June 6, 2023

Customer Onboarding Emails (Best Practices & Tips)

Customer onboarding is welcoming and integrating new customers into your business and turning them into loyal, long-term customers. A crucial part of onboarding is the initial emails you send to your new customers to set the right tone and lay the foundation for a strong customer relationship. These onboarding emails should be helpful, educational, and tailored to your customers’ needs.

Well-crafted customer onboarding emails generate high response and open rates, establish trust, and positively influence customer lifetime value. Appropriate use of email allows you to create an exceptional onboarding journey that makes customers feel valued and engaged.

This article covers best practices and tips for crafting effective customer onboarding emails. The various sections include:

Send a Thank You Email Immediately

The first email you send a new customer should be a personalized thank you message that arrives within minutes or hours of their purchase. This instant gratification email acknowledges the customer’s decision to do business with you and sets the foundation for a helpful, positive relationship.

A thank you email establishes social proof that helps gain the customer’s trust and confidence in your brand. Customers want to know they made the right choice, and this email puts their minds at ease. It also makes them feel appreciated and generates goodwill throughout their onboarding journey.

In your thank you email:

  • Thank the customer by name for buying from your company. Express your sincere appreciation that they chose you.
  • Reiterate that you share their excitement to begin working together.
  • Briefly restate what they purchased to confirm their order.
  • Share any immediate next steps like setting up an account or accessing purchased content. Provide relevant links.
  • Leave them with a positive parting sentiment and emphasize your commitment to providing an outstanding experience.
  • Keep the email short (3-5 concise, to-the-point paragraphs) with a friendly, conversational tone.

A prompt, specific, and sincerely appreciative thank you email is all it takes to start your onboarding off right. This simple outreach builds trust by showing the customer you care enough to follow up immediately. It lets you fix any issues immediately and set a precedent for responsive, helpful customer service. So make that first good impression count with a personalized thank you message that arrives immediately after your new customer places an order.

Provide Helpful FAQs and Tutorials

After the thank you email, your next customer onboarding communication should include helpful FAQs (frequently asked questions) and tutorials about using your product or service. Customize these based on what your new customers will likely need or want to know as they start.

Send this email within the first week after purchase, before customers encounter problems they need help with. This establishes you as a useful resource that simplifies the onboarding process. Start by acknowledging customers may have questions as they begin using what they bought. Provide direct, clear answers to common issues through:

  • FAQs about account setup, website navigation, common feature usage, billing info, etc. Answer likely questions in concise bullet points.
  • Step-by-step tutorials with screenshots walking customers through important initial tasks. Embed these directly or include links to tutorials on your website.
  • A guide to the most important or useful features for new users. Explain what these features do and how customers can access them.
  • Troubleshooting tips for common new user problems, along with your contact info if they need more help.

Offer to follow up with any additional questions customers may have. Leave them reassured they have a resource they can utilize as needed.

These guides aim to give your new customers the information they need to use your product or service confidently and independently. This establishes you as a go-to resource they trust and depend on for helpful guidance. So put yourself in their shoes, think of their likeliest questions, and craft FAQs and tutorials that clearly and directly answer those questions - educating and empowering your customers from day one.

Offer Access to Useful Resources

In addition to FAQs and tutorials, providing your new customers’ access to other useful resources can significantly boost their onboarding experience. This helps them get the most value possible from what they purchased, establishing you as a brand that goes above and beyond to enable their success.

Some ways you can provide helpful resources:

  1. Share your knowledge base articles on common topics. Give instructions on how customers can access this resource going forward.
  2. Offer free or discounted access to ebooks, webinars, training courses, and other educational content to help customers get up to speed quickly.
  3. Provide templates, checklists, and best practice guides specific to what your product or service enables. For example - if you sell accounting software, include templates for common reports and budgets.
  4. Point customers to relevant groups and communities to connect with other users for insights and advice. If you have a community, share how they can join.
  5. Highlight additional paid or upgraded features they may be interested in and explain the value those features provide. If applicable, offer special introductory pricing.
  6. Share links to your blog, case studies, whitepapers, or guides with relevant information for new users. Periodically share new content as it becomes available.

The more value you can provide through useful resources during onboarding, the more successful and satisfied your new customers will ultimately be. Just make sure to:

  1. Only share helpful resources based on your customers’ likeliest needs.
  2. Explain clearly how each resource can benefit them and what actions they should take.
  3. Establish yourself as a go-to source of value - not just a sales channel.

