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Customer.io Onboarding Email Breakdown

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Series Overview

Customer.io is all about targeted emails and triggered push notifications, so I was curious to see what their onboarding email sequence is like. Over the course of the one month trial I received 13 emails, including an email after the trial ended.

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When I’m collecting the emails for these breakdowns I always let the series run its course without any interaction in the app. While that means there may be action-based emails I miss, it also means I’m able to share a standardized baseline.

Below is the entire series in my inbox.

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Day 1.1 - Confirmation

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Subject Line: Please confirm your email, Steph

Sender Name: The Customer.io team (win@customer.io)

Send Time: Immediately after signup

Objective/Content: Confirm email

CTA: Confirm Your Email

STRENGTHS:

Confirmation emails are pretty standardized, and don’t get much attention. However, I like that they made this one a little more personalized with the addition of “you’re one step away from sending more relevant newsletters and automated campaigns.”

What to learn from it:

  • There are a ton of little ways to add personality or solidify your business’ purpose


Day 1.2 - Welcome

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Subject Line: Steph, let’s get started with Customer.io

Sender Name: The OnBoarding team (onboarding@customer.io)

Send Time: Immediately after confirmation

Objective/Content: Present options for next step, as well as invite to schedule a call with Onboarding Specialist

CTA: Import users, invite team members, schedule call

Strengths:

First off, I love the subject line. It’s simple and straightforward, which is great for a welcome email. Remember, not every subject line has be some creative unique beast. I’m also a big fan of lists of three in welcome emails, and apparently Customer.io is too.

What to learn from it:

  • Keep it short and simple

Weaknesses:

Different sender names are a little detail most normal people may not pay attention to, but I tend to prefer consistent names. You’ll see throughout the seres that there are a few email addresses being used. This could very well have something to do with how they send time-based vs triggered emails. Also, I think a little more context could have been added to checklist points such as “Import some of your users.”


Day 1.3 - Support

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Subject Line: Working together on your Customer.io trial

Sender Name: Mitchell from Customer.io (mitchell@customer.io)

Send Time: After confirmation

Objective/Content: Explain how the specialist can help

CTA: Set up quick chat

Strengths:

More lists of three! Customer.io gets me. I also like that the onboarding specialist is explaining how they can help. I think giving context to the call they’re asking me to schedule makes it feel less like an incoming sales pitch of some sort. They’re also very upfront that the right fit is important.

What to learn from it:

  • Transparency goes far. Instead of simply selling to the customer, let them know it’s important to make a decision that’s right for both parties

  • Avoid wasting new users’ time by letting them know what to expect during interactions

Weaknesses:

Including the confirmation email, this is the third email I received in succession on day one. It’s sort of a lot, but I guess this email sets up the differentiation between emails from “Success at Customer.io” and “Mitchell from Customer.io.”

What to learn from it:

  • Consistency is important, but be mindful not to overwhelm brand new users

Day 2 - Support

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Subject Line: Your goals using Customer.io

Sender Name: Mitchell Wright (mitchell@customer.io)

Send Time: Day 2, 9:01 AM CST

Objective/Content: Ask about goals to check fit

CTA: Send link to website

Strengths:

I often hear that it’s good practice to “do things that don’t scale” at the beginning of a business or business relationship. Here is a prime example of it. Notice this email doesn’t have the typical “unsubscribe” link at the bottom. That’s because Mitchell sent this by hand after seeing that I wasn’t using a business email address. Again, they’re all about ensuring the right fit (which I’m sure helps their retention in the long run).

What to learn from it:

  • Pay attention to (or set alerts for) small details that may signal a bad user-product fit

  • Surprise and delight customers by sending them a personal message


Day 4 - Feature Spotlight

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Subject Line: Nudge users from TRY to BUY with onboarding emails

Sender Name: Success at Customer.io

Send Time: Day 4, 5:11 PM CST

Objective/Content: Introduce behavioral onboarding emails, explain how to connect data

CTA: Show me some onboarding


Strengths:

I like the subject line, but I’m also a sucker for onboarding emails…For this email we’re back to learning from “Success at Customer.io.” The body copy is simple but effective, and I also like the visual reference. I assume the little paper planes under each step represent an email to drive the action? There’s also a nice, specific CTA.

Now let’s chat about the section at the bottom. I don’t know for sure, but my hunch is that that part is dynamic. I never took any action in the app, so each time that block showed up it focused on the same action. I wonder if the bottom half of the email would have changed if I was progressing.

What to learn from it:

  • Align your CTA button to the email’s content

  • Depending on your email service, you can include dynamic content to combine time-based and personalized action-based content


Day 7 - Use Case

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Subject Line: Here to answer your FAQs

Sender Name: Mitchell from Customer.io

Send Time: Day 7, 5:11 PM CST

Objective/Content: Explain selling points of Customer.io

CTA: Click here to book a time to connect

Strengths:

Back to messages for Mitchell! My second hunch about this series is that these automated emails asking me to book a call would have stopped if I booked the call. In that case, I would have likely only received the emails from “Success at Customer.io” at that point. But, back to the email at hand. My favorite part of the email is the bottom half with example use cases. It’s always easier to envision yourself applying use cases than the features in their raw form.

What to learn from it:

  • Don’t just tell users what a tool is, explain how it can be used

Weaknesses:

I don’t think the top half of the email delivers on the subject line promise of “answering your FAQ.” I suppose they were trying to be brief by summing up Customer.io’s value prop, but the questions presented at the top aren’t answered.

