onboarding email campaigns

How to Tweak Your Onboarding Email Campaigns and Turn Trial Users into Customers

By Jakub Kliszczak

Pretty much every online business offers a free trial period. Whether it is 7 days, 14 days or even 30 days, companies let their prospects use the product or a service that they offer to let them experience what it’s like to be the customer.

This situation is a win-win for both sides. The company gets a new prospect who, if they like the product, will be very likely to buy it, and the prospect gets to use the product with no costs at all.

It seems like the situation is self-explanatory and that we can leave it there. But… That’s definitely not what a company should do. At least not when they want to convert those trials into customers!

While a lead chooses to sign up for a free trial, you get three ways of contacting him or her.

First, being email.

Second, directly through the app, product or service.

Third, through on-site chat.

Today, I’d like to show you how to capitalize on the prime method to help you convert trials into paying customers using your onboarding email campaigns.

Choosing the Right Volume

First of all, you have to decide on the volume. No one likes to get spammed with tons of emails, especially if he doesn’t expect to get them.

Thus, depending on how long does the trial you offer last for, you have to adequately choose the number of emails you’ll send, as well as, their frequency.

There is no “golden rule” when it comes to the number of emails or how frequently should they be sent but there are certain practices that successful businesses follow with great success.

Most businesses’ trials fall into three length-wise categories:

  • 7-day
  • 14-day
  • 30-day

While a vast majority offers first two options so we’re going to focus on those.

When it comes to 7-day trials you have to be very concise as you don’t really have that much time to borrow from your prospect. Most businesses would send three to four emails, including the welcoming email.

Some companies decide on more aggressive campaigns choosing to send five to seven(!) emails during a 7-day period but for most, it’d seem to be overkill, thus I’d suggest you go for a more safe-heaven-like option.

For a 7-day trial emails distribution would look like this:

Day 1. Welcoming email

Day 2.

Day 3. Second email

Day 4.

Day 5. Third email

Day 6.

Day 7. Closing email

For a 3-email option, you’d have to get rid of the third email and send the second one on the fourth day.

Now, with a 14-day trial, you have much more room for sending emails.

Most businesses go for five, seven or nine emails while the latter option is quite aggressive.

Fourteen days let you send more emails with less risk of being spammy or intrusive. You get more of a room for tweaking your campaign the way you want including more copy and more content.

For a 14-day trial emails distribution would look like this:

Day 1. Welcoming email

Day 2.

Day 3. Second email

Day 4.

Day 5. Third email

Day 6.

Day 7. Fourth email

Day 8.

Day 9. Fifth email

Day 10.

Day 11. Sixth email

Day 12.

Day 13.

Day 14. Closing email

The 5-email campaign would mean you have to get rid of the sixth and fifth email and enlarge the gaps between each of the emails to three days.

Now, that you know what is the right volume for your campaign let’s move onto how to set your goals and personalize your onboarding campaigns in regards to that goals.

Setting Goals

Most onboarding campaigns don’t convert for one reason only: Lack of pre-planned goals. Each of the campaigns you create should have a clear goal in regards to the type of prospects you target with that campaign. That being said, now it is the time to choose your goals.

Of course, the overall goal for each of your campaigns is to turn trials into paying customers but – at first – you have to think about what the trial users have to do in order to become your customers.

To do that, you have to think like a trial user. Think of what you’d have to do, to get the most out of the trial period that at the end would make you click that buy button. Each of the apps, products, services is different, thus you have to go through yours and decide on what should be a perfect newcomers experience.

After you get that done, it’s time to tweak each of your campaigns in regards to the goals and types of trial users.

Most of the time you’ll encounter three different types of users, thus you’ll have to create three different campaigns. These types are:

  • Non-active users
  • Partly-active users
  • Active users

Each of the categories requires a different approach as different users will require a different push to be willing to buy your product.

We’ll go through each of the categories one after another.

Non-active users

You know this type of guy. He signs up for your trial and never even logs in.

Now, while it might seem like there is no force that could make such a person buy, a well-tweaked email campaign can turn him into a diehard fan of your brand.

What you have to do, is to focus on taking him from step 0 (signing up) to step 1 which is whatever you chose to be as the first particle on the road of completing the goal. The best thing you can do is to send tutorial-like emails. Guide him through the steps required to fully experience your product.

Send him step-by-step guides, tutorials, and videos explaining what to do and how he can do it. Make sure you guide him through all of the steps.

Also, and that one can be a gamechanger. Some people simply forget that they’ve signed up for a trial. You should take care of such people offering them an additional week or two of the free trial. Do it if he’s started to be active on one of the last days of trial or even the last day in general.

This simple trick might turn non-active users into paying customers and takes minimum-to-zero effort.

Partly-active users

Partly-active users are a bit like non-active users but actually can differ a lot from the previous group.

First of all, taking into account that they’ve tried to get going it might mean that they simply got stuck, not knowing what to do next. In this case, you should also use how-to emails with step-by-step guides, explanations, and videos to help him tackle whatever obstacle he or she has stumbled upon.

