September 15, 2023

10 of the Best Onboarding Email Examples to Engage New Customers

Reading time about 11 min

Onboarding emails are the first few emails customers receive when they sign up for a service. The goal is to explain how things work to engage the user from the get-go. Strike while you have their attention, right?

Do you really need to add one more automation campaign to your email marketing strategy? If it’s an onboarding email, we say yes!

One of the first emails a new user receives from you, it impacts directly customer success, product adoption, and retention. 

If you’re not sure what an onboarding email is, much less how to craft one, you’re in the right place. Discover onboarding email campaigns, their value, and inspiring examples.

What are onboarding emails?

Modern brands understand the importance of customer experience (CX). CX is the sum of perceptions of the business, built over the customer lifecycle.

Delivering excellent CX, then, is about excelling at every touchpoint through the customer journey. That’s where an onboarding email campaign comes in. As the name suggests, its purpose is to facilitate the onboarding process.

Onboarding emails get sent straight after a new customer buys a product or — more often — signs up to a service. They immediately show the customer that you appreciate their business.

Onboarding emails also serve a range of further purposes:

  • Welcoming new users to the fold
  • Offering instruction as to how to use the product or service
  • Listing the ways to reach customer support
  • Encouraging further engagement and interaction
  • Cross or upselling other offerings
  • Answering any and all other questions a new user may have

Your onboarding strategy depends on your business, products, and team capabilities. Think about what you want customers to do or know immediately after registering with you and go from there.

Further reading: SaaS Marketing Automation: Top 8 Tools & Tips

10 outstanding onboarding email examples

The broad range of uses of onboarding emails explains why they’re something you can’t do without. Don’t worry, though, if you’re still a little sketchy on how to craft them. That’s where the following examples can help.

Use those onboarding email templates as inspiration or copy them if you like! We’ll look at each in turn, pinpoint its advantages, and discuss how you might create such a campaign for your brand. 

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1. A warm welcome

Some onboarding emails — certainly those that are the first of a series — are purely designed to welcome new customers. Thier only goal is to make a good first impression.

The key to these messages is for them to be fun, engaging, and not too salesy. What you’re looking to do is to show a consumer your gratitude that they’ve chosen your business.

You can get to more practical matters — explaining your offering, selling more products — later. 

onboarding email example

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Take the above example from Just Eat. Their onboarding email features a fun animated gif, humorous tagline, and little else. They’re not offering much in the way of extra information or doing the hard sell of their service. They’re merely trying to welcome a new customer and make them smile.

One thing not to forget is clearly displaying yur company name in the email body and setting up your sender name correctly too. New subscribers need to trust you to start opening your emails.

The precise contents of such an onboarding email will differ from one firm to the next. You might choose to include contact details like social media links or a business phone number.

You may add an image or screenshot of your product. What’s vital, though, is to keep it light and engaging. 

Want to know all the dos and don’ts of using GIFs in email? Read our guide to gifs in emails.

2. An explainer

A customer signing up for their service is only the start. To get a new customer engaged and boost retention, get them to start using your product.

The sooner they see the benefits, the less likely they’re to churn. That’s why lots of brands use an initial onboarding email as a kind of explainer.

As well as welcoming a customer, these messages also lay out the basics of the service to stimulate adoption. You can even include testimonials or user-generated use case ideas for inspiration.

3. Next steps

This example of an onboarding email takes things a step further. Many brands send emails that lay out the steps a new customer can take to get the most out of their service.

Onboarding example from Printful

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As the above example shows, these messages don’t need to be dry or dull. You can keep things light and attractive via good design. What you must do, though, is make it clear what steps a customer needs to take. Make it as easy as

As the above example shows, these messages don’t need to be dry or dull. You can keep things light and attractive via good design. What you must do, though, is list the steps clearly. Make it as easy as possible to engage further with your product, and they’re more likely to do so. 

An onboarding email sequence is most fitting here, to make the individual steps more digestable.

4. Community building

Sometimes you’re not looking for an email recipient to do anything. Your customer onboarding message doesn’t have to spur a customer on to take action.

