Top 4 Copywriting Tips for User Onboarding Emails

Top 5 Copywriting Tips for User Onboarding Emails

User onboarding emails and its sequences can be a tricky thing for businesses lacking the proper arsenal of copywriting knowledge. What we think sounds good when we write it ends up flopping over the course of the campaign, leaving us to wonder what went wrong.

User Onboarding Emails

Usually, the case seems to be the fact that we forget to adopt a “copywriter” style of writing when crafting these emails which in turn hurts user activation. You see,

Learning how to write your onboarding emails and its sequences with a copywriter mindset will increase your conversion rates significantly.

For you, not only does this mean more sales. It also means more clients & less churn rate over time.

But hang on there just a moment. Before you start writing your user onboarding emails and contacting your subscribers today, it’d be a good idea to do your homework on what exactly a “copywriter mindset” is. And, luckily for you…

I’m here to help. So,

If you’re ready to learn a few tips, tricks, and nuggets of information that’ll onboard more customers and boost your SaaS activation, we are officially primed to get started.

User Onboarding & Email Copy. Why it Matters.

Onboarding sequences are an important element of getting new customers onboard and creating a lasting relationship with them for years to come. Knowing that they’ve made it as far as “trialing” your technology, it’s now time to really show them that your services should be used long term.

Often times, onboarding sequences fail for many unknown reasons on the company’s end which is why it’s important to prevent “email copy” mistakes from happening.

Poor subject lines, unclear and technical email content, and even a lack of specificity are just a few of the mistakes onboarding writers make when reaching out to their readers. However, these can easily be avoided.

By applying copywriting tactics and the science of psychology, we can easily prevent onboarding sequences from failing and finally get the customers you want “onboard”.

In this article, we’ll be covering the top 5 copywriting tips to help maximize user onboarding email conversions and also boost your email success for many sequences to come.

Tip #1 – Make Your Email Subject Line Stand Out.

When writing your emails it’s best to think of your subject line as the initial greeting between your written topic and your customers. Often times overlooked and many times mistaken, the subject line can be the difference maker between an email that gets read and an email that gets deleted… for good.

According to Convince&Convert, 69% of email recipients report email as spam based on the subject line alone while 35% of recipients open email solely based on what the subject line says. So, if this part of your email isn’t spot on, the time spent actually writing your email can go to waste along with potential conversions.

Make the Reader Want to Know More
To intrigue your audience and make them want to read more, we need to have a “tone strategy” in place so that the email is in a better position to be opened. Specifically, a subject line written in a conversational tone that sparks curiosity, elicits an emotion or implies a potential secret are all components that make us as readers want to know more.

Therefore, a good subject line can include the following:

  1. An element of surprise/curiosity.
  2. A taste of what’s to come.
  3. A potential outcome only found in the email.
  4. A possible solution to a readers problem…
  5. The readers name…

…to name a few. To get a better understanding of why this is, a good exercise you can do is to actually step into the shoes of your users and ask,

“What subject line would intrigue me?”.

Or perhaps ask your ownself,

“What makes me look twice when I see a new email?”.

In summary: If the subject line is enticing, without being misleading, the subject line will most likely have good success.

Subject Line Comparison
So, now that we have an idea of what makes a subject line effective, let’s compare two examples with our new subscriber “Bob”:

  • Subject line #1: Hey Bob, here are 5 killer solutions for email conversions…
  • Subject line #2: OPEN THIS – our company is doing big things!!

Now, let’s compare.

Subject line #1 does a good job at quite a few things. As we can see,

  • Our reader’s name is included.
  • We attempt to spark his curiosity in a very conversational way.
  • We give Bob some incentive to open the email knowing there’s something good in store.
  • We also made it all about Bob, not the company.

Happy Bob! Now, what about the former?

