How Kuda Bank drove the adoption of their app even before they launched

Everyone in Nigeria has a horror banking story. The banks here are largely inefficient and I honestly can’t think of one bank that’s even 80% loved by its users.

Enter Kudabank. They came on the scene sometime last year promising a better way to bank with no unnecessary charges, a product that actually works; capping it all off with an incredible experience from start to finish.

I’ve been using them for about a year now and it’s been nothing short of delightful. Beyond this, there’s a lesson to be learnt here for other startups when it comes to launching a product and driving its adoption.


I hope you’ve come to realize that build the product and they will come is terrible advice. Creating awareness about your product only on the day of launch is equally terrible advice. There needs to be a build-up that drives anticipation towards launch day.

For this teardown, I’ll be focusing on using email as a traction channel when launching new products into the market. Email, specifically onboarding emails don’t get enough credit for their ability to drive activation and retain your users.

It’s unrealistic to think that all you have to do is create a great product then as soon as the user gets their hands on it, they’ll know all the right things to do and end up finding it so valuable. I wish.

In reality, I’m fully convinced that signing up for/downloading your product is the easy part. The hard part? The very hard part that really never ends?
Getting them to experience its value first hand (as quickly as possible) and to keep using it over time.

Acquiring users is great, but it is futile if they are not using your product. It costs 5 times more to acquire new users than to retain the ones you already have.

In a bid to acquire even more users, brands tend to forget a very crucial part of the funnel — activation. If users are just signing up and not using your product, of what use is that to your business? The number of downloads is a vanity metric that has no bearing on business performance. A more valuable metric is active users and time to value.

Whatever actions/activity patterns you choose to classify a user as an active one, they need to equate to value delivered. Not what your team deems as valuable, but what the user sees as valuable i.e their desired outcome.

What action(s) classifies a user as an active one? (“logins” don’t matter as much as you may think)

How long does it take for the user to take this action?

How can the user be guided to take certain actions/use certain features?

This is where onboarding emails come in. This is, of course, one of the many tactics you could employ. Onboarding emails are a series of emails that go out in a sequence to reinforce the benefits of the product and also guide the user to take certain actions so they get value from the product. The moment they experience value is called the ‘aha moment’. The quicker they can get to this moment, the more likely they are to use your product frequently.


The good thing about onboarding emails is that they can be automated. I know some startups currently do some form of onboarding manually by calling every single person that signs up, but that this is time consuming & draining your resources. No need to cancel this out entirely (if you can afford it), but at least free it up by including this step.

I personally don’t think it’s even necessary and have barely seen it done right. The phone call usually goes like this:

  • A CS rep calls me to tell me they can see I just signed up on the platform (duh).
  • They then ask me if I’m having any issues with setting up my account.
  • I tell them no. They offer to assist me if I do, thank me for joining then hang up.

Now here are some thoughts on this:

  • The good is I have a contact number for the company.
  • There’s no call to action. Yes, I know why I signed up and I’m savvy enough to find my way around but others may need more direction on the next steps to take other than setting up their account.
  • If you’re going to channel resources into calling everyone who signs up on your platform, at least turn it into a discovery call as well. What problem are they hoping to solve with your product? When they give you an answer, direct them on the next actions to take with your product so they can start experiencing how this solves the said problem.

How did Kuda do this?

When I signed up for the waitlist (when they were launching their beta program) and up until they finally launched, I got a series of emails informing on what is going on and the next steps.


  • They sent a total of 6 emails between me signing up for the waitlist and then downloading the app. I didn’t count account confirmation because it goes without saying.
  • There could have possibly been more emails after Kuda Times #2 but I didn’t receive them. It could have been an email deliverability issue because the next time I got an email was in December.

Pre Launch

They started creating awareness a month or so (could have been more) before launch day which helps build up anticipation.

1st email

A. The headline is exciting and I already have an idea what it is about before I open it.

B. The copy is giving me exclusivity feels which is every early adopter’s dream. They go on to tell you what to expect next while getting you to join them on the journey by showing your support. Nothing like word of mouth to help drive acquisition.

C. This is important to include because incase you didn’t read the entire paragraph above as we are all prone to, this is a reminder and call to action on the next steps you need to take. They guide the conversation by also giving you the appropriate hashtags to use.

D. They share their social handles which you can easily click on to follow them and stay updated.

2nd email

A. Compelling headline. Headlines are SO important because they help drive your open rates. If the headline is bleh, it’s easy to skimp over it and not open.

B. They call out my name. This is the simplest way to personalize your email. What you don’t want to do is drive pre-launch sign-ups and not say anything to them until launch day. This email came 1 month after I signed on to the waitlist. They announce a launch date and play again to the exclusivity of it only being available to about 1000 people.

