What should every onboarding campaign contain

What should every Onboarding campaign contain?

Author: Lucy Barfoot

Marketing Automation whizz and creative entrepreneur. I love analysing what visually works (and what doesn't) in the marketing industry and helping people to devise marketing campaigns from a creative angle.

Unless you have an onboarding campaign in place, there is very often a lull in excitement after your customer makes a purchase. 

Customers get excited when they buy, and that excitement peak will wane. 

I bet you’ve felt it as a consumer… It felt like the red carpet was all rolled out for us before we became customers, and now we are - we feel like we’re just shuffled along and kind of forgotten about… left behind…

Onboarding is part of the 4th of the Lifecycle Marketing framework: Wow

Wow is all about customer lifetime value.

At this point in the journey, your contact has seen your offer and you've closed the sale. Job done, right? Time for more leads so you can start that process all over again with more people...

Stop right there!

This might be tempting, you want to get more people in the funnel, you want to make more sales, but take a breath.

You can't run back to the beginning when you still have work to do here. it's like a relay race you haven't quite yet fulfilled your job in. 

You still have work to do.

You have a sale, yes, but this customer is not 'fully onboard' (get it!!) yet. 

Ask yourself: 

  • Are you ready to catch those customers?
  • How could you keep the excitement up and reduce post purchase apathy?
  • How can you exceed their expectations?

Let’s combine all of the above into an amazing onboarding experience. I’m going to walk you through what an onboarding campaign should contain. 

Three important things about onboarding campaigns:

  1. An onboarding campaign is nothing complicated. It can be quite a quick win (We like this!) 

  2. You should see your onboarding campaign as a foundational element to your sales process.

  3. If you don't currently have an onboarding campaign, don't kick yourself - we see this a lot.


What is Onboarding?

The concept of Onboarding, in a nutshell, is to welcome your new customer warmly. It’s a real relationship-builder, and in our Ninja eyes, it has six jobs to do: 

  1. To welcome your new customers warmly and authentically
  2. To re-enforce who you are, and why you're the right choice
  3. To give them value
  4. To get your customers used to receiving communications from you and starting a consumption routine
  5. To get your customers using/consuming and loving your product/service,
  6. To wow your customers

The onboarding campaign is the perfect place to get started in building a real relationship with your customers.

If you continually provide value you will always be welcome in their inbox. Work to being more convenient, more helpful, and more knowledgeable than anyone else in your space.

But why bother with Onboarding?

Apathy is the number one Customer Lifetime Value killer. You should try to avoid having apathetic customers at all costs. 

When we purchase, we get excited. Buying products can be fun and investing in a service is full of possibility! 

But there’s almost always a decline into apathy for new customers (we call this post purchase apathy) - unless you’re designing their customer journey around preventing this.  

If brands don’t put the effort in, and make sure their new customers are enjoying themselves AFTER their purchase, consumers will experience this decline in interest in the brand - they can even feel less about them than when they first discovered them. 

Look at all these lovely words! This is how we want our new customers to feel after they purchase: 

And compare those words and feelings to those ones associated with post purchase apathy:

Customer Lifetime Value is king. And you’ve got to earn it. Put some effort into creating an excellent onboarding experience for your new customers and make your customers happy, not apathetic. 

Your profits are in future purchases. Let’s get them! 

Some general guidance for your onboarding emails: 

You want your prospect to feel that real human connection to you and your brand, so be a real person - don’t feel like you need to use a lot of fancy language, using a conversational tone is what will add the warmth here.  

Show your face! Having a friendly picture is important for these emails, don’t skip that. People want to see your face! (I wrote a whole blog about just this - check it out

There should be no bold sales messages. This isn’t the space for that. Any sales should be extremely gentle, consider including something gentle as a PS at the end of the email. 

Suggested gap between emails is 3 days. We want to tread the line between satisfying their interest and not being pushy. 

Here’s the specific structure we recommend for your onboarding campaign - *loves a flowchart*

The content of your Onboarding emails

Onboarding Email 1: Welcome, thank you, meet the team, homework

This first email is all about setting the scene. 

Thank them in a genuine way for becoming your customer and let them know that you’re excited to have them in your circle. 

Introduce yourself briefly in this email. A great tip to fast-track relationship building is to mention why you love what you do, or if it’s less about you as a person and more about the business as a brand, let them know what the business is committed to. Time to dig out those brand values!

Here’s a copy formula for that: “I/we love x and x, and I’m/we’re proud to x“ 

If they need to receive any access information, or if they have any actions to complete as part of becoming a new customer, let them know or remind them here.

You could then include one of two things (or both!) 

  • A tip - something to provide value. 
  • A piece of homework - even if that’s just ‘think about x’... something to get them thinking and to get them taking action straight away.

For either of those, I like it when they are in the form of an eye-catching image. This breaks up the text and keeps the email exciting. 

By including some value in this email, you’re encouraging them to get into a consumption routine, whereby the trigger of them receiving an email from you leads to them opening and reading that email. You’re lining them up to expect good things when they receive email from you, to open and consume your communication.  

