Email Marketing

Which key email assets are you wasting in marketing your SaaS product?

Email marketing. It is one of the highest ROI generating sources in your paid marketing bucket. They are easy to send, cost less than a penny, sent to a section of your audience that has already shown some interest in your product and services, and there are countless ways to segment and refine your audience.

Yet, we often see businesses underutilising this crucial component of their broader sustainable marketing strategy.

When businesses think of email marketing, they focus on the leads their business is generating. They try to use emails as a means to keep their leads engaged, nurture them, and eventually convert them into paying customers. These are primarily done via specific standalone marketing campaigns businesses can think of.

The first problem with these campaigns? Most of the times, the open rates are not as high as you would want them to. And if your audience isn’t even opening up the mails you send them, then everything else you have in the email becomes a moot point.

There are, however, certain category of emails that enjoy not just decent, rather great open rates, but most of the times, they tend to get ignored by marketing teams. These emails, just because of the fact that they are opened, hold great potential to drive value to your business. Unfortunately, we are just wasting them away.

So, today, let us look at some of these examples.

  • We would look at some category of these emails that should be thought of as having ancillary marketing objectives, instead of treating them as just transactional or functional emails.

  • We would look at the various facets of these emails that make them perfect to have a marketing bent to them.

  • We would also look at some email categories that wouldn’t work as marketing avenues. At least, not as well. And what makes them incompatible as marketing channels.

Let’s get started.

What email types are we talking about?

Lets start with confirmation emails.

Yes, confirmation emails.

They aren’t sexy, nor are they exciting. But they do get opened. Not 100% of the times, but far more than any other email type you can think of.

This gives you the perfect opportunity to craft a confirmation email template, and targeting strategy that drives engagement and has more to it than just one link or a message.

confirmation email 1

A confirmation mail is a transactional mail triggered by an action taken by your customer. It could be a purchase, subscribing to your newsletter, booking an appointment, downloading a lead magnet.

Whatever the trigger may be, these emails are sent through because a customer took an action, and would be expecting a confirmation from the business. Consider a simple scenario. You placed an order on an ecommerce website, and see no confirmation. Not on your screen, not in your inbox. How likely are you to freak out and contact the business to figure out why hasn’t your order been placed even though your card has been charged for it? Extremely likely, right? That’s why we have confirmation screens and emails, and that is the precise reason why these emails witness good open rates.

Then there are click-throughs. Links that are placed in these emails are far likely to get clicked than links in emails from other categories.

confirmation email 2

Your ecommerce purchase confirmation email, for example, may include a link to track the order’s shipping status. Naturally, the customer would want to know by when can he receive the item he just ordered.

Confirmation emails tend to have the customers’ attention, which make them a perfect real estate to point the customers to other areas they would be interested in.

How do these emails align to marketing objectives?

Let us work with an example.

Email courses are extremely popular these days. For example, if you are a SaaS product helping customers improve their SEO, you may be offering them a free 4 week email course on unlocking SEO secrets, with one email arriving each Monday.

This whole journey would start from a landing page, and as soon as a user enrols to this course, you would be sending them a confirmation.

Now, you could do one of these two things:

1/ Send across a basic confirmation informing them that they have been enrolled and should expect the first issue the next week

OR

2/ In addition to that one line, you could use this email to engage with them.

  • Since the user enrolled for the course, we already know that he is interested in SEO
  • We can infer that he has some experience with SEO, and now wants to up his game
  • We know that the purchase intent is greater than zero for the user, in this moment

This makes it the best time to engage with the user, and direct him to further resources “while he waits for his course to start”.

We could direct him to a few resources to help him get the best results out of his SEO efforts. These resources would also showcase the value of your SaaS product, and how it improves his workflow.

We could also include a link to case studies of how different businesses have used our SEO product to drive more traffic and revenue. This helps the user draw direct correlations between our product and the value it generates, backed by social proof.

