How to Use SaaS Email Marketing to Build Unbreakable Customer Relationships

Communicating with your leads and customers by email is important because it guides them through the experience of your brand and helps you gather data that ultimately improves their experience within your sales process. The key to successful SaaS email marketing hinges on the individualization of your automated campaigns that nurture users from the point of pre-trial, to free-trial, all the way to subscription of various levels. Here we talk about how to become effective at the process and the importance of individual engagement with users.

Email Marketing

Segment Your Email

Delivering relevant emails to your database is critical for engaging consumers. Dividing them into smaller segments based on criteria like purchase history, geographic location, or interests is an effective way to increase clicks or website traffic, depending on your strategy and your particular call to action. It allows you to personalize their experience with newsletters, promotions, or feature announcements, keeping them in the know and providing enticing information to keep their interest. Spend some time to set this up and then sit back and watch your campaign work its magic with automated emails.

Automated Lead Nurturing and Email Campaigns

Some SaaS products have a fairly quick sales cycle, while others sometimes have a much longer sales cycle. In either case, as a smart marketer, it is your job to provide content that will guide your new customer through the sales funnel from awareness, to consideration, to decision quickly and clearly. With automated lead nurturing, you have the ability to pinpoint each lead’s stage within the cycle and drip feed appropriate content at just the right moment so that opportunities are never missed.

No matter where a lead or customer is within your funnel, you can create a personalized and relevant email for them. Don’t be discouraged by the thought of the hundreds of emails you’ll be sending out. Create the emails once, then let automation take over, sending timely emails based on triggers like:

  • Subscribing (to your newsletter or blog)
  • Registering for a webinar
  • Signing up for a free trial
  • Downloading premium content (an ebook, an infographic, an online training course, or another high-value content offer)
  • Viewing a specific webpage
  • Clicking through from another email you sent

And, don’t forget to customize your transactional emails, including thank-you emails for signing up, monthly report emails, or notification emails - always with a call to action. This is another area where the user experience meets your content planning and provides another great opportunity to convey your brand and build trust.

Supporting the Free Trial Experience with Automated Emails

Our SaaS clients have found success in supporting the process of the typical two-week trial by offering email communication to guide the process along. For example, the first email could be a welcome with information on how to get started and an inspiring story of someone who has used the software. A few days later, the next email can offer information on the three most popular features in your app and how to start using them. Going forward, specific user actions within the trial can also trigger communication to congratulate someone on completing a certain milestone in their app usage, offer helpful insights, or suggest ideas to spark further exploration.

When doing email marketing to free trial users, it is important to include social proof in the email sequence. This means sharing testimonials, case studies, or third-party reviews that show how and why others are using your solution. Even better if this information can be segmented based on the recipient’s own product usage.

Let’s explore an example of taking a pre-trial prospect through your sales cycle to the actual subscriber stage, using a hypothetical book recommendation app. Your first email could thank someone for completing a form to receive a personalized list of novels to read to increase their vocabulary. That message may contain several pathways of actions like how to access books on mobile readers to signing up for a free trial of your personalized book selector app.

Next, you would follow up with a specifically-tailored email a few days later, based on data points you have gathered, to encourage a paid subscription by providing detailed and relevant content, like a list of important benefits, a how-to video on getting the most out of the app, or testimonials from other users. As the user moves through the trial, downloading book lists or reading books, you can send a congratulatory email, maybe with a trophy or medal graphic - encouraging them to share their achievement. 

As your free-trial users near the end of that period, your messaging should take on a more urgent tone, providing information on the benefits and personal gain for them if they become a paying customer. Nurture them into the purchase and then continue that relationship post-sale to ensure renewals, higher subscription levels, and even encourage them to be ambassadors for your brand.

This is possible by setting automated emails to be triggered by user actions within your software. For instance, if a user has not logged in for a week, your email could be a check-in. How are things going? Are you stuck on something? How can we help? This will personalize your brand and help you care for each individual who uses (or who is considering) your product. When the same user logs in and gets a book recommendation, you could follow up with an email to guide them on the best place to find the book in a library or for a discounted price with your online retail partners. If the user purchases that book through a partner, you could offer an email with a downloadable book club guide to further build brand trust and loyalty. Each email program will be unique to the particular SaaS solution you’re selling. 

Formatting & Messaging in Your Automated Emails

When it comes to designing an email, it is easy to get carried away, throwing lots of content into an automated email while attempting to showcase your software to a potential pre-trial user. An uncluttered, visually pleasing, quick & easy to read email is always better than a wordy blog-in-the-body style message. Each email should have no more than 3 possible actions (and in fact, many times preferably only one!) — for example, a product feature to try, content to click on, or a deal to explore. When you get into offering too much in one message, your conversions are sure to suffer, because the recipient doesn’t have a clear path to follow. 

Subject Lines

The effectiveness of your subject lines will directly result in the success of your email campaigns. With the recent changes in Apple's iOS 15 update, your Open Rate stats may be less trustworthy, but your subject lines matter all the same. 

Make subject lines clear by stating what information or offer is in the email. I don't know about you, but I rarely open an email with a vague subject line like, "Holiday Stuff" (actual subject line of an email I recently received). Instead, a subject line like "Steal these email templates" tells me what's in the email and what I will get out of it. Maybe even throw in an emoji - it will catch the eye and won't get your email flagged as spam.

Body Copy

As for messaging, try to be succinct in conveying the why (purpose of the email), the what (benefits to the user), and the how (the way to access those benefits). Stick with your branding and consider offering a way for social media sharing. Above all, be sure that your focal point is the customer (or potential customer). Provide solutions that show you genuinely care about helping them and that you wish to connect with them individually. This way, they are more likely to become cheerleaders for your product. Also, the more you interact with people inside your sales process, the more data you can gather, further refining their personalized experience with your software. Again, individual messages should be segmented, personalized and succinct. Your job is to provide a very clear call-to-action on what the reader’s next step should be.

How Does Email Fit Into the Bigger SaaS Marketing Picture?

Email marketing is a powerful tool to drive leads and sales, track user engagement, and create long lasting relationships with fans and customers. It is one piece of building a smart SaaS marketing program, which should also include elements like SEO planning and social media. Our latest ebook provides a comprehensive view of the SaaS Marketing landscape, with some important tools to help you blaze your trail.

This post was originally published May 2020 and was updated in July 2021.