5 Design Tips For A Better Getting Started Email Campaign

Go beyond a single welcome email! Help your users get started with your product or service with a getting started email campaign.

A getting started email campaign can guide new sign-up users through your on-boarding process, and are critical in turning them into loyal customers. Why email? Because email remains one of the most effective marketing channels. Getting started emails can sometimes also be referred as onboarding emails and can be included in parts of different email campaigns, such as re-engagement.

We’re seeing brands favor simpler email design with a focused message across B2C and B2B audiences. Especially with apps and online services, brands are sending friendly and easy to follow content in their getting started campaigns.

Here, to inspire you, we’ve come up with 5 design tips and rounded up a number of getting started emails from brands that you’ll recognize.

Tip #1: Offer a clear how-to guide

If users have signed up to use your product or service, you probably want to show them the ropes. Sending a how-to guide is a great way to help new subscribers get started. MailChimp does just that. Here’s one of their getting started emails, which includes a step-by-step guide.

Mailchimp Getting started emails

By linking to the guide, the email itself is kept clutter-free, with a clear call to action (CTA).

Hootsuite, the social media management app, also helps new users get started with instructive resources. Their email message walks you through various how-to tips, and the single-column modular design works perfectly to organize the content.

Hootsuite Getting started emails

The section dividers, consistent formatting, and attention-grabbing CTA buttons really make this email work. Explaining how your service or product works—in simple, clear, visual terms—reinforces the value of your brand and gets your users one step closer to purchase.


Tip #2: Send tips in a short series

An email is most effective when it has a single, focused message paired with a single, focused CTA, so wise brands avoid dumping too much information all at once. The getting started email from MailChimp, for example, is just one in a series of a drip campaign. This is how my inbox looked in the days after we’ve activated our account:

Mailchimp Getting started emails

Similarly, the music app Spotify sends three key tips across three welcome emails:

Spotify Getting started emails

Each email has the same structure: a GIF, brief text, and a CTA button. Here’s the Tip #1 email:

Spotify Getting started emails

And here’s the GIF in action:

Spotify Getting started emails

Brands like Mailchimp and Spotify deliver tips one at a time to avoid overwhelming users to the point they take no action at all. As Customer.io points out, most activation funnels make customers confused because they aren’t very funnel-like at all. Here’s how they illustrate that confusion:

Customer.io newsletter activation funnel

Illustration credit: Customer.io

Instead, Customer.io suggests, treat the process like the tutorial mode in a video game. Walk customers through each step, one by one. Both the guide approach in section 1 and the drip approach in section 2 achieve that. When sending “getting started” emails, think of them like a trail of breadcrumbs.


Tip #3: Don’t overload users with too much info

Whether you send two emails or 10, each one should be short and sweet. Always focus on just one CTA. Here’s a great example from Twitter.

Twitter Getting started emails

Think of all the information Twitter could have sent. Maybe a list of suggested friends, a list of those potential friends’ tweets, data about how often popular users tweet, a message about customizing your profile… you get the idea. Instead, the email focuses on a single action: find your friends. That makes the email easy to understand and, thus, easy to act upon.

Duolingo, the language education app, sends a simple getting started email with two CTAs. However, even with multiple calls to action, the concise text, spot illustrations, and numbered list maintain the email’s clarity.

Duolingo Getting started emails

If your users seem to be inactive or don’t respond to your CTAs in your getting started emails, it’s likely that they’re overwhelmed or confused, so keep your emails simple and test your email design layout.


Tip #4: Provide visual inspiration

Instead of taking the “how-to” route, Canva, the graphic design tool, does two things in its email:

  1. The product is positioned as a solution to a problem (problem: design takes time; solution: Canva has easy-to-use templates).
  2. Encourage creativity by showing visual examples of Canva templates.

Here’s their email:

Canva Getting started emails

Canva’s email follows all the best practices (single CTA, focused message, solutions-oriented) while inspiring users with a preview of its product.

Airbnb takes a similar approach. Plenty of subscribers use the service to rent rooms or homes, but Airbnb also wants to motivate those subscribers to rent their rooms or homes, as seen in this email:

Airbnb Getting started emails

Like Canva, the Airbnb email follows design best practices. Each message aims to offer an imaginative way to use the product in different ways, and that’s a great way to motivate action.


Tip #5: Offer a good incentive

Glamsquad, the hair-and-makeup service, combines multiple design tips in an email with a single CTA as well as a streamlined “how it works” section. On top of that, Glamsquad offers a $10-off coupon:

Glamsquad Getting started emails

Adding a coupon or promotion code to a getting started email is definitely a good incentive to get your users to click and engage for their first time.


Wrap Up: Getting Started Emails

Each brand needs to carefully evaluate how to engage with their new users. Important factors include the number of emails, the timing of those messages, and the content. As you consider the best path for your users, keep today’s tips in mind:

  1. Offer a guide. Whether it’s in the email or on a landing page, make sure users have the resources needed to get the most from your product or service.
  2. Set up a drip campaign. You shouldn’t do it all in one email; keep information well-paced in a series of sends.
  3. Keep your message focused. Don’t overwhelm users by telling them everything about your brand all at once. Send concise, thoughtful messages to show how your product or service can help them.
  4. Be visual. Try to show your product or service with images and screenshots.
  5. Provide an incentive. Consider coupons or codes to encourage new users to take the next step in engaging with the brand.

Get started and go Pro!

Feeling inspired? Design your getting started emails in our easy-to-use, drag-n-drop BEE editor. No HTML knowledge is required, plus your emails will be mobile responsive. Sign-up for a BEE Pro free trial!

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