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How ActiveCampaign cut its 90-day average churn rate as low as 6%

By Maranda Borchert · November 29, 2023
Hero image of the ActiveCampaign office

If you're learning a new tool and the company doesn't walk you through the steps, it's human nature to lose interest quickly. But if the company provides a thoughtful and seamless onboarding experience, you'll likely stick around. In fact, 76% of customers who had a welcoming onboarding experience said they'd likely continue using that service or product.

The Global Onboarding Services team at ActiveCampaign quickly learned this when they recognized about 25% of new customers who weren't getting one-on-one onboarding attention left in the first 90 days. 

Senior Director of Global Onboarding Services Brandon Lowe and his team had a successful track record with their one-to-one onboarding services. While it wasn't feasible to expand those services to each new customer—up to 180,000 people per year—the team knew there had to be a way to scale their efforts. 

What started as a simple fix for their onboarding process is now helping ActiveCampaign improve adoption throughout the entire customer journey.

Problem: 25% customer churn rate in the first 90 days

ActiveCampaign's Global Onboarding Services team is focused on guiding new customers through their first 90 days on the platform. The team's goals center around getting new customers to try the product and spend more and more time on the platform. 

"Customers that touch our one-on-one services have a 19% higher survival rate at 12 months than customers that purely DIY their experience. So, we know engaging with as many customers as possible through our services has a positive impact on adoption and retention," said Brandon.

But with thousands of new users every month, there simply wasn't enough bandwidth to give every new user a high-touch experience. As an interim fix, the team placed an annual recurring revenue (ARR) threshold, and any new customers above that ARR qualified for one-on-one onboarding. But that left a large fraction of customers without any assistance beyond self-help documents. 

When looking at monthly churn data, Brandon noticed that 25% of the customers who churned were still in their first 90 days. He knew they had to try something different. 

So, the team took what they learned from the one-on-one onboarding sessions and looked for ways to make it "one-to-many." As a result, they launched Accelerated Onboarding, a live webinar where the team presents similar content from the one-on-one sessions to any new paying customer. 

With a quarter's worth of data, the team saw a positive impact on speed to adoption and 90-day retention. But they had one lingering issue: attendance.

In the early days of Accelerated Onboarding, about 500 new customers attended each month. While this was impressive, it was still only 3-5% of total new monthly customers. 

Solution: Auto-enroll new users to onboarding webinars

Pulling inspiration from how some states in the U.S. grew the organ donor list, the team decided to use automation to auto-enroll all new users to the onboarding webinar. 

Here's how it works:

  1. When a new user account is created, ActiveCampaign tags the account with the language of that user. This step ensures they are added to the appropriate automation for their preferred language. (Fun fact: The team currently hosts the webinar in six languages!)

  2. The language tag triggers a webhook in Zapier, which securely transfers the user info for the webinar registration from ActiveCampaign.

  3. Formatter by Zapier reformats data to match Demio's—the team's webinar software—specific form needs.

  4. The reformatted data is then transferred to Demio to create the webinar registration.

Image showing the steps of ActiveCampaign's workflow.

Post-webinar, the workflow triggers two Zaps based on who attended and who didn't:

  • Attended. The user joining the webinar triggers a Zap that formats the date and time of the webinar and updates the contact with this info in ActiveCampaign. This updated info triggers a "thank you for attending" email.

  • Didn't attend. The user not joining the webinar triggers a Zap that updates the contact info in ActiveCampaign. This updated info triggers a "sorry we missed you" email.

"We didn’t want [auto-enrolling] to seem spammy, so every time a new user is automatically added to the webinar, we send them an email with a video from me that explains the process," said Tabitha Jordan, Manager of Product Education at ActiveCampaign. "We let them know why we auto-enrolled them into the webinar and what to do if they can't make it or don't want to come."

Results: An average customer churn rate as low as 6% in the first 90 days

Since implementing the auto-enrollment, attendance has jumped up to an average of 2,700 attendees per month—a 440% increase! And once the team created these Zaps, no additional work fell on their plates.

"If there is something in the customer journey that you know will positively impact the customer or help them get started quicker, be prescriptive and tell them," said Brandon about their successful onboarding webinar. 

With that increased attendance, the ActiveCampaign team is seeing tremendous improvement in other key metrics as well. For example, product adoption within the first 30 days has doubled, and the average percentage of churn coming from customers in their first 90 days dropped from 25% to 10%, even going as low as 6% some months.

The team is now taking what they learned from the onboarding course and using it for workshops at other touchpoints in the customer journey. 

"Zapier has been so easy to learn that I've never hit any hiccups I couldn't solve," said Tabitha.

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A Zap with the trigger 'When I get a new lead from Facebook,' and the action 'Notify my team in Slack'