Posts Tagged ‘email sequence’

4 SaaS Email Marketing Tips

Monday, May 16th, 2016

FEATURED_SaaS-Email-Marketing-Tips

Is your SaaS on top of email marketing?

Most SaaS have some kind of email strategy happening. But in many cases, especially when resources are stretched at the early startup stage, that strategy is not necessarily doing very well.

We’re taking a look at a few of the latest trends as well as tried-and-true tips for improving email marketing in your SaaS.

What’s happening in email marketing now? Grab our tip sheet here.

#1. Get Them Delivered

Now this is one of the “classic” email problems which still holds true (if not more so now): You can have the biggest email list in SaaS history, but if you have issues with deliverability of your emails, you will have poor results from email marketing.

These days, there is much more to deliverability than your spam score. Email providers such as Outlook and Google have much more advanced techniques, primarily based on engagement factors.

Here is a list of those factors from Campaign Monitor:

email-deliverability

As Campaign Monitor points out, these factors send signals with regard to your reputation, both with the individual subscriber and with the email providers that your subscribers use. Email providers are interested in maintaining a good experience for their users, so they are actively working to keep spam out and usher in the emails that are wanted.

The trick is going to be in getting those opens and “good” signals happening, for which there are a few tips you can follow:

  • Use your thank you pages to let subscribers know an email is coming and instruct them to “whitelist” your emails. (Email marketer Ben Settle has been known to use video on his thank you pages to show people how to whitelist).
  • Use compelling subject lines to increase the likelihood of getting opened.
  • Target your emails well to encourage more opens (see point #2).
  • Build a quality email list through opt-in rather than buying or renting lists.
  • Send emails from an authenticated domain.

Old rules you’ve probably heard about still apply, such as keeping your spam score down at the same time. There are certain words which are known to trigger spam filters and should be avoided in your subject lines. Lists are updated all the time, but words such as “free”, “% off”, and “reminder” tend to always be on lists of words to be avoided.

#2. Target Based On User Behavior

As Lincoln Murphy describes, the days of the “email blast” are long gone, and if you’re still blanket-emailing your entire list, you’re doing email marketing wrong.

Email targeting has become increasingly sophisticated and is frankly a tool every SaaS should be using. You want to promote retention, and retention tends to happen through engagement – don’t send out emails which will be irrelevant to certain recipients.

If that happens, you start to “train” people that your emails aren’t relevant, they stop opening them, and then the signal is sent to email providers that your emails aren’t wanted and you’re back to deliverability issues.

Each user moves through your funnel at their own pace, so a much more powerful email strategy is to segment based on user behavior (or stage of the funnel) and email valuable information which is relevant to them for their stage.

Alex Turnbull, CEO and Founder of Groove, describes implementing behavioral trigger emails as “one of the best things we did.” Previously, Groove was sending out the “email blast” of an automation series to all trial users, but results changed when they moved to the “trigger” emails.

Here’s an example (from Optimizely’s post):

email-trigger

Groove noticed a real difference when they sent out these highly relevant, behavioral trigger emails – their conversion of trial users to paid users increased by 10%.

If you need more proof that segmentation works, there is an excellent case study at Sixteen Ventures about how Vero used it to increase conversions of SaaS emails by 450%.

As Tim Watson stated for Smart Insights: “Brands not using behaviour in 2016 will be brands stuck in the past.”

[tweetthis]SaaS not using behavioral segmentation for their email delivery will be stuck in the past.[/tweetthis]

#3. Send Re-Engagement Emails

This is really another segment for your SaaS to be targeting. In fact, we’ve previously written about creating an email sequence to effectively re-engage customers.

What we still often see though, is that a busy SaaS start-up can overlook this group while they engage based on user triggers, answer help tickets, and generally hustle to promote the growth of their business.

It would be a shame to let those users who you’ve worked so hard to obtain quietly exit out the back door.

Did you know that the average inactive rate for any email list is 60%? In terms of SaaS subscribers, many are finding they have “zombie customers”, those who are paying for services but not actively using the software at all.

If you find yourself in this situation, it’s always worth looking at your onboarding process too. How are you encouraging users to engage, learn about and use your product? Those trigger-based emails we talked about will probably help too, but otherwise ensure you have sufficient channels available to help the client get the most from your service and drive continual engagement.

Marketing Land points out that you should also take note of frequency (are you sending out so many emails that your customers are becoming fatigued?) and type of email that gets opened. They suggest you find the best-performing of your emails from the past few months and only send that type of email to the disengaged customer.

As for any “zombies”, as Lincoln Murphy points out, do the right thing. If efforts to re-engage via email, over the phone, or even by snail mail come to nothing, refund them and suspend their account.

#4. Optimize For Mobile

Have you checked your analytics lately? What percentage of your emails are being opened on a mobile device?

A “rule” of email marketing is that, besides getting your emails opened, you want people to actually read them and take the action – things that are less likely to happen if your emails are not rendering well to be read on a mobile device.

55% of emails are now opened on a mobile device.

This means that overall, anyone in the business of email marketing in 2016 and beyond needs to be optimizing for mobile use.

Here are a few thoughts on being mobile-friendly:

  • Keep both design and content concise. Screen real estate is small and you don’t want people scrolling forever or waiting for heavy images to load.
  • Have a single, very clear call to action in each email.
  • Use simple, one-column templates.
  • Test, test, test. Check how your emails are rendering on different devices and adjust to optimize.

