Email Marketing Teardown – InVision

by Etienne Garbugli no comments.

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InVision was founded by Ben Nadel and Clark Vanberg in New York City in 2011.

What started as a design collaboration platform for startups, corporations and design agencies now includes tools for prototyping, task management, version control, sharing and presentation, feedback and commenting, meetings and whiteboarding, and organization and collaboration.

Today, InVision is used by more than 4 million designers at tens of thousands of companies, including eighty percent of the Fortune 100.

Why an Email Marketing Teardown of InVision

InVision was the collaboration platform LANDR‘s design team was using when Ludo and I were working there.

Not only did the design team spend their days using the product and evangelizing it internally, they also ❤️-ed their brand and the community.

I was shocked to find out that InVision is fully distributed with more than 800 employees located in 20+ countries around the world.

It’s really impressive what they were able to achieve while collaborating remotely. As a fully distributed company ourself, I think we can learn a lot from their story and experience.

InVision’s team is clearly doing a lot of really good things on the product and community side, but how good are they really at email marketing? Let’s find out:

The Welcome Email

Upon signup, the first email I received from InVision was a Welcome email.

The first thing that stood out was the email’s design: it’s stunning. The subject line format they used (“Welcome to X”) is a reliable option.

As an introduction to a fairly dense product, the Welcome email gets to the benefits and offers different path to getting started with the platform. The auto-play videos are a nice touch.

It would have been good to make the titles also clickable. Readers tend to click images, titles and buttons to access articles.

Welcome Email – Subject Line: “Welcome to InVision” (Sent Immediately After Signup)

Email Marketing Teardown – Welcome Email

I’m really not sure about mentioning that ‘The email is best viewed on your desktop’. In 2019, seamless responsive email templates are fairly easy to build. It’s especially surprising considering that their template from 3 years ago made no mention of that.

The Onboarding Emails

After the Welcome email, InVision sends a grand total of 2 onboarding emails. It makes for a much shorter onboarding sequence than Drift’s (4), Product Hunt’s (4) or Hotjar’s (7), yet their product may be, out of the 4, the one that covers the most ground.

Although there’s nothing wrong with a short onboarding sequence if the emails drive the right behaviors, their onboarding sequence may fall a bit short; I did very little with the product and was not prompted to re-engage or get started using the product.

I would have expected behavioral emails, and more personalization, but as you’ll see below, I got neither. A good onboarding sequence drives behavior.

Onboarding Email Breakdown

InVision’s Welcome email gave me a broad overview of the platform and its benefits. The first onboarding email introduced 3 sub-products/platforms:

Onboarding Email #1 – Subject Line: “Grab 3 free design tools to get more done, faster” (Sent on Day 1)

Email Marketing Teardown – Onboarding Email #1

Although it can be a great idea to direct signups to features and products known to increase adoption, retention and monetization, these prompts came a bit too soon.

On Day 2, I was already overwhelmed with the different things I could try or do. It’s usually best to push for a single action than to push for several and hope that the user engages with the product. ?

InVision emails all have proper link tracking. This makes me wonder why they’re pushing for a Slack integration at this point; a behavior that’s difficult to track properly.

Onboarding Email #2 – Subject Line: “Get your insider’s look at design at Evernote, Huge, Soundcloud, and more!” (Sent on Day 3)

Email Marketing Teardown – Onboarding Email #2

The next email received on Day 3 had a fairly weak subject line. It showcases case studies for design inspiration to establish social proof and overcome the user’s hesitations.

The button and image both link to a blog category, which makes for a fairly loose funnel; with dozens of case studies, I’m not too sure where to look or what to do next. It’s often best to use already-performing posts as landing pages to drive the appropriate behavior. Highlights can help you find those.

The addition of social share buttons is a nice touch. That said, it feels a bit random as it was not included in the previous emails.

It’s difficult to get people to signup to a new product. Although the onboarding emails are good, the sequence feels incomplete.

4 days go by quickly… Maybe I had other things to do and moved on to other things… Adding 2-3 more onboarding emails tied to product usage and education gaps could really help improve InVision’s user activation rate.

The Nurturing Emails (The InVision Newsletter)

Although subject line testing tools don’t tell the full story, InVision’s subject lines scored 10 points below Product Hunt, Drift, or our own subject lines.

Weaker subject lines, improper preview text (see below) and changes in the Sender’s name show a reliance on brand to get the emails opened. This can work when a lot of users discover the product through referrals or social channels, but with signups from lower-intent acquisition sources this can get more tricky.

