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33 Incredible user onboarding emails

It’s one of those words that says so much. ‘Onboarding’: it goes much deeper than ‘orientation’ or ‘induction.’

It’s not just about pointing customers in the right direction, or giving them a cursory introduction to your product or service.

It’s about bringing them ‘on board’ – ready to sail, if you’ll excuse the horrendously cheesy line, on a mutual journey, towards a shared destination.

There are many reasons why onboarding has become such a hot topic in the last decade. Perhaps most importantly, customer expectations have increased. Customers don’t expect to have to work things out for themselves. They expect the same level of support and service post-sale as they had while they were making their mind up.

And it all means that companies are investing heavily in onboarding.

Unfortunately, the data suggests they aren’t going far enough.

A whopping 86% of people say that they’re more likely to stay loyal to brands which support, welcome and help them post-sale with onboarding content…

…and yet an even bigger 90% of customers feel that the companies they buy from ‘could do better’ when it comes to onboarding.

It’s pretty clear, then: whatever you’re doing to welcome and onboard your new customers – there’s always room to do more!

Why email?

Email is, quite simply, a phenomenal tool for powerful user onboarding at scale. It’s right up there with the best. There are a few reasons for this.

Firstly, it’s very cheap compared to other marketing channels.

Secondly, it’s direct – straight into the recipients’ mailbox, with options available to personalise and tailor messaging accordingly.

Thirdly, and perhaps most importantly, it can be automated. You can create powerful onboarding email workflows and then simply sit back and let them work their magic for as long as you want! Each new sign up or purchase can trigger these emails, meaning the ongoing input is minimal – but the support you’re giving to your customers is comprehensive and long-lasting.

But what does a great onboarding email look like? Well, we’re glad you asked! In this article, we’ve compiled 33 of our absolute favourites, from brands (big and small) across all kinds of different niches.

Let’s dive into them, and take a look at what exactly makes them so great…

1. Crello

Crello is a free graphic design software that lets you create your own designs, posts, covers and animations. It’s aimed at novices, offering the promise to ‘Create like a pro’ with ‘No design skills needed.’ They’re really hot on email, with a regular flow of helpful content to their users’ inboxes, and that starts right from the beginning. This email – ‘From newbie to pro in 2 minutes’ – features a huge amount of value – including a tremendous 79 second video that walks the user through creating their first design.

Why we love it:

This example looks really nice, with fantastic use of colour and characters. It also gets a big thumbs up for its use of video as an onboarding tool. The video – above the fold – shows users how to create their first design. This is significant, as 65% of customers say video is their favourite way to get to know how to use a product or service.

2. Bulb

Bulb – the UK’s biggest green energy supplier – is really shaking things up in the industry. They provide members with renewable electricity from solar, wind and hydro, and also provide gas that’s 100% carbon neutral.

Part of the ‘new’ model of providing energy is that the customer is able to submit their own meter readings online. This is a crucial step to get up and running – and that’s made perfectly clear within this email.

Why we love it:

It’s beautifully-designed, and comes with clear instructions that overcome the first ‘obstacle’ in the customer relationship. If there’s something your audience needs to do to get up and running – make that abundantly clear as early as possible.

3. Filmsupply

Filmsupply.com is a platform to help people find premium stock footage for their video projects.

Why we love it:

What’s great about this email is that it puts a face to the brand – turning what could feel like a slightly cold, impersonal experience into something warm and human. It’s a real point-of-difference and a competitive advantage, particularly well-suited to bigger enterprise companies. (It’s probably no coincidence that Filmsupply’s client list includes stellar names like Netflix, Nike, Tesla, Google and MTV!)

4. Project.co

Ok, full disclosure – Project.co is our project management system we built to manage our production process. But we’ve included it here because this is an approach to onboarding we have found to be pretty effective.

When somebody signs up to use our system, they go into a 7-day onboarding flow which we call ‘7 days of Project.co.’

Why we love it:

Obviously, because we built it! But, even if we didn’t, we still think this would be a great example. Why? Because one of the strengths – and challenges – of our system is that it comes with a powerful and complex feature set. It can be difficult for people to immediately envisage how they should use it to full effect.

Each of the ‘7 days’ is dedicated to a particular feature or tool within the software. The idea is that by going through this series – a sort of mini email training camp – the user will be totally set up for success using the tool, optimising retention and engagement.

