SaaS Onboarding Emails: Increase Engagement (plus 6 Sizzling SaaS Email Templates)

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SaaS Onboarding Emails: Increase Engagement (plus 6 Sizzling SaaS Email Templates)

Ian NaylorOct 17, 2019

Companies often treat their users as if they’re sitting there, just waiting to receive an email from them.

The truth is that on average, each office worker receives 121 emails every day, so your SaaS onboarding email is just one of many…

For you, the goal is to convert that free trial user into an upgraded one. In this article, we’ll take a look at how to do that, and provide 6 timely email templates that are optimized for results.

Ready? Let’s go.

Know the benchmark figures for optimal planning

It is possible you’re getting an average email open rate of 19%, but because you don’t know what rates are normal for SaaS onboarding emails, you may think your numbers are dismal when in fact, they’re pretty good.

This is why you need to understand the average industry email rates:

Average SaaS onboarding email rates

According to MailChimp, the average email rates for software, are:

Average open rate 19.81%
Average click through rate 2.05%

Average conversion statistics

According to Ankit Jain, Head of Search and Discovery at Google Play, people try out a lot of software, but because they decide within the first 3 – 7 days which ones they don’t want to continue using, it’s essential to “hook” them within that period of time. (Source)

Crucial elements that impact email performance

Before planning your email flow, you need to understand the elements that increase SaaS onboarding email effectiveness:

The actual product has to perform

If your software doesn’t perform, it doesn’t matter how awesome your SaaS onboarding emails are; they will simply not convert many, if any, users into paying customers.

Know your customer

Before attempting an email strategy, it is crucial to understand what’s going on in the mind – and heart – of your customer.

How can your emails be successful if they don’t speak the language of your users, or if they fail to get inside their heads? If you don’t know your customer, you won’t understand how to “hook” them with email copy.

One easy way of finding out your customer’s deepest needs is by asking your website visitors questions.


Dramatically increase email click-through rates by segmenting users according to their interests and customizing welcome messages to their experience. Segmentation means up to 18X more revenue.

Here’s what segmentation looks like in real life: let’s take GrooveHQ. Their welcome message is from their CEO; this gets a 41% response rate to say why they chose GrooveHQ.

3 Days after the user opens the “Welcome” email, if the subscriber has set up a new mailbox, this is the message they’ll get:

But if the user has not set up a mailbox, this is the email they’ll get:

Can you see why segmentation improves conversion? That’s because it makes email relevant to each user and their individual journeys.


Not every user journey is the same. People take different routes to get to your software; one could come via a social media promotion, and others will discover your website from a search result. Some sign up and some may return a few months later. Some will sign up and immediately log in to find out how your app works, and then others will sign up and never return.

If you don’t cater to their specific journey, you may lose them to confusion or irrelevancy.

Increase SaaS onboarding email conversions by including personalized images, because 80% of those who open your email will only scan it. An image with their name, and/or their business logo will catch their attention and pique their interest, leading to higher click-throughs and conversions:

It’s time-consuming to set up personalization and segmentation, especially at scale, but that’s also why it works: not many companies take the time to set it all up, so those who do immediately have the edge over competitors.

However tools like Hyperise, that enable you to enrich and personalize images on the fly and at scale, make this task not only feasible but practical to implement.

Good timing

The first ten days after your new user signs up for a free trial of your software are critical. In this period, the user has optimal interest in your app, so make use of this time to achieve your goals.

SaaS onboarding email strategy planning

Companies fail at marketing because they don’t strategize. A SaaS onboarding email strategy takes time to develop, but the success is in the planning.

Email strategy tips

For an effective SaaS onboarding email strategy, build your welcome email sequence around these best practices:

Have one objective for each email

Set a clear objective for each email in your onboarding sequence. Include, where necessary, only one call to action.

Don’t assume they’ll remember your app

Never assume users will remember you or your app. Although your email is important to you, to your user, it’s just one of many. For this reason, reinforce your app’s core value by reminding users why they started using the software in the first place.

Focus on what’s important to them, not you

In your SaaS onboarding emails, always focus on what’s-in-it-for-them; this would be the benefits of using your software, instead of punting the features.

This is precisely why you need to understand your users and what matters to them.

Highlighting how users gain from using your app is a powerful way to get them on board. Make it easy for people to understand the value of your app.

As a rule of thumb, people are motivated by avoiding pain, experiencing pleasure or for status.

Stand out; make things fun

People are drawn to others who elicit positive emotions and it’s no different in business. Making things fun will make you stand out, and increase engagement from readers.

And it needn’t be A Thing. Simply writing copy that shakes things up a little will do it.


“Zing! You’re in!”
“Let the fun begin!”
“Buy now and charity gets 10%!”

An outstanding method of inserting fun into an email is by adding a personalized image.

>Make it easy for users to say, “yes!”

Offer incentives to act, and make it really easy for users to do what you want them to do.

Consider offering a bonus, discount, additional trial period, a temporary upgrade for a limited time, etc.; this will often lead them to engage with your app.

Keep things simple and be clear with instructions.

Optimize emails for mobile

46% of all emails are opened on mobile devices, and if the email is not optimized for mobile, there’s a very slim chance it will achieve its purpose.

Knowing the ideal subject line length, button size, and CTA position is vital for creating emails that look sexy on mobile.

Use attention grabbing subject lines

To get users to read your email, they have to open it first, and to get them to open it, your subject lines are crucial.

Get some ideas here.

6 Sizzling SaaS Email Templates

Keep in mind that the first 10 days have more chance of users onboarding once they’ve signed up for a trial period.

The following emails are templates you can tweak, we’ve added personalized images using Hyperise to make them pop:

The welcome email

The welcome email has the highest open rate, so make it count. If it stands out, they are more likely to open the next email you send.