Subject line #2 does a good job at snagging Bob’s attention with the “OPEN THIS” part, but fails to give Bob a desire to read more. Bob may read this and think,

  1. “Why are you yelling at me?”
  2. “Why should I even open? What’s in this for me…”
  3. “I’m not interested.. Ugh another one of these emails.”
  4. “My problem will never be solved.”

Annoyed Bob… Not good.

It should always be your goal to add value and avoid unethical subject lines that are simply trying too hard. Annoying your readers, coming across as spam, or lacking an element of curiosity is never a good approach to building long lasting relationships with your prospects.

Remember, there is a human on the other side of that computer. Write like you are talking to them one on one.

Subject Lines: Do it Right Every Time.
With an example of both a good and bad subject line, here’s a great list of “do’s” and “Don’ts” to use when going about writing.


  • Include the readers name when appropriate.
  • Make the subject about your reader.
  • Appeal to their curiosity and desires.
  • Ask a question.
  • Use specific numbers.
  • Use urgency.
  • Be smooth.
  • Use Emojis.
  • Use gif’s when appropriate.


  • Scare your reader.
  • Talk about yourself.
  • Make the subject line too long.
  • Make the subject boring.
  • Sound like spam.

Quick & Easy Subject Line Formula

If you still find yourself stuck, use this formula to get your brain going:

[The desire of your reader] + [A given reason to open]

Subject line #1: Hey Bob, here are 5 good solutions for email conversions…

Remember, it’s best to remain genuine, sincere and come from a place of service instead of being the elephant in the room. Focus on the benefits your customer wants and always make them curious as to what’s in the email.

#2 – Write Your Sequences “Conversationally” For Better User Activation.

Alright! Now that we’ve covered the science of subject lines, it’s now time to focus on the email copy itself. However, before we can begin crafting the email, it’s important we remember one crucial rule which is:

Whatever you do, don’t write too technical.

Let me repeat that one more time. Don’t write too technical, because if your readers get lost by any language they don’t understand, your message won’t be communicated.

Look at this way; when you’re given a book that’s written in a foreign language, could you read it out loud in your native tongue? Most likely, the answer it no which is why it’s always best to simplify every aspect of your copy.

Readers open your email knowing there’s something of interest inside, so in order to make their experience as enjoyable as possible; sticking to a friendly, fun, and relatable email is HIGHLY advised. Simply put:

Don’t try to “wow” your readers with words.
Instead, aim to get your message across as conversationally (and simply) as possible.

Steps to Crafting Your Email.

Step #1: Research your users.

Yes, it’s time to go “detective mode” because now you must figure out exactly who your audience is. Why? Because If you don’t know your audience, you won’t know what to say and how to say it.

For example, if you’re trying to spark their curiosity with a subject line,

  • How do you know their pain points?
  • What are their desires?
  • What words are funny to them?
  • What do they find offensive?
  • Who do they like talking to?
  • What keeps them up at night?

See where I’m going here? Without the proper research on your end, we’re technically guessing at the tone, style, and approach to each email. Always figure out who your readers are first so that the copy will resonate with them as they read.

Step #2: Write the Copy
Using the research you’ve gathered, it’s now the time to start writing the copy. In order to make your emails as effective as possible, it’s best to utilize the tried and true A.I.D.A formula as your template.


In descending order, you should create and mimic this flow of writing to guide and excite your readers through the email:

  1. (A) Attention: Grab theirs by addressing a pain point, or desire.
  2. (I) Interest: Intrigue them to want to know more… Use facts here.
  3. (D) Desire: Make them NEED this problem solved.
  4. (A) Action: Tell them EXACTLY what to do.

Keep in mind that although you may not have anything to sell in every email (like your welcome email), using this idea of flow throughout the copy is very important.

Your job as the copywriter is to KEEP the reader’s attention, not theirs. Make them WANT to keep reading, knowing there is something happening on the following line.

