The Art of Great Customer Onboarding Emails (+ 7 Templates and Examples)

Review our handy list of emails and templates that will help your customers experience a successful onboarding.

Shareil Nariman

September 13, 2021

18 minutes

An effective customer onboarding experience can be the difference between a lost prospect and a lifelong customer. Here’s how to create a customer onboarding email sequence (with real-life examples) that welcomes new customers, gets them to take action, and empowers them to use your products to their fullest potential.

7 Onboarding Email Templates To Create a Better Customer Experience

No matter what your product or service looks like, your customers will get better results (and develop greater customer loyalty) when you nurture them through the process of purchasing and adopting your solution.

You can’t do all of this nurturing via email templates, of course. Your customer success and customer support teams are responsible for much of this work. This is particularly true if you’re offering a relatively robust or technical SaaS solution — your customer base will likely have multiple touchpoints with the CS teams.

That said, no matter the complexity of your product or service, email will be a significant part of the onboarding phase, so it pays to get this right!

Below, we’ve broken down seven of the most common onboarding email scenarios, starting with the standard first email engagement and moving through the customer journey.

Onboarding Welcome Emails

We’ve divided the onboarding email templates into two categories:

  • onboarding welcome emails – introducing information or asking customers to try something
  • homework onboarding emails – asking your new users to provide required information or take an action

Let’s dive in!

1. Introduction, Expectations, and Initial Invitation

This first onboarding welcome email should introduce your new customers to the onboarding process, setting their expectations for what your onboarding process will be like.

Often, it includes an invitation to begin exploring onboarding materials, whether that’s watching a few quick tutorials or jumping straight into using your tool.

You’ll want to keep this message light and simple, though. This isn’t the place to perform an info dump or dive into the deep, inner workings of your product. (We’ll talk about that in another email.)

Don’t overwhelm your new customers at this point; simply create a welcoming environment and set the stage for what’s to come. Keep the focus on the value your customers will receive — but don’t expect that you’ll get customers to their “aha!” moment in this first email.

Quick note: We’re assuming this first email occurs post-signup (whether for a free tier or a paid service). This isn’t the marketing-centric welcome email that arrives when a prospect simply provides an email address to learn more. That one should exist in your marketing or sales units, prior to customer onboarding. Rather, this message kicks off your customer success or customer onboarding sequence.

Here’s what the introduction, expectations, and initial invitation email could look like:

Subject: Hello and welcome!

Hey [customer name]!

I’m [your name] and I’m excited to welcome you to [your company name]. Over the next few [days/weeks/calls], I’ll be here to…

  • help you get set up to use [your company name] effectively
  • share tips and best-practices
  • and, answer any questions you might have so far

My job is to make sure you feel comfortable and empowered so you can get the value you need from us.

Let’s find [30/45/60] minutes that work best for your schedule, here is my availability [link to calendar]. Or let me know what works best and I’ll send over a calendar invite.

Looking forward to meeting you soon!

[your name]

Quick note: add urgency by adding a timeframe that works with your schedule. For example, say “…that work best for your schedule in the coming 2 weeks.”

2. The Sales Breakup and Customer Success Introduction

Equally crucial in your onboarding email plan is the sales breakup and customer success intro email. This email brings closure to the sales process and clearly moves the customer forward to next steps and their new point of contact. It keeps the handoff from sales to customer success from feeling abrupt and shows customers that support doesn’t drop off once you’ve made the sale.

In this email, you’ll briefly explain the next steps in the onboarding experience and introduce the CSM team member who’s taking over the account by name. You can also add in their picture or avatar if you like — small details that make the transition feel exciting and seamless.

You don’t need to be too detailed or long-winded in this email, either. You’re simply passing the customer from sales to customer success — and making sure the customer gets a heads-up and a warm welcome message as it’s happening.

Check out this great example of a sales breakup and customer success intro email:

Subject: Meet your success team!

Hey [customer name]!

It’s been a pleasure getting to learn more about you and your needs at [their company name]. I’m excited we get a chance to help with that!

To best support you moving forward, I wanted to introduce you to [customer success person’s full name] (CC’d). They’ll help you get set up and ensure you are getting the most value from us. You’re in great hands.

Look out for an email from [customer success person] with some helpful next steps.

Thanks again for everything and I’ll let you two take it from here,

[sales person’s name]

3. Case Study Examples With Infographics and Other Visuals

Your first two emails in this email sequence were purposely light on data, but now it’s time to shift gears! This message should be a compelling reminder of your customer’s pain point, reminding them why they came to your service or product in the first place, and showing them that you can solve it for them with social proof.

For example, in our own case study email, we might follow up that pain point with a quick stat: “Teams using Arrows cut their average onboarding time by more than half—here’s how.”

An embedded infographic or GIF can further grab your readers’ attention and communicate more info in a more memorable, interesting way.

