5 SaaS customer onboarding templates to steal

4 min read
Val Geisler
  •  Jan 25, 2018
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Artists steal all the time.

As cartoonist Dash Shaw says, “Sometimes I think everything I draw is just a combination of all of the millions and millions of drawings I’ve seen.”

So why not put that “borrowing from others” mindset to use in your customer onboarding?

If you look around, there’s inspiration everywhere just waiting to be stolen.

Take your favorite software companies, for example. Their teams are obsessed with things like reducing customer churn and increasing revenue and you better believe their customer onboarding emails tackle those 2 problems head on. In the spirit of theft for art’s sake, we’ve rounded up the emails that top SaaS companies are using in their onboarding journeys. Then we took it a step further and wrote templates for you to put into place in your own business.

Ready to steal like an artist? Let’s go.

Principle #1: Customize the initial welcome

Still using the pre-populated thank you email that came with your credit card processor? No more! Set up a custom thank you email to go out as soon as someone has purchased your product or signed up to your email list. Like this:

This email, sent right when you sign up for the software, does a great job of welcoming you to the platform, introducing the CEO, and being personal.

But most importantly, this email asks a critical question: why did you sign up?

On their blog, the Groove team puts it like this:

With this question, we’ve been able to transform our messaging based on what we learned is most important to new customers, and we’ve been able to build deeper relationships with those customers by helping them with whatever unique goals or challenges drove them to sign up.

And better yet, the answer to this email literally defines what “success” means to your customer.

The template:

Hi {{first.name}}!

I’m so glad you picked up your copy of _________(product) today. You’re going to love ______(proven results) and our community of customers can’t be beat.

We made _______(product) so that you can ____________(what they’ll get out of it).

If you have a moment, I have one quick question:

Why did you purchase __________(product)?

Knowing what made you interested enough to lay down your hard earned dollars is incredibly helpful as we create more products and continue to make this one better.

Just hit reply and let me know!

As a heads up, we’ll be sending you a few more emails in the coming days letting you know how you can make the most of ________(product).

Talk soon,
(Your Name)

Principle #2: Point out key information they need early on

Your onboarding experience doesn’t end with a warm welcome.Twitter Logo It’s your job to keep teaching, showing, and welcoming your new customer. Use this opportunity to show off key chapters in your ebook, point out modules they don’t want to miss, or highlight the bonus Q&A call you’re offering. Better yet, do it in a series of a few emails like MixMax does:

SaaS onboarding has one goal and it’s one you should adopt too: get the user to their “aha” moment.

The “aha” moment is when a new customer connects to the value in your product–that thing they just purchased. It’s the moment a casual purchaser becomes a life-long fan (and a funnel for future customers).

Getting to that “aha” should be the goal of your user onboarding too.

“Users should find product tours compelling, valuable, and enjoyable.”

Twitter Logo

And don’t forget: Users should find product tours compelling, valuable, and enjoyable. Product tours should help users achieve their goals, not your goals.Twitter Logo

The template:

Hi {{first.name}},

There are a few key pieces you need to know about to getting the most out of ______(product). I thought I’d share the first one with you today.

________(key feature/module/chapter)

Here’s what it looks like:

(insert screenshot or even a GIF)

Now here’s the important part: _____(product) was designed to help you get to _______(desired outcome). Without ________(above feature), you’re missing a huge part of that.

So go check out _______(feature) in ______(product) today and let me know what you think!

Always here for you,
(Your Name)

Principle #3: Remind them why they made their purchase

We are inundated with content these days (usually by our own doing, tbh). The customer who purchased 3 days ago might already forget 1) that they even bought your thing and 2) why they were interested in the first place. So remind them! Take this example from Freckle:

The fact of the matter is that if your customers don’t use your product, you might have money in the bank (yay!) but you won’t have case studies or testimonials or word-of-mouth referrals (boooo). All of those things come from customers who use the product.

So remind them why they made their purchase and encourage them to put it to good use.

The template:

Hey there, {{first.name}}!

How are you feeling about ______(topic your product covers)? Let’s play a little game.

Take a second to imagine that ________(desired outcome) is your reality. What would you do with all of that ________(time/money/energy/peace)?

