Onboarding Archives

PayPal Onboarding Email Messages

By Jim Bruene on March 5, 2013 9:16 PM | Comments

image As a followup to last week's post on the signup process at PayPal, I thought I'd share the onboarding messages received during the first 10 days. There have been three so far (see screenshots below):

1) Day 0: Welcome message

2) Day 3: General message about PayPal benefits

3) Day 4: More specific message about shopping with PayPal

I've yet to link a credit card or bank account, so I expect more messages in the near future.

Bottom line: Onboarding is one of those areas that is impossible to perfect. It's an art and you'll be forever tweaking it. That said, there are some basics tenets to follow: a friendly, immediate welcome message and prompt followups with benefit-laden messages. PayPal ticks the boxes here, though they could add a bit more visual punch and tighter copy.


Initial confirmation message from PayPal (24 Feb 2013)


Day 3: Followup message outlining PayPal benefits


Day 4: Followup details shopping opportunities with PayPal



Bank Simple Innovations #3 and #4: Debit Card Mailer

By Jim Bruene on August 14, 2012 3:05 PM | Comments

image Below is the second installment of our multi-part series on the innovations from Simple. The onboarding process is covered in the first two segments. 

Part 1: Innovations #1 and #2: Demo mode after login


#3 Novel card mailer & copy

If you've been following the Bank Simple story, you've probably already seen it's unique card mailer. It's a simple package consisting of a cardboard CD-mailer (screenshot #1) with the Simple name on the outside.

Inside, is a clever matching cardboard piece with the card rubber-banded to a detachable bottom piece designed to be used as a very basic wallet (note 1). The cardboard says "cash" on one side and "card" on the other.

Copy is friendly and very unbank-like (see screenshot #2):

Your new Simple Visa card is
here. Excited? We're a bit giddy.

Activate your card and try it out.
Please let us know what you think.

It's the best card mailer copy I've ever seen, but it does strike me as just a bit overly self-congratulatory. I think I'd have put a big THANK YOU at the top instead of the IT'S A GOOD DAY. But that's a small point. Also, I love that they ask for feedback, but it would be nice to publish their email or Twitter handle to make that easier.

The back of the mailer (screenshot 3) is all business with the toll-free number, a simple URL to see the detailed terms <>, and the name of the card issuer (Bancorp Bank).

Bottom line: Even though the Simple package appears austere, it most certainly cost much more than the generic #10 package customers are used to getting from banks and card issuers (first-class postage was $1.95 alone). But if you want users to really believe that you are different from the megabanks, you can't just drop a plain-vanilla card mailer into their hands.


#4 Humanizing the card activation/PIN selection process

Users must dial a toll-free number to activate the card and create a PIN. While the lack of online or mobile options was a letdown, the bank did a good job with the call. As expected, the activation number was answered by a recording. But the recording from a real customer service rep, Rachel, who apparently has been actively engaging customers for more than a year.

There were no surprises in the activation process, users calling from a previously known phone number simply key in their card number and last-four digits of their social security number to activate. Then select a PIN by entering four digits twice.

The bank didn't do any upselling, but did offer the option of connecting with a service rep for questions. I took the bank up on the offer, and briefly chatted with a service rep about the spending limits on the card. She was personable and answered the questions with no hesitation. And I liked how they answered the customer service number:

"You've reached customer relations at Simple. Let's see if someone' is available to take your call."

Bottom line: While Simple's card activation processed followed industry standards, you still could sense they'd put some thought into it. The little touch of being greeted by a recording from a person using her real name, helps build rapport during the opening days of the relationship.


#1: Simple debit card mailer -- envelope front (13 Aug 2012)
Note: DVD shown for scale only, not part of package.


#2: Card mailer front


#3: Card mailer back


1. The "rubber-band wallet" may be lost on some. My wife didn't get that one at all. But she still thought it was a cool way to hold the card to the mailer without using  adhesive which must be scraped off.


Bank Simple Innovations #1 & #2: Demo Mode After Login

By Jim Bruene on July 31, 2012 5:38 PM | Comments

image I started my <bank> Simple relationship yesterday by responding to an email invite supplied by a reader (note 1). As expected, the application and initial on-boarding experience is tremendous. I've already catalogued a few dozen noteworthy innovations. But instead of writing an enormous blog entry, I will deliver them in smaller doses. 

#1 Allowing account login right away

One area ripe for improvement at many FIs is the online on-boarding process. Typically, after applying for an account, new customers must wait a week or more to get account info and cards in the mail before they can even login to their account.

At Simple, once the new account application is verified and approved (this took less than 30 minutes for mine), users are invited to set up their account online and to download the mobile app.

After completing that process, users can log into their account and look over the features. Because new accounts are devoid of data, the startup offers a demo mode that allows new users to start learning about the account by using its features with fictional transaction data (see #2 below).

Bank Simple invites new customer to login and "have fun"


#2 Interactive demo mode

Many banks have an online banking demo available. Usually, it is limited to a static guided tour. But the best ones are also interactive, allowing users to play with the features as if they were using their own account.

Simple has taken the latter approach with an interactive demo. But instead of burying it somewhere on the public website, the startup has built a demo mode option right into its online banking interface. Users simply choose the demo option in the intro box on the main page, and the site opens up full of sample data that users can play with.

This is especially useful for new users who have no real data to manipulate.

Once in demo mode, users can turn it off using the toggle switch in the upper left or by clicking the X next to where demo mode was launched.


Before: Demo mode is activated with this button

Entering demo mode at Bank Simple

After: Demo mode is shut off with toggle

Bank Simple demo mode


1. Thanks to Michael Bagniewski, VP & Director of Information Technology at PNA Bank, for sharing his extra invite (he inadvertently put himself on Simple's waitlist with two email addresses). Apparently, Simple invites are transferrable, though none are listed on eBay yet.  
2. We looked at the new crop of Truly Virtual Banks (including Simple) in our Oct 2011 Online Banking Report (subscription).


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