user onboarding

Autoresponders Are Dead for User Onboarding – Use API-Calls Instead!

user onboarding

The traditional user onboarding process – user registered, got an email, on the first day got another email, on the 5th day got another again, and so on… No wonder your bounce rate is terrible. Forget it. It’s not the 20th century, it’s the cloud. The C.L.O.U.D.

Take advantage of the real, automatic and behavior-based email sending solution for your onboarding process to increase your trial to paying client conversion rate. Retention is everything so don’t miss your opportunity.

What is the problem with autoresponders when it comes to user onboarding?

SaaS businesses utilize user onboarding emails to help their lead see the real benefit of their offer. Scheduled emails give leads a continuous overview of the system, it trains them to be able to use the system. Not bad.

But it misses the one biggest and most important point:

Segmentation based on user behavior.

You may know that in lead nurturing you have to send the right message to the right prospect at the right time. How do you do that? You send out automated email workflows and segment your audience according to their actions with simple “IF” conditions. Such as:

  • if he didn’t open an email, send the same email again with another subject line
  • if he clicked on a link in an email, send other content related to the topic he is interested in
  • if he filled out a form, send him contents related to the subscription type
  • if he got a tag (like high-engaged lead for instance) send offer emails related to that tag

and so on.

You are continuously segmenting your leads according to the engagement level and type with your CONTENTS. Your contents can be tracked, measured and tested.

But when it comes to user onboarding, your content is your product. Like in lead nurturing, you have to track how they behave in your system and send the right message with the right content to the right person. You do the same. The only thing that changed is the medium you use for segmenting your users.

But finding the right sequence is still the most important

Right sequence is important

So as we discussed previously, autoresponders can’t segment your trial users because it can track only actions like email clicks and opening, subscription on a form, etc.

Therefore in a user onboarding process, you won’t be able to send messages to clients according to their activities, because the solution won’t be able to track what a user does in your own system.

You can still send scheduled emails but it won’t segment your leads according to their actions. Therefore you won’t be able to fit every leads’ needs. To put it in a nutshell:

“There is absolutely no generic, cookie-cutter Free Trial Follow-up Sequence for SaaS products.” (Lincoln Murphy)

But that doesn’t mean you don’t have to find out right sequences.

Because you have to find the right path your trial users need to take in order to see the benefit of your product. Thr sooner they feel it the better.

So you need to take your leads’ hand and show them a route that they should take. When your users reach these “success milestones”, you can build your email workflows on these special events. You can say congrats, give them more info and show them the next logical step, offer them to give you their credit cards.

Types of onboarding emails

According to Lincoln Murphy, the king of user onboarding, there are 5 types of email you can send to your trial users:

  1. Tutorial
  2. Educational
  3. Aspirational
  4. Transactional
  5. Personal

Tutorial emails are specific educational emails that focus only on your product.

Educational emails usually are about the benefits of your product and how others take advantage of those.

Aspirational emails are the ones with case studies, example use cases of your product.

Transactional emails are the reports, status updates invoices.

Personal emails are sent from an employee of your company, usually with a goal of one-to-one, interactive communication.

You’ll probably use a mixture of these email types during your user onboarding process.

But how to use user actions as triggers in a separate system? (API calls for techies)

The solution is using API calls that is an event based trigger that starts an automated email workflow. Here is an example.

Let’s say Insightsquared uses API calls. It offers a reporting system for companies, in our example we are looking at one of their features called predictive sales forecasting.

When someone registers to their trial, they are tracking their users’ activity. This way they will always know what their users doing in their system.

They could set up different events, that are activites of their users and usually tells them that their leads did something firstly for example. In the predictive sales forecasting feature they could setup an event like “useres who firstly created a report”.

In their case, if a lead firstly ask for their report, they know that it is a “success milestone” for them, when their users see the real benefit of their product. Therefore they might think that it would be great to send them an email with a “you’re awesome” message to confirm that their lead is on the right path and also offer to upgrade. (These milestones are very important selling moments.)

Therefore they could add this source code to this event (it is just an example code for Automizy, please take security questions in to account when using API calls):

    type: "POST",
    url: "",
    data: {
       email: ""

And then the marketing guy could create an API call trigger based on this.

This way – when a user asks for that specific type of report the first time – he’ll recieve an email right away that confirms his action and – while he is in the right mood – offer him to pay for the service.

It’s very easy: the techie guy just has to send a POST request with only one “email” parameter to the given URL and the marketer will be able to use specific events that happened in THEIR software as trigger – this is the real power of behaviour emails!

4 replies
  1. Jack
    Jack says:

    Whoa! This blog looks just like my old one! It’s on a
    entirely different topic but it has pretty much the same
    layout and design. Superb choice of colors!

  2. cisco
    cisco says:

    I like the content, however I’m confused, in this article you promote API calls so I assume that comes with the email marketing system you sell? I use mailchimp and sales force those use api too, i think it’s also referred to as drip system in pardot?

    • Viktor Egri
      Viktor Egri says:

      Generally API calls are important for SaaS products to utilize action-based communication. This blog page is not for selling our software but to help people out there improve their SaaS business. But yes, Automizy is a software that has this option too. If someone uses other platforms, this type of trigger may exist too and it is important to take advantage of it.


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