There’s no denying that financial technology – fintech – is booming these days.

Just last year, multiple fintech companies added billions in both revenue and funding, and analysts are nothing but positive about the future. With their high growth potential and investors’ hunger for disruptive innovation, Goldman Sachs estimates that fintech startups will swipe $4.7 trillion in revenue and $450 billion in profit from traditional financial services companies.

There’s no denying the future looks bright. But even as they take off, they face many of the same challenges as their unsexy brethren when it comes to marketing and growth. Like how to optimize their use of email, especially when it comes to mounting successful onboarding campaigns.

As fintech provider Stripe explains, welcome emails are important. So important, in fact, that they can drive three times the transaction and revenue per email than other promotional emails. That’s a substantial chunk of future revenue, so maximizing onboarding is vital.

With that in mind, let’s look at a few of the biggest challenges fintech companies face in doing onboarding, and the best practices that can help onboarding emails overcome them.

Drip them in!

Onboarding shouldn’t just be a one-shot email drop, especially if you’re trying to acclimate a new user to using a fintech solution’s features (and making upgrades). A classic example from the brick-and-mortar banking world that still proves a good point: Armed Forces Bank elected to experiment with doing a series of onboarding emails, six in all, in lieu of just one.

When they sent out the series with timing that accommodated the schedules of their customers – military servicepeople – they saw a 40% lift in new savings accounts, versus those who only got a single onboarding email. And these customers also increased their account balances and kept more of them open.

This onboarding “drip” approach will work in fintech, too. Why? Because you’re gradually building a relationship with the user, and showing respect for their life and its demands. Earning that respect earns you the chance to send them more messages.

The lesson? Extending the messaging and gradually growing a relationship with users can drive stronger business results compared to a single email.

That’s why fintechs like PayPal make onboarding a journey, not a blip, as you can see in the select emails below. Each new message puts extra reasons to use PayPal in front of the user, educating over time instead of overwhelming all at once.

Be sensitive and authentic

It’s no secret that finance can be a touchy subject with plenty of people.

According to a recent survey of over 1,000 U.S. adults, 85% of us are sometimes stressed about money, while a whopping 30% of Americans admit they’re constantly stressed about money. You’d think they’d jump at any chance of alleviating this stress. But the truth is more nuanced.

According to Wells Fargo, 44% of Americans felt personal finances are the single most challenging topic for them to discuss with others. With such emotion and insecurity being attached to the very word ‘finance’, it can be hard for a marketer to make a good first impression.

So your first order of business is to make your recipient feel comfortable with your message. While constructing your onboarding email, it’s important to bear these sensitivities in mind. Expressing your thanks for them signing up with you is the first order of business, but avoid getting treacly or falsely sentimental about it.

If they’ve signed on with you, they probably responded to branding and key messages that you ought to follow through on. GoBank takes a wry, cut-to-the-chase approach with the thank-you message below, which aligns with their positioning as the oh-so-friendly provider who’s going to defeat fears about how to manage your money by making banking fun! Welcome to the party!

Make it relatable

While it may be a misconception, many people view “finance” as synonymous with “boring” and “complicated.” It’s your job to prove otherwise.

Technical jargon and detailed explanations can exhaust the reader, or drive them to simply delete your email and move on. Or, worse yet, force a change of heart as they consign you to the Spam folder and delete the app. While it may be tough, coming up with creative ways to make the onboarding experience energizing and motivating, not deadly dull, are critical.

Take another look at the GoBank example above. Or this Facebook ad by Wealthsimple. While it’s not an email, the idea is the same – they’re targeting by customer segment.

The ads feature an influencer from a popular TV show, but with an angle that’s relatable and appealing for its intended audience. It’s built around a personal anecdote the target can understand, not any kind of a hard sell.

Make it visual

Another good way to stand out from the crowd? Including images in your emails that give your reader a graphic idea of what they’re signing up for. 65% of the population are visual learners, so it’s worth playing to this.

Rather than communicating via copy, offer images that tell the story – a visualized walkthrough on how to use your app, for instance. This is particularly important when you consider that over half of us access our email via mobile devices. Storytelling via good graphic design should take precedence over “wall-of-text” copy they have scarce time – or inclination – to wade through anyway.

This clean and simple-to-understand email from ExpenseIt does exactly that, and its own clarity reminds them why they wanted the app in the first place: Because of its ease of use.

Excite them early about using the product

Stoke their early enthusiasm for your product by building a few early – and surprising – messages into your onboarding flow that spotlight the product’s functionality. Send a hearty “congratulations!” when they first try out a new feature, for instance, and add pageantry and flair to even your most mundane, baseline functions. In short, the gamification that makes apps appealing to users should extend into your emails.

See what Credit Karma does in the notification below? As a user, of course you’re using the platform to keep track of – and improve, one hopes – your credit score. Credit Karma makes a big deal out of the fact the user’s score has gone up with this triggered alert, and drives them to check to see whether or not they can get a loan approval for that superyacht (actually, a 2016 Camry) they’ve got their eye on.

Another version of this tactic? Send them actual rewards for using features, like FREE! upgrades or promotional incentives. Remember, you want them as fully engaged as possible as early and often as possible.

Remind them they’re missed

If there’s a hiccup in their onboarding flow, or they stop using your product, never let them go without a winback message of some sort. It never hurts to send them a gentle, or funny, or even urgent reminder that they’re a valued user and you’d love to see them back in the fold, as Simple did in the message below.

Mint are experts at onboarding, and their re-engagement message to delinquent users is no exception. The subject line it uses? “We miss you already.” Nothing like tugging at the heartstrings while also reminding people of the pragmatic reasons they were interested in you in the first place.

And if all else fails, there’s that other carrot you can offer– incentives to come back that take the form of discounts, free upgrades, or other lures.

Get on board more effective onboarding

Email is a powerful component in the onboarding flow, and a natural complement to in-app notifications and SMS messaging. The best practices we’ve just walked through are just cornerstones for a more customized, fine-tuned approach to building strong bonds with a user base.

But getting the blocking-and-tackling right first is essential. Only then can a fintech marketer set itself up for further success by optimizing future campaigns.

~ Casey