Building a Dynamic SaaS Email Marketing Strategy – A Guide [2024]

saas email marketing

What is SaaS Email Marketing?

SaaS email marketing is a method of using email campaigns and marketing to promote and advertise your product. in the hopes of achieving goals like more sales conversions down the road. 

Email marketing in this industry is more complex than in others. It involves creating marketing, lifecycle, and transactional emails based on customer data, requiring skills in marketing, data analysis, and engineering. Your audience or subscribers are well-versed in the approach and process you’re using to win their business, so you need to be savvy about what you’re saying, how you say it, and the lessons you take away from your campaigns and other SaaS marketing efforts.

You’ll likely have different goals, target audiences, and layouts, as well as a differing writing style and tone in each email campaign. But they will each play an important role within your SaaS digital marketing strategy since you can interact individually with each target throughout the customer journey. 

SaaS Email campaigns support business growth by combining all of your marketing efforts across the sales funnel – including lead generation, lead nurturing, customer retention, and customer support.

Types of SaaS Emails

There are many types of SaaS emails you can integrate into your digital marketing strategy. The key is knowing where to start and how to choose the right types of targeted emails for your business and target market. This will depend on many things, including your customers’ pain points and your business goals. 

Above all, never send emails that aren’t useful and relevant to your user base – remember, they’ve subscribed because they believe you have something valuable to offer. If you let them down, you could lose them.

Onboarding emails

Onboarding emails are automatically sent once a new user signs up for your product, and their email address is added to your list. This type of activation email assists new users in completing their sign-up and creating their accounts, so they can start benefiting from your product right away. This is much like what an account manager or customer support person would do manually, but the automation saves time and resources. 

Your onboarding might be fairly straightforward or quite complex, depending on the design and nature of your product. A strong onboarding process can help grow your revenue. Conversely, when you don’t onboard your users properly, you’re literally throwing away the sales & marketing budget. It’s your job to make the process as fast and easy as possible for your users.

SSC Case Study #1: LeadDyno – Affiliate SaaS Marketing Tool

The team at LeadDyno puts a lot of effort into their email marketing strategy, and it’s paying off. They currently enjoy well above industry average performance with their yearly metrics at a 40.65% open rate and an 11.77% click rate. Here’s how they did it.

1. Success with new user onboarding sequence

LeadDyno sees a lot of success in its email marketing campaign for 30-day trial customers. The team has found that getting 7-10 emails out to these new users in their first 30 days is critical in getting someone new engaged and onboarded to the SaaS product.

For example, they send subscribers a welcome email to say hello and let them know how to reach out with questions or feedback – reassuring them the team is available to help. Then, three days later, they reach out again with information on specific settings and tools  and how they can be really beneficial.. These emails include guides, links to video demos and tutorials, and technical docs. Along the way, trial users receive another check-in email just to see how they are doing and remind them that the customer happiness team is always available to help.

If users sign up for a paid plan once their trial is up, the team sees their next 30 days as a prime opportunity to guide them and show them the value of what the product offers. At this stage, emails center on customer testimonials and case studies. When people can see how others have achieved success with the product, they have a much easier time imagining the same scenario for themselves, making customer acquisition even easier. 

2. Demo pitches target larger audiences

The team also makes it easy for leads to attend demos by offering two different viewing options:

  1. On-demand pre-recorded demos - Potential customers can access a pre-recorded LeadDyno demo easily by request.
  2. 1:1 personalized demos - Leads can sign up for a 1:1 meeting at their convenience where they can get their specific questions addressed. 

When leads sign up, they’re automatically added to another marketing funnel with case studies and tips, a great way to organically create another product touchpoint.

3. Win-backs for the win

What about those who don’t sign up for a paid plan? The team sends a win-back email 30 days after the trial is up to remind them of the opportunity. It’s a final chance to reach out and remind people about the product and how it can help them. (You'll learn more about win-back emails below).

Promotional emails

promotional email campaigns

Promotional or marketing emails are a great way to educate prospects about your product and nurture leads at any stage of their journey. For these to pay off, you need a decent-sized list of subscribers who have all given permission to be contacted by your business. This could have been granted at any point, such as via lead magnet signup or by joining a webinar you’ve hosted. 

Plus, it’s always a great idea to sign up your product’s current users (both on paid plans and free trials) for your promotional emails – they can opt-out at any time if they wish. To stay competitive on an ongoing basis, you need to grow your list and turn leads into trial customers.

Promotional emails typically consist of the following campaigns::

Lead magnets

Lead magnets are incentives that encourage visitors to sign up for your email list, which can eventually help you convert them into a lead. Lead magnets can be anything of use to your readers – including ebooks, case studies, or templates on topics relevant to them and their work. Once they sign up, they’ll get an automated email from you with a link to that resource. From there, a series of timed emails would typically follow, guiding them on how to utilize the resource and addressing their pain points or problems—problems that your product can resolve.

Lead nurture campaigns

A lead nurture campaign is meant to onboard a potential customer to your list by informing them about who you are, what your SaaS company offers, what its culture is like, and any other key information about your brand.