5. Squarespace

Squarespace is an all-in-one website builder targeted mainly towards photographers, restaurants, musicians, small businesses, fashion designers and artists. It’s very much designed with ease-of-use at its core, so that people with little or no experience are able to create highly professional websites.

Why we love it:

Rather than being one email, this is a great sequence. Squarespace, like many SaaS products, offers a free trial. Throughout this trial, users are sent a number of valuable emails with tips and tricks – plus gentle nudges to make things permanent! These emails are great because of the value they offer, combined with the simplicity of messaging – ‘It’s not as hard as you think,’ and ‘You started a trial for a reason!’ This all helps the user get the best possible experience out of the trial, and capitalises on that initial interest.

6. Flock

Flock is a team messenger and online collaboration platform that offers a range of communication tools for business teams. Part of their positioning is that they offer a free 30 day trial. When you sign up for this, you receive the below email, welcoming you aboard and giving you a flavour of the things you can do with the platform.

Why we love it:

There’s a lot to like about this email – starting with the design. A vibrant colour palette sits beside some really nice character design to produce a message that’s really easy-on-the eye. The brand voice is also right on-point, irreverent, offbeat and fun – “You might be thinking ‘what the Flock did I just sign up for?’ And, finally, set aside a green ‘checklist’ we see a list of things that the user is able to do using Flock. The whole thing is dripping in character – and value – without being overwhelming.

7. Dorsia

Dorsia is a travel guide for ‘untourists’ – people who like travel, but avoid trendy, popular destinations with big crowds. Like any brand that markets to such a specific type of audience, there’s a real sense of ‘lifestyle brand’ to Dorsia, of belonging to a group that doesn’t follow the flock. Signing up to Dorsia, you receive a welcome email that really sums that up.

Why we love it:

There’s a decision-making process involved any time you sign up somewhere. What’s really great is when you receive validation for that decision. That’s here in spades – there’s a real sense of accomplishment in this email: You’ve made it! They reinforce the exact value offered in their sign-up process and you can’t help but feel that you’re now part of an exclusive club. Throw in the beautiful line-drawn style and minimal colour palette and you’ve got a real winner here.

8. Glitch

Glitch is a community where you can build (and find) cool apps and websites. This is the email you get when you sign up to join that community!

Why we love it:

The most obvious thing that stands out, again, is design. This is really likely to pop in the recipients’ inbox, with a pretty outlandish colour palette full of bright neons. But the content is also really great. It’s pretty much a roadmap for the budding Glitch user, giving them clear signposts towards the next step in their onboarding journey – whether it’s using a template to help them get started using the tool, checking out some of the apps already created, or a gentle nudge towards the help center and support forums.

9. Havenly

Havenly is an online interior design tool for ‘real people.’ The tool connects you with an interior designer so you can collaborate and bring your home vision to life.

This is a really process-driven business model, and the first thing Havenly do after sign-up is send an email that lays out that process, making sure people understand it – and have the knowledge they need to begin when they are ready!

Why we love it:

This “How to Get Started” email is built around a clear, step-by-step process, presented in a visually appealing way. It’s another example where lots of information is provided but it doesn’t feel overwhelming thanks to the way it’s structured and laid out. The email also features really clear signposts – whether you’re ‘ready to begin,’ want to connect with a designer or find an answer to a question, there’s a button for you to click at the bottom of the email.

10. Peloton

Peloton is a unique mix of physical product and online subscription – with a static exercise bike, which connects to an online service offering live studio cycling in the comfort of your own home. In simple terms, you can do a gym-level spin class from wherever you have room to store the bike.

Why we love it:

As a cutting-edge product that disrupts a pretty long-established industry, Peloton can be a little tricky for some people to understand. Emails like this are a great way to break it down into clear, understandable instructions – and that’s what’s so great about this email. It breaks everything down to three simple steps – each, presumably deliberately, consisting of just 3 words per step. ‘Choose your ride, Choose your instructor, Choose your length…’

11. Typeform

Typeform is an online tool that helps people create interactive experiences for their websites such as online form building and surveys. The below email, offering a warm welcome after sign up, goes to everybody who creates a new account.