Step #3: Read the Copy Out Loud

After writing the copy, it’s now time for an important step you must NOT skip, and that is this:

Read what you just wrote out loud until the copy sounds like a normal, one on one, conversation.

A little awkward? At first yes, but trust me… It’ll work wonders. Reading every sentence out loud will automatically expose any choppy phrases, questionable wording and simply help adjust the email to be more conversational. If the email doesn’t “speak” well, chances are your readers will have a harder time following along.

Good vs. Bad “Welcome” Email Example.

Example 1 (bad):


Thank you so very kindly for your curiosity, time, and thought in what we have to offer here at Gizmobizmowire. Gizmobizmowire not only promptly delivers efficient data analytics to your cellular device, but Gizmobismowire is the only company to do this data analytics with our new technology which is patented for its unique and scientific speed processing apparatus.

Our CST (customer support team) is top of the line and well versed to solve any app problems if they arise. Contact them here.


Example 2 (good):

Hey there Julie,

Quick email for you.

First off, thank you for giving our app a go with the free trial. We’re excited to have you onboard and hope this technology serves you well. And secondly?

Welcome to the community 🙂

Attached is a FAQ sheet and also a “how to” guide if you ever have any trouble using our app. Reading those guides can also be a drag so feel free to reach out to us at anytime and we’ll solve the problem for you.

Remember, we got your back.

Cheers Julie.

-Gizmobizmo Team.

Comparing Both Emails.

Do you see the difference between the two? Email 1 not only “speaks” poorly, it has nothing to do with Julie and the language is extremely technical. Email 2 “speaks” much better and also puts Julie in the spotlight while using conversational sentences. So, for the best user onboarding experience, ALWAYS lean toward the former.

Tip #3 – Focus on the Benefits… Not the Features (for your User Onboarding Emails).

Because tell me, when was the last time you bought a product or service without thinking of the problem it would solve for you? Most likely never – and if you think otherwise, you were probably unaware of it.

Benefits & Emotion:

Let’s take the example of buying a new car. When we go to the dealer to pick out a new vehicle, we usually go to the lot seeking the benefits that a new car has to offer over our old one. Whether it be:

  • Packing all your luggage away and still having room for your dog.
  • Arriving faster to work while saving money on gas.
  • Or better safety for the family on that trip across the country.

We need something that our current car doesn’t provide. And although the color of the exterior and its rim size sure do look nice (and get our attention)… They don’t really solve the underlying problem that we have when buying (aka the benefit).


The reason humans are so compelled to use/purchase something is that we have a pain point that we want to go away.

We buy off of emotion, and always want to know what’s in it for us. So by choosing to focus on the benefits in your email sequences – you are giving your readers some valuable information they can be excited about.

Never forget: It’s all about the readers’ needs. NOT yours.

So be sure to use the “features” as icing on the cake – not the main dish.

“Benefits” Gone Wrong:

Meet Winston:

user onboarding emails

Winston is frustrated… If you couldn’t tell already, and I mean REALLY frustrated. You see, Winston just opened up yet another email from a SaaS company and couldn’t believe what he read:


The masters at Gizmobizmowire here –

Now that December is upon us, we are bringing you some awesome new features! Try to hold in your excitement (we know we can’t) but if you look below, you’ll see exactly what we’re talking about!

Introducing December’s new Features:

  1. Schedule-media: You can now schedule your social media posts in one place! “Awesomeness!!”
  2. Planner-zone: This December, you can plan events from your phone while syncing them with every one of your calendar apps! Woah Nelly!
  3. Video-made-easy posting: Post your videos with much faster processing speed… INCLUDING an analytics shortcut in the left-hand corner. Total Mic-drop!

So.. are you excited, Winston? We really put a lot of time into this and think it rocks.

Let us know what you think about these features!


…. Winston’s reaction?

Surprised winston - user onboarding emails

Yeah… and for good reason, too.

