how to build a customer onboarding campaign

How to build a customer onboarding campaign in your marketing automation platform

You’ve got the sale. Congrats! What now? Most companies at this point think the hard work is over and will put their feet up, drink in hand, before moving on to the next lead. But you shouldn’t neglect that new customer. Instead, you need an unstoppable customer onboarding campaign.

What is Customer Onboarding?

It is a form of nurture for your new customers. Consider it as the process of following up with a customer after they have purchased your product or service. It’s a critical part of the customer journey, yet so many companies don’t have any customer onboarding within their strategies whatsoever.

Think about it: have you ever purchased a product then never heard from the company again? ... Unless it's simply to bombard you with more sales emails? Yeah, me too. Frustratingly, it happens all the time.

But here’s the juicy stats for you.

According to statistics released by GrooveHQ in 2020, Rosetta reported that keeping customers highly-engaged can see them spending 60% more per transaction, buying 90% more frequently and having 3 times the value of their non-engaged counterparts. Additionally, bringing in new customers can cost you 5-25 times more than keeping existing ones.  

Convincing, right?

This is the sort of bonus that your onboarding campaign can bring to the table. If you want to read more about building a successful customer onboarding strategy, check out our previous blog linked below.

Related blog: Successful customer onboarding strategy

Why should you care about customer onboarding?

Let’s traverse into a wee (yes, I'm Scottish) analogy - I really do love painting an odd explanatory picture!

You can think of customer onboarding like, quite literally, boarding a person onto a cruise ship. You’ve already done a lot of work by persuading the person to buy a ticket in the first place. So, here they are, waiting on the dock, luggage at the ready, bubbling with excitement for what's in store. 

Now what? Do you just leave them there to figure it all out for themselves? 

No! You provide clear instructions for a safe way to board the vessel, welcome them with a sea breeze cocktail and show them around the ship. You entertain them throughout the voyage, with nautical-themed dad-jokes and interesting ocean facts. 

Ultimately you show them that they made the right choice to buy a ticket for your cruise. Get it right and they'll likely not want the trip to end, perhaps they'll even book again in the future, or refer family and friends. Doesn't that sound like something you want for your actual business?

Customer onboarding fail

Don't let your customers onboard like poor Rover...

What does a customer onboarding campaign contain? 

In marketing automation terms, we achieve this onboarding nurture using a series of emails that:

  • Thanks the customer for buying from you
  • Reassures them they’ve made the right choice
  • Helps them get the most out of their purchase

Here at Ninja HQ, we tend to structure this in three specific emails.

1. Thanks for buying & important info

This email is an enthusiastic, genuine thank you. This first email normally includes a blurb explaining what they’ll get from you over the next few emails, and could contain a “meet the team” section or even some homework for them to take forward with their new purchase. 

2. How to get the most from your purchase

The second email is all about making sure your consumer knows how to best use the product they’ve purchased. Perhaps by offering supporting information such as an insightful best practice guide or further (free) resources. If it’s a physical product you could also show them inspiring ways to use the product, or if your product is intangible, try encouraging them to introduce themselves in your online  community.

3. Purchase-specific nurture

You’ve already explained how to use the product and pushed the inspiration buttons, so this final email is to help encourage them to actually get using the product. Drip-feed relevant, valuable information to help them get into a routine of using the product.

Your email series doesn't need to stop at 3... but we would suggest you don't go overboard (excuse the pun) and keep it to a max of 5 standard emails, or 7 max if you choose to offer an exclusive coupon. 

Which leads me onto a little cool FYI: customer onboarding is a great place for upsells or cross sells. As long as you have the right approach, it's a really useful place to boost that revenue. 

We have an entire blog post dedicated to showing you what every onboarding campaign should contain. If you are unsure what number of emails to go for, or exactly what content to include, reach out and discover how we can help you.

If you are ready to implement your emails, read on to learn exactly how to create a customer onboarding campaign in your marketing automation platform.

Building a customer onboarding campaign in: Keap Max Classic (formerly Infusionsoft)

To begin with, you’ll want to determine your campaign trigger. This may be a trigger tag that is applied when someone purchases a product, 

After triggering your campaign, you’ll want purchasers to get their first email right away! Drag and drop a Sequence tool into the campaign. This sequence will hold your three onboarding emails. 

Within the sequence, build your email structure. Remember the three emails you need:

  • Thanks for buying & important info
  • How to get the most from your purchase
  • Purchase-specific nurture

Use delay timers between each of the emails, to ensure the campaign is evergreen (in other words, it is not date-specific and instead will trigger no matter when a customer purchases a product). How far apart you space your emails is entirely up to you. In this example, we are sending an email each day. 

There will be no end goal, as this is purely a nurture series. So once you have set up your email sequence and added in your email content, double check and test everything, then it’s time to publish your campaign!

Building a customer onboarding campaign in: MailChimp

To build a flow series of emails within MailChimp, you will need to create this under the Customer Journey option. Note that within MailChimp, “campaign” and “automation” are used to refer to singular emails, whilst “customer journey” refers to a series.

Similar to Keap, if you have an integrated ecommerce section in MailChimp, you can trigger your onboarding campaign to start when a contact purchases a specific product. Otherwise, you will need to choose a tag to trigger your campaign. 

Once you have chosen a trigger, you will land on the full journey page where you can start building the email series.

Drag over the email action into the flow, just under your trigger. This will be your first email. Next, drag a time delay rule to follow the email and set this to the delay you wish to have. Repeat the process until you have your full, three-email structure.  

Now that your structure is created, you can dive into the emails and add in your awesome onboarding content!

Building a customer onboarding campaign in: Klaviyo

Klaviyo is an ideal platform for ecommerce users, as it has a great integration with Shopify. Note that in Klaviyo, an automated email series is referred to as a Flow

Navigate to the Flows section in the left-hand column and click Create Flow. You can choose a template or start from scratch. Name your flow “Onboarding Campaign” or similar.

To start your onboarding campaign, you need to set a trigger. There are a few options here, depending on what suits your business the best. You can set the series to trigger when a product is purchased through Shopify, if you have set up the integration. Alternatively, you can set up a Segment that automatically includes contacts who have purchased a product from you. 

The final option is to use a List, though note that you will need to separately configure how contacts are added to that list. Lists are one of the most common triggers, as they have less restrictions than the other options. 

After determining your trigger, you can drag your first email from the actions section into the flow, immediately after the trigger.

Follow this with a delay timer and repeat for your remaining two emails.

Your final flow should look like this:

Finally, you can add in your content for your three emails and, after double checking and testing, that’s your onboarding campaign complete.

Now, go create your onboarding campaign!

You now have the knowledge of how to create an onboarding campaign in your marketing automation platform!

It's time to write those lovely emails, decide on your timing and build your campaign.

If you've not got the time or need a extra helping hand, we can help! Our team of Ninja experts live for onboarding and nurture, and would love to give you a hand:

How an onboarding strategy can reduce your customer churn rate