By supplementing your FAQs and tutorials with additional educational content and resources, you give your new customers everything they need to ramp up quickly and make the most of what they bought from you. This significantly boosts the return on their initial investment in your brand and lays the groundwork for a long-term, value-driven relationship.

Highlight Special Offers and Exclusives

In addition to educational resources, providing your new customers with targeted offers and exclusives is a great way to boost their onboarding experience and build loyalty. Customers want to feel appreciated and rewarded for doing business with you, so that tailored promotions can be highly impactful during these early communications.

Some types of special offers include:

  1. Discount codes are specifically for new customers to use on future purchases. This could be a percentage off or a fixed dollar amount.
  2. Free or discounted upgrades to a premium plan or add-on features for a limited time. This allows customers to “test drive” more of what you offer.
  3. Early access to new features or products before they launch publicly. This helps establish your brand as an innovator and makes customers feel special.
  4. Gift cards or store credit to use however they choose. This gives customers flexibility and shows you value them as individuals.
  5. Swag like branded merchandise, stickers, or thank-you gifts to build brand affinity.

When sharing any special offers:

  1. Explain clearly what the offer is, how much value it provides, and any limitations.
  2. Give customers a deadline to use the offer so it retains urgency and impact.
  3. Ensure they can easily redeem the offer with simple instructions and links.
  4. Reinforce that the offer is exclusive - available only to new customers as a thank you for their business.
  5. Remind customers they can come to you with any questions about redeeming or using the offer.
  6. Gauge customers’ responses to the initial offers, then tailor future communications based on what seemed most effective and valuable.

By providing new customers exclusive discounts, upgrades, perks, and gifts, you show them you value their business beyond their initial purchase. These targeted promotions incentivize customers to spend more with you sooner, buy additional products and services, and increase their lifetime value. Just be strategic and selective about your offers so everything you share genuinely benefits customers and builds loyalty - versus simply “selling more stuff.”

Share Customer Stories and Testimonials

Sharing real customer stories and testimonials in onboarding emails can hugely impact building trust, credibility, and social proof with new customers. Hearing directly from people like them about their positive experiences reassures new customers they made the right choice by purchasing from you.


  • Short success stories from long-time customers highlight your product or service’s impact. Focus on outcomes, not just features.
  • Testimonials from customers in similar roles or industries praising specific benefits or results. Show how relevant you are to people like them.
  • User-generated written or video testimonials with before/after comparisons. Visual proof can be especially convincing.

When sharing stories and testimonials:

  • Obtain customer permission first and anonymize if they prefer.
  • Align stories with what would be most meaningful and relevant for your new customers based on their needs and goals.
  • Only include genuine, unedited reviews. Don’t make up quotes or stories.
  • Highlight what benefits and outcomes customers experienced that your new customers can also achieve.
  • Ask if new customers would be willing to share their stories after using your product for a certain length.

By including authentic customer stories and testimonials in your onboarding journey, you let results speak for themselves in a powerful, persuasive way. New customers see with their own eyes that people like them have successfully used your product or service to achieve meaningful results. This tangibly demonstrates your credibility and inspires confidence that your new customers can achieve success, too, when they utilize what you offer.

Social proof is hugely impactful, so leverage real customer stories strategically during onboarding to build trust, legitimacy, and proof that you can deliver on your promises immediately.

Ask for Referrals, Reviews, and Feedback

Ask new customers for referrals, reviews, and feedback near the end of your customer onboarding process. This benefits your business and encourages customers to feel invested and recognized for helping improve your product or service.

Ask for:

  1. Referrals - people in their network who could also benefit and would appreciate an introduction. If applicable, promote a referral program with incentives for the referrer and the referee.
  2. Online reviews on sites like Google, Facebook, and industry review sites. Thank them for taking the time and offering to answer any questions that could help make their review more informative.
  3. Feedback surveys about their onboarding experience and what you could do better. Explain how their input will shape future customers’ journeys.

When making these requests:

  1. You don’t expect anything - you value their input and expertise to help you improve.
  2. Only ask customers for one type of contribution - referrals, reviews, or feedback. Don’t overwhelm them.
  3. Express sincere gratitude for their time and willingness to help by providing social proof for others.
  4. Highlight any incentives or rewards you can provide for their contribution - either for them or their referees.
  5. Provide clear, easy steps and tools to make giving referrals, writing a review, or completing feedback painless and quick.
  6. Follow up personally to thank customers after they share referrals, leave a review or submit feedback.

