The Best Onboarding Emails: Our 8 Top Picks

Onboarding emails are an important part of client acquisition, but so many marketers and businesses focus on everything that happens before onboarding. What you don’t realize is that so many people will purchase your product or service and never take advantage of it because:

  • A: They don’t know what to do next
  • B: They don’t know how to use it
  • C: You sold to someone who can’t use it, won’t use it, and doesn’t need it

While it’s important to focus on getting clients and customers, what you do after you’ve sold them is just as crucial. Now it’s your chance to reel them in and show them they made the right choice by doing business with you. Let’s talk about it!

How to Craft the Best Onboarding Email

There are three things that the best onboarding emails have in common.

  • Value proposition
  • Positive affirmation
  • Triggers

Let’s break down these three points so you can understand why the following onboarding emails are so successful.

Value Proposition

A huge mistake that a lot of business owners make from the very beginning is only preaching the features and aspects of their products. They never exit sale mode, and they never open their eyes and ears to understand what their prospective clients want. One of the best things you can do in your onboarding email is to ask questions and learn more about this person. They’ve decided to do business with you so find out why. When you do this, you’ll achieve a few things. You’ll get more trust out of the person. This will lead to them sticking around. You’ll also learn more about your audience so you can craft a better product. And you’ll have the opportunity to open up some dialogue with them. Remember that people don’t buy products, they buy solutions.

Positive Affirmation

When someone agrees to do business with you, it’s important that you make them nice and comfortable. Thank the customer for their choice and reinforce the fact that they made the right decision. Also, encourage them to take the necessary steps in the right direction, so they can make the most out of your product or service.


It’s important that your emails are personalized and unique to the individual’s journey. You shouldn’t send the same onboarding emails to every person that signs up for your product or service. Why? Because it’s possible that not everyone is on the same step. For example, if you’re selling a course on opening a restaurant, there are different goals that each person might want to accomplish. Some people might have funding, investors, employees, and locations already figured out, but they need help with operations. Others might have none of that, but they might have 30 years of restaurant experience, but they need help with financing. When you have behavioral triggers set, you can create uniquely crafted emails that meet the needs of the person you’re trying to reach. This will show them that you understand them, care about their needs, and are here to serve. Now let’s dive into some excellent examples and breakdowns of these three points in the following emails.

1. Close – Teach them something


We had to cut some of this email off due to the sheer size of it, but you’ll get the point. A big problem with a lot of onboarding emails is that they go straight to the point too fast and too often. Close doesn’t do that with their Startup Sales Success email drip campaign. They teach you valuable information in their email, and it starts right from the moment you sign up. They talk about seven key characteristics you need to look for in yourself as well as your team to make sales as a startup. They’re not wasting any time, and they’re providing value to their audience right off the bat, and we think this is something powerful. The customer is going to open this email, likely excited about their new journey, and find a ton of valuable information right away. They’re going to know that they made the right choice. Something else they do right in this email is they provide a personal tone as if they’re talking to a friend or networking with someone. This email is meant to be interactive rather than something you get, look through it, and move onto something else.

2. Square – Don’t be afraid to push


Psychology says it takes at least seven touches to get someone to take action on something. Armed with that information, we have to be a little more aggressive than we sometimes want, but that’s how you get results. For example, customers and clients may end up backing out of your services because they simply didn’t have enough information to take action. For them to get that information, all you needed to do was send a few more useful onboarding emails. And you could have decreased the client turnover dramatically. That’s what an email marketer at Square did. They originally sent one email, ten minutes after someone signed up but didn’t finish activating their account. When you think about it, you can see the flaw right there. If someone is too busy to finish activating their account, chances are they will continue to be too busy for ten minutes after. They’ll get the email, open it and say, “Oh yeah, I’ll get to that soon,” and then never see it again. Instead, they changed to sending emails one, three, and seven days after sign up. And they share tips in these emails to help with those people who might feel unsure about what to do next. People are busier than ever. You need to take every opportunity you can to nudge them through the process. Otherwise, they won’t do it on their own. It’s your responsibility to nudge them along.

