Onboarding Email Sequence: Mastering the Art of Engaging and Retaining Customers

Onboarding email sequence

First impressions matter. When a customer submits his contact information through your website, showing their openness to receive communication from your business, it’s a golden opportunity for you as a marketer. It’s your chance to reel them in, make them feel special about being your customers, and educate them about your products or services.

If you haven’t added an onboarding email sequence yet, or just have a basic one in place, here’s a statistic that should be of interest to you: 86% of surveyed individuals expressed that they would continue to purchase from companies that offered excellent onboarding content that made them feel welcome and educated them about the company’s offerings.

An onboarding email sequence isn’t just a great way to build a sales funnel — it also helps your customers get the most out of your business. A good email sequence introduces your products/services to a potentially interested customer. With a great onboarding sequence, you can reduce unsubscribes, build long-term relationships, and achieve maximum conversions.

Join us today as we discuss the benefits of onboarding email sequences, how to create a great one for your business, and how you can achieve maximum conversions by tweaking your own onboarding sequence!

Onboarding Email Sequences Explained

An onboarding email sequence is a series of automated email messages designed to welcome, educate, and engage new users or customers when they sign up or make a purchase with a company or service. It is a form of email automation that guides users through the initial stages of their relationship with your company and helps them understand your product or service’s value and features.

Let’s look at a few components typically found in an email onboarding sequence:

  1. Welcome email: This email welcomes new users to your product/service and introduces them to your brand. It should include a brief overview of your offerings and what the user can expect from the onboarding process.
  2. Product introduction: An informative email that should provide a more detailed overview of your product, including its key features and benefits. It should also explain how users can apply your product/ service to achieve their goals.
  3. Guide to getting started: The key email in your sequence that should provide the user with step-by-step instructions on how to get started using your product. It should also include links to resources like your knowledge base, tutorials, FAQs, and any support documentation.
  4. Feature spotlight: A great way to re-engage readers, this email can highlight a specific function and explain how it benefits the user. You can use this email to introduce new features, promote aspects that are often overlooked, or share highlights that are relevant to the user’s industry or job title.
  5. Success stories: Testimonials and stories from current customers can catch the interest of potential customers. You can share success stories from other users in this email. This can help the reader visualize how doing business with you can help them achieve their own goals.

Now that you know the basics, let’s better understand the benefits of an awesome email onboarding sequence.

The Importance of a Great Onboarding Email Sequence

A well-executed onboarding email sequence offers multiple benefits for both businesses and their users. 

Here’s a list of main advantages:

  1. Improved user engagement: Engaging and informative onboarding emails keep users interested and active, reducing the likelihood of abandonment.
  2. Faster product adoption: Users quickly grasp the features and benefits of your product or service, leading to faster adoption and usage.
  3. Reduced churn rate: Effective onboarding can decrease the rate at which users discontinue their use of your product or service.
  4. Clear communication: Educating customers is critical! Onboarding emails can convey important information, updates, and changes in a clear and organized manner.
  5. Increased loyalty: Remember how we started this article by sharing how a poor onboarding sequence can turn off customers? Focus on a positive onboarding experience to foster loyalty and long-term relationships with your brand.
  6. Higher conversion rates: Well-timed CTAs in onboarding emails can lead to better conversions!
  7. Better data: Onboarding emails can be used to collect user data and preferences, enabling more personalized communication in future campaigns.
  8. Competitive advantage: A great onboarding sequence sets your brand apart by delivering a superior user experience.
  9. Reduction in customer acquisition costs (CAC): Higher user retention and referrals can lead to lower customer acquisition costs, as satisfied customers bring in new users.
  10. User feedback: Feedback collected during the onboarding process can guide product development and improve user experience.

In summary, a well-designed onboarding email sequence is a valuable tool for enhancing user experience, reducing churn rates, and driving business growth. It plays a crucial role in nurturing relationships with new users and ensures they fully understand the value of your product or service.

Onboarding Email Sequence: Set Your Goals!

It’s a good idea to clearly outline your goals before you build your email onboarding sequence. 

  1. Make an outstanding first impression: When you begin your onboarding sequence, ensure you shine! The very first email is where you introduce yourself, share brand values, make the customer feel special for signing up with you, and give a light introduction to your products and services.
  2. Educate your customer: Your sequence must educate the customer, and make him or her aware of all your products, custom options, offers (if any), and available resources. You want to make it as easy as possible for your reader to make a purchase, and information can be the deal-breaker.
  3. Instill confidence in your company: A customer isn’t just buying a product or service — they’re also investing in a relationship with your company. Use your sequence to reassure them of your commitment to offering them value and support, in case of any future issues. 
  4. Data collection: Plan your collection of user data to help tailor future communication. The information you collect on your subscribers also helps you segment your lists better.
  5. Gather feedback: If you ask, your customer will be happy to offer feedback. Solicit feedback about the onboarding process and initial user experience to make necessary improvements.
  6. Metrics and tracking: Gather data on email open rates, click-through rates, and conversion rates to assess the effectiveness of your onboarding sequence and make adjustments. This gives you information that helps your email sequence evolve, making it more efficient at retaining clients and achieving better conversions.