Why we love it:

This is a great email with a warm, welcoming tone. It’s also highly focused towards getting people up and running with the tool, with templates to communicate how easy it is to get started, give inspiration and get people to the start line quickly!

12. Tinder

Tinder is the world’s most popular online dating app, used by an estimated 50 million people worldwide. It allows users to create a profile – then anonymously swipe to like or dislike other profiles based on their photos, a small bio, and their interests. This email is designed to help new users get the best possible experience, and build their knowledge of how to use the app.

Why we love it:

Appropriately for an app like Tinder – there’s a lot to love! It’s a really cool, simple guide on how to get up and running – a simple, 4 step checklist, to get the reader from ‘new user’ to ‘experienced swiper!’ This is a really great example of onboarding done right, in every respect.

13. Amazon Alexa

Alexa is Amazon’s voice assistant – the secret sauce behind the Echo and Echo Dot speakers, as well as a variety of other voice-enabled Amazon products. This email – ‘Let’s get to know each other’ – is all about giving new users an understanding of Alexa’s true capabilities.

Why we love it:

It might be a little ‘no-frills’ aesthetically, but this email is bursting with value. What we like about this is that it so clearly and directly overcomes a particular obstacle to the user experience: that moment when they unpack their new speaker, know it can do something – but have no idea what! As well as giving the reader a specific list of instructions to try out, you’d imagine this email would spike their curiosity, too. After all – if Alexa can do X, then why not Y? This moves the user onto their own journey with the product, unlocking ongoing value and enjoyment.

14. Curiosity

They say every day’s a school day, and the guys at Curiosity certainly seem to agree. Curiosity.com is a repository of cool and inspirational articles and videos, designed to help you learn something every day.

Why we love it:

It would be easy for them to simply share a ‘thanks for signing up’ email – but instead, they get right to it for new subscribers, with their first snippets of educational content. This makes for a great first impression and sets a positive expectation for the value a reader can expect to their inbox. In short – it’s an ‘I’m glad I signed up for this!’ experience.

15. Bellroy

Bellroy is an Australian accessories brand which specialises in carry goods such as bags, folios, wallets, pouches, phone cases and key covers. As you can tell from the veritable feast of screenshots below, they are huge on email – but it’s not just quantity, it’s quality too.

Why we love it:

The friendly, engaging brand voice of Bellroy is a consistent thread to all these emails. Instead of bland, vanilla headlines like ‘Welcome to Bellroy’ they go with the much more conversational ‘Fancy seeing you here,’ and ‘Settled in yet?’

Each of these emails offers a huge amount of value and info about the Bellroy brand and products, with plenty of signposts and calls-to-action designed not just to sell products but to inspire, encourage and educate the reader. If the basic smell test is: ‘Would I be happy to receive this in my own inbox?’ then Bellroy passes with flying colours.

16. Suiteness

Suiteness is an online booking platform that lets people book connecting (adjoining) suites and hotel rooms. This is particularly useful for groups who want to travel together and stay connected.

What we love about it:

Something that features across more than a few of these examples is the sense of identity and belonging they incorporate into the messaging. We’ve included this example from Suiteness because it typifies that approach. By creating this cool superhero theme, and underpinning that both with graphics, and great copy – ‘Travel heroes like you…’ – there’s a palpable sense that the audience would be happy to receive this kind of email. It also offers plenty of extra value and services – ‘Our 24/7 complimentary trip planning team.’ You have to remember that there’s an inherent knowledge gap here. People will regularly sign up or buy a product without being fully aware of its features and benefits – great onboarding emails give you a chance to educate about that value, optimising the user experience.

17. Uber

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you probably know that Uber is a multinational ride-hailing app offering peer-to-peer ride sharing, ride service hailing and food delivery!

During the Uber signup process, you’re asked whether you want to drive or ride…and the onboarding material you receive varies depending on the option you choose.

This email was sent to a recipient who signed up to ‘ride’ in the Chicago area.

Why we love it:

It’s always tempting to just hammer your audience with info about your business and product when they first sign up, and – as we’ve touched on – this can often be important. What’s great about this email from Uber, though, is that it goes in a different direction. It focuses exclusively on audience intent and how this email can best add value. By assuming that the reader is a person who would be visiting or keen to socialise in Chicago, they’re able to create a highly valuable ‘travel guide’ style email. As well as inspiring the reader – it also has the effect of keeping Uber at the top of their mind when they inevitably require transport during their stay!