3. Intercom – The first ten days are crucial


Intercom discovered something super exciting. After ten days of inactivity with a product, the user loses interest and thinks that they either don’t need it or it won’t work. Can you believe that? They bought something and got super pumped about it and then, after ten days, no longer thought it was great anymore. It’s crazy, but you, as the business owner or marketer, need to understand these psychological triggers to have success. So, as a result, you need to make sure the first ten days of your onboarding email campaigns are straight gold. You need to give them everything they need to have success, get started, use the product, test it out, and implement it. If they’ve stuck with it for ten days and found it useful, you’ve increased the chances of them continuing with it.

4. Wistia – Sometimes selling works


This email increased Wistia’s conversions by 350% even though they broke some of the cardinal rules of email marketing. You’re not necessarily supposed to sell anything through an email, but they made it happen. They treated their email copy like having a salesperson, and the results were abysmal. When they switched to the email on the right, and instead of just selling them, they also preached the benefits of switching, everything changed. The reader of the email now sees everything they’re getting by making the purchase rather than just being told to buy something.

5. Drift – Be transparent


This email from Drift is borderline revolutionary, yet it’s so simple. Transparency is king in online marketing, and the same goes for onboarding emails. Let the person on the other side know you’re thinking what they’re thinking, and you’re aware of it. They do a great job of relating to their potential customers as well. They’re touching on all the great points you want in the best onboarding email. And it seems like a lot of people realize that because everyone is stealing this method. Then, in the end, they ask the person to answer a question, so they can learn more about them and open up the dialogue.

6. BigCommerce – Use your brand


There are fewer things worse than receiving emails that look like they were thrown together in five minutes with stock photos. That does nothing for the brand other than making it look cheap and lazy. Tommy John does a great job here of using their branding in their email in a way that is simple but effective. It’s important that you outline your brand, talk about it a little, and even pull back the curtain. We see a lot of companies show some behind the scenes photos about the operation when someone decides to do business with them. That’s helpful with the transparency factor. It also shows the potential customer that you’re a real person and not just a name on an email.

7. Sleeknote – Understanding your audience


We’ve talked about this a little, but it’s probably one of the most important email factors to keep in mind. Sending unique emails based on the individual’s step in the process is good. And you also need to make sure you’re segmenting your email list for follow-up emails. To properly segment your list, you need first to understand your audience. You need to have a customer avatar that describes your ideal client. And you always need to keep them in mind when you’re crafting an onboarding email campaign. Think about what your customer is going through right now. What do they want to accomplish? What are their pain points? And what will really make a difference in their life? When you figure those things out, craft your email copy based on that. Once done, you’ll know you’re appealing to their direct needs at that exact moment. Also, realize that even if you have one customer avatar, not everyone will have the same needs. This is where email segmentation comes in.

8. Hootsuite – Focus on the steps


Onboarding emails are there to simplify the process for your customers. And to explain to them in a step-by-step way what they need to do next. Make sure your emails are following that by offering the most valuable information at the time when it’s needed most. For example, Hootsuite talks about their first step being, “getting customers familiar with the product.” That’s great! You wouldn’t send them an email teaching them how to set up a Facebook Pixel before you educate them on why. Right? If you overwhelm or confuse customers during the onboarding process, you’re making it more difficult for them to stick around. Because they might think your service or product is too complicated or hard to learn. Make sure the emails you’re sending in the beginning start from the ground level and work up. This lets your subscribers learn more and become more immersed in your offerings.

Final Thoughts on Onboarding Emails

You’ve seen some examples of the best onboarding emails, but it’s critical that you understand some of the logic behind onboarding. Remember, you’re bringing them in and giving them the tools they need to feel confident in whatever it is you offer. That’s the basics of onboarding. If you don’t do this right you’re either going to turn them away, confuse them, or give them information overload. And they’ll move onto something else. Use these emails as an example but always put your own fresh twist on things!