The No-Effort Email to Convert Free Users to Paying Customers

No-Effort Email That Wins Customers

In 5 minutes today you can set up an automated email that will help you understand your recent signups and convert more of them from free to paid.

The best part is:

  • It won’t require you to use a fancy html layout.
  • There are no images in the email.
  • There aren’t even that many words.
  • You don’t need to be an expert copywriter.

So What Is This Magical Email?

How can something so simple be so effective? Are you shocked at the simplicity? We call this the “surprise personal email”.

No Effort Email

Here are some reactions from people who have used it:

Had this on for 24 hours, so very preliminary results, but we’re seeing 25% reply rate. Insane.” -James S.

I’ve set this up a couple of weeks ago, and it works monstrously well! We’ve been getting tons of compliments on how personal and attentive we are with ours user and tons of replies.” -Helder R.

How Do You Design Your Surprise Personal Email?

It’s very easy. Here are a few things you’ll want to do:

1. Surprise Someone With The Timing.

Don’t send immediately because that’s too soon. You could try the timing we use: 32 minutes after someone signs up for our product. That’s just enough time for them to have a look around. Usually they’ll have a bunch of questions.

2. Send It From A (Real) Person.

Ideally the person who will answer replies is the person who should send it. For our company it’s me.

Bonus: Have Replies Go To Your (Invisible) Help Desk

You can set up a special email address like: colin.n at customer io that forwards to your help desk. This helps you deal with the responses in a more structured way.

BUT, and this is a big BUT, only if people don’t know they’re communicating with your help desk. If they do, you ruin the illusion and it makes them feel less special.

What If I Can’t Automate It Today?

That’s ok! Here’s what you can do right now. Pick your 10 most recent signups and send them an email like the one above. Just offer your help. More likely than not you’ll get 2 or 3 replies.

Sending This Email Is Good For You And Your Customers

The responses from a surprise personal email help you understand the needs of your customers and give you an opportunity to help.

You’ll deliver better service to them and learn what you need to fix in your product.

There’s no better time than the present, so go set this up right now and share your experience in the comments.

P.S. Need help sending automated emails like this one? That’s what does.

— Colin Nederkoorn

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About Colin Nederkoorn
Colin Nederkoorn is the CEO of, a product that combines analytics and email to help you send better newsletters, triggered and transactional email. Sign up for his free weekly newsletter that will help you be more effective in your email marketing.
» More blog posts by Colin Nederkoorn


  1. Aaron

    Thanks Colin! I love solutions that are as simple and effective as this one. I’m going to suggest implementing something like this for a few of my clients. Thanks!

    • Colin Nederkoorn

      Hey Aaron. That’s awesome. I’d love to hear what the results are for your clients. One of the key things with this email is that you do want the author on the other end of it when people reply.

      • Salman Aslam

        Hi Colin,

        Great post. I must say there is a HUGE Power in just ASKING. I’ve witnessed it with my clients and the results I was able to get just by ASKING it does pay off to have that thought :)

  2. Corey Dilley

    Great idea.

    Have you tested this email out with customer support reps as the sender instead of the CEO? If so, were the results similar?

    Thanks Colin.

    • Colin Nederkoorn

      Hey Corey,

      It works with a support rep as the sender too. We have a customer who does that and we built that feature in our product for them: .

      If the support rep is the main contact person, you’re actually better off sending most if not all emails from them. It’ll strengthen the relationship between the recipient and their rep.

      It’s something we recommend to businesses as a way to modify this email as they start to scale up.

  3. Thomas Oriol


    I can see how this email would increase engagement at the beginning of a free trial, but its effect on conversion from free trial to subscription seems very indirect.

    Is the title of the blog article (“Convert Free Users to Paying Customers”) good copy-writing or is there anything I am missing?



  4. Ilia Papas

    Great post, Colin! The invisible help desk was something we found surprisingly difficult to reproduce, since helpdesk email responses often look like impersonal tickets. After evaluating a few options, we went with UserVoice, which has been working well.

    Zendesk responses can get close to appearing like a natural email thread, but it requires a surprising amount of template customization. HelpScout seems like another decent option.

  5. Software Marketing Tweetables 25 February 2013 | Smart Software Marketing

    […] The No-Effort Email to Convert Free Users to Paying Customers […]

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