(Seriously take a second to write it down. I’ll wait.)

Me? I found that getting to _______(desired outcome) meant _________(result), finally.

So I have good news and bad news for ya today:

The bad news? You can’t get to _______(desired outcome) without rolling up your sleeves and diving into the work it takes to get there.

The good news? You already have the framework to get you there! It’s all inside _______(product).

So yay you for taking that first step!

Now they say that progress is about taking one step after another so I’m here encouraging you to take that next step. Find your own version of _________(desired outcome) with __________(product) right now.

To your wild success,
(Your Name)

Principle No. 4: Introduce key players

Your customers don’t always know everyone on your team—heck, they might have just learned who you are! If you have team members they might interact with or a fellow creator you need to introduce, take this opportunity to have them say hi. Like Breezy HR does here:

Introducing your team or other key people surrounding the product can mean the difference between a deep-seated connection with your brand and a one-and-done customer. It’s the core of excellent customer service–a non-negotiable in the over-saturated market we all live in (see principle #3).

But you don’t have to take it from me. Check out what Zappos, the company leading the charge in excellent customer service, has to say about it:

“We’ve been asked by a lot of people how we’ve grown so quickly, and the answer is actually really simple… We’ve aligned the entire organization around one mission: to provide the best customer service possible. Internally, we call this our WOW philosophy.”

Add your own WOW philosophy by customizing this template:

Hi {{first.name}},

I’m ________(team member’s name), the ________(job title) for _________(product/brand). I wanted to personally reach out and welcome you.

_________(product) was built for ________(desired outcome) and I’m so glad you’re on the journey along with _________(rough number of customers) others.

Part of my job is to support you in your journey. I’ve put together _________(office hours/a support email address/this tour video) to help you and you’re officially invited to check it out.

If you need anything at all, this is my personal email address. Just hit reply and let me know how I can help. I answer every email that lands in my inbox.

Thanks again for being here. It’s an honor to get to know you.

(Team Member)

Principle #5: Keep them engaged

Retention is hard, and it’s getting harder. And since every SaaS company struggles with retention, their emails are a great place to go to build your own retention campaigns. Like Agent:

Of course, we’re all flush with emails these days so you don’t want to over-do it with constant communication. Go for quality over quantity.Twitter Logo While many customers have become immune to re-engagement efforts, the groundwork you’ve done with the previous four principles here will set the stage for these future communications.

Email overload and the onslaught of endless push notifications have made people nearly immune to re-engagement efforts, even if they like the product, but especially if they were “meh” about it in the first place. This noisiness means it’s getting harder and harder to successfully pull users back into your product to help them build a habit of regular usage.

The template:

Hey {{first.name}},

I know it’s been a while since _______(product) first landed in your lap so I wanted to take a second to reconnect.

With ______(product) you have the chance to _________(desired outcome) – something so many people want to do! You just happen to be one of the lucky ones who’s out there doing it.

Don’t forget that ______(product) is yours for life. You can ______(log in/read/experience) it again any time.

So do me a favor: hit reply and share your story with _______(product). I’d love to share your successes on our website and with our community.

(Your Name)

Bonus—Principle #6: Keep them in the loop

Products change over time. You might write a new chapter, add a bonus interview, or–better yet!–have a new product to launch. Tell those customers you’ve already won over about it first. Like Clark did:

Onboarding is a process that happens at many different times through the user’s lifecycle.

A customer who bought your product but hasn’t touched it in a while might be reinvigorated by an update email. Or your newest product might be just the thing they’ve been waiting for.

Onboarding emails should seamlessly flow into retention and long-term engagement.Twitter Logo The gig isn’t up once they’ve handed over their hard-earned cash. In fact, that’s just the beginning.

As product designer and usability expert Craig Morrison says:

“The path to retaining users is to continually demonstrate the value of your product to them. While this is especially important for new users, it’s equally as important to continue demonstrating value to older users, to make sure they continue coming back as well.”

So follow in the footsteps of the SaaS companies who really nail their onboarding experience. “Steal like an artist,” as Austin Kleon would say.

Just remember these words from the great filmmaker Jean-Luc Godard:

“It’s not where you take things from–it’s where you take them to.”

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