The welcome email is the first email a new prospect receives from you.

In this email, it’s important to set expectations and provide guidelines as to their next steps to make it easy for them to return to the app.

Subject: WELCOME, {firstname}!

Greetings {firstname},

Thank you for signing up to {companyName}. WE ARE BEYOND EXCITED THAT YOU’VE JOINED US!

My name is {X} and I am the {job title} for {X}.

You may want to get started here:
● Handy link 1
● Handy link 2
● Handy link 3

If you have any questions, please hit reply.

I’d love to hear from you – whether it’s to tell me some rather unpleasant constructive feedback or a blush-worthy compliment.

Thank you, {your firstname}

Your trial is ending email

Subject: Will we stay together, {firstname}?

Greetings {firstname},

I come bearing bad news… Yep…

That’s right…

…Your {companyName} free trial is ending.

This means you have a decision to make: will we stay together? Oh, I do hope so. Here are your next steps:

1) Upgrade to the full version​ to ensure you’ll always be able to {WHAT YOUR PRODUCT DOES}.

2) Don’t upgrade, and be relegated to a world where {WHAT HAPPENS IF THEY DON’T USE YOUR PRODUCT).

I think option 1 makes the most sense. But then, I’m biased, of course.

Just in case you are thinking of leaving, I’ve included some testimonials below to try persuade you not to. (screenshots of testimonials)

Cheers, {your firstname}

P.S. For the specific purpose of brightening up your day, I’ve included a picture of a rather dapper dog wearing a monocle and a top hat. I think he looks like a Rufus. What do you think?

New email to get feedback on why a user didn’t upgrade

Subject: Where did we go wrong, {firstname}?

Greetings {first name},

It’s {X} here, from your {companyName}.

Here’s me, with my figurative tail between my legs…

You see, you hurt me, {X}. You hurt me where it hurts. In my wallet. That is, you elected not to sign up to the premium version of {companyName}. And I’m sitting here, wondering where it all went wrong…

Was it {X}?

Was it {X}?

Was it {X}?

Anything else?

You don’t owe me anything, but I’d really appreciate any feedback you have – good (yay!), bad (boo!), or ugly (eek!); I want it all.

To sweeten the deal, if you do help me out, I’ll even send you {X} as a small gesture of my appreciation.

If you can’t, or don’t want to, no worries of course. You don’t ask – you don’t get. 🙂 I’ll keep my fingers, toes, and other appendages crossed…

Have an absolutely wonderful day,

Why did you cancel email

Subject: {firstname} Why?

Greetings {firstname},

I just got word that you cancelled your account. Naturally, this makes me sad.

I’d like to understand why. I need closure, {firstname}.

Ok Ok. I need your feedback so we can improve – and create a product so exceptional nobody will ever think about canceling ever again…

Perhaps I’m getting carried away. In all seriousness, It would be a HUGE help if you could give me your reasoning behind canceling your subscription.

If you reply, I’ll be happy to send you {X} as a small gesture to say “thank you for telling us why we suck!” 😀

If you don’t have time, no worries. You don’t ask – you don’t get. 🙂 I’ll keep my fingers, toes, and other appendages crossed…

Have an absolutely wonderful day,

Credit card declined email

Subject: Credit card issue, {firstname}

Greetings {firstname},

I come bearing pesky, irritating news. Forgive me in advance 🙁

Your card was declined. As such, we weren’t able to take your payment. This makes us sad.

Alas, our system has automatically [bumped you down to the limited plan / put your account on hold], which means you can no longer {X}. (Booooo!)

Never fear – it will take a mere 5 minutes to get everything back up and running again. (Woohoo!)

Simply click this handy little link -> [LINK] and then update your card details. JOB. DONE. 🙂

If you have any questions, issues, rants, sonnets or declarations of love, please hit reply, and I’ll do my best to reply with hopefully impressive speed.

Have an absolutely wonderful day,

Conversation starter to get an interview with a current customer email

Subject: Help me to help you, {firstname}

Greetings {firstname},

It’s {your firstname} here, from {your companyName}.

I’m emailing you today because I need your help.

While we at {your companyName} might like to think we are doing everything right, we know that it’s unlikely we will achieve this aim alone.

We need to hear from you. We need your feedback – the good (yay!), the bad (boo!), and the ugly (eek!) We want it all.

Would you be open to doing a quick interview with us? Pretty please? To say thanks, if you agree to do the interview, I’ll buy you lunch. Just a small token of our appreciation.

If you don’t wish to, my apologies. (You don’t ask – you don’t get.) But if you’re open to it, please hit reply. It’ll make my day.

I’ll keep my fingers, toes, and other appendages crossed. 🙂

Have an absolutely wonderful day,

Ready to take your SaaS onboarding to the next level?

Great news, using Customerly and Hyperise is soooo simple, that you can take advantage of this, without even breaking a sweat.

Within Customerly go to Settings and edit/add an Email Template.

Select your required layout, drag in the Image Block and paste into the Image URL input box a personalized image URL from Hyperise.

Now we can see our embedded dynamic image. At this point it will still show with the parameters, that’s fine, these will change when the template is used.

That’s it! Customerly will now pass the collected data it has to the image, which will be created on the fly, as Customerly sends out the chat messages.

As a reward for reading this article, our friends at Hyperise are offering a very special offer of 30% off all image personalization packages, exclusively for Customerly.

Simply sign-up for their 14 day FREE trial, then apply the discount code CUSTOMERLY to save some money, but more importantly to boost your onboarding….

Ian Naylor

Ian Naylor

Content Writer

A serial entrepreneur, technologist and innovator, an expert authority on growth marketing trends and SaaS startups, having successfully launched multi online business over the last 20 years.

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