By asking new customers for referrals, honest reviews, and constructive criticism at the end of onboarding, you gain valuable insight to improve future customers’ experiences. You also motivate customers to feel invested and engaged as contributors - not just passive recipients of your product or service. This elicits goodwill, increases customer loyalty and social proof, and fuels beneficial word-of-mouth marketing.

So once your new customers are up and running, recognize them as potentially influential brand advocates. Then ask respectfully and genuinely for their help shaping your business - while making it as easy as possible for them to contribute in the ways that work best.

Track Open and Click Rates

Track key metrics like open rates and click rates to ensure your customer onboarding emails are effective. This data can reveal which subjects, formats, and content resonate most strongly with your new customers so you can optimize future communications accordingly.


  1. Open rates - the percentage of recipients who open each email. Aim for at least 20-30% for the onboarding series, though industry averages are often lower.
  2. Click rates - the percentage of email recipients who click a link. Aim for at least 2-5% for an onboarding series.
  3. Unsubscribe rates - the percentage of recipients who unsubscribe from the email series. Aim for under 1% to minimize recipient dissatisfaction.
  4. Reply rates - the percentage of recipients who reply to the email, even if just to say “thank you.” Higher reply rates indicate stronger customer engagement.
  5. Forward rates - the percentage of recipients who forward the email to others. This suggests the content is seen as worthwhile and shareable.

You can track these metrics using email marketing software or tools within your email service provider. The insights will show you the following:

  1. Which onboarding emails generate the highest/lowest engagement? This indicates what content and formats are most/least useful to customers.
  2. Suppose subsequent emails see declining open rates. This may mean customers are losing interest in the series - signaling a need for refreshed, higher-value content.
  3. If certain links calls to action, or offers consistently see low click rates. This indicates those elements need optimization or removal.

Armed with these actionable insights, you can then:

  1. Refine weak-performing emails by updating content, links, and formatting based on metric trends.
  2. Improve high-performing emails by doubling down on the elements that resonate most strongly.
  3. Iterate and test new variables to optimize future emails for maximum impact and ROI.

Tracking key metrics transforms your onboarding emails from a set-and-forget series into a continually improving program. Data reveals what’s working and what’s not - so you can promptly adjust and enhance your approach to maximize customer value and give future new customers even better experiences.

Follow up Regularly

Follow up with new customers regularly after sending your initial customer onboarding emails. Consistent follow-up communications help retain customers, solidify relationships, and ensure customers continue progressing along their journey.

Send follow-up emails:

  • Every 1-2 weeks for the first month, gradually spreading to monthly as the relationship matures.
  • On a schedule that matches your product or service’s usage cadence. For example, if customers use your product daily, follow up weekly.
  • When major updates or new features launch, that could benefit customers. Announce these “as they happen” versus waiting for the next scheduled email.
  • In response to seasonal trends or reported issues that impact customers. For example, around tax time, if you offer accounting software.
  • To check in on customers’ progress, ask if they have any questions and offer additional help or resources.
  • To gather feedback on how the onboarding process could be improved for future customers.
  • To share relevant, valuable new content like the resources covered in the tips above.

In follow-up emails:

  • Continue using a personal, supportive tone that builds trust and rapport.
  • Reference customers’ initial needs and goals to show you remember why they chose to do business with you.
  • Highlight any results or progress customers have achieved since onboarding to reinforce the value you provide.
  • Thank customers again for choosing your business and reiterate your commitment to their success and satisfaction.
  • Make it easy for customers to respond, request help or share feedback by including your contact details.
  • Pay attention to customers who don’t engage or open follow-ups. Reach out personally to find out how you can better support them.

Regular, considerate follow-up communications complete your customers’ onboarding journey by ensuring they get everything they need to be successful long-term users of your product or service. This continuity keeps your brand top-of-mind, renews customers’ sense of value, and deepens your relationship - turning new customers into increasingly loyal, engaged advocates over time.

Keep Content Concise and Scannable

Customers have short attention spans, so keep your onboarding email content concise, scannable, and easily digestible. Break up text with visual elements, use headers and bullet points, and write in a conversational yet concise style.