Opinions are mixed regarding whether you should try to sell your product through this type of email campaign. Some experts feel you should first provide your leads true value, through informational or educational content, before selling to them. Others feel that you should take advantage of the fact that a user’s attention peaks as soon as they opt-in to your emails and send them your highest-converting (i.e. sales) content sooner than later. 

So, think about your brand and its communication style and how you think your audience will react, and use your best judgment. You can always A/B test both strategies and see which one performs best.

Single broadcasts

A single broadcast is a one-time email sent to leads, paid users, or another specified group. It includes messaging tailored to the recipient group with a specific goal or purpose in mind. This can be anything from a seasonal promotion or featured blog post, to a product feature announcement or webinar/demo invitation. 

Be sure to avoid overloading people’s inboxes – if certain subscribers are already receiving other email sequences (e.g. lead or user onboarding), consider excluding them from your single broadcasts during that time rather than emailing your entire base.

Evergreen sales campaigns

Evergreen sales campaigns are a sequence, or drip campaign, of several sales emails that go out to your most qualified leads. The campaign focuses on the problem or pain points of your audience and promotes your product as a viable solution.

To close the gap between your free content or product plan and your paid plan, clearly state why your solution is the simpler, easier answer to their problem and find a reason why they should buy now. Anticipate questions and objections and overcome them ahead of time by sharing that information. Each of these points should represent an independent email in your drip campaign.

SSC Case Study #2: MeetEdgar – Social Media Management Tool

During a previous Black Friday, the MeetEdgar team used the holiday to offer a 40% off incentive, converting a high number of standard plan subscribers to annual plan subscribers. Here’s the email sequence and strategy they used to make it happen.

The team sent three emails to churned customers: 1 two weeks before, 1 one week before, and 1 the day before to warm people up to the sale. It was a simple email with the 40% off offer to upgrade to the annual plan, along with a 40% off per month offer for monthly subscribers – they didn’t want to leave anyone out during this huge annual shopping event. Sending the emails separately like this also gave the team the opportunity to work out any kinks that arose and improve the messaging.

The team’s strategy was a success. Their revenue remained consistent, and they saw a significant increase in re-activations. Weekly re-activated subscribers are usually around 5-7, but this jumped to 14-24 reactivations during the sale weeks. They saw a 53% open rate on average, and the day-before email was most successful with a 5.66% click rate.

Newsletters and broadcasts

Evergreen newsletters are a great tool for communicating educational information on a regular, timely basis through a drip campaign at intervals of your choice, e.g. every 7 days. The convenient thing about this type of email newsletter is that, since the content isn’t changing or time-sensitive, you can complete all your planning, drafting, and uploading well in advance of when it’s sent, without feeling under pressure each week.

A broadcast, on the other hand, can be sent ad hoc whenever you have something newsworthy to say – for instance, an announcement about a new product feature, sale, or company update.

Win-back emails

Win-back emails are targeted to your inactive customers who have previously been engaged with your brand and product. This can mean subscribing, making a purchase, emailing, visiting your website, or a combination of these or other things. For whatever reason, they’ve remained inactive for a certain period of time – typically, about 3-6 months, but this varies for every business depending on its customer journey and purchase cycle.

Win-back emails are essential for boosting customer engagement and sales, and they encourage users to make repeat purchases – a huge advantage in business.

It’s wise to plan and send your win-back email campaign earlier than seems necessary because you can offer options and incentives to stick with you and gather users' feedback while their experience with your business is fresh in their minds. Whether they had a poor experience, switched to a competing product, or no longer have a need for what you offer, win-back emails can help you understand and address these issues.

Transactional emails

Transactional emails are the simplest form of SaaS email you can send. They’re related to account activity and transactions and can include anything from billing reminders and failed payment alerts to password resets, subscription renewals, and product activity updates.

Since this type of email has essential user information, it often comes with the highest open rates. So, transactional emails present a great opportunity to include marketing content, like product announcements and tips, alongside the main message.

Top 7 Tips for Growing Your Business Using SaaS Email Marketing

Here are our product marketing teams’ top tips when it comes to growing your SaaS business with email marketing:

  1. Create a helpful user onboarding campaign.
  2. Offer & pitch webinars with industry insight.
  3. Don't give up – send win-back emails as a last attempt to retain subscribers.
  4. Pitch your sales, offers, and events using the right promotional marketing campaigns.
  5. Sometimes less is more inviting, and simple is more impactful – leave room for questions and engagement.
  6. Segment your subscriber list and communicate thoughtfully with each group.
  7. Leave time gaps between emails – this gives readers time to digest information and gives you time to resolve issues that may arise.

Utilizing SaaS tools and lists for stronger email marketing 

You won’t need many complex tools to handle your SaaS email marketing. While you can use general-purpose email service providers like Constant Contact, ConvertKit, or Mailchimp, they generally don’t handle customer data as well as dedicated SaaS email platforms. 

For example, campaigns for onboarding and other customer journey emails requiring a lot of customer data are best handled by dedicated SaaS email platforms like Customer.io, Intercom, or Userlist.

Here at SureSwift, we love Intercom and Customer.io for easily creating dynamic content, running A/B tests to see which types of content work best for our users, and quickly scheduling campaigns in any time zone.

