Signing up for services isn’t what it used to be. The internet economy has resulted in more and more new online services popping up daily. Users are constantly signing up for new tools, services, newsletters, content and other services online.
What this means for you as a business owner is, even if the user has signed up for what you offer, it isn’t necessary that they’ll start using it now (or ever). This is where activation funnels and activation emails come in.
Let's face it – the attention span of every internet user has been ridiculously shortened due to the tidal waves of content thrown at us constantly.
Sure, you might offer a great tool for organizing users’ email inboxes – but so are 20 other companies. And the user has signed up for more than one of them. Hell, one of them is reminding the users with Cat Gifs to open and use the tool. Which one do you think the user will lean to?
So here’s the challenge – not only do you need to create great stuff that gets people to sign up, you need to “activate” them. This sequence of steps which gets the “sign up” to “active user” consists of the activation funnel and activation emails.
After signing up, the user has a choice of actions they can perform. If faced with too many choices, users usually give up, so activation funnels allow them to take it one step at a time.
Along each step, naturally, users drop out. Activation emails are one of the best tactics to get users back on track in these funnels and complete actions you want them to. We’ve tracked down some of the best activation email templates and examples along every type of interaction a customer has with your organization. You can use activation emails wherever in your funnels you can see the drop off rates increasing.
Types of Activation Emails
In this blog post, we will talk about three main types of Activation Emails, according to the customers (new, existing or exiting).
- Customer Onboarding Emails
- Existing Customers, Transactional Emails
- Exiting Customers, Winback
We will show you email design and copy best practices for each. In order to create a good email copy, you do need to know at least some basics of copywriting or use some of the below examples as an inspiration.
Creating a good email design is not easy. To create a perfect email design for your activation email, we advise you to use a professional email template designer. It will help you to craft a wonderful email design within minutes because of it's flexible drag'n'drop editor. There are many great email template builders that you can use for free.
Customer Onboarding Process
Getting new users to start using your product, “customer activation”, is one of the most crucial tasks of these activation emails. There are various steps in this process and various email templates that you can use along each one of these steps.
Straight off the bat, when the user signs up for your product/service – it is a good idea to send them a “welcome to the team” email. This activation email template reminds the user of your service. Make it catchy and it will stand out from the various other activation emails they will be receiving – making sure to get their attention, and hence driving traffic to your website.
Instagram’s welcome email for new users is one of the best in the business. It is clearly a visual platform, and this theme can be seen all around the design, which is highly focused on the pictures. The email also gives the user a quick outlook on the basic functionalities of the product and links to use them.
Lessons from this design for welcome activation email:
Focus on product design and core product ideals for designing email
Give a quick summary of main features.
Some companies also use incentives like special discounts, trials or freebies in their welcome emails to lure users. For more inspiration, you can see here a collection of the best welcome email designs examples.
2. Getting Started (Education, Content)
Once the welcome email has been sent and done – you can send out another email to your user for getting started. This can be helpful for them to get the best out of the product. Again, it can be anything, from helpful guides, links, and articles – any way to get the user familiarized with your UI and make it easy for them to use the product.
The design for this kind of activation email depends entirely on how much content the user needs to consume before they can easily use your service. For example, Candor is a brainstorming and idea collection app. Here is their “getting started” activation email:
As you can see – the email template just outlines various ways in which the tool can be used and its functions. They do not need to educate the users about the UI as it’s pretty straightforward, so they’ve skipped on providing any links/ other content to redirect the user to.
Another thing I liked about the Candor email is its simplicity. It gets straight to the point about why the app exists and how to use it. It directly tells the user, we value your time and are not going to waste any of it. Good messaging for a time-saving app. In terms of design too, it is consistent with their website colours and fonts.
However, when your product is more complex and needs more tutoring for the user, don’t stuff too much into the email. Instead, inserting one (or more) links redirecting the user to helpful places is recommended. A good example for this is the activation email you receive for Google Chromecast.
The email does what Google does best – informing the user as much as possible in as fewer words and as less effort as possible. Starting off with a Gif showing the basic functionality of Chromecast, it offers educational content in basic functionalities. Users interested in more advanced features can check out the ribbon at the bottom for further resources. It is a perfect example of an email template catering to all categories of users.
If you have larger amounts of content, you can also split these education emails into a series of emails. Another great idea for an activation email is a template outlining a customer case study, outlining how your product helped them. It makes a great way for prospects to sign up.
Did you know that we have a series of templates in Chamaileon that you could repurpose and use for free? Sign up below and see for yourself.
