Determining how to perfectly time SaaS onboarding emails isn’t easy.  Unlike one-to-many marketing emails (aka “email blasts”) where analytics helps marketers define and appropriately respond to the email behavior of a certain market segment, the process of onboarding a SaaS customer is very one-to-one. When you consider the skyrocketing rate of SaaS adoption, that’s a lot of one-to-one to worry about.

SaaS onboarding isn’t accomplished by sending  a group of users the same message, but rather by engaging a single person in a conversation designed to continually move them closer to conversion.

Because all companies and their customers are vastly different, there is no universal rule for scheduling onboarding emails. While there is no one size fits all solution for timing emails, you should keep in mind the concept of momentum. Every email you send, whether it is delayed (like an end-of-trial reminder) or is triggered by the user’s actions (like a download from your content library) must be timed and designed to build momentum towards conversion. This is best executed by strategically stringing together relevant, personalized content that creates a sense of forward motion for the user as they progress through the buying process.

Key Concepts for Building Momentum

Know Your Personas

Onboarding is more marathon than sprint. Certainly, you want your emails to be well-timed and responsive, but no SaaS buyer wants to be rushed to the finish line. Tech-savvy users who sign up for your trial with a good idea of what they want and the financial go-ahead will likely require a shorter  conversation than someone who is just beginning their research and needs more education out of the gate. Thinking through these user personas will also help ensure you have the right kind of content to keep a conversation going.

Automate as Much as You Can

By definition, automated emails are the exact opposite of personal. But, they are invaluable when creating an onboarding strategy that is uniquely customized to your recipient’s behavior. Automating how you respond to (or nudge) someone each time they engage (or don’t) is critical to creating the sense of momentum necessary to propel a user from the welcome email to ultimate service subscription.

Content Variation

Content variation is another important method to apply when building momentum. You don’t want to throw everything you have at a new user in the welcome email or they will have no reason to stay engaged. Through varying content you can satisfy your potential customer’s  immediate curiosity without showing all of your cards. By implementing this strategy, marketers not only keep emails fresh but also educate users about their product in an easily digestible format. Here are guidelines to keep in mind when creating varied content for your organization’s onboarding:

  • Vary the type of content in each email to make sure you are hitting all areas of need across your personas
  • Vary the amount of content in each email to keep your potential customer wanting more
  • Vary content design especially when re-using content within a conversation to keep things fresh
  • Vary the sender to not only keep the user interested and engaged, but also to avoid the appearance of message redundancy in the potential customer’s inbox.

Bottom Line?

A SaaS provider’s success relies on turning actions, emails, and periods of inactivity into a responsive, relevant conversation that marches—with momentum–towards conversion. Unlike an online retailer who has opportunity after opportunity to get it right, this may be your one shot.  While there is no one answer as to how to best time onboarding emails, as long as you are considering momentum towards conversion you’re on the right track!