Email Marketing Teardown – Inbox Preview Text
InVision – Email Preview Text

That said, right on Day 4 after signup, I received a first InVision newsletter. Maybe it was because of the actual weekday of my signup that I got the email so quickly. Regardless, it felt odd to go into nurturing when I’ve not fully understood what the platform can do for me.

Weekly Email #1 – Subject Line: “Once upon a timeline…” (Sent on Day 4)

Email Marketing Teardown – Weekly Newsletter #1

The first thing that jumps out with InVision’s nurturing emails is their length.

They publish a lot of content (8-10 posts per week), and each InVision newsletter includes 8.

The nurturing emails don’t have overarching themes; they’re roundups of the last week’s blog posts. Although the content is fresh, it feels unrelated.

The layout is good, but very similar to the onboarding emails. It’s often a good idea to change the layout and design when dealing with different types of emails (e.g. nurturing vs newsletter). This helps readers understand that the email is part of a different series.

The call-to-action buttons have clever copy that often made me hesitate before clicking (e.g. ‘Just do Not’ ?). The clear separation between InVision’s content and external links included at the bottom of the email is useful.

Weekly Email #2 – Subject Line: “My art will go on” (Sent on Day 12)

Email Marketing Teardown – Weekly Newsletter #2

For emails this long, it’s often a good idea to look at click maps or click analytics to see where engagement drops off.

Often times, the first article will get the lion’s share of the clicks, and the click rates will decrease as we make our way down the email.

After receiving a second nurturing email, I received a different email the next day:

Case Study Email – Subject Line: “Northwestern Mutual: growing design collaboratively” (Sent on Day 13)

Email Marketing Teardown – Case Study Email

In this case, the new layout works well and helps establish social proof with the case study. The email just felt slightly out of sequence.

Later during the first month, I received two more InVision newsletters (email #3 and email #4). The 4 weekly emails were very consistent.

The Feature Update Email

In a little over a month since signup, I was bummed that I did not get to receive a new feature / new product email.

Looking through the archives on Really Good Emails, I can tell that this is where their email marketing really shines:

Here are a few of their most recent launch emails:

Clear and attractive emails. Great design all around.

Now, the issue with designed emails is that they’re harder to iterate on. You can usually optimize emails more quickly by starting with a plain or very basic design and refining the design as you get validation.

Faster iterations means better result faster. ?

The Upsell Email

InVision doesn’t have a free trial. Users sign up with their email address and get to use it for free until they need it for more than 1 prototype.

Upgrading to a paid plan would naturally happen as a result of using the product ($15/mo for 3 prototypes), but that requires usage…

As onboarding expert Samuel Hulick says: 40 to 60% of free trial users never see the product a second time.

With a weak or incomplete onboarding sequence, you’re not giving your product a fighting chance; you’re also not making full use of the power of email automation, which can help you successfully onboard and delight new sign ups.

Email Marketing Teardown – Takeaways

No email marketing program is perfect. Let’s look at what InVision is doing well… and less well:

The Good

  • ✅ Stunning emails with high-quality visual assets;
  • ✅ Full coverage of the entire lifecycle email platform;
  • ✅ Good use of social proof and case studies;
  • ✅ Good integration with social media;
  • ✅ Proper link tracking in all InVision emails, even the InVision Newsletter.

The Bad

  • ❌ Incomplete onboarding sequence seemingly lacking focus on driving a specific behavior;
  • ❌ No behavioral emails;
  • ❌ Average subject lines emphasizing creativity over performance;
  • ❌ No personalization found anywhere;
  • ❌ Call-to-actions could be stronger.

Email Marketing Teardown – Score


Interested in building an email program like InVision?

We just launched a SaaS Email Masterclass ? to help increase trial conversions with email.

InVision is doing good things with emails, but they’re clearly not maximizing the potential of email marketing automation.

They have a full email marketing program and are doing really good things with their launch and content emails. That said, they could get more results if they leveraged their users’ product usage data.

They could also improve the overall open and click rates of their emails by using email testing tools and Highlights. As stated before, email marketing is key for free/freemium tiers.

Overall, InVision shows it still has room to improve the performance of its email marketing program:

Final score: 6.7/10 ?

Do you agree with us? Let us know in the comments below.?

P.S. Enjoying our email teardowns? Sign up to our newsletter to make sure you don’t miss out.

Etienne Garbugli
Étienne is a three-time startup founder (Flagback, HireVoice and Highlights), and the author of Lean B2B: Build Products Businesses Want. At Highlights, Étienne is responsible for customer success.

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