Salesforce Onboarding Email Breakdown

Salesforce is a big dog in the SaaS industry. Ever wondered how they tackle onboarding? Below we’ll break down the free trial onboarding series for Salesforce, one email at a time.

Series Overview

Salesforce sent eight emails during the 30-day free trial, including an authentication message on the first day. Compared to other series, such as Shopify, this isn’t very many emails. All of these emails are time-based and weren’t triggered by any user interaction with the product.

Day 1.1: Authentication

Immediately after signing up for a Salesforce free trial, an authentication email is sent out. After clicking the button in the email below, a second email is sent with a unique code to enter on the Salesforce website to confirm identity.

An authentication process obviously has its own security benefits, but it will also filter out the very uninterested. This, in turn, will lead to higher open rates and roll to pay rates, since only the ones willing to take a few steps to access the service will receive the followup onboarding emails.

Subject Line: Welcome to Salesforce: Verify your account

Sender Name: support@jp.salesforce.com

Send Time: Immediately after signup

Objective/Content: Have trial user confirm their account

CTA: Verify account

Strengths:

The email is aiming for one user action, to click through and confirm the trial account. Therefore, it’s perfect that the email is short with a hard to miss big blue CTA button. It also uses the hero image to thank the user for signing up

What to learn from it:

  • Thank users for taking the time to sign up for a trial and confirm their account
  • Two-step authentication isn’t required (other sequences forego it), but it is an option

Weaknesses:

The only weakness is that authentication may deter some users from carrying forward with the trial. However, are those really the users you want to try and onboard anyway?

Day 1.2: Tour of Service

Salesforce is a behemoth, so they’ve had the resources to work on personalized marketing and services. The email sent on Day 2, which I would consider the first true onboarding email, asks readers to choose a product tour based on their goals.

Subject Line: Welcome to Salesforce CRM. Start with the basics.

Sender Name: Salesforce

Send Time: Day 1, 10:05 AM CTS

Objective/Content: Take a tour of the product based on goals

CTA: Log in and choose a walk-through

Strengths:

The more you know about a user and their goals, the more you can personalize and strengthen their onboarding experience. By asking users to log in and choose a tour, users will likely have a tag applied to their account. Then moving forward, content and marketing can be tailored to their goals to maximize the chance at success.

What to learn from it:

  • Try to learn about user goals early This can be complex like Salesforce’s personalized tours, or as simple as asking for an email response (like CoSchedule does).

Weaknesses:

While other onboarding sequences lead with an introduction to the “building block” feature, Salesforce starts a bit more complex. On the upside, this email will help Salesforce learn about each user and tailor future communication. However, seeing all of the features and benefits available to them may be overwhelming for new users.

Day 2: Use Case

Subject Line: Make it rain with Salesforce.

Sender Name: Salesforce

Send Time: Day 2, 10:05 AM CTS

Objective/Content: Boasting the potential outcome of managing your sales pipeline with Salesforce

CTA: Log in and learn more about pipeline management

Strengths:

Using onboarding emails to address use cases as opposed to features is interesting. With a tool like Salesforce, there are bound to be many features and tools, with more being added all the time. Dumping a list of these “ingredients” in the recipe for success may be more disorienting than showing what the end result is.

What to learn from it:

  • If you can’t narrow down your product’s capabilities to a few building blocks, present a set of features as a use case

Weaknesses:

The subject line for Day 2 was a little unexpected, given the previous emails I received were pretty buttoned up. A more formal tone may suit Salesforce’s audience more, but it will be interesting to see if any other bits of humor pop up in the rest of the series.

I also think that the CTA could be clearer. There’s a hyperlink on “Log in” followed by a set of instructions on how to navigate to the appropriate information. If deep linking to the page in question isn’t possible, a cleared CTA button would be helpful.

What to learn from it:

  • Fun subject lines are fun, but make sure they make sense with your brand personality (or the personality you want to recreate)
  • Making clicking through and accessing the information discussed as convenient as possible.

Day 3: Feature Spotlight

Subject Line: See who did what, when.

Sender Name: Salesforce

Send Time: Day 3, 10:24 AM CTS

Objective/Content: Introduce sales activity tracking

CTA: Log in and see how you can track sales

Strengths:

Given that the sender name is clearly Salesforce, the subject line for Day 4 is solid. Not only is seeing “who did what, when” relevant for a sales manager, but it also piques curiosity. Don’t lie, you can be nosy sometimes too.