Also, it might be a good idea to send gamified emails showing their progress and the next step that they have to take in order to get closer to finish the configuration process. This way, you make the whole process easier to tackle and users might feel more obliged to actually take an initiative.

The key difference between targeting partially active users and the inactive ones is that you have to tweak your emails in regards to the exact steps that he’s stopped at.

You can use the same strategy as you’ve used with inactive users offering them an extended trial period – but – only do so using an incentive.

For example, if the next step is to change the domain name, offer an extended trial provided that the user changes the domain name.

Active users

Lastly, we have active users who are every marketer and salesman favorite group.

Active users do not require additional guidance and follow through all of the necessary steps on their own. What they actually need is a little push that takes them one step closer to closing a deal.

What you need to do, is to offer enough additional value so they’ll feel like your company is a great fit for them. You can execute it in a few ways.

One way is by offering free resources.

It can be anything from the free ebook, checklist, script, tools, etc. It’s important that you keep it trial-exclusive so the users actually feel the value. Make sure that the resource you want to offer is relevant to your audience. Make it as helpful and relevant as possible. The point is to offer free value that – thanks to the rule of reciprocity – will work in your favor.

Another approach is to send educational content.

These include case studies, reports, courses, and guides. The point is – again – to offer value, just in a different way. This time, instead of giving them ready-to-apply resource you offer a piece that they can use however they want and interpret it accordingly to the type of their business.

Also, if you have more than one pricing plan and would like to “suggest” choosing one over the others, make sure that you include it in your emails.

Show why that particular pricing plan is the best choice, show its value, and if he is deep enough in the pipeline, offer a time-limited discount on that plan. This will surely happen in additional purchases and again, you’re converting trials into paying customers with no effort.

Tips for Writing Great Onboarding Email Campaigns

Take a deep breath…

Exhale…

The hard part is done!

Now you know how to choose the right volume for your onboarding campaign, as well as, how to choose the right goals and implement them into the body of your emails.

Because we’ve got that out of the way it’s time to focus on tweaking everything-emails-related, thus I’d like to describe a few of the most important tips that can help you write great onboarding emails.

After all, there is always room for improvement.

Personalize

Nowadays we’re literally flooded with ads, emails, and banners that instead of being tailored to narrow niches target wide audiences in order to get as many customers as possible at once. Because of that we rarely feel that some particular message was sent directly to us.

Thus, personalizing your emails can be a perfect way of getting ahead of the crowd.

To successfully personalize your emails you first need to know who your audience is, what language do they use, and what is their behavior.

Make sure that the emails they get make them feel like it was actually written intentionally for them. It will get you higher open and click-through rates.

Implement your brand’s voice

It’s important that all of your emails are consistent in regards to the voice and language you use.

Don’t be funny in one email just to turn into a business expert in the next.

The best practice is to use your brand’s voice as a tool that will help you unify all of the emails. This way, you’ll make sure that every email will sound the same providing a better experience for your trial users.

What’s more, if you manage to keep the emails consistent their recipients will feel like the whole campaign was a conversation with one person and one person only. It will feel more deep, personalized, and will yield better results.

Don’t be afraid of long copy

Whilst it’s smart not to risk too much when it comes to the number of emails you send in your email campaign, it might be just right to risk a bit with a long copy.

Most people are afraid when they see an email being longer than 200 words. Yet, sometimes a certain message requires you to write a longer copy and you shouldn’t be afraid of doing so.

The length is not as important as the message that you try to convey. If your copy is engaging enough the users will risk losing five minutes to get through your email. Yet, if your copy is boring and lousy it won’t matter whether it is 100-word long or 500-word long.

All in all, don’t be afraid of a long copy. If you’re not sure whether it is a good idea to use long copy over the shorter email, you can always create both versions and lower the risk by running A/B tests.

Use one CTA per email

Remember that your emails have to be clear and straightforward.

The copy you use should convey one simple action that a user has to take. Whether it is to click on a button, download a checklist or upgrade to paid plan each sentence should take him one step closer to achieving the result.

To make it happen a good practice is to use only one CTA per email.

This way, users will quickly get to know what’s the action that they’re required to take at this point.

Sometimes it might be tempting to implement two or three CTAs so you “increase the chance” of getting clicks. Yet, it will most likely result in the opposite.

On the Board

Equipped with essential knowledge and useful tips you’re ready to make your onboarding campaign work to your favor.

Companies are wasting way too many leads by not optimizing their onboarding campaigns which are the main mean of contact with their trial users. Make sure you’re not one of them!

I hope you’ll find this guide easy-to-apply and well-written but if anything seems to be unclear or needs a deeper explanation, feel free to drop a comment and I’ll make sure to reply.

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Jakub Kliszczak on LinkedinJakub Kliszczak on Twitter
Jakub Kliszczak
Jakub Kliszczak is a Marketing Specialist at CrazyCall; cloud-based calling app which provides sales teams with essential tools reach their customers worldwide. He’s passionate about digital marketing, developing new businesses, and turning new ideas into real ventures. In his “free time”, he prefers to read non-fiction and hit the gym.

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