Within the first 4 days of signing up for the CoSchedule free trial, I received 6 emails from 3 different sender names. Onboarding emails were sent from Emma and Brock at CoSchedule, while I also received a weekly summary email from CoSchedule.

Variety of content is good, but onboarding emails should be as easily recognizable as possible. I signed up with CoSchedule, so the sender names “Emma from CoSch…” or “Brock from CoSch…” could get overlooked in a full inbox. Sure, I can see the first half of the business name before it’s cut off by Gmail, but at first glance, I have no idea who Brock and Emma are.

Brock and Emma likely have different roles and may send out different types of content, but if a trial user is receiving who knows how many emails a day, there’s no way they can keep track of those differences.

What to learn from it: There are a few best practices that can be pulled from this email.

  • First, that the sender name is important and should be consistent throughout onboarding. If you want to throw more players into the mix, wait until there’s some brand knowledge established.

  • Secondly, customers in an onboarding sequence should receive onboarding emails only. The free trial is a critical time where you need to inspire focused action. Including trial users in normal marketing messages can be overwhelming, and receiving an influx of emails from a single company you’ve just met can be a turn-off.

Day 2.1: Support the Building Block

As I mentioned, I received 6 emails within the first four days of my trial. One of these was a weekly newsletter, while the others focused on onboarding.

The email below was sent around 10 AM on Day 2, a day after the first “building block” email. Below this segment, you’ll see another email I received on Day 2. I can’t say for sure, but it’s possible I was sent this email because I didn’t click through on the link from Day 1. In that case, this email could be helpful.

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Subject Line: How do you eat an elephant? 🐘

Sender Name: Brock from CoSchedule

Send Time: Day 2, 10:18 AM CST

Objective/Content: Show a step by step process of how to connect social accounts.

CTA: Connect your social profiles to CoSchedule

Strengths:

If new users are worried connecting social profiles is too much of a hassle to bother with now, this email puts those fears to bed. The email from Day 1 presented the “building block” as an essential step, and this follow up makes the process abundantly clear.

What to learn from it: Let’s assume I was sent this email from Brock the Customer Success team member because I didn’t click on the first email they sent me. For something as important as tackling the “building block”, a followup is worth it. The more involved a user gets during the free trial the merrier, but you can’t let their trial time pass without even touching the basic feature.

Weaknesses:

This is one of two emails sent to me on Day 2. Which, for a new user with an already full inbox, can feel like a lot. This email could stand to be eliminated or combined with another if it isn’t, in fact, a triggered email based on my lack of action.

What to learn from it:

  • Triggered emails based on actions taken or not taken are one thing, but extra emails for all can get in the way.

Day 2.2: Ideal Future

Below is the second email I received on Day 2 of my free CoSchedule trial. Just like the lone email on Day 1, this one came from Emma and followed the same simple text style.

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Subject Line: quickly create + schedule your social messages

Sender Name: Emma from CoSchedule

Send Time: Day 2, 12:30 PM CST

Objective/Content: Explain how life could be better in all ways when you use CoSchedule

CTA: quickly create + schedule a batch of messages

Strengths:

New day, new GIF! With its simple design, these CoSchedule emails are all about the copy. The stories they tell are short and engaging and portray an ideal future with CoSchedule. The narrative they use is also effective because it motivates in two directions. First, it explains something you want to achieve. The goal of increases engagement is something to move toward.

On the other hand, it also includes something you want to avoid. Wasting time is no fun, and their message gives you a way to avoid that fate. Whether you’re trying to get a new user onboard, lose weight, or hit any other kind of goal; it’s useful to have a positive you want to move toward, as well as a negative you want to avoid.

What to learn from it:

  • Keeping consistent format and tone strengthens the brand voice

  • Use both desirable outcomes and situations to avoid to motivate users

Weaknesses:

There could be a final CTA link at the end to reinforce the objective.

What to learn from it:

  • Wrap up emails by reinforcing the key takeaway

Day 3: Asking Preferences

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Subject Line: Not into Social?

Sender Name: Brock from CoSchedule

Send Time: Day 3, 10:18 AM CST

Objective/Content: Asking whether or not the user is interested in social messaging content

CTA: Reply

Strengths:

Brock is back to support Emma’s message. Yesterday, Emma told me about the wonders of batch scheduling. Now, Brock is making sure that’s even the type of content I want to see. As a plus, this was the only email received on Day 3. After all, Brock’s messages deserve a little breathing room too

What to learn from it:

  • Ask for user preferences so that you can tailor future messaging

  • If you’re still in the early stages of your SaaS or you have the team to support it, ask for users to reply to start a more personal conversation on preferences

Day 4: First Step Reminder

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Subject Line: this is why you signed up for CoSchedule

Sender Name: Emma from CoSchedule

Send Time: Day 4, 12:32 PM CST

Objective/Content: Schedule your first message

CTA: quickly create + schedule a batch of messages

Strengths:

It seems the CoSchedule onboarding sequence leads with a CTA for a big win and then follows up with a smaller step if the first was ignored. On Day 2 Emma talked about batch scheduling social messages. I didn’t take the bait, so she’s back on Day 4 to encourage me to schedule a single message.

The subject line and story is strong, noting that I’m completely leaving the reason I signed up on the table.

This email also does a good job of putting a conclusive ending on the email with a clear CTA.

What to learn from it:

  • Have a baby step email in place in case a user doesn’t take the bait on a big win

  • Remind users why they chose you in the first place

Day 5: Feature Spotlight

Up until now, CoSchedule’s onboarding emails have focused on the building block step of connecting social accounts as well as schedule one (or a batch) of social messages. On Day 5, as we approach the halfway point of the 14-day free trial, we’re expanding our horizons to new feature spotlights.