18. Upwork

Upwork is an online platform that connects businesses to freelancers and agencies. Both these parties can sign up for an account through Upwork to either pitch for jobs – or find people/teams to work on projects on a flexible, ad-hoc basis.

The email below is sent out to help out a new user connect with someone to collaborate on their first project.

What we love about it:

For an email that’s mainly informational, there’s a real scarcity of copy here, with the email mainly held together by graphics. This sounds like a criticism – but it actually works amazingly well!

As we’ve seen in other examples, the instructions are short, clear and succinct – there’s no space wasted on unnecessary details. It’s a simple, 3-step process to help someone place their job. The messaging is inherently positive and optimistic – “This is going to be great,” – and it also concentrates on highlighting just how easy and seamless the process actually is. Finally, best of all, at the bottom of the email, we see a link to an explainer video that shows the reader how it all works.

19. Printful

Printful is a SaaS tool that lets you create and sell custom products online. They use print-on-demand dropshipping to print orders…well, on demand! You simply add your designs and artwork, determine which of their range of approved products the artwork will appear on, set your pricing, and add them to your store.

You can add Printful to your store in a variety of ways, including integrations and APIs – the below email is sent out when you integrate through Shopify.

What we love about it:

There’s a lot of information in this email – but it really doesn’t feel overwhelming because of the way it’s broken up with illustrations that support the core messaging of the copy. It shows a great awareness of where the recipient is up to: they’ve just installed the integration and might need a little help with next steps.

20. Shopify/Oberlo

Shopify is the world’s most popular eCommerce platform, giving individuals, SMB’s and larger businesses everything they need to sell stuff online.

Shopify comes with a free 14-day trial, which a lot of people sign up for simply to take a look at the system. At this point, they might have no real product to sell – they’re simply in the exploratory phase.

And that’s where this email comes in! Calling out directly to people who ‘can’t think of an idea’ it offers the option to install Oberlo – a drop-shipping tool that lets you add products to your Shopify store in a matter of seconds, ready to sell.

What we love about it:

A common theme across many of these examples is that they’ve clearly factored in the biggest ‘problem’ the recipient is likely to be facing – the biggest obstacle to their ongoing success with the product or service in question.

What’s great about this email is that it turns a negative into a positive. Can’t think of an idea for a product to sell? No problem – give Oberlo a blast.

21. Jet

Jet is a sort of online department store, with a curated assortment of local and leading brands to shop in one place. They push shoppers towards the Jet newsletter as a way to get all the latest news and offers.

After signing up, the below email lands in your inbox as a welcome message.

What we love about it:

There’s something really positive and welcoming about the messaging here. “You’re part of the club now” is a really impactful way to validate the reader’s decision to sign up. Rather than asking for any further commitment or action, the email further underlines the value the audience is now going to receive. It also provides a healthy amount of educational info about some of the finer points of the tool such as Smart Items and Smart Carts, to help the reader get up and running ASAP.

22. SanityCheck

Ok, so all the examples we’ve looked at so far have been beautifully designed. But what if you could onboard effectively just with plain text? SanityCheck is a SaaS platform that gives you more value from the data available through Google Analytics.

The below email is one you receive after someone adds you to the account. It’s a plain text email that doesn’t look particularly impressive, but, weirdly, that helps it cut through the noise a little.

Why we love it:

This is a really welcoming message, coming direct from the company founder. It’s clearly labeled as automated, but also calls out the fact that it comes from a real person, who will reply to your email if necessary. There are no frills here, but the email contains all the information you need: login details, useful content to help you get started, and an offer of personal support and help if it’s needed.

23. Headspace

Headspace is a mental health app that specialises in mindfulness, meditation and sleep improvement. It’s a hugely popular app, with an estimated 62 million downloads worldwide. It’s also a freemium app which gives away some content for free, but offers premium subscriptions for £9.99/month or £49.99/year.

As always with apps that have a lot of ‘buzz’ around them, a lot of people will download the app to take a look – and then take no further action. This makes onboarding really important, as it can make the difference between an ongoing user and immediate churn.