Instead, it can show them that they’ve joined a tight-knit group. You’re looking to foster a sense of belonging and community.

Many brands use a sense of community to aid customer loyalty. More than that, consumers who have an emotional connection to a brand can grow into advocates. They’ll fiercely defend their chosen community. They’ll also promote it over others. That’s the principal value of this type of onboarding email. 

Consider social proof and case studies for community building.

Here’s an example of a community building welcome email from Backcountry.

Example of a community building welcome email from Backcountry.

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5. Keeping it simple

Whatever the goal of your onboarding campaign, your emails don’t have to be complicated. Flashy design is all very well, but often recipients respond best to simplicity. Take a look at the below example from Flow.

onboarding email example

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The message defines ‘keeping it simple’. There are no graphics or images and little text. In a short and punchy email, though, the company achieves a lot.

They promote their collection of apps and provide a link to email support. They also have a clear call-to-action (CTA) to get a user started with their product. All that comes in a message that’s not so long as to allow a reader to get bored. 

You can even try plain-text emails without images if that fits your brand. With good formatting and useful information, it might be just an effective onboarding email as many others.

6. Cross & upselling

Use an onboarding email to try to boost customer retention and fight churn from the start. That’s especially valuable for SaaS businesses.

Tap into your customer insights and send targeted onboarding sequences based on the products and plans bought. Suggest related products or strategies doable with those products. (Discover more ideas for customer segmentation here.)

You make an additional sale, and you boost the level of engagement of the customer with your brand. And even take abit off your customer support team’s plate by answering some questions.

Here’s an example from Howler Brothers:

Cross-selling onboarding email from Howler Brothers

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7. Gamification

Engaging new customers isn’t necessarily about more money. It also doesn’t have to be serious. Some brands offer fun and connect better with people over it. That’s where gamification comes in. 

People love a game or a quiz. Pop a light-hearted quiz in your onboarding email, and you’re sure to grab the recipients’ attention. Those open rates and click-through rates will fly!

Here’s an awesome onboarding email from The Glenlivet which introduces the brand and uses a quiz to gain insights on subscriber preferences.

Onboarding email example from The Glenlivet using a quiz

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8. Rewards & encouragement

Customer engagement is often tied to human psychology. We all like to get a sense of achievement and to get rewarded. That’s why some of the most effetcive onboarding emails use simple words of congratulation or encouragement.

onboarding email example

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Tumblr is great at these types of campaigns. They send users follow-up emails like the one above to mark each landmark reached in using their service.

Such messages give recipients a little boost. They also make them more determined to reach the next ‘level’. That, in turn, means they’re more likely to be more engaged with the product.

9. Using video

Visuals elevate the onboarding experience. It’s why newsletters and other emails so often include images and graphics

Embedded videos in emails are also a practical way to explain how to do something. What’s more, people remember details they see for far longer.

So your onboarding email can include a short clip to highlight key features or a longer step-by-step guide. People are more likely to watch a short clip than read a long list of instructions. 

10. Personality & personalization

Your potential customers expect a personal touch. A welcome message can delight with a subject line addressing the customer by first name, for example.

onboarding email example

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The above example shows two significant aspects of email personalization. First, it addresses the email recipient by name. Then, the whole tone is friendly and conversational. It helps humanize the brand – in this case, YouTube – and makes the recipient feel closer to the company.  

Reda more about dynamic emails.

The onboarding email — essential for customer acquisition & retention

There are so many types of user onboarding emails you can create and send.

Whichever you choose, a successful onboarding campaign will bring you better customer retention.

The principal benefit of onboarding is that it engages new customers. You create a closer connection and stand a better chance to keep them.

Beyond that, great onboarding can also earn you new business. Engaged customers are more likely to buy more products. They’ll also advocate for your brand and recommend you to others.

Getting onboarding right is a win-win. 

Send automated onboarding emails with Brevo

Free plan includes all core email features, 300 emails/day, 40+ email templates, and easy-to-use onboarding workflow creator.

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