Customer onboarding is a subtle process and it’s a step that many businesses fail to adequately consider. You have an email subscriber list, so it’s time to start selling, right? Wrong – these subscribers may have little or no understanding of your brand or the products and services you offer. Without warming up this potential market, you’re likely to lose their interest, and any chance of a sale. Customer onboarding is the name digital marketers give to this warming up process. At this stage, you are earning their trust, explaining your product and service, and building brand loyalty. This community will become a foundation of your brand.
Why Customer Onboarding is a Must
Customer retention should be a priority for any business. It’s around six times more expensive to reach a new customer compared to selling to an existing one, so your customers should be cherished. The process of customer onboarding is an outward expression of this value as it nurtures the relationship between your brand and your customers or clients, improving loyalty, repeated visits, and sales.
Through customer onboarding, you are going to demonstrate your brand’s skillsets to your clients. By guiding customers through the benefits that your product provides, you’ll provide them with foundational knowledge and initiate a trust-based relationship that they’ll keep coming back to.
Onboarding comes in a variety of forms and there are so many email tools out there to help you pick the right approach. First, we’ll take a look at some of the different ways your customer onboarding process can operate, before moving onto some best practices that will optimize these onboarding processes.
Five Structures for Customer Onboarding Emails
1) The Opt-In
It’s good practice in email marketing to confirm that a new subscriber intended to join the mailing list – without this opt-in email, your leads list can end up in bad shape, with disinterested parties and unopened emails reducing your open rate. This opt-in email is the perfect opportunity to begin the customer onboarding process.
An opt-in email needs to be clear and precise – at this point, your client is at the earliest stages of their understanding of your products. Offering a free trial will encourage opt-in uptake and give customers that feeling of value that keeps them coming back for more.
2) The Welcome Email
The welcome email is your opportunity to meet-and-greet potential customers, without trying to sell them anything. As the initial email of a marketing campaign, this email is about building awareness in the customer as well as a sense of loyalty and engagement. The welcome email needs to be about what you offer as a brand, on a deeper level than just the economic transaction. Express your brand in terms of its mission, its values, and its unique identity.
For a consistent message, build an email marketing campaign with a consistent format. Your welcome email will be the template for this format, so customers will know what to look for and where every time they open your emails.
3) The Nudge
Sometimes customers just need a little push in the right direction, and the nudge email will arrive to give them that encouragement. If a customer has added something to their cart and then left the site, or expressed an interest in the past but never committed to buying, a nudge email can clinch the sale.
Nudge emails can take many forms, and sometimes you’ll need to curate their content to fit particular customer needs. Testimonials from previous customers explaining the benefits of your brand can sometimes encourage an uncertain customer to take the plunge. At other times, it may be the offer of a special discount that brings them into the fold. The value of these emails shows that hard work pays off.
4) The Personalized Email
“If your brand will benefit from building a deeper connection with your customers you may benefit from personalizing your onboarding emails and dispensing with a generic welcome email,” says Frank McNew, tech blogger at Revieweal and OXEssays. “With a casual tone and a personalized sign-off, these onboarding emails may not be suitable if you have a wide and diverse audience – but they can be exceptionally effective at building brand loyalty.”
If you want to take your personalized onboarding to the next level, you can customize a landing page for customers where a one-on-one web chat gives them the opportunity to ask more questions about your product. This kind of curated customer care builds loyalty for life.
5) The How-To
A customer’s initial expression of interest when joining your mailing list needs to be followed up with an exploration of how your products offer solutions to the challenges they face. A How-To email can bring customers from that first step all the way through to making a sale by demonstrating the value your product brings and the best ways to use it.
At this stage, the How-To doesn’t need to be a complete exposition of your product. Customers need quick insights into the way your product works, so ensure that the email comes in a readable format. Short sentences and bullet points will help them absorb information without taking too much time, risking a loss of interest.
As you can see, onboarding emails can come in many formats. All these emails have something in common, however: they are not directly focused on selling something. Onboarding is about building understanding among customers and clients and promoting loyalty amongst a potential customer base. Once customers are prepped in this way, it’ll be easier to keep them coming back for more.
Four Tips for Optimized Email Onboarding
1) Don’t Multitask
It can be tempting to bundle emails together and send your How-To with your Welcome package. However, watering down your onboarding emails by turning them into multipurpose marketing campaigns can cause engagement to plummet. It’s a universal truth in behavioral science that we are paralysed by choice rather than inspired by it – if you demand too much of your customers in a marketing email they’ll be put right off.
Each email should have a clear focus in mind. Stick to one Call To Action per email, one desired outcome for the customer. You can easily lead customers to these outcomes.
2) Operate Within The Customer Lifecycle
Bringing potential customers into the fold and turning them into loyal followers means that you’re taking them on a journey. This journey, like all others, can be broken down into key stages and this conceptual structure will indicate how your onboarding emails should be ordered.
Curating your onboarding emails depending on how the customer is responding will increase engagement and lead more customers to the point of purchase. If you notice low customer activity, an email re-engaging them with discounts or special offers can bring them back into the fold. A completed purchase can be followed up with an email of gratitude, a discount for next time or a CTA to bring a new customer testimonial to your site.
3) Never Give Up On A Customer
It’s common practice for email marketers to let go of customers who aren’t engaging. If customers mark your emails as spam or if your open rate drops significantly, your SEO takes the hit. While this is a risk, it also leads brands to abandon customers where there’s still hope of engagement and this loss costs businesses money every day.
“If a customer isn’t engaging with your marketing emails then strategize about what could bring them back,” says Avery Dilorenzo, writer at Simple Grad and Eliteassignmenthelp. “People’s interest will always be piqued by deeply moving narratives and valuable content.” Combine this with special offers indicating the value of your brand and you’ll find a customer could be waiting for the right combination before re-engaging.
4) Design Comes After Content
In the competitive world of digital marketing, increasing amounts of time and energy are being devoted to visually stunning design work. The appeal of an eye-catching email is obvious, but if you put design before content your onboarding emails will flounder.
Don’t think that customers can’t see through a contentless email even if it’s wrapped in shiny design. Customers need to be respected and emails should always add value to their lives. Plain-text emails are having a renaissance across the digital world, as these real-talking emails tell customers that you’re serious about providing the best quality products out there. Ensure that spelling, grammar, and prose are on point and you’ll be onto a winner.
Customer onboarding emails can take many forms and need to be tailored to the customer journey and your own brand’s marketing funnel. The purpose of an onboarding email isn’t directly promotional – you’re taking customers on a trip from ignorance into wisdom about the value of your product. Only then will they become part of a loyal base to which you can sell. Begin your onboarding campaign today and watch brand loyalty – and profits – soar.
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