Onboarding and Transactional Emails 101

Onboarding and Transactional Emails 101

When it comes to email marketing, there are many types of emails other than those that just push sales. Your goal as a marketer is to take care of the customer through the entire lifespan of their relationship with your company. Your relationship shouldn’t end the moment your new customer makes their first purchase; you do want repeat business after all, and they will give you that repeat business if you focus on cultivating that relationship even after the success of that first sale. This cultivation begins with your initial SaaS transactional email to your customer and continues soon after with an onboarding email. Now, you’ve begun to harness the power of great communication and stewardship which will benefit and strengthen your new and existing customer relationships.

What is a Transactional Email?

A transactional email is just what it sounds like - an email that is sent immediately after a transaction of some sort takes place. This can be a monetary transaction, such as an order and receipt confirmation, or it can be a lead into a monetary transaction, like a gentle reminder that a free trial is ending and credit card information is needed to continue.

Other types of transactional emails include cart abandonment notices (“Your Cart is Waiting...”) customer feedback requests (“Take Our Survey!”) and password resets, among others. One thing all of these emails have in common is that they are either triggered by a purchase or an intent to purchase, so pay close attention to your recipients of these emails; they are great leads!

Best Practices for Successful Transactional Emails

Your transactional emails are probably all automatically set up and if they aren’t, they should be. But because you aren’t manually shooting an order confirmation to every customer, you should actively be on top of these activities so you can follow the data patterns. People receive so many of these kinds of emails every day, so to make sure you stay memorable, your campaigns need to be not only relevant, but also creatively engaging.

When we say relevant, we mean that your subject line as well as the first thing your customer sees when they open the email have to speak directly to them and whatever activity they were pursuing with your company. For example, take a look at this template. In this instance, Jake started signing up for a free trial with Datadog, but wasn’t successful in completing the registration process for whatever reason. This activity automatically triggered an email to Jake not only letting him know he still has a few more steps to go, but also offered him valuable information in order to get ahead of any issues he may have been experiencing.

Even though your transactional emails need to be relevant to the task at hand, the language that you use can be conversational, to a degree. In fact, keeping your customer engaged with a creative angle in your email will put them at ease with your company and may make them more likely to take the next step, whether that’s finishing the checkout process or upgrading a subscription. Your branding and theme can play a big part too, like in this Restream example. Here, we take the rocket theme and use it throughout the communication in order to make this seemingly mundane email more engaging for the customer. Using power phrases like “Achieve Greatness” and “Turbo-Charge Your Efforts” is a great way to harness your recipient’s attention and get them to ultimately do what you want.

What is an Onboarding Email?

Onboarding emails are somewhat similar to transactional emails, except that they are more targeted towards brand-new customers who have recently made a purchase or signed up for a trial. The goal of these emails is to “touch” your customer as many times and in as many different ways as possible. We don’t mean grabbing them by the shoulder and shaking them, but we mean metaphorically holding their hand throughout the process.

Some examples of common onboarding emails are as follows: general welcome greetings, product or subscription activations, and usage/how-to guides. Likely, your customer will receive all of these emails in succession, with each one adding value to the last.

Best Practices for Successful Onboarding Emails

As mentioned above, a common onboarding campaign will consist of a series of emails guiding your brand-new customer through their new relationship with your company and the product or service they have just activated. These emails are typically educational in nature with the goal of keeping your new customer consistently engaged with you, and it’s important to be personal and inviting so they will continue to open and interact with your campaigns.

One great example of a warm, personal onboarding email is this one from Baremetrics. In this email, Lea, a real person on the Baremetrics team, welcomes the customer and gives a name to the roles she performs for the company. This builds trust and feels less robotic than a general email from “The Baremetrics Team.” Even though this campaign is probably automatic, Lea mentions that she replies to every email. This lets the customer know that if they have any questions or issues, they won’t be met with a generalized FAQ solution. What a relief! She also goes on to ask for more information about the customer’s company, showing interest and enthusiasm for the new relationship.

Another important step in your onboarding campaign is to send emails that add value for your customers. This can come in the form of a how-to video, links to helpful articles, or the opportunity to chat live with an expert in the field. Ideally, these extras are free of charge and make the customer feel like they are really getting more bang for their buck. Here is a good example of a value-adding onboarding email from 17Hats. This email personally addresses the customer, Jake, and also personally signs off as Amanda. In this case, Jake has just gotten started with 17Hats’ platform, and the company reached out to him to check in and give some information about an important part of their system - contacts.

There are many ways to connect and engage with your customers, but creating an onboarding email campaign is one of the best ways to start a relationship out on the right foot. If you need a little extra help, check out these free marketing automation tools. Be intentional, personal and helpful in your campaigns and you will build lasting, mutually-beneficial relationships between your company and your customers.

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