Zendesk Onboarding Email Breakdown

Unsurprisingly, Zendesk focuses on customer support and chatting with the team during its free trial email series.

Series Overview

Zendesk sent nine emails, including one authentication message, during the 14-day free trial. All of the emails were sent based on time passed, and not specific actions that were taken.

Day 1.1: Authentication

Subject Line: Verify your email address

Sender Name: Zendesk

Send Time: Immediately after signup

Objective/Content: Verify email address

CTA: Click here to verify your email address

Strengths:

This is a pretty standard email verification message! Zendesk thanks me for signing up, and then they give me the link I need.

What to learn from it:

  • It’s always nice to say thank you!

Day 1.2: Introduce the Building Block

Subject Line: Connect your account

Sender Name: Zendesk

Send Time: Immediately after account verification

Objective/Content: Get the trial user to connect their company’s customer support email to their Zendesk account

CTA: Connect Account

Strengths:

Hooray for progress bars! I love a good checklist or visual aid, and Zendesk delivers one front and center. The header image shows the progress I’ve already made and then lays out the one last step. It’s an important step, too.

Zendesk’s “building block” is the connection between a company’s support email and the trial Zendesk account. It’s what has to be done to move forward, and they’ve done a good job drawing attention to it.

They also note that the trial is 14 days so that users know what to expect.

What to learn from it:

  • Add a visual aid! A progress bar shows what they’ve done, and what’s needed next.

Weaknesses:

The inside of this email is great, but the subject line is lacking. I can see that the sender is Zendesk, but without additional context, the importance of the building block isn’t portrayed. For all I know, the “account” they’re referencing seems like what I just confirmed with the first email. Even a simple tweak such as “connect your account to start answering tickets” would make the email stand out more.

What to learn from it:

  • Make sure a reader understands what an email contains based on the subject line

Day 2: Customer Support Contact

Subject Line: Steph, your Zendesk Trial

Sender Name: Kristen Mancini

Send Time: Day 2, 11:36 AM CST

Objective/Content: Set up an intro call

CTA: Pick a time on the rep’s calendar

Strengths:

Zendesk is all about customer service, so it makes sense that they take a more personal approach than other SaaS free trials. This simple email asks the reader to set up a time for a quick intro call, which could be very helpful for some users. It also helps Zendesk learn about each new account.

What to learn from it:

  • This email has been kept simple and personal, like a friendly aside

Weaknesses:

Once again, I think the subject line is lacking oomph. The sender name isn’t Zendesk, but luckily the business name is in the subject line. After reading “Steph, your Zendesk trial” I’m left thinking “what about it?” A question may have been useful in the subject line here

What to learn from it:

  • If you’re reaching out to personally help, let your subject line reflect that!

Day 3: Welcome

Subject Line: Learn about The Suite, two minutes at a time

Sender Name: Zendesk

Send Time: Day 3, 4:53 PM CST

Objective/Content: Provide a product overview via a short video

CTA: Watch video

Strengths:

The body copy in the top blue section is strong. Zendesk poses a very real scenario regarding customer support and then offers a way to simplify the process within your business. They’ve created a video that introduces trial users to Zendesk, and call attention to it with a nice, big blue button.

Zendesk then goes on to mention that the video linked above is one of many in a demo series. They provide a link to the rest, along with a preview of what to expect from the video page.

What to learn from it:

  • Don’t be afraid to use a story/scenario to introduce your brand's value prop

Weaknesses:

I also think this is a better subject line, but still not the strongest.

What to learn from it:

  • Run A/B tests to find top performing subject lines for both open rate and click-through rate

Day 5: Value-Add Content

Subject Line: Learn about The Suite, two minutes at a time

Sender Name: Zendesk

Send Time: Day 3, 4:53 PM CST

Objective/Content: Provide a product overview via a short video

CTA: Watch video

Strengths:

Finally a solid subject line! I still might tweak it slightly, but a 5-year customer support strategy is enticing. I want to open this email and see what Zendesk has to say.

The body copy starts strong by listing out common goals they’ve heard from their customers. These may even be insights they’ve gained from those short calls they referenced on Day 1.

The email also links the Getting Started docs, which are always good to point out.

What to learn from it:

  • Don’t be afraid to use a story/scenario to introduce your brand’s value prop

Weaknesses:

The email copy started strong with the list of common goals. However, I think a truly compelling reason to schedule a call wasn’t delivered. The rep stated that I could book time to discuss with her if any of those goals aligned with my own, but I’m left wondering why. What’s the benefit of taking time out of my day to have a call? Even a simple explanation that the rep could point me in the right direction of how I can use Zendesk to accomplish the goals would have been useful.