Existing Customers, Transactional Emails
Once the customers have become comfortable users of your product, your job is still not over. You have to constantly keep reminding and bringing them back to your products and website – that is, constantly keep “activating” them. The more time they spend on your products, the better it is for your business. There are various phases and times where you can get in activation emails to get their attention, and here are my favourite activation email examples for them.
1. Cart Abandonment, Nudges
If you own an e-commerce store or sell any kind of additional product/service on your site - cart abandonment is a phenomenon as natural as the ocean waves. Customers always change their minds when looking to buy stuff. Cart abandonment emails coax the user back to complete their purchases.
One of my favourite examples of abandonment emails is by Whisky Loot, a premium whisky club.
They keep the design simple and playful. The email outlines the benefits of buying the subscription and being a part of the club, along with using humorous, interesting copywriting to make the user smile. Many times people abandon their carts because of some question they have in mind, and they make a point of answering the FAQs in this email. Good forethought, plus the CTA suggests “Treat Yourself”, presenting the product as a premium one.
In case your product is a service, you can do it the way Grammarly does.
Being a tool for copywriters, people at Grammarly are experts in good copywriting and design themselves. They award badges to users for new achievements and a special one for users who stop using it. You can see the good design element, and the clear, demanding CTA which nudges the users to take action.
2. Order Update, Receipts
When users place an order/ request a service, providing a receipt for the same is essential. It is best to package this receipt as an activation email too. Not only does this give an update to the user and develops user trust, you can also use this platform to advertise related products or content that you want your users to see.
Etsy does quite well and clearly. In the beginning, the email gives a quick summary of the order. Next, the products your ordered are mentioned in detail. What I like about this email is how all the details the user might need are right here – and any action that they would like to take, like see the location of the shop or get in touch with the owner, can be done right from the email.
If we’re talking service receipts – any discussion without Uber or Lyft’s receipts would be incomplete. Since these are recurring receipts, they keep the design very intuitive and easy to digest.
You will find all the relevant information (so you can Identify which cab ride it was), and actions you may further wish to take are included. Further, if you’re checking the email, they guessed you might be in your office inbox, hence cleverly including the “switch to business” option.
Upselling emails are also one of the best activation email templates. For long-term users who interact with your content well, it can be a platform to convert them into more valuable customers for your brand. The only key best practice to remember here is to not make your email look like a sales pitch.
Grammarly, again, does a great job at this.
The email initially outlines the usage stats for the user, a custom-made report for them. It very clearly shows how much value it is adding for the user while complimenting them for the same. Then they show how much more benefit a user can get if they upgrade to a premium membership. With a clean design and interesting copywriting, it is one of the best upsell email templates. They draft it as a weekly progress report – which means an upsell email to each user, every week.
4. Trial Expiration
Reminding users of their trial expiration is another way to “activate” them. On being reminded the trial is expiring, it will drive them to use the product again. Plus, those interested in using your product will actually purchase the subscription, driving additional revenue.
Squarespace has a good activation email template for letting its users know their trial is expiring.
It tells me the trial is expiring in 24 hours – which creates just the perfect amount of time and urgency for me to take action. It lists out the advantages of buying a subscription with clean, appealing icons. Most people do have questions about buying subscriptions so contact us options are a clever choice, along with a clear CTA.
Although the mail is pretty small in itself, they could have included another CTA, in the beginning, to make the purpose clear.
Another good activation email example for trial expiration is that of typecast.
More of what I was talking about – they make the mission of the email clear in the header itself. Since their product is pretty simple, they elaborate it there too. In the body, there are articles and content which establishes their authority as experts, which is another good idea. I like the simple, to the point copywriting that Typecast uses.
5. Product Updates, Expiring Offers
As you keep updating your products and services, it is essential to get your customers to try them out, and actually, use them. Product updates and new features offer another opportunity to shoot activation emails and get more engagement.
Zapier does this well – as they constantly keep adding new integrations with their apps. The email lists out all the different apps they add to their roster, while directly providing links to the same. They also list out any new updates for their present integrations.
Other than a to-the-point design, what I really like about the email is the tiny snippets of information about how each app and its integration can help. This as a user helps me a lot, as I can discover new apps and ways to systemize my processes. They also include information about changes in current integrations. Great email template for user engagement.
Birthdays are a great way to promote activation emails to users.
Sending out these emails to your customers on their birthdays is a great way of humanizing your brand. It shows that users that you actually care about them. This not only builds trust and loyalty, it will offer you more engagement over time. Let’s dive into my favorite brands doing this.
Nike does a good job of making their customer feel special for their birthday. From the beginning of the email, the header itself, you can tell that it is birthday themed. The sneaker box and balloon gif give you an impression and wish of gifting yourself a pair of sneakers.
