SaaS Marketing

7 Methods to Win at SaaS Email Marketing

Let's talk email marketing: prioritizing conversions, behavior triggers, onboarding sequences, and more. 💌
7 Methods to Win at SaaS Email Marketing
Ray Slater Berry
by Ray Slater Berry

SaaS email marketing is a different breed of email marketing. You’re emailing people with a profound knowledge of the strategies and tactics you’re using. It means we need to be as smart with what we deliver as well as how we deliver it. Most importantly, we need to be smart with how we learn from our efforts.

For this article, we gathered together a group of SaaS email marketing experts to get their opinion. We asked how they’ve increased SaaS marketing email conversion rates, set up a great email marketing strategy, and how they’ve optimized email best practices. 

Shall we?

Setting up SaaS email marketing: the basics

Before we get into our seven email management methods for SaaS marketers, let’s cover the basics. We sat down with Fung-Lin Wu, director of retention marketing of MongoDB to understand how to set up a successful SaaS email marketing strategy. Here’s her 5-step strategy. 

1. Know your customer journey

Map out your customer journey and have a clear idea of their experience map. What touchpoints does someone have before entering an email marketing flow? What are they likely to experience during and after this particular flow?

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The more steps you can identify, the more you can understand your funnel breakdown

2. Prioritize conversions 

Understand your conversions at each step of your customer journey. This doesn’t only include the positive ones. Track points within your customer journey that have high drop-off rates too.  Which conversion point has the most significant opportunity for growth? Start your email marketing strategy there.

💡 Pro Tip: Know what your activation metric is as a SaaS company. Understand all the hurdles after this.

3. Build nurturing emails off each stage 

Once you’ve prioritized which email journey to start with, you can begin to build email nurture journeys for other stages. Build out each one knowing the activation or conversion you’re shooting for. For example, onboarding nurture = goal to activate.

4. Eject and shift your subscribers 

Once users have activated, you need to enter them into another automation flow. Keep trying to build revenue. It’s easier done when you have a credit card on file, so you minimize payment friction points. 

5. Build audience segments 

Build out audience segments as much as you can. It will help you deliver a more tailored experience within each email marketing journey. For example, demographics, job titles, industry, language, problem—Clearbit is a great tool to help you do this.

Clearbit

Now we’ve got the basics from Fung-Lin Wu; we can start to look at email marketing methods to lift our customer flows and ensure we give our SaaS brand the best opportunity to increase MRR.  

7 Email marketing tips all SaaS brands need to know 

SaaS email marketing campaign open rates are typically around 21%, bang on average across all industries. Of course, you have your simple email marketing tactics you can apply to your SaaS brand to help change this: things like the number of words in subject lines, using first names, preview texts—it all helps. 

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However, we need to go a level deeper with our methods for SaaS, and that’s why we called in the experts. 

1. Automate behavioral triggers

AARRR! We’ve all heard of the pirate funnel by now. Yet, it’s something we need to practice more in our email marketing strategy. If we want our email marketing funnels to be as effective as possible, we need to look at triggers outside of activations and conversions. 

AARRR Pirate Metrics SaaS

When we create behavioral triggers in our email marketing flow, we personalize communication and give our email recipients timely content relevant to each unique experience they have with our brand. 

Identify what those behavioral triggers are within the acquisition, activation, retention, revenue, and referral touchpoints. Next, identify which funnels someone can transfer to once they set off a behavioral trigger. Perhaps it’s a funnel you already have set up, or maybe you need to create a new funnel entirely. The decision is up to you and is determined by the resources you have. 

—Backed by Rabin (拉宾) Nuchtabek, Chief growth engineer.  

2. Host referral campaigns 

Referral campaigns are a grossly overlooked way of reaching new audiences and growing your business financially. If you structure messaging well, you can run a successful campaign at numerous stages throughout the customer journey.

Referral campaigns present you with a fresh opportunity to educate those customers that are not yet converted and reinitiate contact with those that have churned or are unengaged. It also gives you the chance to reach new audiences and grow your product awareness in relevant communities. 

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Referral campaigns can help build brand loyalty and grow your business with a drastically lower spend than if you were to go down the advertising route. Especially if your reward system is within your product, and doesn’t hurt your finances—cash is king, hold on to it

—Backed by Rabin (拉宾) Nuchtabek, Chief growth engineer.

3. Do more with your NPS emails 

As SaaS businesses, an NPS survey is a core component for analyzing brand and product sentiment, and identifying room for improvement across the board. However, it can also help with our segmentation strategy. 

NPS emails will identify your detractors, passives, and most importantly—for this method—your promoters. Once you segment your promoters, use them wisely. You can build referral campaigns off the back of them and will have a greater chance of upselling to them as well. Plus, you can guarantee a higher open and click-through rate. 