Next, tell them when you’ll next be in touch, and what to expect from that email. An example of the wording of that could be: “We will be in touch again in the next few days to share some tips about how you can xxx”

Sign off with that nice friendly picture of yourself, which I want you to include as your signature image for each email in this series. 

Are there other members of your team you want to introduce to them to? Including a pic of yourself and perhaps the team members your mentioning it makes this welcome email so much more real and personal. Maybe you have a video we can include in this email which will helps them get a feel for you?

Onboarding Email 2: How to get the best out of being your customer

Tell them how they can get the best out of your product/service. Eg: “Get the best out of our product/service by doing these things...” You can really inspire them here - tempt them with a vision of what they could achieve if they do the work/ implement the thing/use the product / make it all happen. 

Giving them specific steps and things they can do to become a pro is a great tactic here. Another tip or piece of homework works well in this second email. 

A graphic of a testimonial could work well here if you have one which ticks the boxes above. 

Depending on how relevant this is to your product/service, you might have a personal story you can share in this second email. Make that story very relatable to your audience, and ideally include some images to break up the text

Do you have any pieces of content on your website which you could direct them towards which would encourage their learning?

Keep encouraging them to open and consume your emails, and completing any homework/actioning any tips you’re giving them - get that consumption routine rolling! 

Onboarding Email 3:  Purchase specific Nurture

In this email, it’s time to talk about specific things related to your product or service. 

What do you need to tell them about what they have bought which will encourage them to make use of it and keep them excited about what they’ve purchased? We want you to make use of some questions here - I’d like to show you an example of this three-point approach: 

  • Ask a question (#1) to make them think about a specific point that you know your product is solving fo them. A problem they’re likely having, which is holding them back. 
  • Ask another Question (#2) to make them think about this point more, you should be agitating them a little.
  • Pull in how what they have bought is going to help them solve this problem.

Time for more tips in this email! Share some relevant info which will add value for them. If applicable, you could teach them about the product/service they’ve bought and where they are in the journey right now. Give them some real niche unique info here. Depending on the platform you’re using for your marketing automation, you should be segmenting people based on their purchase. 

By including value like this you’re really getting that consumption routine firmly in place. 

Remind them of a couple of the benefits of your product/service, which likely encouraged them to purchase in the first place. You need to be encouraging and motivating action in this email. . 

Testimonials can work really well in this third and final onboarding email. You could introduce a testimonial like this;

“We wanted to share a testimonial we got from x. She’s <backstory.>”

 Make sure that testimonial shares a big customer success, someone who your product/service really worked well for, and including it as a graphic will help break that text up and will help make the email enjoyable and interesting to consume. . 

Make them feel excited (all the while without this becoming a sales email!) by reminding them (we mentioned them in email 1) of your business values. Link them back into the testimonial above.

Finally, sign off by reminding them that you’re here to help and they can get in touch any time. 

What is the difference between an onboarding and a welcome campaign?

  • Welcome is always for the new people who opt-in to your list

  • Onboarding is for your new customers

Both are similar because they add value in a meaningful way, but the biggest difference is that with a welcome, nothing has been purchased. 

Welcome is also the first interaction with you. By the time the make a purchase and are therefore eligible for your onboarding campaign, they should know about you a little and you're reinforcing that. 

Building trust. Build consumption. 

If you continually provide value you will always be welcome in their inbox. That consumption routine will be rock solid. Work towards being more interesting, more helpful, and more useful than anyone else.

Build that trust like a ninja!

I don’t want to send too many emails and annoy my customers

If you feel like this, you need to change your mindset when it comes to follow up.

Your ideal customers will want to hear from you, they want your insight, your tips and they want you to help them utilise their purchases in the best way. 

Notice I said ‘ideal customers’ there. Sure, there may be people who just don’t want the follow-up. They bought their thing and they’re getting on with it. You could say that those people are NOT your ideal customers, so best thing is to allow them to opt-out from emails from you (or better still, specifically this post purchase onboarding series) and then - depending on your industry/product/service) you might want to retarget them to lure them back onto your list later down the line. 

I have so many other campaigns to create in my customer journey

There will ALWAYS be more campaigns / tweaking campaigns / optimising campaigns. 

I strongly urge you to get a solid onboarding campaign live in your marketing automation. 

Just after a customer purchases, it’s ‘second moment of truth’ time. This describes the moment that your customer is using your product or service and they are deciding if they like it or not.

The second moment of truth is when your customer starts to form an opinion about your product.

The onboarding campaign is the perfect thing to slide on into this moment and prove to them that what they've purchased is the right thing for them, and that they’re in good hands by purchasing from you.

Bain and co said this - “Businesses that Focus on customer lifetime value and retain just an additional 5% of customers can increase their Profits by between 25% and 95%“ so if you needed any further encouragement, let me make it clear - your profits live here.

Your onboarding campaign starts with these three questions - create a little mind map of ideas and take some action now. 

Go forth and create an amazing onboarding experience. 

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