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SaaS Onboarding Email Blog

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Gusto Onboarding Email Series Breakdown

Gusto Onboarding Email Series Overview

This series really had me fooled. 

I dutifully saved and reviewed each email I received for around 20 days, with a plan to capture up to 30 days. Then I started to get suspicious - “aren’t these all basically saying the same thing?” Yep. They were. So after I clicked through and took the next step, I got a new batch of emails.

All of this is to say, this seems like a combination triggered onboarding email sequence. First, the email send days were spaced out. Then, as I began to interact with the app, the emails were more frequent. If I took the desired action, I was moved on to the next email and action. However, they weren’t about to let me out without seeing any emails during the times I was inactive.

So, instead of plotting the days I received emails, they’ll be grouped by the desired action Gusto was pushing for me to take. Here we go!

Account Authentication


Subject Line: Please confirm your email address

Sender Name: Gusto

Send Time: Immediately after signup

Objective/Content: Get users to confirm email address and sign up

CTA: Yep, confirmed!


This authentication email is similar to one from Zendesk, but with a little extra flair. It covers the bases for an authentication email: welcomes and thanks, asks to confirm your email address, and features a big button to press. Bonus points for the cartoon waving hello. 

What to learn from it:

  • A basic email can be jazzed up with some simple imagery or button upgrades


Subject Line: Payroll with Gusto!

Sender Name: Megan Gillespie

Send Time: Immediately after authentication

Objective/Content: Welcome new users and give them a contact number for questions



While more formal welcome emails can do a good job of introducing a new user to your brand, a personal email from a single point of contact is a nice gesture. Megan still manages to get a few Gusto selling points in, but it’s rounded off with a unique signature. 

What to learn from it:

  • A more personal hello and welcome can go a long way to make a new user feel like your company cares


I think it’s best to leave the sender name as your company’s name so that it’s easier for trial users to catch in a crowded inbox. However, the company name is at least in the subject line. 

I also think the CTA could have been stronger, perhaps linking resources to get started.

What to learn from it:

  • If the sender name is something other than your company name, make sure the brand name is in the subject line

Add a Company Address


Subject Line: Welcome to Gusto

Sender Name: Danielle Grant, Gusto

Send Time: Day 4, 8:30 AM CST

Objective/Content: Have the new user enter their business address for payroll

CTA: Add company address


Once again, Gusto keeps it simple. A headline, image, sentence of copy, and a big red button. This email is also a no-frills note that adding a company address is the first step to organizing payroll. No ambiguity here. 

What to learn from it:

  • Explain why a building block matters. For example, it might be the only starting point for achieving goals with the product

Just Log In (please?)

After a few specific asks, Gusto sent a couple emails just trying to get me into the app in general. It was after a few of these (close to the 30-day mark) that I finally started interacting.

Subject Line: Steph Knapp’s Compliance Checklist

Sender Name: Gusto Customer Care

Send Time: Day 15, 7:14 AM CST

Objective/Content: Point out compliance resources

CTA: Make Sure Your Company is Compliant


This email is simple, but oh so helpful. Even for finance professionals, making sure a business stays compliant with every applicable law and requirement can be overwhelming. Gusto has put together resources to make the lives of user’s easier. The CTA is also nice and bold.

What to learn from it:

  • Information about your product's features is a must, but it’s even better if you can provide resources for related tasks


While this email is coming from “Gusto Customer Support” as opposed to just “Gusto”, I still think branding should stay the same. All of the other emails have a strong reg and white theme, and this one throws in additional colors.

What to learn from it:

  • Keep branding consistent

Screen Shot 2019-04-03 at 4.05.38 PM.png

Subject Lines:

  • Run payroll in just 5 minutes ⚡⚡⚡

  • 9 out of 10 customers say Gusto is easier than their old payroll

  • Gusto payroll is PCMag’s Editors’ Choice

What to learn from it:

  • There are many ways to design an email! Even without design skills or know-how, you can use copy to tell a story in its contents and organization

  • t broke, don’t fix it! Simple but effective layouts can be recycled

  • Including “I” language in CTA buttons makes it feel more active and personal

  • Don’t be afraid to pull in some social proof

Add a Employees

Subject Line:

  • Time to add your employees to Gusto

  • Too busy to add your team?

  • Add your team, enjoy less paperwork

What to learn from them:

  • You can make emails casual and personal - I think people are more likely to act if the environment feels warm and welcoming

  • Sending multiple emails about the same task accomplishes two tasks at one: it increases the likelihood that every user will see a form of the message at least once, and it lets you know which CTA copy is most impactful

Series Review

Overall, I think this is an interesting example of an action-based email series that plays along with you. It has some variety in it, like the compliance checklist, but it doesn’t let you miss the really important steps. I think this is also a perfect example of “less is more” in terms of design, and I hope it shows you that you don’t always need the fanciest design.

What did you think about the series?

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