I have to confess to you — I have very little patience! When I subscribe to someone’s lead nurturing campaign, I always wished there was a “fast-forward” button that automatically sends the next email in the sequence.
Because of this, I’ve always been jealous of other marketers, who have the composure to sign up for a tool or a blog, and calmly wait until they receive all of the emails. Not only that, but those devoted marketers search the emails among heaps of inbox junk, and carefully collect each email into a doc so that they can review the whole sequence/onboarding/campaign for us!
Thanks to my impatience (and laziness), I figured out a different solution to this challenge:
You send me your whole email onboarding sequence, and I review it for you.
I don’t have to wait, and you get a few suggestions that could radically change your business.
Because of my genius idea, we’ve been racking up new onboarding teardowns on our blog that fast.
The one we have today is Fixel.
Fixel is a SaaS platform that enables companies like Watches.com and TBWA to get robust AI-segmented audiences across ad platforms like Facebook and Google.
Fixel is not your average startup, though. The company has graduated from Techstars in 2018 and was recognized as Israel’s most promising MarTech company for 2018.
So how a successful startup like Fixel looks under the hood when it comes to email onboarding?
Short answer: pretty good. That’s why you’ll find me nit-picking quite a lot in this teardown.
Elad, Head of Growth at Fixel, has published a post sharing their lessons from building an effective marketing stack. Highly encourage you to check it out!
A lot of what you see here in terms of emails is the result of an evolution in the martech stack of Fixel and the resourcefulness of Elad and team working around constraints with their budget, time, and development manpower.
Fixel has a high-touch, sales-driven go-to-market model:
- A lead books a call with a salesperson on the Fixel website.
- Sales-qualified leads (SQLs) are given access to a 30-day free trial.
- The SQL signs up for a trial, and the automated onboarding emails take it from there.
The email onboarding consists of:
- 15 emails
- The emails are grouped in 3 separate flows/sequences.
- Both time-based and event-triggered emails are utilized.
- All of the emails are sent from Elad.
So let’s dive into each email.
Segment Created Email
Instead of barraging users with an endless email cadence boasting a ton of features, the whole onboarding strategy of Fixel is designed around helping users realize value fast.
When we buy something after trying it, this purchase is based on our “Realization of Value” during the trial.”— Lincoln Murhpy
In order for Fixel users to realize value, they need to create and install the first segment. (A segment is an equivalent to Google Analytics tracker — it needs to be created, installed, and then the user waits for it to analyze a specific number of sessions.)
Therefore Fixel’s trial emails are mostly focused on getting their users to do the single most critical thing in their app — creating and installing the segment.
Elad has also shared the next steps of the setup process, encouraging users to get going and creating velocity in the onboarding.
A tiny, little thing but I’d play around with video placeholder images in this email and see if it has any impact on the click rate of the emails. Some people react better to visual clues than text links, and Fixel has a great image that could be utilized in that email for this experiment:
Something we’ve also seen being implemented is rewarding users for activating a feature quickly (within the first 24 hours, for example). A blurb like Wow, that was fast!” could make this email even more personal and aligned with the pace of the customer journey.
Segment Installed Email
Another well-executed action-triggered reward email.
We can jot down two important lessons here:
- People always prefer certainty over uncertainty. Your users want to know what next steps to take after finishing a task. In this email, Fixel is setting the expectations for what’s coming up next concisely and without much fudging.
- Your onboarding emails should mirror how you handle objections in your sales calls. I haven’t tuned in any of the Fixel calls, but I bet a common question they get is how long it would take for the machine learning algorithm to analyze results. The email addresses that objection and provides an additional explanation as to why it takes that long. Good job!
Segment Active Email
No matter how big and rich a company is, it’s unlikely that it advertises on each of these ad platforms at the same time. Hence I think this email could benefit from a good user segmentation.
As a part of the in-app onboarding, Fixel could survey new signups about the platforms they advertise on. With that data available in the marketing automation tool, it’s pretty straightforward to personalize the onboarding experience based on the answer:
- Advertising on Facebook → Trigger an email that is focused primarily on Facebook ads. E.g., subject: “Your segment is active, Create your Facebook audience now”.
- Advertising on LinkedIn → Same email but for LinkedIn
- Not specified or advertising on two or more platforms → Fixel could send the generic email they currently have.
Putting trialists into different buckets based on data points like this one is ridiculously easy in Encharge. All you need to use is the “Check Field” filter step:
Alternatively, if the changes from email to email are not that big and you just want to change a few words, you can create dynamic content in your email by using Liquid tags.
Fixel should also ensure they’re not sending these instructions to the set of users that have already created an audience in their app.
I’ve talked about this in previous teardowns, but it’s really important to stress it again:
It might not seem like a big deal, but what happens is that users start to perceive your email communication as irrelevant and not in pace with their customer journey. And this has a significant impact on future email engagement (read, lower open and click-through rates).
