4 SaaS Email Marketing Tips

by Richard


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:


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):


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.

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