How to build email lists

When it comes to building your email lists, you can keep your leads (marketing) separate from your existing customers (lifecycle) or merge them together into a single list. Often, SaaS businesses find that one list is best, especially those that operate a series of apps so they can cross-promote them and, in doing so, check which customers are using which apps. 

Customer.io and Userlist have great user interfaces as they keep everything in one central spot. That said, if you have a single app or your marketing list is super long, you might want to keep it independent. For this, you can use a less expensive platform, like Mailchimp.

If you’ve yet to grow your email list, don’t worry – everyone starts somewhere. To help you out, here are some simple steps to build your list out fast.

1. Set up a personalized, targeted CTA (call to action) describing your value on each website, landing, & blog page.

When you take time to put thought into your CTAs on each and every page, rather than opt for generic, impersonal messaging, you stand to see an over 40% higher view-to-submission rate. This is because people are seeking something specific and meaningful to them, so you need to demonstrate – in this case, through your CTAs – that your product offers them exactly that.

Also, be sure to show the value you offer in your CTA without using language like “subscribe” or “sign up” – after all, this language doesn’t describe how your users can benefit from your product. Terms like “Learn”, “Access”, “Featured”, “Grow”, and “Exclusive” do a much better job of showcasing user benefits by conveying the idea that additional high-value content will be available upon signing up.

2. Add a timed pop-up survey to your site.

Once your visitors have had a chance to dive into your content and see how useful it is, they might feel inclined to answer a question or two related to the content they’re consuming. You can have this pop up on particular pages or blog posts and include a request for their email address as part of it. When readers are getting something from you, they’re more likely to give back in return.

You can also take this a step further by offering a pop-up discount or incentive offer to encourage email signups. This can be especially effective for first-time visitors who aren’t too familiar with your product and brand yet.

3. Make more targeted landing pages.

Individual landing pages targeted to specific users with certain needs and pain points helps you appeal to a much larger audience. Everyone has different needs and will therefore be drawn to different aspects of your product – and each page can target a different element with its message, including headers and CTA wording. 

For instance, traffic from Instagram might be looking for something different than those coming from LinkedIn, and certain events or times of year will trigger other needs. This strategy will, over time, help you acquire more email sign-ups, trial users, and sales.

4. Invite shoppers to sign up at checkout.

Just because you’ve got a converted, paying customer, doesn’t mean they should be excluded from your email list – in fact, this audience may be more interested than others in what you have to say, since it can help them make the most of your product. Plus, the customer journey doesn’t end at checkout. Your newsletter and other email communications are the perfect excuses to have future interactions with this group. 

And it’s easy to do this – you can add a checkbox, pop-up, or banner with an opt-in to your newsletter and a quick one-liner about what users will get out of it, whether it’s industry insights and tips, new product updates, discounts, or something else.

5. Promote your newsletter via social media and email.

Your network of social media followers and those you’ve emailed in the past are a great source of potential email subscribers. Include a link to sign up for your newsletter in your email signature, and mention it on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, and other social media accounts. 

You can simply share the link in a post or embed a button or form directly in the platform for a more seamless experience. These are quick, simple ways to tell those who may not otherwise know you have a newsletter but could benefit from it.

Email Segments for Successful Email Marketing

To effectively send content that your email subscribers are actually interested in (and avoid annoying them or, worse, leading them to unsubscribe), you need to thoughtfully segment your email list. 

This will help you create personalized, targeted content that will inspire, inform, or encourage users to take another action like subscribing to your product. Here are just a few email segmentation ideas to get you started.

Demographics

In your email signup process, try to collect as much information as reasonably possible (without getting too personal or asking for too much), since this will open up more email marketing options for you. 

Data like age, gender, income level, and company role can reveal a lot about someone. Then, using website forms, you can segment your list by demographic information.

Engagement with your emails

Your email open and clickthrough rates are the key engagement metrics you’ll want to track and use in email segmentation. You can use these stats to segment lists by active vs inactive users. Then, craft a targeted campaign to try and re-engage those who haven’t looked at your emails in a certain period of time. 

Or, take the reverse approach and engage with active subscribers even more by, for example, telling them about an upcoming promotion or sale. If they click through to learn about this, you know they’re interested and can then target them further when it gets closer to the event.

Location

If you offer a product that is highly impacted by users’ geographic location, you’ll want to pay attention to this in your email segments. Time-based emails can make the difference between opening or ignoring for the majority of certain groups, while regional promotions and live webinar invitations are dependent on location and time zone to be effective.

Sales funnel position

Sales funnel position is a highly useful way to segment your audience. Those at the bottom of the funnel should be getting much different messaging than those at the top. For instance, new subscriber emails should be more generic or general, with a high-level overview of the features or products you offer. These can be a set of welcome emails to get new users acquainted with your brand. 

Then, once they’ve been with you for a while and have clicked through on some content, you’ll know more about where their interests lie and, based on that, can move them within the funnel and send more targeted messaging.

With this complete guide to SaaS email marketing, packed with our proven tips and tricks, you'll be launching converting campaigns and watching your business grow before you know it.

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