What to learn from it:

  • Make sure content aligns with the subject line


Day 10 - Use Case

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Subject Line: Think beyond emails

Sender Name: Success at Customer.io

Send Time: Day 10, 5:11 PM CST

Objective/Content: Ways to use “Actions”

CTA: Explore Actions

Strengths:

Hooray for more use cases! I think the email covers good ground in that respect. However, I think the few italic lines at the bottom email could be moved up to the top. The current intro to the email is straightforward, but a little dry. The message about the “future of marketing” would do a better job at setting the scene.

What to learn from it:

  • Include a list of use cases to cast a wider net

Weaknesses:

This subject line falls a little flat. Instead, it could have talked about the “future of marketing”, “meeting customer expectations”, or “making sense of behavioral data.”

What to learn from it:

  • Look to the most enticing lines from the body copy to create the subject line


Day 14 - Objections

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Subject Line: How long does it take to integrate?

Sender Name: Mitchell from Customer.io

Send Time: Day 14, 5:11 PM CST

Objective/Content: Explain easiest ways to get started, lesson mental barrier to starting

CTA: Use event tester, set up a call


Strengths:

I like this email copy. It addresses a concern, shoots down your limiting belief, and presents a few ways to get past the hurdle. This is a prime example for how having a plan or formula for your copy makes it easier to fill in the blanks concisely yet powerfully.

What to learn from it:

  • Address a concern, explain why it shouldn’t be a concern, and highlight the path forward

Weaknesses:

I like the subject line, BUT, I wonder if it’s clear that it’s about Customer.io. The sender name for this email is cut off at “Mitchell from Cust”, so the biz name isn’t clearly there either. It’s a small detail, but still one I wanted to bring up.

What to learn from it:

  • Consider how the subject line and sender name work together


Day 18 - Value Add Content

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Subject Line: Increase product retention with Customer.io.

Sender Name: Success at Customer.io

Send Time: Day 18, 5:11 PM CST

Objective/Content: Share retention email inspiration

CTA: View your email inspiration

Strengths:

I love the subject line, although I do wonder if it matches the email contents.

What to learn from it:

  • Don’t just tell users what a tool is, explain how it can be used

Weaknesses:

A simple rearrangement in the copy would make it more effective. Here’s what I think the email should say:

“When it comes to getting customers to stick around, there are no silver bullets. But you do have one marketing channel that’s more effective than all the others to draw people back: email.

The trick? Respond to your users' engagement—or lack thereof.

You can increase user engagement by sending targeted emails with Customer.io

Here are a few ideas: Congratulate power users, and prompt them to invite friends. Stay top-of-mind with people who are becoming less active. Tell new users about your stickiest features.

Want to use email to keep customers around? Get inspired with this list of seven retention emails.”

Voila!

What to learn from it:

  • Always consider the storyline of your copy—simple rearrangements can improve flow


Day 22 - Support

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Subject Line: I’ve got your back

Sender Name: Mitchell from Customer.io

Send Time: Day 22, 5:11 PM CST

Objective/Content: Point out inactivity, offer call, remind of trial expiration

CTA: Hop on a call, import users manually

Strengths:

I knew we wouldn’t make it out of the Customer.io sequence without a behavioral email. I had hunches about their strategy with other emails, but this one is straightforward. The message summarizes some of the past points made, such as suggesting manual import.

What to learn from it:

  • Don’t have the tools to send behavioral emails? Above is an example message you could send by hand for people who haven’t logged in

  • Remind users when their trial is about to expire


Day 27 - CTA

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Subject Line: Important: Your trial expires in 4 days

Sender Name: Mitchell from Customer.io

Send Time: Day 27, 3:36 PM CST

Objective/Content: Remind of trial expiration, offer a demo

CTA: Hop on a call, select a plan

Strengths:

This email pairs well with the previous one! It once again points out the end of the trial, recognizes I’ve done nothing, and offers help.

What to learn from it:

  • If something is really important, don’t be afraid to bring it up a few times


Day 31 - Final CTA

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Subject Line: Your Customer.io trial expires today

Sender Name: Mitchell from Customer.io

Send Time: Day 31, 3:36 PM CST

Objective/Content: Remind of trial expiration, ask for feedback

CTA: Your trial expires today


Strengths:

Want to know more about your users? Ask. Not everyone will answer, but it’s worth a shot. Customer.io wants to hear about my experience, even though I seem to be on my way out.

What to learn from it:

  • Ask users if they have questions at the end of the trial. Or ask why they didn’t convert


Day 38 - Feedback

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Subject Line: One last question about Customer.io...

Sender Name: Mitchell from Customer.io

Send Time: Day 38, 3:36 PM CST

Objective/Content: Ask for feedback

CTA: Respond with feedback

Strengths:

I like that Customer.io gave it one more shot to get a response from me.

Series Review

Overall, I liked the Customer.io onboarding series. I think it’s a prime example of how a mostly plain-text email sequence can still be effective. I also really appreciate the more personalized touches, such as a hand-sent email, plus the focus on user-product fit. Through short emails, Customer.io displayed an interest in my goals and opinions and made themselves available. I even started to feel a bit bad for not responding to Mitchell, he was just trying to help…

What do you think about the combination of automatic and behavioral emails? And will you start sending individual messages to lagging users?

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Stephanie Knapp