While these are nice goals to have, you also need to focus on other parameters. For example, you can use onboarding sequences to make a lasting impression on your customers and foster long-term relationships.

Creating the Ultimate Onboarding Email Sequence

Alright, the fun part! Creating the best possible email onboarding sequence depends on various factors, including your specific industry, target audience, and product or service. But we’re going to use the example of an imaginary company, named Zeus, Inc., that makes a product (or offers a service) named Apollo, to create a sample onboarding sequence.

Let’s look at a series of emails that should come together to create an excellent onboarding sequence. 

Email No. SubjectContent
1“Welcome to Zeus, Inc.!”In this email, extend a warm welcome, introduce your company’s mission and values, and share an overview of what users can expect during the onboarding process. It’s a good opportunity to encourage users to complete their profiles.
2“Discover the Power of Apollo!”Use this email to highlight the core benefits of your product or service, focusing on how it solves common problems or addresses user needs. Provide an overview of key features.
3“Your Quick Start Guide to Apollo”This is when you start educating customers — offer a step-by-step guide to getting started with Apollo. Include tips, links to video tutorials, and a call to action to take the first key action on your website.
4“Tailoring Your Apollo Experience”It’s time to explain the importance of personalization and how users can customize their experience. Encourage them to set preferences and notifications, or adjust account settings.
5“Maximizing Your Apollo Experience”Continue to educate your customer with this email. Share best practices and tips on how to make the most of your product. Introduce users to additional features they might not have discovered yet.
6“Join Our Apollo Community”It’s a good time to introduce the community to your readers. Promote user forums, online communities, or social media groups where users can connect with other Apollo users and get support. Provide contact information for customer support.
7“Help Us Improve — Share Your Feedback”Time to find out how you’re doing. Request user feedback about their onboarding experience and their overall impressions of your product. Ensure you use this data to make improvements!
8“What’s Next at Zeus”This is where you offer your customers insider benefits; offer a sneak peek at upcoming product features, updates, or improvements to generate excitement and anticipation.
9“Unlock Premium Features”Time to convert! If applicable, introduce users to premium or paid features and the benefits of upgrading. Include an exclusive offer as an extra incentive.
10“Thank You for Joining Zeus”Express gratitude for your users’ time and interest. Recap the onboarding journey and emphasize the value of your product.
Onboarding email sequence example

Throughout this sequence, ensure the emails are well-timed (crucial!), engaging, and personalized. Collect and analyze data on open rates and user interactions to fine-tune your onboarding sequence continually.

Points to Remember When Creating Your Email Sequence

Here are several tips to keep in mind when creating effective onboarding email sequences:

  • Personalization is key: Use the user’s name and other relevant information to make your emails feel more personal. Good segmentation can help you personalize your emails better.
  • Be clear and concise: Get to the point quickly and avoid using jargon or technical terms.
  • Provide value: Make sure your emails provide valuable information to the user, such as tips on how to use your product, highlight key features and benefits, or answer common questions.
  • Use visuals: Images, videos, and GIFs can make your emails more visually appealing and engaging.
  • Test and optimize your emails: Track the open rates, click-through rates, and conversion rates of your onboarding emails so you can see what’s working and what’s not. Additionally, verify that your emails are mobile-responsive, as a significant portion of users check emails on mobile devices.

By following these tips, you can create onboarding email sequences that will help you achieve your desired goals. Let’s expand on that last point a bit more below.

Onboarding Email Sequence: Test, Analyze, Optimize

Testing, analyzing, and optimizing your email onboarding sequence is a crucial part of ensuring its effectiveness.

Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to do this:

  • A/B testing: Conduct A/B tests by creating two or more versions of an email with slight variations (e.g., subject lines, content, CTAs). 
  • Email timing: Experiment with the timing and sequencing of your emails. Test different intervals between emails to find the optimal pace that keeps users engaged without overwhelming them.
  • Content: Test different types of content, such as educational content, feature highlights, user stories, or case studies, to identify which resonates best with your audience.
  • CTAs: The most important test! Experiment with different CTAs in your emails — test the wording, color, placement, and design to see which CTAs drive the most engagement.
  • Feedback: Feedback is the best way to know how to optimize your onboarding sequence. Include feedback forms or surveys in your emails to collect direct input from users on their onboarding experience.
  • Analyze the data: Collect data on key performance metrics (open rates, click-through rates, conversion rates).
  • Optimize: Use the insights gained from your tests and data analysis to make improvements to your onboarding sequence. Continually refine your emails, making changes based on what you learn from your testing and analysis.
  • Monitor user behavior: Track user behavior beyond email engagement. Analyze user actions within your product or service to understand how the onboarding sequence influences their behavior.
  • Long-term assessment: Evaluate the long-term impact of your onboarding sequence on user retention and customer lifetime value.

Remember that email optimization is an ongoing process. As you collect more data and learn more about your users, you can continue to refine and improve your onboarding sequence to ensure it remains effective in achieving your goals.

