Ecommerce Can Learn from Software Firms’ User Onboarding Emails

User onboarding is a hot topic for web companies these days, which basically comes down to the following:

Once I’ve paid the high cost of customer acquisition, what actions do I take to ensure those customer relationships are long and happy?

At its core, this is identical to the problem faced by Ecommerce retailers, it’s just the explicit dynamics of the customer vs user relationship that are different.  Given this, there are clear lessons Ecommerce retailers can learn from Software companies about customer marketing to drive higher loyalty and greater lifetime value. Here are a couple we’ve seen:

The Personal Welcome Email for New Customers

When you first sign up for most web apps, you receive a relatively personal email asking if you need help, want feedback, etc.  Here’s the thing – most of these emails aren’t actually personal, but instead are just well written, sincere, and encouraging a future action.  Buffer, a social media tool that makes it easier to share, has a great example: 

For Ecommerce companies, it’s historically been difficult to know if a customer is new, but as platforms like Shopify and Magento have emerged alongside mail applications like Mailchimp, it’s become possible to identify the first time customers and to automatically target them. For most businesses, these customers are the most likely never to come back, and building a strong initial relationship can be invaluable.

The “We’ve Missed You” Email

On a related note, many software companies have become experts at reaching out to customers they haven’t seen for awhile.  For example, this great email from Twitter that gives me immediate actions I can take: 

If I engage with a cool Ecommerce store for the first time, and I don’t buy anything for the next six months or a year, why not send a similar email that highlights products I can immediately view that might be good fits?


In short, it’s a lot easier to target your customers in unique and novel ways that will make them happy – it just takes a willingness to try things out and a small investment (and yes, today it really is small – like a couple of hours and a couple of hundred bucks) in the time and technology to make it possible.

As we see other great examples and ideas, we’ll make sure to post them here. Happier customers means a a greater likelihood of return, and greater lifetime value and customer retention. When you have high customer loyalty, you begin every year knowing you don’t have to find all of your business anew.

If you’ve had success with particular emails or ideas, please leave a comment below and follow us on Twitter!


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