After a quick stat and infographic, you can enhance your messaging with links out to more detailed case studies. If you’re not customizing these email sequences to specific customer segments, this is where you can hit on two or three of the most common pain points across your customer base.

This email will likely end up longer than the previous two, but keep it as concise as possible. Readers who want to dive deeper can do so in the case studies you’ve shared.

Ready to build a more powerful case study email? Start with our template:

Subject 1 (catchy): Check out the results of our partnership with [name of existing client]!

Subject 2 (generic): Take a look at these results!

Hey [customer name]!

As you’re continuing to use [your company name] to help with [the value your service provides], we’ve been busy thinking of how to provide you with more resources.

One of the best ways we learn is from our own customers. When we saw that [case study client] was able to improve their [the value your service provides] using [XYZ feature], we wanted to learn more.

At a high-level, they achieved:

  • [bullet points, with % gains for related metrics; example: “a 25% increase in numbers of onboardings completed”]
  • [infographic based on the results above; example: graphs showing the volume of customers onboarded to result in 25% increase]
  • [aggregated results across multiple customers for those results; example: “We’re seeing this trend across 78% of our customers too”]

To get the whole story, here you can see [link to case-study] everything that [case study client] was able to achieve.

Take a look and let me know what questions you have. I’m happy to discuss how we can get on track to see similar results for [their company name], let me know if you’re up for it!


[your name]

4. Feature Tips and Tricks

The feature tips and tricks email highlights the details of your product or service and makes it easy for new users to give them a try.

Start with a nudge to a valuable or useful feature in your product — a feature that’s been the “aha!” moment for many previous clients. Show them what that feature can do, and give some basic instruction in how to do it. Make sure you keep it simple and clear. Again, being concise here is key. People don’t read overly long emails. You want to push them to engage further, on their own terms.

The goal of any email in this category is to reduce time to value, getting users to add it into their workflow and accomplish their goals sooner. Because the faster that moment comes, the better your customer retention and the lower your churn rate will be.

The first three email types we covered tend to be fairly linear; you send them in that order, and you’d rarely send more than one of each. But this category can be different. Depending on the complexity of your product or service, you might have several emails that put the spotlight on different features, pro tips, or add-ons.

We also highly recommend tailoring these email sequences based on customer segment or other insightful customer onboarding metrics you’ve gathered.

Here’s an example email of a tips and tricks email you can use:

Subject: Our most underutilized feature

Hello [customer name]!

I was using [your product feature] myself the other day and wanted to share some ways you can take advantage too.

If you haven’t had a chance to use [feature name] yet, here is a quick tutorial on how to start [insert GIF with bulleted instructions OR link to video tutorial OR link to more detailed instruction page].

And, here are some pro-tips I’ve seen work really well:

  • Tip or best-practice #1
  • Tip or best-practice #2

Let me know if you have any questions as you explore [feature name].


[your name]

5. Helpful Resources and Guides

This type of email goes deeper than the previous category and can be considered a follow-up to tips and tricks messages. You’ll provide links to specific resources, knowledge base articles, downloadable assets, or video segments that specifically help an individual customer with their pain points and next steps.

We know you likely have product how-to articles and support docs that are more popular than others. When you’re creating your first version of this email, it’s fine to simply link to these resources.

But if you can, personalize. For instance, let’s say you provide screen-capture and screen-recording software. You know that a new user mostly engaged with your video recording and GIF product pages, so why send them a ton of step-by-step guides to editing or sharing images?

Although you may want them to adopt all of your features eventually, start with the resources that will deliver value according to their definition.

Here’s a template you can use to create your resource-heavy onboarding emails:

Subject: Bookmark these resources!

Hi [customer name],

As we continue to update our product and features, we are also updating our resources and guides [link to your help center] so that you know exactly what those changes are and how to leverage them.

Here are 3 resources that I believe will be valuable for you…

  • [link to most commonly visited or asked for resource] - [add a 1-2 sentence description of the value]
  • [link to newly added feature or product update] - [add a 1-2 sentence description of the feature]
  • [link to a best-practice blog or article] - [add a 1-2 sentence description of the feature]

As we update and add resources, I’ll be sure to share more highlights like this with you.

Let me know if you want to chat further about these or other questions you have.

Thanks again,

[your name]

Quick note: feel free to add visuals or videos where appropriate. If you can personalize these resources based on actions your customers are or aren’t doing, that could help increase product adoption as well

Homework Onboarding Emails

Companies using a high-touch onboarding approach need more than a simple email sequence. You’ll also need homework-style onboarding emails, where you take a more hands-on approach to onboarding and direct new customers to do specific actions that help them see success faster.

6. Guiding the Customer Between Onboarding Checkpoints

Complex SaaS solutions require more lengthy onboarding processes, often with checkpoints along the way. You can prevent delays and frustration — and get the most out of each stage — with a clear checkpoint email.