So, with just a couple of changes to how this email would get sent across, we are able to:

  • engage the user more
  • improve our product’s credibility
  • move the user closer to a buying decision in favor of our product

Whats key here is the fact that these resources you are offering the user are additional freebies the user is getting access to, in addition to what he just enrolled for. Essentially, the confirmation email just enabled him unlock more free bonus content. That makes the whole email aligned to his current state of mind, and encourages action.

If you try making a sale right in this email, you would notice much less engagement since you tried to up the user from free to paid without nurturing him first.

If you want the user to add value to your business (revenue), you need to offer value to them first.

So, should you never try making a sale here?

Of course you can, and you should. But the right time would be after the course has ended, or at least half done. And even then, I would recommend selling him on the free trial first. Incremental advancements!

You can take it a notch up and have user-engaging content on the website as well. After the user enrols for the course, the landing page would probably send him to a “/thank-you/” page. You can have offer some valuable content right here, eliminating the friction of checking their emails immediately.

The best way to do this would be to have different objectives and different content at the two places - email and thank-you page. You should then monitor and compare their individual performance, and optimise to get more results from the whole process.

When should you not go overboard or get overzealous

Just because you know a particular email is going to get opened, doesn’t mean you should start inserting promotional content everywhere. Understanding the users’ intent and motivation is the key here.

The best example of this would be a reset password email. These emails will almost always get opened, and since the links expire shortly afterwards, they will get opened immediately. But, if you insert any promotional content in here, you would not see any engagement.

Why not? Because in that moment, the one and only thing the user is concerned with is accessing his account. So the only thing on his mind as he opens up that email is the link he needs tp click on to reset his password. Anything else you add in there that’s not related to it would be automatically tuned out.

Then, even the emails that you can include promotional content in, need you to act with some finesse. There are a few things you should consider when planning and designing these emails:

1/ Keep it simple and clean Do not overwhelm your users with a lot of clutter and unnecessary design elements.

2/ Treat this just as a CTA. What that essentially means - keep the list as small as possible. Don’t turn it into a laundry list of items to check out

Let’s take a look at a simple example of Noah Kagan’s OkDork. As soon as you subscribe, this is what you get.

confirmation email 3

Right off the bat, Noah first tries to get you more interested by showcasing the 3 most popular episodes on his podcast. These are the most downloaded, most liked episodes, so chances are, the title would be enough for you to get interested in the podcast. He keeps the list small, and doesn’t clutter it with more information about each episode or their individual stats.

The links are there for you to check these out. And then, he ends with a smooth one intent CTA - subscribe to the podcast.

What could make it better would be adding in some actual social proof.

Using “Lets start with my most popular episodes that have raked up 300+ hours of listening time” instead of a simple count of the listed items could provide that social proof and incite more users into checking out the episodes.

3/ Do not distract your customers Product Hunt is a formidable name, and entrepreneurs all over the world turn to product hunt for everything - from finding early adopters to get user feedback. So, it is far from me to diss on them, but their welcome email leaves much to be desired.

confirmation email 4

One, that is just a lot of content.

Two, those many links in the email is a surefire way to not get any clicks on any of them.

Three, there are redundancies there. Homepage and Product Hunt direct to the same url, so there was no reason to distract the user by highlighting them separately.

Four, the intent of the email is to act less as a welcome email and more as “an extremely compressed onboarding guide”. They are telling you more or less everything you can do on product hunt.

Five, if directing users to their toolkit, Ship, was the intent, they seriously buried the lede with all that extra content.

So:

  • Keep your confirmation emails short
  • Keep it well organised and fragmented
  • Insert as few links as possible, and highlight the value they add quite strongly
  • Have no more than one, maybe two CTA
  • And if you can, always end up on a high note with some social proof

confirmation email 5

Thoughts and feedback? Talk to me.

That’s it for today, see you tomorrow.

Cheers,

Abhishek

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