Imagine getting 50% of your new trials to convert to paid within 30 days.
According to a study by Mixpanel, only 17% of SaaS users are activated in the first week.
If you offer a 7-day free trial, this means that 83% of the leads that join your trial will never experience the value of your product.
The truth is: the one metric that matters for a SaaS isn’t acquisition or retention, the one that truly matters is activation. And your activation rate only depends on one thing: your onboarding.
A good product onboarding can improve your data in the short term, but for it to be really effective, it must be long-lasting and repeated enough to anchor the message and give your users the time to include your product into their daily lives.
Email is the ideal format for this, as it allows you to nurture your new users with quality content to support them throughout their first weeks of use.
There are many types of onboarding emails, but after curating hundreds of them on SaaSFrame, I realized that very few SaaS companies were supporting their users enough in their steps with their products.
Because you never get a second chance to make a good first impression, here are six types of onboarding email to make your first impression memorable.
1. Crisp: Help them get set up
Before considering helping your user make the most of your product, you have to make sure that they’ve set it up correctly. If your product requires your users to instal a snippet or to download a plugin, make sure that your 1st email guides them through this step.
Crisp is one of those tools that requires the implementation of a script in the source code of your website to work properly. Since the very first email you receive from them after you register, the Crisp team explains how to add this snippet on your site.
But accessing the source code can be difficult and create friction for many marketers who want to set up a chatbox on their website but have no technical skills or access to the code. To get around this problem, Crisp also offers ready-to-use plugins for some CMS such as WordPress, Shopify, Prestashop and WHMCS.
2. Twist: Encourage them to invite their team
As a B2B SaaS, one of your goals is to increase the number of users you have in each client company. In addition to increasing your revenue by selling new licenses, it also allows you to strengthen your presence in the company and increase retention by making your product irreplaceable.
The email that Twist sends to encourage its users to invite their teammates shows three good practices from which you can draw inspiration.
For starters, Twist offers its users a very simple way to invite their teammates: a sharable link that allows them to join the company’s workspace in one click.
Then, they convince you that inviting your team is beneficial by explaining that it improves collaboration and by redirecting you to an article presenting the advantages of their solution.
Now that they have your attention, they finish by giving you ready-to-use arguments to convince teammates who might not be ready to use the product.
You now have no excuse not to share Twist with your colleagues.
3. Buffer: Guide them with feature tutorials
Once your users are properly set up, you need to make sure they know how to get the most out of your software. Even if your product onboarding is effective, it usually only allows your users to master the basics of a tool.
To help them deepen their knowledge, send them regular tutorials or walkthroughs of your main features.
Buffer feature presentation emails are particularly effective: they start by getting your attention explaining why the feature is going to be useful to you, and then they show a visual to emphasize how easy it is to use it. Finally, they encourage you to try it with a CTA that leads you directly to the feature.
4. Airtable: Invite them to onboarding webinars
Onboarding webinars are one of the most effective ways to explain to your users how your product works. Most SaaS companies are seeing a marked increase in activation rates when users attended one of these webinars, but convincing them to register in the first place remains a challenge.
Take advantage of the momentum of the first few days after they sign up to encourage new users to join one of your onboarding webinars. It will allow you to quickly build a personal relationship with them and make sure they have all the elements in hand to fully use your product. It will also allow you to get feedback from them and identify the topics they mostly need help with.
That’s the strategy Airtable chose. The very first onboarding email they send you after registration is to get you to participate in one of the live training sessions they organize every day for their new users.
Their email is rather straightforward: a CTA to register and a quick summary of what you will learn during the session. To address the objections of users who will not be able to attend the live training, they specify that they can still register to receive the recording of the session afterwards.
5. Zendesk: Show them how similar companies use your product
The FOMO is a powerful cognitive bias that you should leverage to activate your new users. If you can show them that other companies in their industry have been able to increase their performance with your product, you’ll give them a greater motivation to keep on exploring your product.
After indicating that I was doing ecommerce when I signed up to Zendesk, they sent me a series of onboarding emails specifically targeted to this industry. One of these emails was a case study from Birchbox explaining how they had decreased ticket volume while increasing their customer base thanks to Zendesk.
6. Clubhouse: Showcase your integrations
Third-party integrations are a great way to improve your users’ experience by allowing them to combine your product with the tools they already use. This can play a major role in the acquisition and retention of your users. If they can’t integrate your product into the ecosystem of tools they use on a daily basis, you risk a higher churn.
So highlight the third-party integration you’ve built in your onboarding flow to encourage users to connect your product to those they are already used to.
If you have a large library of integrations, you should highlight in your email the most popular apps among your audience. This is for example what Clubhouse, a collaboration tool for remote software teams, is doing when showing only the four tools that are most popular among their users: GitHub, Slack, Google Drive & Zendesk.
7. Slite: Help them switch from their old alternative
If your Saas is not a market-maker, chances are your users already used similar solutions before signing up to yours. To ensure that they quickly apprehend your product and don’t revert to their old tools, you need to help them import their existing content into your product as quickly as possible.
This is for example what Slite is trying to do by facilitating the transition from alternative tools, such as Notion, Evernote or Google Docs. Their email is very simple: a headline, a screenshot to show you how easy it is to migrate your content, and a Call To Action to incite you to do it right away.
In conclusion, identify what 1 thing you need to get new trials or new customers do to get them to convert and stick.
Focus all your energy on making that 1 action happen using these email examples from other top SaaS companies.
To get an idea of average retention rates, check this out.