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Email Onboarding Teardown of Buffer

Buffer is a popular social media tool that allows you to post to multiple channels and profiles from one easy-to-use application. For example, instead of logging into Twitter and Facebook separately to share a blog post, you can post once in Buffer to cover both social media channels. 

We’re big fans of Buffer and use it at Funnelfly. 

We recently signed up for a new Buffer 14-day free trial to tear down their onboarding email flow. Here, wee share what Buffer does well and where we believe they have room to improve.

See for yourself.

Here is a screenshot of every message Buffer sent during our free trial. 

Buffer's onboarding emails.


Some stats

  • Number of emails: 6
  • Count of “from” senders: 1
  • Day of week: Business and weekend

Email 1 - Day 1

Buffer onboarding email #1.


Email 1 was sent within minutes of starting the trial. The subject line perfectly sums up what Buffer helps customers do—grow their brands Buffer customers create accounts to spread the word about their business and connect with their customers. 

Buffer uses social proof by mentioning “75,000 marketers” and specifically naming three large brands.

They then mention Publish and Analyze, which I’m not clear on. I later discovered that those are “products” in Buffer. I think it’s too early to introduce additional products in this first email. Buffer’s focus should be on getting me to schedule my first post. Then they can educate me on Buffer nomenclature.

Buffer drives home the importance of consistency when building an audience, which creates a little bit of urgency. It’s always best to start now. The urgency pushes me to click the only call to action (CTA) in the email: “Schedule a post in Publish”.

It’s great to include only one CTA in an email, especially early on. Buffer uses Publish with more context, but it still feels too early. I don’t care about their brand names—I just want to reach and grow my audience.

Buffer also introduces Analyze in this email as the place to see each post’s performance. 

The “I’ll let you get to it” is perfect. It’s similar to an experience at a brick-and-mortar store when the sales rep introduces themselves, welcomes you to the store, and then lets you browse and reach out if you have questions. 

Adding a photograph of the team member in the email signature is a nice personal touch. It’s always good to connect a name with a face.

Email 2 - Day 3

Buffer onboarding email #2.


This email was sent on a Saturday. The only time I check my email over the weekend is for customers or an emergency. I honestly missed this email and didn’t recall seeing it until I queried all of my Buffer onboarding emails. 

Buffer continues driving home the importance of consistency with their publishing plan. They use infrequent publishing and spamming as examples. These both do a great job of explaining what you should and shouldn’t do to grow your brand. 

Again Buffer includes a single CTA in the email. Smart!

The examples below the CTA are helpful. However, it’s odd that half are Instagram focused and no other social media brands are mentioned. 

Email 3 - Day 5

Buffer onboarding email #3.


Buffer includes the same three examples they used in the first email. I think it would have been helpful to include other brands besides the three they have already mentioned. They also share more about those brands in this email, which seems a little odd. 

They follow up the “about” section with testimonials from each of the brands, which is fantastic. I don’t think the information about the three brands is needed—it seems to detract from the testimonials and CTA, which are more important. 

I’d recommend removing those bullets and moving straight into customer testimonials.

Buffer is pushing me to check out my analytics. However, I have yet to share a single post. I have not even connected my social media profiles. 

This would be a great opportunity for Buffer to trigger a plain text email from a support team member. The plain text email will appear as a more personalized email. (Funnelfly offers personalized email at scale.) 

The analytics message is great, but an analytics CTA should only be included after Buffer knows the user has shared a post. 

This is a great place to include liquid templating (if their email tool allows for it) to show the analytics statement if the user has posted to social media. If the user has not, Buffer can push the user to share their first post.

Email 4 - Day 8

Buffer onboarding email #4.


Great use of social proof in the subject line with “3 things top social media marketers do”. Since I am striving to be a top marketer, I was compelled to “click.” The three things continue to drive home the importance of consistency. 

Buffer does a great job of tying in analytics as a way to improve your messaging through seeing what resonated with your audience in the past. However, it’s only important if the user has already shared. Buffer should include more information for sharing your first post through Buffer or leveraging your existing post history by connecting your account to Buffer.

Buffer could segment the message based on posts shared through Buffer: 

  • Post shared via Buffer: Review analytics in Buffer to see how these posts performed and what to double down on.
  • No post shared via Buffer: Review past posts in the social media platform to post similar content in Buffer.

This would be a great place to introduce Pablo (Buffer’s free image builder). Pablo would be especially helpful to users who are struggling with how to write their first post as Pablo has many templates to copy and customize. It’s always easier to start from a template and customize than it is to start from a blank slate.

Also, I’ve only interacted with Katie at Buffer right now. It would be great to receive an email from someone else on the team. I find it surprising there is no email from Buffer’s CEO, Joel. No matter how big a company is, it’s always nice to send a brief welcome letter from the CEO. An automated email with responses going to support or sales would suffice.


Email 5 - Day 11

Buffer onboarding email #5.

A good reminder that my free trial is expiring soon. The email is sent three days before a trial ends so it could be sent on any day of the week depending on when the trial began. This email was sent on Sunday. 

I assume their conversion rate on this email is significantly less during the weekend. Buffer could create a new email for those accounts that expire on the weekend. They’d need to remove the days and include the date

Buffer lets you know their trial is 14 days regardless of whether you enter your card details or not.

They share several value statements to help get you over the hurdle and subscribe. 

Email 6 - Day 14

Buffer onboarding email #6.


The trial is over. This is a strong email. Buffer says social media will always be a vital tool in your business’s toolbelt and you should dedicate resources to it (e.g., Buffer). Buffer even says social media is where your customers are, so you should have a presence there as well. 

Buffer ties its subscription to audience growth, which is a strong outcome to tie yourself to. It tells the user there will be a return on investment with this purchase.

This is the last email I’ve received from Buffer. No one has followed up to see why I did not convert or ask if I’d like to extend my trial. 

There is a lot to learn from failed trials, so you should always ask for feedback—even non-product related feedback (e.g., feedback on your emails). You can do this via email or through a simple form. Email typically garners more responses, but forms get more targeted feedback. 

Summary

Buffer’s onboarding campaign is ok. It appears to be a relatively static campaign with little to no segmentation based on application usage. 

I never received a message about my lack of social posts or not connecting to a social media account. I’d expect an email for both since both are huge blockers to a user reaching their “Aha” moment.

I’d recommend Buffer leverage the user’s data to send emails to help move the user down the funnel and towards the many activation points—and finally to a paying customer. 

Funnelfly makes this incredibly easy with our email marketing automation tool. Check out our Growth Library of email templates that you can copy and customize for your practice.

Try Funnelfly for free today

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Want us to tear down your own business’s email campaign or have another one you’d like us to do? Send an email to let us know


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