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The first 100 days of a new customer relationship with a brand are some of the most critical for building the foundation of a lasting relationship. First impressions matter. It’s when new customers’ expectations are highest and when they require the most information about your product or service.

This is why many brands use email as one channel for facilitating a better onboarding process that delivers personalized information directly to the new user.

Here are some examples of brands taking advantage of email to ease the onboarding process for their newest customers.

Sony PS4

Sony’s PlayStation 4 swims with some big fish. The gaming industry is a large and highly competitive market. Fostering brand loyalty is essential to remaining relevant, and Sony has employed the use of email to help build loyalty throughout the onboarding stage.

Onboarding in the gaming industry presents its own unique challenges, due to the size and diversity of the gaming audience. Players favor different games, span ages and skill levels, and range from casual to the seriously dedicated. When Sony gains a new customer, it has a lot to tell him or her. To help do this, Sony created an eight-part welcome series.

Deployed over 31 days, the series introduces new PS4 players to the system, links them to helpful information, and alerts them of additional perks available to Sony customers. Each email in the series focuses on a different message and offer. Over time, these offers deepen the connection between Sony and the new player.

Here are some quick highlights from the series:

  • Email 2, sent on Day 4, asks the player to consider purchasing an accessory like a second controller or headset.

  • Email 3, sent on Day 10, encourages the player to check out other games and to enroll in the Sony rewards program.

  • Email 5, sent on Day 18, sends an offer code for the player to download an app or a movie.

  • Email 6, sent on Day 22, encourages the player to enroll in the Sony rewards program.

  • Email 8, sent on Day 31, encourages the player to purchase a Sony PS4 protection plan.

Notice the careful consideration given to the timing of each of these messages. By Day 4, the player may be eager to play with friends or join an online community and may already be considering adding a second controller or headset. By Day 10, players may be ready to move on to a new game. By Day 18, some of the initial shine is worn off, and they (and probably their significant other) are ready to see how else they could use their PS4, like watching movies and connecting apps. Taken together, these touchpoints build an onboarding series intentionally crafted to meet users where they’re at in experiencing the PlayStation and improve their overall customer journey.

There are a few key takeaways from Sony’s onboarding series.

1. Instead of cutting information down or cramming multiple messages into a single email, Sony chose a format that breaks content into small, easy-to-digest pieces. This allows the brand to successfully communicate more information over time because users don’t have to wade through multiple messages. They can focus — and act — on one at a time. It also lets Sony take advantage of multiple touchpoints that collectively build a relationship with the new user.

This doesn’t necessarily mean you should start planning your own eight-part onboarding series, but if you have a lot to say, don’t be afraid to break it up into multiple messages. If your content is valuable and your objectives are clear, your users will appreciate it.

2. Each message has a clear objective that drives the user to action. These range from driving the purchase of a new accessory to registering for Sony rewards. More than driving sales, these objectives are meant to deepen players’ investment in their relationship with Sony.

3. In addition to onboarding users, Sony also uses Marketing Cloud to monitor their engagement. By paying close attention to where users click and what offers they take advantage of, Sony gets a much clearer picture of its customers’ interests. Over time, this allows Sony to serve tailored content and offers to a highly segmented audience, which improves the overall customer experience.

Barcelona Football

For an example of a uniquely personalized, omni-channel approach to an onboarding email series, turn to the Football Club of Barcelona, Spain.

When new fans subscribe, they receive a series of offers inviting them to subscribe to the Barcelona Football magazine and download the club’s mobile app. This makes it easy for fans to engage with the brand through a variety of channels.

Then, Barcelona Football does something unique. The email all individual subscribers receive features the Barcelona player nearest them based on  fans’ particular geographic allocation. For example, a fan in Croatia receives a message featuring Ivan Rakitic while a fan in Argentina would be greeted by Leo Messi. Around the world, football is a sport that inspires fervent passion, and fans feel a strong connection with local players.

Barcelona Football taps into that passion to create a highly personalized onboarding experience that resonates with fans and spurs them to get in on the action.

Check out the rest of the video series from Joel Book, Senior Director of Digital Marketing Insight at Salesforce.