Key tips:

  1. Limit paragraph length to 3-5 sentences maximum.
  2. Use short, simple words instead of jargon or long phrases.
  3. Write in an active voice using the second person “you.” Address customers directly.
  4. Include frequent subheadings marked by bold or centered text to segment content into scannable chunks.
  5. Use bulleted or numbered lists to break up long blocks of text.
  6. Embed images, GIFs, screenshots, and videos to break up copy.
  7. Bold key takeaways, actions, or terms to highlight what’s most important.
  8. Include a call to action marked in bold or contrasting colors.
  9. Limit email length to a maximum of 500-700 words (around 2-3 minutes read time.)
  10. Format content so the most important information appears at the top or in the subject line.
  11. Use a readable font size between 12-16 points and 1.5-2 line spacing.
  12. Limit the use of long quotes. If used, precede with a summary of the quote’s main point.
  13. Keep wordy disclaimers, legalese, and non-essential information for later emails.

By making your onboarding email content easy and quick to understand, you maximize the chance customers will read and absorb the included information. Scannable, concise formatting also helps customers easily find answers to their specific questions amid longer emails. So edit out unnecessary words, and break up copy with visuals and format for readability to ensure your best practices and tips reach - and resonate with - the intended audience.

Make It Personal

The most effective customer onboarding emails have one thing in common: they are personalized. Little touches that show you know something specific about that particular customer go a long way toward building trust, rapport, and loyalty.

Ways to personalize onboarding emails:

  1. Greet the customer by their first name. Check email address, order info, or account login for their name.
  2. Reference their specific order, what they purchased, and why they said they needed it. Show you listened.
  3. Highlight features or benefits you discussed personally during the sales process.
  4. Share a customer story or testimonial by someone in the same industry or role.
  5. Quote back something the customer said during your initial interactions that demonstrated their needs or goals.
  6. Reference a specific location, colleague name, or detail the customer mentioned - showing you remember the conversation.
  7. Thank the customer by name for choosing to do business with your company.
  8. Ask the customer how their specific project/team/business is doing.
  9. Format your email signature with your first name to build rapport.
  10. Address pain points or concerns the customer previously expressed and explain how you aim to solve them.
  11. Offer exclusive discount codes, upgrades, or perks just for that customer.

The more unique details you include to show you remember and recognize that specific customer as an individual, the more valuable and sincere your email will feel. Avoid generic salutations and “one-size-fits-all” wording to craft messages tailored to that person’s goals, needs, and circumstances. The impact of a simple personal touch cannot be overstated - so strive to truly see your customers as individuals and communicate accordingly to deeply connect from day one.

Share Product Demos and Walkthroughs

Including product demos and walkthroughs in your onboarding emails can be extremely valuable for helping customers learn how to navigate and utilize your product or service. Visual content engages customers differently than text alone and directly shows them your capabilities.


  1. Video tutorials that show your product in action. Demonstrate the features and functionality customers care most about.
  2. Screen recordings that walk through common processes and workflows within the product interface.
  3. Animated GIFs that highlight key parts of the product or simple “how to” tasks.
  4. Image galleries that demonstrate step-by-step processes.

When sharing demos:

  1. Focus on tasks most relevant to your customers’ goals and pain points.
  2. Explain the specific benefits and outcomes each demo illustrates.
  3. Include links to additional tutorials, guides, and FAQs for customers wanting more details.
  4. Highlight the call to action within the demo for customers to immediately take the next steps.
  5. Check if demo content needs any captioning or transcription for accessibility.
  6. Gauge customers’ responses and engagement with different types of visual content.

The more your new customers can directly see and interact with how your product or service works in practice, the quicker and smoother their onboarding journey will be. Product demos fill gaps that written guides may miss by displaying the user experience. So, in addition to traditional text-based forms of education, supplement your onboarding emails with targeted walkthroughs, tutorials, and demonstrations - especially visual and interactive content - that bring your offerings to life for new customers.


Every customer onboarding experience is an opportunity to set the foundation for a long-term, mutually beneficial relationship. The right combination of thoughtful communications, helpful resources, and personalized touches during onboarding transforms new customers into loyal advocates who buy more, stay longer, and recommend you to others.

Never underestimate the power of a few well-crafted, strategically-timed emails at the beginning of the customer journey. Simple tips like thanking customers promptly, providing useful guides, offering targeted incentives, asking for feedback, and tailoring content personally can substantially improve the onboarding experience and set customers up for success from day one.

So invest the time and effort needed to craft onboarding emails that genuinely benefit and educate your new customers. Otherwise, you risk losing them before their relationship with your brand begins. When done right, customer onboarding emails pay massive dividends by ensuring customers get maximum value from what they bought - and continue returning for more.

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