Customer onboarding emails: a data-driven approach

Customer onboarding is key to ensuring new users engage and
experience value from a product or service. Using data to deliver a
personalized onboarding journey can help customers experience value
more quickly, and improve customer activation and retention

Much of Facebook’s early traction can be attributed to what
their VP of Growth, Alex Schultz described as creating a magical moment
for their users
. A magical moment, also known as an ‘aha
moment’, happens when a customer realizes the value of a

For Facebook, the ‘aha moment’ was the point where new users added up to
7 friends in 10 days

When new customers experience this moment, they are more likely
to continue using a product, upgrade their account, and even refer
more people to your business. Onboarding emails can play a vital
role in helping new customers reach your product ‘aha moment’
and, in turn, improve activation rates and reduce customer

This 3-step guide focuses on helping you creating email
onboarding campaigns that guide new customers to your product
‘aha moment’.

1. Define your product ‘aha moment’

While it is called a ‘moment’, it is typically made up of a
set of actions that separate users who you are likely to stick
around, from those who will churn.

Bad onboarding experiences are typically the result of guessing
or assuming you know what your product’s aha moment is. You’re
essentially guiding your users down a path without knowing the

Analyzing your customer data and conducting customer interviews
can help you identify your product’s ‘aha moment’.

Analyze your customer data

In essence, you’re looking for behavioral commonalities that
your most active users share with one another. Put another way,
what actions correlate with retention for the majority of your
users? This insight gives you a great starting point to create and
test hypotheses, with the aim of identifying the set of actions
that lead new customers to the ‘aha moment’ – and keeps new
customers using your product for longer.

Parsa Saljoughian, Investor and former Growth Product Manager at
Snap Inc., created a helpful guide on
How to Discover your App’s ‘Aha Moment’
(definitely worth
a read).

Conduct customer interviews

How do you know exactly what your customers value without any
input from them?

That’s a trick question, you don’t.

While customer data can give valuable quantitative insight,
conducting one-to-one interviews helps add context to the data
you’ve collected. You can conduct these interviews over the
phone, through video calls and even in person, where possible.

Exit interviews: you can also learn a lot from users that
didn’t convert to paid plans or those that churned shortly after
converting. These surveys may lead you to discover insights about
friction points that may have otherwise gone unnoticed.

2. Guide new customers towards the ‘aha moment’

Once you’ve defined your product’s ‘aha moment’, you can
start designing an email onboarding journey to guide new customers
to the set of actions that will enable them to reach it.

Mapping out the customer workflow and tracking customer
, will enable you to create a personalized
messaging journey based on their feature usage. This will help
ensure your email content is relevant to each customer’s specific
stage in the journey, and encourage them to take the next step
towards the ‘aha moment’.

Example email from Wistia:

Wistia customer onboarding email feature

Explaining multiple features at once could overwhelm a new user,
explaining a feature too early and the customer is likely to
forget, or even miss the email. If an , you can ensure the message
is relevant to that specific action, and provide a clear next step/
call-to-action (CTA).

Triggering automated emails based on customer actions also
prevents customers from receiving messages that encourage them to
use a feature/take an action that they have already completed.

Learn how about setting up behavior-based
email workflows
to send customers the right message, at the
right time.

Check out more
onboarding email examples and best practices

3. Test and optimize your customer onboarding campaign

Monitoring the performance of your email campaign will enable
you to identify opportunities for improvement. Start by looking for
emails with low engagement and conversion rates and try
A/B testing
the subject line, email content, or perhaps
experiment sending a completely new email.

In 2017, Wistia worked with
Copyhackers to improve their customer onboarding workflow. Through
A/B testing their email onboarding campaign, Wistia
observed a 350% increase in paid conversions

Below is an example of the email changes that Wistia A/B

Wistia customer onboarding email A/B Test

Email and push notifications can also be used as a channel to
test customer onboarding messaging that you plan to implement as a
change in your product.

Testing customer messages via email and push notifications helps
ensure engineering time can be allocated, and prioritized for UI
messaging and workflow changes which are backed by insights that
show a significant, positive impact on customer engagement,
retention, and LTV.

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onboarding emails: a data-driven approach
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Customer onboarding emails: a data-driven approach