Courting Your Customer: Signing Up is Just the Beginning

Posted by Ann Breckenkamp on March 11th, 2014 at 12:43 pm

According to ExactTarget’s “2014 State of Marketing” report, only about 40% of marketers are currently using some type of Welcome Series to introduce new customers to their product or service. Given how expensive it can be to acquire new customers and how fleeting most customer relationships tend to be in this day and age, not having any type of onboarding flow is a lost opportunity that most marketers cannot afford.

Whether you already have some type of onboarding campaign and you’re exploring ways to improve your existing flow, or you’re part of the majority looking to create an onboarding flow for the first time, this post offers a few best practices on how to execute a welcome strategy that will drive real results. Below we’ll provide tips for not only keeping your newest customers around for the long haul, but for turning them into loyal advocates who can help drive your business success.

1) Welcome new customers immediately with a clear call-to-action.

Thank your new customers right away for signing up and introduce them to the best aspects of your product or service. You can adapt the content of your first welcome message depending on your end goals, but the important part is that you make it as easy as possible for your customers to take the next step by including links, buttons, videos and/or other interactive content directly in the body of the message.

We consider the following items integral to an effective and engaging welcome message:

  • Special introductory offer to encourage a transaction or other goal
  • Featured products, services and/or events relevant to individual customer behavior (e.g., browsing history, keywords through which the person was acquired) and attributes (e.g., gender, location), with clickable content to learn more or purchase
  • Tutorial or intro video to teach your customers how to get started, preferably embedded into the message but a link to external content at a minimum
  • Summary of key benefits and information to remind them why they signed up as well as what’s yet to come
  • Referral link, recommending specific friends to invite if connected to social channels
  • Link to download the mobile app, if the person was not acquired via mobile
  • Link to connect to social, if the person has not already done so
  • Details for contacting you if they have questions or concerns
  • Extending this type of warm welcome will set your customer relationships off on a high note with clear direction.

2) Customize the welcome message based on user interests and behaviors.

Even though it’s tempting to simply send the same generic “welcome” message to all new customers, try to personalize this message as much as possible. Perhaps you’ve collected profile data during the account creation. Or maybe you’ve connected to their social networks and have access to information about their interests and behaviors. At the very least, you likely have details about which channel you acquired them through and which campaign they responded to. We recommend using whatever information you have at your disposal to create customized, personalized messages right from the get-go.

3) Respond to what each customer does or does not do during onboarding.

Follow up the initial welcome email by nudging your customers to the next step of the onboarding process if they don’t get there on their own. Here are a few examples of how you can tailor your early communication based on how a customer responds to your interactions:

  • If someone logs in on Day 1, but a couple days pass and you haven’t seen him or her again, follow up with a bonus offer to encourage re-engagement.
  • For those who started your product tutorial but never finished, send a reminder to complete the remaining steps it while it’s still at the top of mind.
  • If someone quickly adopts one feature but leaves another unexplored, prompt him or her to check it out.
  • If a person never views your introductory offer, re-send the offer with new copy. Maybe try a different channel!
  • The week after acquisition is a critical time for nurturing these at-risk relationships and establishing baseline engagement; don’t prematurely lose a potentially valuable customer!

4) Establish a regular cadence.

Establishing cadence is one of the most important things in the first 30 days. It’s critical to set expectations from Day 1 for how and when your customers can expect to hear from you. You can set up a flow-based drip campaign to incrementally push each new customer to complete a series of actions that lead up to your desired goal - whether a purchase, subscription, level of usage, or whatever. The cadence and frequency of your contact is entirely dependent on the type of product or service you offer and the type of relationship you expect to have with your customers. For example, a Daily Deals website can get away with sending daily emails, but that level of frequency would likely be overkill for many other web sites. If you’re unsure of what’s acceptable, you might try asking your users up front how often they’d like to hear from you and give them the choice of receiving emails and other communications from you on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis.

5) Coordinate communication across each customer’s preferred channels.

Not only is it important to personalize the content and timing of your onboarding messages, but the channel through which you communicate with each customer matters too. Even after just a couple days of activity, you should start to recognize preferences for where a new customer loves to hear from you - whether email, mobile or other channels. For example, did the customer download the mobile app? Has he or she opened any of the emails you’ve sent? What about push notifications? Was the first login via web or mobile? Catering to these preferences by synchronizing content across a customer’s preferred channels (but not bothering him or her on other channels) will increase the likelihood of the desired behavior in the end.

6) Automate the entire onboarding process for all your new customers.

This would be simple to tailor your onboarding process to just one customer, or even five. But when you are acquiring new customers at a fast rate, you need some kind of solution to help translate your customer data into personalized, cross-channel messages for every person -- automatically. That’s where CommandIQ can help.

Which types of onboarding interactions have driven the most significant results for your business? Please share!

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