The explanation of the old way to track sales activity (along with its associated downsides) is clear and concise. Benefits of the new Salesforce way of tracking activity is also clear and to the point.

What to learn from it:

  • Be concise with benefits

Weaknesses:

A simple animation of the body of the email would be interesting to explore. Right now there’s a screenshot of a portion of the sales tracking interface. However, a GIF showing activity being logged or easily recalled would be more powerful. (Evernote, Day 8 especially, has effective animation)

What to learn from it:

  • If you’re going to include images from the product, make sure there’s context around them.

Day 5: Feature Spotlight

Subject Line: Your mobile device, now a mobile office

Sender Name: Salesforce

Send Time: Day 5, 10:24 AM CTS

Objective/Content: Introduce Salesforce1 Mobile App

CTA: Watch our video demo or download the app now

Strengths:

As more and more is possible on mobile phones, its only natural that users will expect software to be available on the go as well. The subject line from Salesforce’s day 5 email is clear and enticing. Once inside the email, the headline is also straightforward.

What to learn from it:

  • Start simple. You can always elaborate on the benefits or use cases of a set of features later.

Weaknesses:

The CTA text at the bottom of this email reads “Watch our demo video and click here to download the app now.” If the video was included in the email then the CTA could have been simplified to “download now.” At the very least, a link to download the app in the description of the YouTube video you’re directed to would have been helpful.

The features available on the mobile app, such as logging calls and responding to leads, could have been displayed as a list. It would make the email slightly longer, but scanning would be easier.

What to learn from it:

  • Make it as easy as possible for users to take action. If there are a few steps they should take in a row (such as watching the demo and then downloading), make sure a relevant link is easy to find at every step of the way. You don’t want users to have to retrace their steps in order to complete the second half of your ask.

Day 10: Use Case

Subject Line: Check in with real insights in real time.

Sender Name: Salesforce

Send Time: Day 10, 9:25 AM CTS

Objective/Content: Introduce sales tracking analytics tools

CTA: Log in and click on the Dashboards tab to see just some of the possible dashboards that can help you analyze your business.

Strengths:

At ten days in, the hope is that a trial user is, in fact, using the product. As the trial moves along the feature spotlights and use cases will also evolve. While at first Salesforce was focused on getting users to interact with features, not they are focused on helping users optimize their work with analytics.

I also think the screenshot image used in this email is more clear and enticing than past emails.

What to learn from it:

  • Introduce features and use cases in the order that a user needs them. Optimization of processes should come after initial product engagement.

Day 16: Cross-Sell

Subject Line: There’s more Salesforce to love when you customize and extend.

Sender Name: Salesforce

Send Time: Day 16, 9:25 AM CTS

Objective/Content: Promote AppExchange

CTA: Find all the apps you need by clicking on the logo

Strengths:

I guess a cross-sell makes a bit of sense after someone doesn’t buy into the main product. By showing a different option you may still be able to convert some users.

What to learn from it:

  • Introduce additional offers or services as a last effort to get a user to take the bait

Day 27: Final CTA

Subject Line: Our time together is almost up. Let’s keep going!

Sender Name: Salesforce

Send Time: Day 27, 9:26 AM CTS

Objective/Content: Reminder that the trial is nearly over

CTA: View pricing and editions

Strengths:

I appreciate that Salesforce sent a reminder email and used social proof. 100,000 companies is definitely an impressive stat.

What to learn from it:

  • Social proof rocks

Weaknesses:

Unfortunately, I think the subject line here falls kind of flat. There are some other phrases like “we’d hate to see you go” in the email that I guess, in conjunction with the subject line, are supposed to be a bit of an emotional plea?

They either need to fully commit and make the subject line full on emotional/guilt-inducing, or it needs to focus on the benefits of the service. Social proof should never be a crutch; the benefits and desired outcomes should play the leading role.

What to learn from it:

  • Emotions can work in winback emails, but the final CTA reminder message is your last chance to sell users on the product and benefits

Series Review

There’s no doubt that Salesforce has a useful product that many companies love. However, I wouldn’t give them the prize for the best onboarding email series. Simple tweaks and additions such as more compelling CTAs, reminders for the trial end date, and simplified product images would make a noticeable difference.

What do you think were the most and least effective components of the Salesforce onboarding email flow?


Have questions about SaaS onboarding emails? I’d love to chat! Send me an email at steph@stephknapp.com
Ready to create or upgrade your SaaS onboarding email series? Download What to Include in a 14-Day Onboarding Email Series (And When to Send Each Email) here.