They offer you a discount for the entire month, too (in case you party too hard on your birthday and forget to open your email inbox). Your first instinct on seeing the email is probably going to the online store – hence the clear Call-To-Action (CTA) is also provided.
Celebrating your birthday as a brand is also a great way of driving engagement. You can use the opportunity to show off your results and achievements to current users while making a human image for the brand. It is a good idea to couple it with some perks for your users.
Cotton Bureau executed this well on their 3rd Birthday as a company. While thanking their users, they decided to make things interesting with a clever giveaway. I like their concept of “the more t-shirts you buy, the more stuff we give away”. They do a great job with copywriting to make the email captivating. Plus I enjoy how the fine print of the giveaway is clearly mentioned in the email and humorously explained.
Feedback is another channel where you can engage with your current users. Asking for feedback is one of the most powerful tools you can use to improve and optimize your systems and processes.
Your users are the ones who “use” your product the most. No doubt every organization carries out testing, but words from your users are the most reliable sources of problems and pain points in your product. Furthermore, when you actively collect feedback and work on solving issues, it shows your customers that you value their time and experience with you and are ready to listen to them.
Anthropologie, a clothing brand, designed a good newsletter to make this clear.
Straight off the bat, the newsletter announces “We’re listening”. Not a cold, company message like “Give us your feedback”, but a more human one. It is much more likely to get responses. The design matches with their website and is to the point. The CTA is slightly off message though; it doesn’t really tell the user what they’re getting into.
Another great way of enticing users to provide feedback is by giving the users incentives as they have so cleverly done. You have to make sure to make the customers realize you value their time.
8. CEO reach out
Taking steps in humanizing your brand has become essential as more online businesses develop. As we talk about various measures, a personalized message from your CEO/ founders is another one. When your cofounders talk directly to your users, it shows them that high-level management actually cares about the users. These activation emails are a great way for getting your customers to connect more with your brand.
You can use these templates when you need to reach out to your users for something important. Here are my favorites.
Mindbody, which provides a business management software, used this activation email template for two messages. The first one was a personal thank you to the users from the CEO. The email then announced the news of the company is publicly listed on NASDAQ.
The copy tells the story of how the company started, their core ideas and where they are today. This is a great way to spread the word about their company. Simple, and to the point, this activation email template does the job it has been made to do.
Another opportunity to use messages from the CEO is when you want to talk to your audience about causes that matter to you. They can be about initiatives that align with the ideals of your organization. I really like how the content creators at Ello did this.
Ello is basically an ad-free social network. They believe in transparent social media practices, and the email addresses just that. Explaining what is wrong with current social media giants, they urge their users to sign a bill of rights. In cases like these, a message from the CEO shows the urgency and the importance of the matter, encouraging users to take action. The copywriting and design match perfectly with Ello’s website (their website at that time), so the users immediately know who it's from.
Exiting Customers, Winback
Every company loses customers, at some point or the other. It is an inevitable part of the customer experience, and it will happen to your organization sooner or later. Since it is such a certainty, it is a great practice to use activation emails to gather feedback as a way to improve your organization.
Customer Churn or exit happens when the user is no longer satisfied with your services or there are some pain points which you are not able to solve for them. As they leave, they can provide you invaluable feedback on where you might be losing customers out on. Further, you can also take ideas from this feedback to plan further expansion areas for your company.
Seeso, a subscription streaming service, does a great job with the cancellation email template.
SeeSo uses effective copywriting and design to let the customer know they’re sad to see them go. They also cleverly include a glimpse of what the user is missing out on by cancelling, and how they would be “okay” if the user decides to come back. The CTA is targeted and prompts the user to tell the company why they quit - all in all, a great design.
Another approach to existing customers can be a “win back” activation email template. Based on user actions and/or requests to deactivate, you send the user an email basically asking “are you sure?”. Although this can be seen as tacky, so it’s best to include the options for deactivation right there in this email, the Urban Outfitters did
They use the messenger format and a “break-up” situation copywriting to make the email more personal and make the user feel valued. Notice that they have included the option for the user to opt out too, which keeps things professional.
Note: If you still haven't found an example or a template that you want to use in your campaigns, you can take a look at our email template collection with already predesigned email templates.
You can modify them using this free email template designer, builder, and editor.
Activation Emails have a simple goal, to get users to spend more time with your products and websites, and hence get the desired results you wish. Based on your organization style and structure, you can use these activation email templates to get the maximum engagement from your users. Feel free to let us know which ones you use and if we’ve left out any!