This email should clearly instruct a user on what they need to do or prepare, such as:

  • Documents they’ll need to gather
  • Paperwork to fill out
  • Data to assemble, bring, share
  • Questions they should answer

In a longer, high-touch onboarding process, you don’t want to waste the customer’s time — and you don’t want to pile tasks on your team, either. Help them get ready for your next call or touchpoint with this guidance email.

Use this template to get started:

Subject: We are almost at the finish line

Hello [customer name],

I want to make sure you get immediate value from using [your product or company name] so I’m checking in to make sure we don’t miss anything.

Before our next call together {or specific date if agreed upon}, can you prepare or complete the following items:

  • [description or link for action item you need their attention on]
  • [description or link for action item you need their attention on]
  • [description or link for action item you need their attention on]

Having these items prepared will ensure we stick to our timeline of getting you up and running {feel free to insert date if this was agreed upon and applicable}

Lean on me if you need help with any of the above, happy to help where I can.

Thank you,

[your name]

7. Recurring Tasks and Reminders

This final onboarding email is fairly simple, but executing it well will save all your teams — sales, customer success, IT support, or otherwise — significant manual time.

Recurring tasks and reminders email are handy for nudging customers on a wide variety of actions and issues, from upcoming payments and expired credit cards to scheduling check-ins and requesting feedback.

These emails should be short and sweet, reminding customers of important to-do’s and explaining how to do them. They keep customers progressing through the customer journey and avoiding roadblocks. Another pro tip: These types of emails are ripe for automation — no need to have your teams chasing down customers or writing up original emails each time.

Here’s a template you can use to simplify and clarify recurring reminder emails:

Subject: A friendly reminder

Hey [customer name],

I noticed [insert reminder or task here] was still [insert status here]. Please be sure to complete it before [date or milestone] so we can keep moving forward.

These steps will guide you through the process:

  • [insert written or visual description of required task]
  • [insert written or visual description of required task]

Let me know if you have any trouble completing this and I’ll try to assist the best I can.


[your name]

Recommended Best Practices for Onboarding Email Campaigns

We’ve covered the most common types of customer onboarding emails and given you templates for each one. Wondering how to elevate your rough drafts to a customer-ready email? We can help! Follow these best practices for onboarding emails.

Ask Customers for Necessary Information Clearly and Promptly

First, when you need information from a customer, ask for it clearly, and reach out as soon as you can.

The longer you wait to initiate a request for information, the greater you risk customer churn (or, at minimum, weakening the customer relationship). This is especially true if the customer is waiting on you before they can make progress with your software or product — any delay here can do damage.

Make sure that your requests for information are clearly identifiable as such. You can add “Action Required” to the subject line or even include “Urgent” if it’s must-have information. Whatever you do, don’t misuse these terms in other types of emails, or it will turn into a “the boy who cried wolf” situation.

Use Images To Illustrate Instructions and Tips

If a picture is worth a thousand words, how many words can a smartly designed GIF or short video explainer save you? (Answer: A lot!)

No matter how great a wordsmith you are, no customer will want to read a wall of text, especially if they’re excited to start using your product. Wherever possible, enrich your welcome email body templates with screenshots, GIFs, short video recordings, diagrams, infographics and more.

Anything that shows (rather than just tells) clients what they should do next or how to navigate around your software is a great call. Just be mindful of not overloading those emails — make any visuals or graphics easy to skim and digest.

Make Your Emails Concise (but Not Necessarily Short)

There’s a time and place for long-form content (and you’re reading some right now.)

But your email marketing efforts? Keep them as concise as possible.

You don’t want to overwhelm a new customer with your onboarding emails. A long, complex message may have a decent open rate, but if your readers are giving up 20% of the way through, the message isn’t doing its job.

At the same time, you need to explain the topic or process sufficiently for your customer to understand their next steps. An email that’s so short as to be confusing isn’t what you’re after, either.

Remember, you can always link out to longer pieces of content. Your customers can engage with those when and if they want or need to. But you want to keep the email itself concise so that your customers stand a better chance of reading it and taking the appropriate action.

Admittedly, it can be challenging to find the perfect balance between brevity and clarity. If you’re unsure whether an email is too long or too confusing, ask someone else who’s less familiar with the topic to read it and go through the instructions to test their reading experience. Doing this will help clear away your own biases and understand where to edit.

The bottom line? Pair these best practices with the templates we’ve provided above and you’re well on your way to an effective onboarding campaign.

Keep Track of the Entire Onboarding Process (Including Emails) With Arrows

Arrows is the onboarding platform of choice for companies using a high-touch, low-touch, or hybrid approach to customer onboarding. We keep track of everything in your onboarding process — including your onboarding emails.

Ready to see what Arrows can do for you? Schedule a demo to see how Arrows helps you take charge of your customer onboarding.

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