Onboarding Email Sequence: Great Examples

We’re going to list several great examples of different types of emails you can find inspiration from and include in your own sequence.

Welcome Emails

This is an excellent example of a welcome email — Blu Atlas makes an impression by immediately offering you a discount. The design is elegant, and there are links to their top products as well as a tutorial that most skin care enthusiasts would be interested in. 

Yet another example of a great welcome email to set the mood. The email’s subject line makes the most impact — it says “Let’s get you hired.” This builds trust and gets right down to business, while the theme continues in the email as they share links to get you started ASAP. The email also contains personalized information, such as links to jobs in your area. There is a link to build your profile, which many job-seekers would be interested in doing as soon as they sign up.


As a visual workspace company, Miro pulls the attention of a reader with their onboarding email. The message has a Project Manager at Miro giving an example of how to use their product best to make your work more efficient. This is useful for those in a similar situation, as the email is visual and highlights the top features.

In the email below, Patagonia highlights a selection of its more popular products, accompanied by nature-inspired visuals that would influence the average Patagonia customer — typically someone interested in the outdoors. Patagonia is also known for its stance on sustainability, so the email includes a link to its climate-friendly initiatives.

Customer Appreciation

This email is a stellar example of customer appreciation. It offers personalized statistics that would delight a Grammarly customer and it also uses positive words to encourage the customer, building a great relationship. It’s a great example of how to start talking about upgrades and paid features.

Who doesn’t like being told they’re the best? That’s exactly what Smartpress does here, sharing this email that is all about customer appreciation. They don’t beat around the bush either; Smartpress directly thanks you for being a loyal customer. Including links to customer care was a clever touch, too.


BILT’s email uses excellent copywriting to grab your attention and elicit an emotional response. Using casual and personal language, the email offers value by promising points and shares a link where you can finish your signup process.  

Bilt customer retention email

My Mind is a meditation/mental health app, and this email is a great example of customer retention. The email uses a long body of text, but it’s personal and deep, and the goal is to resonate with someone who wants to improve themselves. The email gently coaxes users to consider the benefits of signing up and shares a link at the bottom.

My mind customer retention email

Campaign Refinery Makes Onboarding Email Sequences Easy

At Campaign Refinery, we wanted to make it extremely simple for our clients to create email sequences. While we offer a wide range of templates to design specific emails, it’s just as easy to set up an email flow. Our sequence editor is extremely powerful and we’ve designed it to give clients all the flexibility that they would desire in a sequence editor. 

Campaign Refinery Template Library
Campaign Refinery Template Library

It begins with our campaign library — if you’re looking for ideas or inspiration, this is the place to start. We offer a wide variety of campaigns that you can customize to suit your own requirements. But if you want to start from scratch, below is an example of a welcome email sequence.

Campaign Refinery Template Library
Campaign Refinery – Welcome Email Sequence Template

You can create an email sequence here and set time-based or trigger-based emails to go out in an order of your choice. This means you can really get into the minds of your customers and let your sequence reach them exactly when you choose.

Campaign Refinery Template Library
Campaign Refinery – Re-Engagement Sequence Template

Take a look at this sample re-engagement sequence. While this is a custom sequence designed for a specific client, you can see how you can change various parameters to suit your email marketing strategy better.

Campaign Refinery Template Library
Campaign Refinery – Re-Engagement Sequence

And, of course, every email sequence must be supported with great insight. Our analytics will tell you how your sequence is performing every step of the way. If there is a pattern, Campaign Refinery will tell you EXACTLY what it is.

Common Mistakes to Avoid When Creating Your Email Onboarding Sequence

We see these emails land in our inboxes all the time! Here is a list of “don’ts” to keep in mind as you design your sequence.

Ignoring subscriber feedbackThis isn’t just about studying your analytics — while you must pay attention to unsubscribes or low open rates, also reach out to your subscribers to better understand what they want.
Not enough personalizationCollect as much data as you can on your customer because no one likes receiving irrelevant emails. Focus heavily on personalizing your emails in the sequence for best results!
Too many emailsConversion is the goal, but nagging someone won’t get you there. More emails do not equal more sales; be selective!
Being too direct about your CTABeing too direct/early when pitching your product or service can be off-putting. Work your way towards the CTA, and take your time before you push for conversions. The key is to charm your customers!
Incorrect formatting“I’m interested, but where do I click?”
Please format your emails correctly!
Mistakes to avoid in an onboarding email sequence

Keep these guidelines in mind as you design your email sequence, and you will be well on your way to creating a stellar onboarding email sequence.

Achieving Maximum Conversions With Your Email Sequence

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In email marketing, lead magnets are the secret sauce that sparks engagement and drives conversions. These irresistible incentives — like e-books, webinars, or exclusive content — lure subscribers and create a mutually beneficial relationship.

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Would you be interested to learn how? Well, we do have a course that tells you how to achieve the open rates and CTRs of your dreams.

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You do need to finish the course to keep it, though; that’s our only condition. 

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If you want to learn how the right lead magnet can be the catalyst for a thriving email marketing strategy, apply here to sign up for our Lead Magnet Multiplier program.

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