Why we love it:

It’s always great to highlight the value your user has already achieved by taking the first step. This email does that well – “By signing up, you’ve taken your first step towards a happier, healthier life.” It also has a strongly educational tone, which is great – while the user has signed up at this stage, they may have no real idea how to get started using the app, which is clearly a significant obstacle to a positive experience. Getting in with content that nudges them in the right direction – whether they’re a novice or intermediate user – is a great way to engage them and get them to the right place fast.

24. Mailchimp

Mailchimp is an all in one marketing platform to manage email, ads, landing pages and CRM. As a highly complex, multifaceted SaaS platform, an ongoing issue is likely to be that the audience struggles to get up and running.

Why we love it:

It’s easy to become overwhelmed by new, unfamiliar software tools with extensive feature sets. This email lays out a simple 4 step-process to get people up and running, to unlock the maximum potential and value of the Mailchimp platform.

25. Booz Allen

Booz Allen is a management and IT consulting firm, also offering analytics and digital solutions. All sounds a little complicated – but with more than 100+ years of experience, they’re certainly doing something right!

Why we love it:

We’ve included this example for one significant reason. It’s a great illustration of the fact that onboarding is as much about the brand finding out about the reader, as the other way around. The vast majority of this email is about fact-finding; discovering audience problems, goals, and interests. This is all funneled towards a ‘Customise your preferences’ call-to-action which lets the reader specify what it is that they’re looking for. The takeaway is simple: the more you can find out about your reader, the better you can tailor your content to move them through your process and add maximum value to their experience with your product or service. So yes – talk about your products, your services, the things you can do for them. But don’t forget to ask, and listen to the answers, as well!

26. nDash.co

nDash is a content creation platform that’s used by some huge brands including LinkedIn, Hitachi and HubSpot. This is the email that’s sent out when you create an account on their system.

Why we love it:

We’ve talked a lot in this article about breaking down the setup process into clear steps, and this is a great example of that approach. What’s particularly nice is the clear colour coding, highlighting what the user has already done and what they should do next. This almost brings an element of gamification into play, where the recipient can see they’ve already nailed step 1 – but have 4 that need to be completed.

27. Refind

Refind is a content curation platform that lets you build a sort of reading list based on your favourite topics, websites and influencers. Each day you get a compiled list of articles to read – a great advantage in a world with so much noise to filter through!

Your interests are specified during the sign up process – but what if you don’t specify them? That’s where this email comes in…

Why we love it:

Ok so this is technically a mix between onboarding and re-engagement, in that it reaches out to people who started but didn’t finish specifying their interests. But what’s great about this is how clear and simple it is. It’s asking for one very specific thing – pick your favourites from a list. And we’ve included it in this list for that exact reason: if you need one specific thing for your audience to get the best experience or move forward with their journey – then make sure the email is clear, decluttered, and focused towards that specific action!

28. Square

Square is a credit card processing solution that helps businesses get paid! This email is designed to help people accept their first payment – again with a multi-step process.

Why we love it:

This is a nicely designed email, with a modern, simple two-colour scheme. It leads with value – the hero statement specifying the clear value of ‘accept your first payment’ – which is clearly what the reader will have been looking for when they first initiated their interest in the Square brand. There’s also a link to the support center and support team.

29. Findmypast

Findmypast is an online family history tool that lets you build and explore your family tree. Like so many of the SaaS tools we’ve looked at in this article, they offer a free 14-day trial, graduating to a paid monthly or annual subscription model after that time has passed.

Signing up for an account is really quick and simple – but the real value behind Findmypast is in what the tool can do in terms of unearthing family history. It’s also where things can get complicated – Findmypast is home to a staggering 4 billion searchable records. That sort of thing can quickly get overwhelming. And – when you’ve got users who haven’t paid yet – there’s always a chance that they’ll be overwhelmed to the point of cancelling their subscription.

Findmypast is therefore huge on onboarding – getting people to make that first bit of progress that demonstrates the value of the product and hopefully makes them more likely to keep using it!

Why we love it:

This one uses imagery really well, with modular design to break up the important information into clusters. It means that the overall result is a really nicely structured piece of content that’s nice to look at – and easy to digest. There’s also a lot to be said for the messaging here, with a focus on the value – note how they don’t talk about ‘getting started’ but instead about ‘adding branches’. This is far more likely to resonate with what the reader was looking to do when they first signed up – meaning there’s a good chance this email might re-engage users who had perhaps previously given up.