Basically, the time has long passed where the question was whether to bother with mobile optimization – if you don’t do it, you could find your engagement dropping, then we’re back to step one of this piece.

What’s happening in email marketing now? Grab our tip sheet here.

Final Thoughts

Email marketing is an “old” technique, but a powerful strategy which SaaS should be paying attention to. While platforms you don’t own like social media can change at any moment, your email list is an asset which you can always keep – and it needs to be nurtured.

It’s easy to think you’ve got it covered by sending out a few “blasts” every now and then, especially if you’re busy trying to grow. But, SaaS need to get smarter about email strategy.

Make sure your emails are getting delivered and opened, be relevant and targeted with your audience, look to re-engage users, and ensure you are optimized for mobile.
These are strategies which should see you get better email marketing results for 2016 and beyond.

Steps to an Email Sequence That Will Re-engage Your Current Customers

Monday, September 7th, 2015

Steps-to-an-Email-Sequence

The first step is getting customers to walk in your door. The second step is getting them to stick around. Since they were interested enough in your services to create an account, this step might seem easy. Unfortunately, as business owners around the world know firsthand, that couldn’t be further from the truth.

In fact, losing customers after they’ve already created an account can be more common than successfully signing up new customers. There are an infinite number of reasons ranging from a lack of relevance to what they’re working on, to a high cost, to general forgetfulness about what they’ve signed up for.

effective-email-sequence

Regardless of the reason, there are a few surefire ways to get them to re-engage and get excited about being your customer. If you follow our steps to create a re-engagement email sequence, it won’t solve all of your business problems – but it will alleviate a lot of the pressure you’re under. Why? Because an effective email sequence is the difference between “we have engaged customers” and “we used to have customers.”

Here’s what you need to know:

Step #1: Segment Your Audience

segment-your-audience

As we mentioned above, there are endless reasons that people might become disengaged. Tied to every reason is a call to action perfectly suited for that customer. For example, if someone left because of the high cost, the most effective email sequence to re-engage them will be focused on the tangible value that you provide for them. This connection between why customers leave and what will get them to return is true for nearly all customers.

To use this strategy, however, you need to segment your audience. To do this, begin compiling a list of the reasons people cancel their accounts. Once you have an extensive list, begin to look for commonalities and similar problems. This won’t be a perfect segmentation, but it will give you a starting point that you can use to start meaningful conversations with your customers.

Step #2: Get them to open up one single email.

Once you have a list of four-to-five segments, you reach your first hurdle: get them to open one email. While you may be tempted to start by planning out a grand strategy with seven targeted emails each paired with a corresponding blog post, this is a mistake. Instead, you need to take them from a world where they don’t care about you to a world where you’ve enticed them to open an email you send. It may seem like a small step, but when customers are sitting idle you need to warm them up before you start applying pressure.

This step requires a lot of hands on experimentation, covering everything from subject line variations, to figuring out the right timing, to changing who the sender. For each change, keep in mind that the email should be specifically targeting a very small segment of your disengaged audience. It may be a big investment of time, but each change has the potential to impact the open rate by a few percentage points – which adds up very quickly.

Get the bonus content: 5 Tips to Great Subject Lines That Grab People’s Attention

Step #3: Opt-In To Education

Once they’ve opened that first email, you need to immediately move to pitching them with a series of emails. While you may technically have the right to send them emails without them opting in again, the additional level of opting-in provides a few strong benefits.

First, when a customer opts-in to an email sequence, they are far more likely to open future emails from the same sender. It might seem unlikely, but there is extensive research to back this up. Second, the additional opt-in helps you to optimize your first email and better target your disengaged customers. Third, it helps your customers begin to feel meaningfully re-engaged with your company.

Each of these three benefits may seem small, but when you’re dealing with a long list of customers that have lost interest in you, you need to take an incremental approach. This means that whether it’s testing a subject line or getting them to opt-in to a secondary email sequence, the single digit percentage points carry real weight. These are all small steps, but they add up.

Step #4: Teach them

Now that you’ve hooked your customers with a first email and convinced them to opt-in, you need to reel them in with useful content. Many companies make the mistake of trying to send a series of emails that all heavily feature their own products. While it might get a few people to reactivate their accounts, it’s more likely to get them to hit the unsubscribe button.

Instead of hitting your disengaged customers over the head with promotional emails, use the opportunity to teach them about why they need you. Based on your understanding of the target segment, send emails that bring to mind their core business needs. Then, as you help them improve their businesses, you foster an association between your customers and the utility your brand provides. It’s important to note that this needs to be material they aren’t able to find elsewhere, otherwise it’s going to mentally register as useless spam.

Step #5: Turn that lesson into a promotion for using your product

Once they’ve begun to associate your brand with real utility, the process of re-engaging them with your product becomes much simpler. At this point, they’ve already opted-in to your communications, they’ve taken part in an educational series of emails, and they know that you’re ready and willing to help them. This leads to the end of your email sequence, where you take the built-up goodwill and transform the topic of conversation into one about how much they need to use your product.

This is the most delicate part of the email sequence and much like the first email it will require experimentation. Come up with dozens of potential calls-to-action and test each against each other to find the most compelling.

The End Result

At the end, you’ll have accomplished three big things. First, your customers will be more engaged with your company. Second, your customers will have learned something about what they need. Third, they will associate their need to solve a problem with your business (which solves that problem!).

Combined, these accomplishments mean you’ll have customers that are not only re-engaged but excited about using your product.

Get the bonus content: 5 Tips to Great Subject Lines That Grab People’s Attention