Is HEY Email Worth It?

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User Onboarding:

Growth Design Case Study #022

Story Duration: 5 min

After failing to stick with Superhuman to manage my emails...

My personal inbox has gotten... even worse.

So when I saw this tweet from Basecamp's CEO...

...I jumped on my computer to try this new promising email service...

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Ohh... Unusual home page!

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...It's rare we see a home without a clear title and a "hero" image.

As Mr. Neumeier says...

And even if the page is text-heavy, since it's the only thing on it—

—it has my full attention, due to EPIC quotes like these...

...directly related to my current pains.

This manifesto really struck a chord... so let's try it! {click}

When Everybody Zigs, Zag.

To rise above the competition, brands need to embrace the power of differentiation.1

HEY is taking on big players like Google and Apple. They can't succeed by saying, "here's the best email service."

They can only succeed by sharing their true story.2

1The Futur, What is Branding? A deep dive with Marty Neumeier (2019)
2Harry Dry, How HEY made us care about their email service (2020)

Know Your Customer's mind inside out

The starting point of all great copy is a solid understanding of your customers' dreams, pains, and barriers.

The truth is your customers don't care what YOU think. They care about what you can do for them.1

1Growth Lab, How to write copy (2019)
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Again quite unusual!

I was expecting the classic signup form... {Let's go}


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Oh... just realized the hands represent the number of steps. 

It sets expectations right from the start.

Well played! {click}

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The email address is already pre-filled...

A "nice-to-have" that actually makes a difference in perceived value. Giving it an "it's now mine" feeling!

Endowment Effect

People value something more if they feel it's theirs.

Especially when your customers try your product for the first time, find a way to personalize their experience to see a lift in activations.1

1Growth.Design, 🧠 The Psychology of Design (2020)

Next! {click}

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And this is where this step-by-step onboarding wins vs. a standard "signup" form...


Easy steps and a small "reward" (new email address) make the friction of setting a password a formality!

Little did I know, the honeymoon phase was slowly coming to an end...

Setting password... {Go!}

Deferred account creation

Moving users through your app slowly, helps them experience the value before signing up—increasing conversion rates.1

This is based on "reciprocity": people feel the need to give back when they already received value.2

1App Cues, We categorized over 500 user onboarding experiences into 8 UI/UX patterns (2019) 2Growth.Design, 🧠 The Psychology of Design (2020)
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3 steps do sound better than 4... But⁠—

Moving on! {click}

  ⁠—we should be cautious about "lying"!

The risk of not meeting people's expectations is greater than adding a small step.

Hmm wait... Wasn't I already at Step 3?

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All set! ...

Wait... I guess there are other steps?

3) ⛑ Prompt without help:

There's one very important action, and nothing is helping me make that decision...

Somehow this feels anti-climactic... for three reasons:

1) 🤖 Repeating steps is redundant: if I'm here it's because they're done.

2) 📜 Lots of explanations:

Don't tell me what's going to happen, show me.

Contextual Onboarding

Make sure you show the right message to the right user at the right time.

Rather than asking your users to remember everything up-front, you should provide guidance as they go.1

1Nick Babich, Best Practices For Onboarding (2017)
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Instead... what if we had something like this! 

1) 🎁 Reward: When people invest time and effort in your app, remind them how well they're doing.

2) 🎯 Contextual Onboarding: Don't leave to chance big decisions like a browser default setting. The right information at the right time.

Moving on!



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A bit wordy, but let's finally see "The Screener" in action... {click}

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Hmm... More text...

💡 Could we merge the last 2 steps and simplify the copy? 

Considering that— {click}

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—this next screen is already easy to understand with great copy.

No need to repeat three times...!

Yes! {click}

💡 Why not "whitelist" HEY and show the feature when I get my first email?

📝 Side note:
Isn't it risky to test the screening feature with their own email?

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⁠—after reading it, I realize it's hard to connect the dots between the words and the actual interface.


We have to be careful not to go back to the '90s when you had to read the instruction manual before "installing a CD"...!

Anyway, let's go back. {click}

Again, a lot of text...

But let's skip a few instructions and read the email instead! {click}


I understand the "meta" intention of reading an email to teach you how it works... But⁠—

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{ }

...Didn't expect a flooded inbox right from the start!

This is a missed opportunity— 

Because I'm yet to experience their core features that could lead to my "Aha moment!"

Clips? Papertrail? Feed? What are those?

 💡 Why not send 
1 email/day for 6 days? 

It would give a great reason for people to come back!

Instead, I'm getting the "instruction manual" of those features... and a long list of tasks.

Prioritize Your Aha! Moment

Making people realize the value of your product is critical for your onboarding.1

With good data and user research, you can pinpoint your engaged users' common behaviors.

Integrate them early in your onboarding to make future users stick.

1App Cues, How to find, optimize, and design for your product's aha moment (2018)

Psych Level

Customer Journey

HEY got my attention quickly with great copywriting on their home page.

The step-by-step onboarding made it super easy for me to follow, plus they delayed the password creation until I got rewarded with the email address.

Getting to know the platform starts with lengthy explanations.

Finally, getting a list of tasks to read at the end was a hard pill to swallow.

HEY's core features are promising, but they'll have to tweak their onboarding to win the hearts of millions!

Plus, the first onboarding email is hard to follow since the instructions are disconnected from the features.

One last thing for you! ⏩

⚡️ 5 strategies To Increase Activation

Get this free one-pager containing:

  • CHECKLIST: 5 key reminders to create a better onboarding.
  • INSIGHTS: All of the 6 psychological & UX insights covered here (with screenshots!)
  • BONUS: 2 design experiments

Yes, I Want My Cheatsheet!

—here are the key moments of HEY's onboarding...

If you learned something...

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You completed Growth.Design's Case Study #022:
"HEY's onboarding"