3 Perfectly Timed Emails For Effective User Onboarding

Peter Sharkey in Email marketing on 11th of May 2015
Onboarding Email Templates

Onboarding Email Templates

It’s rare for prospective customers to buy immediately after first engaging a product. This is why many Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) companies, including us at Segment, offer a free trial. The trial shows users the value of their product upfront, then converts them into paying customers once they’re hooked. A great way to help potential customers be successful during their trial is to contact them in response to the actions they’ve taken in your product, also known as behavior-based customer journeys. In this post, we’ll share the key milestones we track in our funnel over at Segment, and three automated emails we send to nudge users forward in the journey from stranger to customer.

About Segment

For a little background on us, Segment helps marketers try different software tools, including Mixpanel, Google Analytics, Adroll, etc., with a single tracking code, so they don’t have to convince engineering teams to devote resources to build one-to-one integrations. It also passes customer data between different apps, enabling marketers to create personalized customer journeys based on how people are engaging with their product and website.

Key milestones in Segment’s SaaS funnel

In our own new customer onboarding journey, we track five milestones that customers reach during their trial: “Signed Up”, “Created Project”, “Sent Project Data”, “Enabled Integration”, and “Started Subscription.” You can set up a similar funnel to track your users’ journey towards making a purchasing decision. Segment's SaaS Funnel We suggest creating an email marketing journey for your users to move from each step to the next. For each stage, send your customers relevant information at just the right time to move people forward (like the three examples below). Naturally, users will drop off at each stage, but with smart segmentation, you can create personalized customer journeys to get them back on track. All of these touches can be automated through the use of various tools, such as Segment for event tracking, Mixpanel for seeing how your funnel is performing, and Autopilot for sending communications via email, SMS or even postcards.

Three automated emails to onboard new users

As users experience our product, we send different messaging according to how engaged they are. They receive personalized emails that nudge them forward, or rewards them for positive behavior.

1. “Stuck? Let’s help you out”

We learned early on that technical difficulties caused people to get stuck in our onboarding process. For example, when we analyzed our funnel with an analytics tool, we saw a number of users drop off in between stages 2 (Created Project) and stage 3 (Sent Project Data). To help out, we send resources that might help, and offer them a time to chat with our team. "Stuck? Let's help you out!" You can do the same by setting a timed outbound SMS or email offering help if a user exceeds the average number of days in a particular stage. You may find your funnel bottleneck!

2. “Took the next step? Awesome!”

If a user moves from Step 2 (Created Project) to Step 3 (Sent Project Data) and actually integrates the tracking code into their website, a triggered email will go off to reward the positive behavior. Took the next step? Woohoo! Awesome! This encouraging, friendly message hooks readers instantly and has an open rate of 68%. Not bad!

3. “Would you like to add more integrations?”

Most customers come to Segment with one integration in mind (e.g. Google Analytics), but get more value out of our product after turning on multiple integrations. That’s why we wait to encourage people to explore other integrations until after they turn one on. Would you like to add more integrations? The goal in the email above is to encourage our users to turn on three new integrations. We saw a 26% conversion rate of customers going from 1 integration to 3 because of this email, which is great for our customers and partners! You can also personalize your content with marketing tools and lead your users to best practices, a blog subscription, or any activity that will further their engagement with your product. The key to sending them the right content is knowing what context they already have in your application or website.


To recap, this table breaks down the results and lessons learned from the above three automated emails we use to onboard new users: Takeaways We’re always learning more as we test, experiment, and try out-of-the-box things like animated GIFs. New customer onboarding journeys look different for each SaaS company, but best practices are similar across the board. Define key behavior milestones to track in your funnel, show the value of the product upfront, and send perfectly-timed emails to nudge users forward in the journey from trial to sale.

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