C. The text highlighted in yellow is exactly as I received it. I mention this because it’s important they do that. As I scan through the email, I’m drawn to this paragraph and know that if I don’t read anything else, I need to read this.

They set expectations by letting me know the product is a work in progress and direct me on what to do in the event I encounter friction when using the product. I think this is fantastic. They also remind me that I’m also part of the building process which is a great way to give some sense of ownership to users.

D. They build up anticipation by letting me know what features will be available in the beta version. I can’t emphasize how important this is in carrying your users along.

E. They close off with a reminder about the launch. I like that they mention what day of the week the launch is. I already know it’s Aug. 5th and now I don’t need to check my calendar to know what day exactly. They are making my life easier already. It’s really the little things.

Launch Day

3rd email

Finally, it’s launch day!

What they do right:

  • Remind me that the product is still in beta.
  • Give me a call to action to test it and give them feedback.
  • Set expectations on what exactly I can currently do on the app.
  • Give me instructions on the right methods to send feedback.

You might be wondering why they say almost the same things like their last email? Repetition drives home the point.

4th email

What they do right:

  • This is the email I get right after I create my account. They start by mentioning on a very granular level, what they’ll be doing for me.
  • Remember I mentioned earlier why it’s important to guide the user towards actions. Putting money in my account is an important action for getting value from a banking solution.
  • Because it’s a personal bank account, I also need a card which they direct me on how to request for it, when to expect it and mention one of their value props: no maintenance fees.

Post Launch

With onboarding emails, you want to drive the adoption and usage of your product. Because this is a new product, they can’t really leverage social proof just yet, but if you have customer stories that can be shared, it’s a great idea to include this in your onboarding sequence.

5th email

A. Catchy headline. The numbering helps me as the user to keep track of what emails I’ll be getting from them. I also get a sense of what they’ll be talking about in this issue even before I open the email.

B. They start off reiterating their thankfulness for my support then set some expectations on how frequently I’ll be hearing from them. I like the idea of sending out your emails the same day every week. It just keeps things consistent. They also address possible friction head-on by telling me they don’t intend to inundate my inbox with random emails here and there.

A. This is my favourite part of the email. They address a frequent question they’ve been getting from users which is important because if several people are asking the same question, you can bet that there are a lot more people thinking the same but just haven’t asked yet. When you address it in this way, it reduces the number of people sending in emails/support tickets asking this and overwhelming your support team.

They insert a subtle call to action — posting a picture of your beautifully designed card on your social media. I remember seeing a lot of people posting theirs back then so I can imagine that it definitely created some buzz for a product still in beta. This is great because, when they finally opened up to the public, there were people eager to sign up and try it out.

How many emails do you need?

There’s no hard and fast rule of the number of emails that should be included in your onboarding sequence but you should probably aim for 2–3 at the very least. The more complex your product is, the more emails you need in your onboarding sequence. The more tech-savvy your target market is, the fewer emails you need to send out during onboarding.

The point of this is not to copy and paste what your competitors are doing, it may not work in the same way for you. But when you know what actions you need the user to take within the first few weeks, you’re able to tailor your onboarding emails to guide them towards that.

Important emails to have in your onboarding sequence

  • Welcome email: Use this email to introduce yourself and the company to the user. Reiterate how your product will be beneficial to them. You can decide to talk about your mission and why you’re passionate about the problem you’re solving. If you’re feeling adventurous, this can come in the form of a letter from the CEO. This gives a personal touch and makes the user feel valued. Close out by setting some expectations for next steps and a simple call to action (maybe, follow your company on social media?)
  • Features email: Use this email to introduce the user to 1 or 2 features (can be more, but don’t overwhelm them) the user should absolutely start with. Explain what the features are while also tying in the benefits because this touches on why the user should care. If you have a video demo of the feature in action, this is a good email to insert that.
  • Case-study email: Do you have customers who are successfully using your product and absolutely love it? Share their story in this email. Users will have more confidence in your solution when they see how it is working for others. Don’t just talk about how much customer x loves your product, but also explain what your product has helped that customer achieve.

What did they do right

  • I love that their messaging. It is personable and sounds like a real person.
  • Consistent & clear communication that carried the user along the whole time.

I wish they talked more about their mission and why they decided to tackle this problem. There’s an opportunity here to agitate the pain that so many have faced with the current banking solutions out there.

Note: These emails are from when they first launched last year and have possibly changed since then.

If you’re tired of being held captive by your current bank, you can use their product for free here and enjoy peace of mind.



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