Onboard new customers with an email automation

1. Verify that your email service provider supports automation and is integrated with your CRM.

Most major platforms support this and have built-in automation capabilities, including: ActiveCampaign. HubSpot. Constant Contact. Drip. Sendloop. Customer.io. Mailchimp.

2. Refer to your buyer journey or brand personas for the profile of your ideal customer.

The ideal new customer onboarding sequence speaks directly to your persona’s needs, desires, motivations, and objections. Make sure you are familiar with: Customer wants, needs, and motivations. Reasons they selected you over the competition. Common issues that prevent successful onboarding. Factors that accelerate time to value.

3. Identify and list all the specific goals connected to a successful onboarding, which you will use later to map out the full email automation and how many emails you need in the sequence.

These goals and their associated activities will differ depending on the type of business you represent. For example, an ecommerce business may only require signing up for an account, confirming email address, adding payment information, and providing a shipping address.  For a SaaS business, however, it is likely that you will need to outline steps regarding API integration, account setup, administrative permissions, product usage, and common troubleshooting.

4. Create a prioritized list of onboarding activities based on importance and complexity.

This will determine how many emails you dedicate to walking the customer through the activity and following up on incomplete actions. You may want to limit the number of emails you create for a given activity to prevent email fatigue, and make it easier to track progress. While there is not an exact number you should strive for, activities that require five or more emails should be reviewed for efficiency.

5. Write a welcome email to kick off your relationship with the customer and outline what they should expect from the onboarding process.

Because this email commonly has the highest open rate of any email within the automated sequence, you should spend additional time editing the copy for clarity, tone, and readability. You may want to consider:  Signing the email from a specific person to give it a human element. Personalize it to the recipient’s name and activity. For example, it may say, Hey [NAME], thanks for downloading our free PDF guide.  Share two or three CTAs that give the reader more insight about your company, brand or products. This is the few times when an email can point to multiple resources or links.

6. Write copy for the remaining onboarding emails.

Detail where the customer should go and the actions they need to take to complete the desired action in each email. For example, Log into your account by clicking on the Sign-In link in the upper right-hand corner of the page. For actions that require visual explanation, include screenshots or animated GIFs that are representative of the steps that need to be taken.

7. Create reminder emails for customers that fail to open an email or complete a specific activity within a designated period of time.

Take into account the complexity of that activity with the recommendations you make and the communication tools you utilize. An example may include providing the customer with a video that explains the required actions in greater detail. In some circumstances, you may need to host digital events to answer specific onboarding questions at scale.

8. Begin building your automation by creating emails for the copy you have written.

As part of the email creation process, write subject lines that are urgent and prescriptive. For example, Take Action – Steps to complete your API setup. Doing so will help your customers prioritize these actions and accelerate the onboarding process.

9. Determine your message timing.

These parameters include time delay, how much time should pass between messages, and time window, day, time of day, and time zone requirements. Messages should be sent every 2-3 days until each onboarding step has been completed.  You may also want to create branching paths within your automation sequence to account for customers that complete activities ahead of schedule. You will not want to keep these customers waiting.

10. Review and test your new customer email automation.