7 powerful ways of using email to onboard new app users
Written by
Tanishq Juneja
Tanishq Juneja

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7 powerful ways of using email to onboard new app users

Published : May 11, 2021 | Updated : May 08, 2024
Apps first banner

The iOS App Store has around 1.9 million apps, while the Google Play Store has more than 2.5 million. And 3000+ new android apps are getting published every day! 

Interestingly, the download numbers do not matter much: within 72 hours of install, on average, 77% of the daily active users are lost. In less than 30 days, the number rockets to 90%; within three months, it goes over the edge to 95%.

Retaining the users and ensuring their regular interaction is the biggest challenge. A proper onboarding goes a long way in helping overcome it. 

To stay ahead in the game, you need to start engaging the user early on – right from the onboarding stage. Let’s look at some of the worldwide best practices that the top mobile app makers follow for onboarding. 

Email standing tall

With limited user interactions, in-app notifications, push notifications, and SMS are unsuitable for effective onboarding; they cannot support the rich, long-form content needed to evoke interest. A two-line notification cannot do the job half as good as a well-planned, creatively crafted email.

Email is the single most powerful channel for engaging with your app users throughout their journey. It sits outside the app as an unwalled channel, and the user frequently interacts with it, at least 5-6 times a day.

As a content vehicle, email perfectly suits all onboarding initiatives that involve customer interactions, which are complex and nonlinear. Segmenting and targeting app users basis their behavior and the stages of onboarding is something emails can do brilliantly. 

Welcome emails have fantastic open rates of more than 50%, and campaign mails that walk the app users through multiple features/benefits also reach high engagement levels.

Beginning right with the most crucial stage – onboarding – is what really matters to win the loyalty of the app users for life. Here are 7 examples of how app companies are using emails for smooth onboarding.

1. Creating a good first impression

As the starting point of the users’ journey, begin with a good welcome email, which reaffirms that your app was indeed the best long-term choice – remind them why they chose your app and assure them that you would be able to meet all their expectations. 

Your user would be interacting with the welcome email in the right frame of mind and would be highly perceptive to how you set the tone. Provoke optimism and positivity, create a feel-good engagement, and make your brand recall vibrant and supportive. 

Source of Headspace

2. Making onboarding simple and predictable

When taking the users through their onboarding journey, let them know what to expect from you. Users should not be left wondering what or how many steps are remaining before they become aware of your app’s features and functionalities.  

Share the exciting resources that would be coming along their way in the days to come. Explain how each of them would be useful for them to realize the maximum capabilities of your app. Make it interactive and engaging by wanting to know their interests.

Source of LiveAgent

3. Getting the most from the app, right at the beginning

While onboarding, talk about the benefits of the app, rather than the functionalities or features. Share the different ways in which the user stands to gain from your app; which needs does the app fulfil best. Mention the ways in which user’s peers get more out of your app.

As much as you would love to tell your new users how your app works, remember to tell them how it adds value to their lives, digital and real. Encourage them to move up the exploration curve and deepen their engagement.

Source of Flock

4. Aiming to know your user better

If any new user lags in profiling (subscribed but did not complete the entire process), send a focused email; ask them to share more details for moving along the onboarding journey. Explain the sections that need to be filled up and remember to add a user benefit for each.

Use the onboarding opportunity to know more about the user. Encourage the user with end benefits to complete the profile; having a detailed user profile and understanding it has several long-term advantages throughout the customer onboarding journey and beyond.

Source of Twitter

5. Enabling the Aha! moment

The Aha! moment is what makes the difference between your user coming back to your app again or dropping out forever. It’s the moment when a new user realizes a meaningful value to your app. It could be placing the first order with an e-commerce company, subscribing to the first course on an EdTech platform, or making the first investment on a stock trading app. 

Dropbox defined their Aha! moment as the app user uploading any one file on any one device; for Zynga, it was the user returning the very next day after the signup; Slack construed it as 2000 messages sent between a team. Have a well-thought email that guides your user to the Aha! moment. Define clearly as what you want the user to do, as soon as they subscribe to your app.

Source of Airbnb

6. Taking users beyond the Aha! moment

Once your user lives the Aha! moment on your app, your subsequent onboarding campaign email should nudge the user to take the best next step – getting more value out of your app. You can now encourage the user to extend beyond the core benefits of your app. 

Share the experiences of others: include user stories that talk about how people make the best use of your app.  When a user signs up for Zapier with Gmail, they get an email that talks about popular ways in which people integrate several google apps with Zapier!

Source of Zapier

7. Using the power of social influence 

Information that is socially influencing presents a sort of “proof” to the user about the perceived value of your app. Based on the human psychology of following others that are seen as successful, social proofing can be very effective communication.

Crafted in the form of real-life experiences of peers and aspirational users, an email that talks about the popularity of your app can increase confidence and build trust; it can encourage new users to explore and engage with your app even more. 

Source of Invision

Summing it up

Every email in your onboarding campaign must be single-minded: one email, one objective. Do not overwhelm with diverging information, do not state the obvious, and do not force the users. Keep your emails light, interesting, and use the right tone. Have a properly thought-out email series for keeping the user interest levels high throughout the onboarding process.

Among all the communication stages of your app users’ journey, the onboarding email campaign offers you the best opportunity to prove the value of your product, reiterate your commitment to the users, and convert them into lifelong customers. 

If you wish to explore in depth how email campaigns can empower the best onboarding experience, reach out to our Netcore experts.  As one of the pioneers and global leaders in email campaigns, they can assess, recommend, and guide you every step of the way.

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Written By: Tanishq Juneja
Tanishq Juneja
Global Product Marketing Head, Netcore. The email guy and co-founder of Netcore Email API (formerly Pepipost)