Segmented audience click-through and open rate

Don’t overdo it, though; we don’t want them to unsubscribe.

—Backed by Rabin (拉宾) Nuchtabek, Chief growth engineer.

4. Nail onboarding sequences & welcome emails

Onboarding is so crucial to our product’s success. A well-executed onboarding can decrease customer churn, increase customer retention, and up our product adoption rates. For all of the in-app product tours and tooltips we provide in our onboarding processes, a large part of onboarding still relies heavily on email. 

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An effective ‘welcome’ journey can increase engagement by 33% and generate 320% more revenue than regular send-outs. Plus, they receive a 37% higher open rate than standard promotional emails. If you nail your onboarding sequence, the benefits to your business come by the bucket-load. 

5. Leave no email untouched

There should be an ‘always-on’ nurturing campaign for every email collected, even if they seem so far out of the funnel you can’t imagine them converting. The same if you think these subscribers are out of your typical target market/ICP. People provided their emails for a reason, and they have a basic knowledge of your brand. 

Set new goals for those colder emails. At the very least, you can generate another touchpoint and increase your brand awareness. At the most, if you’ve got your behavioral triggers, nurture flows, and segmentation on point, they could be a potential customer. 

—Backed by Asya Sharrow, Senior Operations Manager

6. Work on your infrastructure

Ensure you have the reporting infrastructure and process to measure per email performance. There’s no point sending out emails that you can’t track and learn from. Relay this information back to the teams that need it most and have it feed other strategies. For example, relaying data back to lead flow metrics can be a significant way to optimize your funnels. 

—Backed by Jason Quach, Marketing Automation Manager

We touched on this point in our SaaS marketing automation article, but infrastructure also includes your naming conventions. When you’re segmenting audiences and building out nurture flows, make sure you’ve locked down your naming strategy. It should be clear for everyone what’s what, and your CRM tool should work with the same conventions. 

7. Always relate to the reader

No matter how well-structured or automated your email marketing workflows are, if you’re not delivering relevant and appealing content for a new user, then you may as well call it a day and head out. 

People want to know how your product can help their specific problem. They want to understand why your product is the best one to go for out of the rest that could also solve their problem. It doesn’t just come down to pricing. 

Create personalized emails and Include user stories of people that your email recipient can relate to. For each email list segment and user persona, you should have case studies, pain points, and reviews from customers in similar shoes as theirs. Deliver relevant content and grab their attention. 

Canva Email

Take this a step further and try to encourage engagement outside of the email. Give just enough messaging to keep someone satisfied, whet an appetite, and get subscribers learning more on your website. There you can collect more data, sell better, and have increased conversion rate opportunities for new customers. 

If you’re delivering just enough relevant content, you’re on to a winner. 

—Backed by Vassilena Valchanova, Head of Content  

SaaS email marketing optimization

Before we close out this guide, let’s briefly cover email marketing optimization tips from our SaaS email marketers. There are a few optimization opportunities and goals to shoot for with your email strategy.  

1. Never create one version

The chances are you’re doing this with product features, landing pages, advertisements, and more. But, are you doing it with different emails? 

You should have another variation of every subject line, email copy, design, and call to action (CTA) in your back pocket—ready to turn on and test. There’s no such thing as “set it and forget it” when it comes to marketing. All aspects (especially email) should be continually evolving while you work to optimize each metric within the email.

—Backed by Asya Sharrow, Senior Operations Manager

2. Test feature vs. benefit for your SaaS product 

As markers, we fought hard to highlight the importance of positioning our product in terms of benefits and not features. But at some point during the customer journey, you might get a better conversion rate (whatever that conversion might be) addressing features head-on.

Testing depends on where customers are on their journey with you, but keep it in mind. Are they ready for more direct sales strategies? A/B test this at points that show opportunities for it. 

—Backed by Asya Sharrow, Senior Operations Manager 

3. Work on micro conversions 

When we think of conversions, our minds jump to sales and paying customers, which is normal. However, many micro-conversions need to happen on the road to this ‘ultimate’ conversion. 

Identify what your micro-conversions are: blog visits, email forwards, case-study click-throughs, demo requests, referrals, template downloads, webinar sign-ups, freemium sign-ups, social media follows. This list could go on for a while. 

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With each email, identify the micro-conversions alongside your primary conversion and optimize for those too. If you get these micro-conversions in the bag, people will convert easier later on.  

—Backed by Vassilena Valchanova, Head of Content  

Wrapping up SaaS email marketing methods  

That’s all for now on SaaS email marketing methods. Hopefully you picked up a few ways to increase email conversions and optimize your email flows. We’re in the process of building out our SaaS experts community so if you’d like to contribute to future articles, let us know!

Thanks for your time. 🚀

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