Because where in that email does Winston feel emotion? What benefits are being presented to him to solve a problem? You see, he was given all the features:

  • Schedule-media
  • Plannerzone
  • Video-made-easy posting

and told a little bit about what they do, but the “what’s in it for me” aspect of these features? Were not talked about once, and THAT… That is where most user onboarding emails go wrong.

Because just like in the example of buying a new car,

Only telling someone how big the rims are will do nothing for the buyer… unless there is a benefit attached.

So show them.

Show them the benefits and make them FEEL some type of way.

Paint them a picture with words.

And make it known what life will be like after they use/purchase what you’re presenting.


So instead of saying:

  • “These 20-inch rims look awesome!!”.

You’re better off saying,

  • “Oh yah! And these sleek looking rims that you see right here? Because they are bigger, your car will break A LOT faster which will keep you and your family safe from those texting road bums… A must-have feature for any baby-on-board vehicle.”

See the difference?

Option 2 mentions the feature (rim size), but also shows how that feature will help the person long term. They don’t necessarily need bigger rims, but keeping their family safe from harm?

Is a benefit they will crave.

Remember, although you know how great the features may be. Your customers? Usually, don’t.

Because as the copywriter – you are the artist behind what your readers will think and feel.

So always show how your product/service will improve their life.

Tip #4 – Create a Voice for the Company (for your User Onboarding Emails).

And I’m not talking about singing your heart out.

But what I am saying is to develop a persona in your emails, so that your readers? Become instantly connected with the words on their screen.

Not to mention:

It makes your content more engaging.

And makes your readers think to themselves, “Man, the company who’s writing this? Totally speaks my language.”


And when you manage to do this, you develop a whole new level of trust with your audience and manage to keep them interested long term.

Persona Example:

Think of it this way:

If a student is an energetic, fun, and a creative type of person… Would they rather take a chemistry class from this teacher:

boring chemistry teacher - user onboarding emails

or THIS teacher:

exciting chemistry teacher - user onboarding emails

Probably the second one, wouldn’t you say? (Sign me up too!).

This is because the student can actually relate to the persona of teacher #2 (as they share quite a bit in common). Basically,

the teacher and the student talk the same talk,

walk the same walk – and the relationship between the two? Will be built much easier. This way, not only does it make learning for the student a lot easier.

It makes them excited to go to class. So when you get ready to write your onboarding emails, creating a voice that:

  • Resonates.
  • Excites.
  • And relates

to your readers will mimic this student/teacher connection we gave above. So find your audience persona before you write.

And learn to speak the language of your readers right off the bat. Because when you are able to do this from the get-go –

It makes the process of onboarding, that much easier. Not to mention, it instantly connects your readers to what you have to say…

Just like the cool substitute teacher we had back in grade school.

So in order to do this?

Research is Required:

You need to find words,

  • phrases,
  • and styles of language

that your readers already use. And when you do?

You can implement that information in your copy.

This way, you will effectively communicate your message to them and avoid creating a disconnect between you and your users.


And if you’re wondering how to do this effective audience research…

With a little bit of practice? Your user onboarding emails will really begin to take off.

Regarding the article we covered today – a good take away message would be to ALWAYS put your users front and center.

Take a walk in their shoes (and mind).

And write to them in a way where their needs, pain points, and personality are always put front and center. Also, make sure you send the emails at the right time.

Practice makes perfect when it comes to writing your onboarding sequences, so be sure to implement tips #3 and #4 right away…Hope these tips help you to fix your onboarding emails. 

About the author:

Hey! I’m Eric, and I know a thing or two about writing copy. I hold a bachelor’s in exercise science and biological science with a minor in communications – and have immersed myself into learning more about the human body and mind as well. I’ve interned at NASA Glenn Research Center as their Exercise Physiologist, taught biology and chemistry labs during my undergrad, and use my background in the sciences to fuel my copywriting craft. I love helping others with my talents and believe that we all have the potential to great things – we just have to trust and love the process.


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