30. Apple

Of course, Apple does a lot right when it comes to marketing – and onboarding is no exception. There are countless examples we could choose here, but we’ve particularly chosen to include the two below. One of these is a product tour for a newly bought Mac – getting the user familiar with what it can do. The other is an introduction to the App Store, which is sent to new Apple users upon registering a new device.

Why we love it:

There’s such clear logic behind both these examples. One is pure product education – the better a user understands the ins and outs of their new purchase, the more likely they are to have a great experience with it. And then there’s the App Store introduction, which reflects a wider assumption that engagement with apps = engagement with device. Both these emails are clean, simple and engaging – exactly what you’d expect from Apple!

31. Casper

Casper is a British company that sells highly engineered mattresses and sleep products. Instead of a newsletter, they send a Snooze Letter – which, as well as being a fun play on words, is also a great description of a very interesting and powerful onboarding technique!

Why we love it:

If you’ve ever heard the saying ‘Don’t sell the mattress, sell the good night’s sleep’ then you’ll be delighted to see that applied so literally in this example! Instead of simply pushing information about their products, Casper instead use this opportunity to educate the audience about the value of a good night’s sleep, and use that as an anchor for the reader to eventually become interested in the product.

32. Magic Spoon

Magic Spoon is a keto-friendly low-carb cereal brand, offering ‘childlike cereal for adults.’ When you sign up for email alerts, you get a great welcome email, including a discount code for free shipping on your first order.

Why we love it:

What’s immediately clear from this is that we’re looking at a really cool, creative brand. The illustrations – creatively showcasing the cereal ‘hoops’ – are great, while the copy is also wonderfully offbeat. As we’ve mentioned in a few examples, there’s a sense of progress and achievement made through signing up. This is encapsulated in the hero copy: ‘Thanks for signing up. Strong move.

33. Charles Tyrwhitt

Charles Tyrwhitt is a men’s clothing retailer specialising in dress shirts, ties, suits, casualwear, shoes and accessories. Shoppers who sign up to receive an email newsletter from the company get the welcome email below – which gives a great intro to the brand.

Why we love it:

This is a really great snapshot of the brand, which is important for ecommerce onboarding. A quintessentially British brand gets a quintessentially British brand voice with the suitably formal greeting of “Very pleased to meet you!” It also features great imagery, showcasing elements of both brand and product. And, to put the cherry on top, it offers a discount code to nudge people from being interested in the brand – to interested in making a purchase!

Thanks for reading!

Ok, so that’s a lot of examples, with a lot of potential takeaways.

To wrap up the article, let’s take a look through the consistencies – the common trends and patterns that separate the ‘meh’ from the ‘amazing’ when it comes to onboarding!

Be aware of the biggest issue/obstacle: something these examples all do incredibly well is to think very pragmatically about where the user is and where they need to be. This is then presented very clearly within the messaging – helping get them to that desired ‘next step.’

Show interest in your audience: it’s not quite as common throughout the list, but something that’s really impressive in some of these examples is the commitment to finding out more about the reader to help better serve them. Onboarding is often a two-way street, so remember to encourage feedback and insights from your audience, too.

Less is more: what comes across time and time again is that the best examples are simple and concise. Writing a 1,000 word email simply isn’t going to work here. People will scroll their email for seconds at a time rather than minutes, so you need to grab their attention by highlighting the value of the email and their next step quickly and powerfully.

It’s a marathon not a sprint. Similarly, don’t assume that you need to hammer home every message in one email. Onboarding isn’t a moment, it’s a process. A series of shorter emails is much better than one long barrage of information!

Clear signposting. You might have noticed that, in each example here, we see multiple calls to action. This is a great way to make sure wherever people are up to in the process, whatever their pain point, there’s something for them to read, someone for them to speak to, or something for them to do.

Video is the secret ingredient. Finally – the examples that use video really stand out. This is significant, since our data reveals that – when asked how they feel companies could improve re. onboarding – 69% of people say that they feel more video should be used.

What do you think of the examples we’ve shared? Have you received any onboarding emails that really impressed you?

(Check out our onboarding video page for more information and examples!)