An email onboarding sequence is the fastest, simplest way to start building a relationship with new subscribers and customers. Let’s explore how to create an onboarding sequence that sets your company up to win.
In the past, I’ve talked about the importance of email marketing, but I haven’t gotten into the nitty-gritty of what that should look like for a company.
This article will dig into what I call an email Onboarding Sequence: what it is, and how you can write one. You’ll even have a chance at a fill-in-the-blanks template at the end if you want it.
Now that I’ve spent some time clearing my throat, let’s get started…
The Email Onboarding Sequence Is Your Business’s “Golden Hour” Lifeline
In medicine, there’s a term known as the “golden hour“, which is the 60-minute period of time following physical trauma where treatment is life-or-death for the victim.
In marketing, the same golden hour exists, although for us it’s more of a golden moment.
What Is This Moment?
Think about a person who’s never heard of your company before, but they’re intrigued enough to opt-in to your email list…
Or consider the 1st-time customer who chose to buy from you after deliberating among her options…
The marketing golden moment is the short period of time following the opt-in or purchase, and what you do with this time is life-0r-death for the success of your business.
Tell Your Story Or Let Your New Customer Invent One For You
When a new customer or prospect first enters your universe, they don’t know what to expect. This is your opportunity to shape how they see you and what to expect:
If this is the person’s first interaction with you, this golden moment can determine if she ever becomes a customer.
If we’re talking about an existing customer, this interaction may determine if she buys from you again, how much she buys, and even if she’ll return what she bought and ask for a refund.
This is a big deal, but the good news is that it’s completely within your control–and if you’re still reading this, then you’re in good shape because you’re the kind of person who will do something about it.
“What Is An Email Onboarding Sequence?”
An email onboarding sequence is a series of messages delivered to your audience after they take an action.
This action could be signing up for a list, or it could be purchasing a product.
And even though I’ve been calling this an email onboarding sequence, the mode of delivery isn’t important: you can send an onboarding sequence via SMS, ChatBot, Direct Mail, Email–the more channels the better.
Just make sure you’re sending the message through a channel your customers use.
“What Does The Onboarding Sequence Look Like?”
Before we get into the nitty-gritty of the sequence, let’s first talk about what your onboarding sequence should be doing:
1. Memorable, Customer-Focused Introduction
Tell the customer who you are.
Pro Tip: But make sure that above all else you do this: make it crystal clear why your new customer benefits from having a relationship with you. Make it all about them, not you.
2. Set The Tone
Make sure to show your personality, let them know what to expect, and perhaps even what you stand for. This scares some business owners, but it’s important to remember that it’s okay to turn some people off.
You want to attract your favorite people WHILE scaring away folks you don’t like working with.
3. Reassure Them
If this onboarding sequence is mailing to a brand new customer, their mindset is somewhat fragile. They’re probably doubting, hopeful, and could use a message reaffirming their decision to buy from you.
4. Give Them A Taste Of Winning
Tell your new readers stories of people just like them who took your product or service and used it to kick butt and take names.
Give them examples of success to help them understand that winning is possible–and that they’re as likely to win (using your product) as anybody else.
5. Helpful Hints
No matter how good your product or service is, there’s always a learning curve.
Take the common pitfalls your customers have and be proactive: show them how to solve problems they may not have encountered yet.
Send an email listing common questions and their answers.
Simple, but valuable and effective.
7. Opportunity to Buy
Since you only sell quality products or services, it may be in your customer’s best interest to buy from you again.
Maybe it’s the same product…
A higher level product…
Or something completely different…
You don’t want to send an onboarding sequence and leave your readers hanging with nothing to buy–so give them that chance.
Set It and Forget It
The best part is that when you use automation (i.e., email providers, chatbots, etc.), you don’t need to do anything once it’s all set up.
The sequence runs for you.
Let’s Map Out An Onboarding Sequence
You can (and in many cases, should) have an onboarding sequence in multiple channels like chatbots, direct mail, SMS, etc., but for our little example we’re mapping it out in email.
- Timing: Instant (upon signup or purchase)
- Delivery: Email
- Topic/Purpose: Thanks! What to expect…
- Timing: Day 2
- Delivery: Email
- Topic/Purpose: You made a great decision. Here’s how people just like you are using [insert product] to [insert goal]
- Timing: Day 3
- Delivery: Email
- Topic/Purpose: A lot of our new customers run into [insert problem or roadblock]. Here’s what to do if it’s happening to you…
- Timing: Day 4
- Delivery: Email
- Topic/Purpose: [Set them up for a sales message] Success stories, how others took their results to the next level
- Timing: Day 5
- Delivery: Email
- Topic/Purpose: [Sales message] How you can [insert benefit] without [insert pain point]
“But Brian…!” Common Onboarding Sequence Questions
“Should I just do email, or chatbots, or something else?”
I’d start where you feel most comfortable: depending on your target audience this may not be the most effective channel for your onboarding sequence, but if you’re familiar with it you’re probably going to finish it.
I’d rather you have a completed sequence that isn’t delivered via the best channel than the best channel with no sequence.
That being said, it’s important to get your sequence on the channel your audience is most likely going to receive and pay attention to it.
You can even mix and match, which I’ve found to be very effective for certain industries.
For example, your onboarding sequence could be delivered like this:
- Direct mail
“How long should my onboarding sequence be?”
Think of your onboarding sequence as a guide who walks your new customer through the dangerous golden hour of the relationship.
With that “guide” image in mind, ask yourself what your audience needs to know, think, and believe to trust you.
Consider whether there’s a practical guideline that should rule the onboarding sequence’s length. For example, a new customer buys a product and has 30-days to return it for a refund. In this scenario, you could write an onboarding sequence that’s longer than 30-days as a way to get them past that refund date.
Your business is built on relationships, and the best opportunity to start off the relationship strong is through a solid onboarding sequence.
This article should give you enough to get started on your own onboarding sequence, but if you’re feeling lost and want some help (and don’t want to write the sequence on your own), click here to email me about a done-for-you project.