“Logged In but No Segment” Sequence
Fixel has a whole cadence of emails trying to nudge people that have logged in but haven’t created a segment. They send nudge emails 30 minutes after signup, and then 3, 7, 14, 21 and 35 days, with the latest email being a post-expiration nudge. So let’s review each one of these emails below.
30 Minutes after signup
^^^ Apart from providing instructions here, I might add a benefit-focused line or two. This is what we did with one of our customers, trying to quantify the value of the product ASAP in the welcome email:
That Fixel email would also benefit from a clear, high contrasting CTA button that gets people back to the Fixel console. I wouldn’t put my hopes on the tiny text link, as a sole CTA.
3 Days after signup
7 Days after signup
14 Days after signup
21 Days after signup
35 Days after signup (Post-trial email)
I love the consistency in this sales-assisted onboarding cadence! As we have mentioned in previous posts, half of SaaS conversions happen AFTER the trial ends.
“A free trial creates artificial purchasing urgency. But there isn’t anything magical about the last day of a trial – some customers continue to convert at their own rate based on incentives or their perceptions of value. “ – Mad Kudu
With that in mind, it’s awesome that Fixel sends a post-trial nudge. I’d go a bit further, and send two more pushes at day 60 and day 90, before triggering the last “break up” email (currently sent at day 35).
Now, let’s see what are some tactics we can implement to get more demo calls since this is the primary goal of this sales-touch campaign.
Frame the call as a free consultation call:
“Would you like me to audit your advertising campaigns for free?”
“I’d really love to get you on a free strategy call where we’ll set up your ad audiences for free, show you the ropes of Fixel, and make sure we can help you solve your biggest frustrations.”
Demonstrate what other companies got from these calls in the past:
“We have found that companies that join us on these calls tend to get much better results with Fixel, and ultimately their ad campaigns. For example, Watches.com tripled their ROAS.”
Handle the being sold to objection:
take the fear out of getting on a call with an aggressive salesperson.
A great example below from ConvertKit:
Handle the “I’m going to waste time objection” by adding a “quick 20-30 minute call” blurb.
Address the consequences of not getting on a call with you
This is how I’d rewrite this email:
Wasting your ad budget on untargeted Facebook audiences is no fun!
Blasting the wrong people with your ads will not only skyrocket your Customer Acquisition Costs but also add a ton of other problems:
- Facebook will lower your ad quality rank and raise the CPC of your campaign or even your whole account.
- You will waste time trying to reach out to the wrong people, and have less time and money to focus on your true audience.
- You will think that there’s something wrong with your ad creatives — leading you down the path of fixing a non-existing problem.
- Your ROAS (Return on Ad Spend) will get lower. This is especially bad if your ad budget depends on your historical performance.
I’d love to help you avoid all of these and get the best results for your ads! We have found that companies who get on a customer success call with us have much higher chances of getting their Face audiences right, and avoiding the problems that come with untargeted audiences.
What would be a good time for you to talk about your Facebook audiences?”
“Created a Segment but Haven’t Installed” Sequence
1 day after signup
10 days after signup
15 days after signup
Similarly to the previous sequence, I’d include at least one or two benefits, rather than just trying to nudge people to take action. Stress why they should install your widget/invite team members/signup for your premium plan, and more importantly what they’re losing if they don’t do it.
I might try a loss-aversion subject line somewhere in that sequence:
“You’re losing hundreds of dollars”
“Stop losing 10% of your appointments”.
Trial Expiration Sequence
7 days before trial ends
1 day before trial ends
I love trial expiration sequences! They are an brilliant opportunity to show your users what they’re going to lose if they fail to upgrade.
Fixel is on the right track here:
“If you don’t upgrade your plan, your Fixel segment will stop scoring users visiting your website…”
But more importantly, Fixel needs to highlight the Money/Conversions/# of customers/Clicks their trial users are going to lose by not upgrading.
Even further, the trial expiration email needs to contrast the outcomes of upgrading VS. not upgrading:
As Sophia Le says:
“Sometimes missing out on benefits isn’t enough. It might be a proven fact that your product’s feature has helped others. But sometimes it’s not enough to persuade the skeptical trial user. You need to change their mindset. You need to illustrate what would happen to the user if they choose to pay for your product… and how life would be if they didn’t.”
Want to get your email onboarding reviewed?
I’ve already dedicated a fair share of this blog’s space to big guys like Dropbox and Squarespace if you need of fleshed out and well-executed onboarding examples. This blog category is all about you — the early-stage SaaS companies.
If you have a SaaS company, want to increase your trial to paid conversion rate, and get your email onboarding reviewed in the same way, schedule a call with our team.
More resources on onboarding emails
- SaaS Email Onboarding Teardown — Hey.Space
- SaaS Email Onboarding Teardown — HaloITSM
- Create a Trigger-Based Email Onboarding Flow for Your SaaS. The Step-by-Step Guide
- 16+ Onboarding Emails You Can Steal in 2020
- 45 Effective Welcome Message Examples Analyzed
- The Essential Guide to Marketing Automation for SaaS