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Subject Line: FREE social automation (yep, i’m serious)

Sender Name: Emma from CoSchedule

Send Time: Day 2, 12:34 PM CST

Objective/Content: Talk about ReQueue, a social automation tool within CoSchedule

CTA: Check out ReQueue

Strengths:

As the series goes on, CoSchedule is stacking benefits on top of one another. This email very briefly mentions the power to have all of your blog + social + email on one platform. However, the rest of the email focuses on social automation.

Not just any social automation tool, though. The super-exclusive CoSchedule tool for smart social automation. There are a few CTA links to check out the tool, as well as some additional resources to get started.

What to learn from it:

  • Stack benefits on top of one another to strengthen the value proposition

  • Include reference or help doc links if you have them

Day 8: Feature Spotlight

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Subject Line: wouldn’t it be nice (to measure your social promotion)

Sender Name: Emma from CoSchedule

Send Time: Day 8, 12:36 PM CST

Objective/Content: Talk Social Profile Reports

CTA: Check out Social Profile Reports

Strengths:

This email highlights a specific feature, Social Profile Reports, but it does so in a conversational way. As the trial user is reading a relatable story, they’ve been pitched a CoSchedule feature without completely realizing it. This is a much less in-your-face here’s-our-amazing-feature email, but I think the casual tone will lower peoples’ guard.

The P.S. at the bottom also calls me out for not having scheduled any social messages yet. Whoops!

What to learn from it:

  • If you use a casual tone with your audience, test out marketing that doesn’t feel like marketing

  • Offer gentle nudges to encourage a behavior. After all, who wants to be called out on their inaction?

Day 10: Fork in the Road

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Subject Line: time is finite (how are you gonna spend yours?)

Sender Name: Emma from CoSchedule

Send Time: Day 10, 12:38 PM CST

Objective/Content: Present how your life is benefitted by buying CoSchedule, and how it will suck without it

CTA: Officially ad CoSchedule to your workflow

Strengths:

It’s day 10 of the 14-day free trial from CoSchedule and the emails are heating up. While there’s no doubt this is still a pretty casual email, it’s definitely presenting a more serious fork on the road. To one side, you have the option to keep doing what you’re doing. That is, wasting time and your sanity for little result. If you choose the CoSchedule path, however, your life will be rainbows and butterflies. This email is increasing the urgency and pressure for a good reason. After all, the free trial is almost over. It’s time to shape up or ship out.

As if the fork in the road wasn’t enough to consider, CoSchedule really tips the odds in their favor with the mention of a free plan. Who doesn’t love free? At the very least it encourages the reader to click through and learn more.

What to learn from it:

  • Product benefits are great, but emotions are better. As the clock on a free trial ticks down you can increasingly push those “pain point” buttons.

  • By presenting a very real fork in the road you both a) add a sense of urgency to inspire action and b) portray your service as the knight in shining armor

  • ABS — always be stacking. Benefits that is. Separate enticing elements so that they feel like an enormous stack when you put them back together again.

Day 12: Urgent Plea

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Subject Line: Life is a series of missed opportunities, Stephanie

Sender Name: Emma from CoSchedule

Send Time: Day 12, 11:40 AM CST

Objective/Content: Illustrate what a grave mistake it would be to not sign up for CoSchedule

CTA: Sign me up

Strengths:

The clock is ticking on my CoSchedule free trial, and Emma is turning the intensity up to eleven. The email paints a grim reality of how terrible your life will be if you “throw away” all the work with CoSchedule you’ve done so far. It even makes you think about all of the past mistakes you’ve made in your life.

There’s hope though. The tone picks up at the end of the email, where Emma offers a success story from a CoSchedule user. The copy of the email is no joke, but it’s the kind of hail Mary you’d expect to find at the end of a trial.

What to learn from it:

  • The onboarding series undergoes an evolution through the trial period, and the urgency increases at the end. View the final emails as an experimental hail Mary phase where you really dive into underlying emotions.

  • If you’re pressing emotional buttons and working readers into a tizzy, make sure you offer an intense light at the end of the tunnel. You want to transform emotions around past failures or stressors into an attitude of “that stops now!”

Day 13: Information Push

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Subject Line: how to know if CoSchedule is right for you

Sender Name: Emma from CoSchedule

Send Time: Day 13, 11:43 AM CST

Objective/Content: Send a series of videos to show off the value of CoSchedule

CTA: Get your 30-minute overview of CoSchedule now

Strengths:

Yesterday we got emotional intensity. Today, CoSchedule is taking the informational approach. In a final attempt to help users understand what CoSchedule is, they’ve compiled a 30-minute video series.

The tutorials offer a high-level view of some of CoSchedule’s top features. This email is a very different approach from Day 12, and it would be interesting to test the effectiveness of each. It’s also possible that the two emails are equally effective, but for different people.

What to learn from it:

  • Test different approaches to convince users to roll to pay

  • When in doubt, add value through content and education

  • Be mindful of the reader’s time by making sure the value to time ratio is weighted towards usefulness

Series Review

CoSchedule knows their personality and sticks with it. I love the casual and humorous approach the company took to onboarding, and their storytelling sticks out in my mind. There was some confusion at the beginning of the series as I received emails from different individuals, but eventually, Emma became my go-to.

What’s your favorite email from the CoSchedule onboarding series? I, for one, am a sucker for The Office GIFs.

Ready to create or upgrade your SaaS onboarding email series? Download What to Include in a 14-Day Onboarding Email Series (And When to Send Each Email) here.