I’m also left hanging regarding my “5-year” plan. Will I get that from the phone call they want me to schedule? Do I piece together the goals listed to create it? Will I find it within the Getting Started docs?

What to learn from it:

  • You need to let a compelling reason be known for taking the time to schedule a call. What will a customer walk away from the call with?
  • Don’t leave a reader hanging. Content or features referenced in the subject line should be talked about inside the email

Day 7: Feature Spotlight

Subject Line: Are you reaching your customers on the right channels?

Sender Name: Zendesk

Send Time: Day 7, 4:46 PM CST

Objective/Content: Introduce different help channels available

CTA: Check out my channels

Strengths:

I think the positioning in this email is strong, particularly the sentence:

“The fact is, if you give customers access to a range of channels, they’ll pick the right one for the job.”

In one sentence, Zendesk has made me feel that a) their service can deliver what customers need and b) with these tools I can set it and forget it and let customers sort it out for themselves. Sounds like a win-win to me.

Three is a powerful number, and Zendesk was smart to highlight three channels with clear icons. When you click through you’ll find that there are actually six channel integrations you can add. Showing all six in the email, however, would be way too many.

What to learn from it:

  • Think about how your product can be a win both for your customer and your customer’s customers
  • Present features or ideas in sets of three

Day 11: CTA

Subject Line: Pick a plan today, your trial is about to expire

Sender Name: Zendesk

Send Time: Day 11, 4:46 PM CST

Objective/Content: Reminder and CTA that trial is about to end

CTA: Buy the Suite

Strengths:

Let’s start with the subject line. It’s just as it should be — straightforward with a touch of urgency. The dwindling time is further highlighted with the clock-esque symbol within the email.

This email is very copy-forward, but I think it serves the situation well. This is one of Zendesk’s final pleas. They want to offer a sampler of benefits across the board in hopes at least some of them are convincing.

I also love the signoff “see you on the other side.” It makes signing up seem like some sort of noble plunge into an elite group.

What to learn from it:

  • Let users know exactly how much time is left in their trial
  • Cover your bases when taking a copy-forward approach. Recognize all of the excuses and resistance a trial user may be feeling, and reassure them

Day 12: CTA

Subject Line: Give me a call about your free trial

Sender Name: Kristen Mancini

Send Time: Day 12, 4:49 PM CST

Objective/Content: Reminder and CTA that trial is about to end

CTA: Book time on my calendar

Strengths:

On day 11, Zednesk sent a beautifully designed reminder email to add urgency for free trial users. On day 12, they took it back to basics. monday.com also used this double-reminder method. This is a perfect example of trying the same thing two different ways and seeing which your audience responds most to.

What to learn from it:

  • Test different email styles for the same objective to see which your audience prefers

Day 14: Final CTA

Subject Line: [Zendesk Chat] Your account has been downgraded to the Lite Plan

Sender Name: Zendesk Chat

Send Time: Day 14, 9:02 PM CST

Objective/Content: Alert that trial is over plus a CTA to upgrade

CTA: Upgrade Now

Strengths:

Instead of just saying “hey, your free trial is over” Zendesk sparked some curiosity with the subject line “[Zendesk Chat] Your account has been downgraded to the Lite Plan.” Since this reads more like an account alert than a reminder, it made me pause and think “wait what happened to what account? Let’s investigate.”

They’re also clear about what will happen now that the trial has ended. Finally, they include information on all of their monthly plans. I think the email covers the information it needs to in a concise and easily scannable way.

What to learn from it:

  • Let trial users know what happens now that free time is over. Can they still access account information or some features?
  • Try talking about their free trial as if it were an established account and not a free trial

Weaknesses:

While the CTA is orange, I think it could be bigger or bolder. The graphic comparing plans is quite large, and the button is dwarfed by it.

What to learn from it:

  • Make sure your CTA isn’t completely overshadowed

Series Review

While Zendesk was diligent about offering support and giving users an opportunity to talk to their team, I don’t think they paid enough attention to product features or benefits. While there were some emails I really liked, such as the Day 1 email that featured a progress bar graphic, the series overall wasn’t as cohesive as others I’ve seen. By aligning the email content with the progressing customer onboarding experience, the information would deliver greater impact. Instead, most of the emails felt random.


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