So much emphasis has been put on onboarding your customers: the welcome email series, highlighting key features of your SaaS product, and the basic logistics of getting set up for success.
But in all the effort being put into onboarding, a key element is often ignored–and it’s not your customer success management (CSM) team.
(At least, not them alone. )
Your CSM plays an important part in reaching time-to-value (TTV), but they can get overburdened with tasks that are taking away from their core competencies.
Would it surprise you to know the answer is email?
Before you dismiss this, let me be clear: a very specific and targeted email strategy. A strategic email plan that incorporates activation and informative emails to turn your customers into high performers. Here’s why:
1. Build relationships to improve TTV
Every day counts in TTV in a SaaS company because renewals come up fast and competition can swoop in on your customers even faster. Think about this: if you improve your TTV by 1 week, over 300 customers, that’s 1,500 more hours your reps have to sell additional products and upgrades.
Email works to accelerate that TTV by building trust and keeping your customers on a strategic path to reaching milestones. Email has a high ROI –$36 profit for every $1 investment. This is no secret, but there are a few keys to making email marketing profitable for your SaaS company.
Effective email marketing is about relationships, providing an experience that your customer wants to return to again and again. If you provide helpful, clear, and actionable information that speaks directly to your customers’ needs, they will look forward to your emails. The relationship you create, through the low-touch method of email, leads to better retention rates.
By valuing net retention, successful startups can deliver 20% growth every year without adding a single new customer. This can be applied to growth for businesses at any level or size. Less human and monetary resources are spent to gain new customers. Better than that, if your customers become brand ambassadors, your marketing ROI just got a boost.
2. Save money compared to other tools
The Average Cost per Action (CPA) for paid traffic across all industries, is between $59-60 dollars. Email is a fraction of that–not to mention measurable and more personalized–than paid traffic. The average mid-sized business could spend between $9 and $1,000 a month to do their own email marketing campaigns. The cost will depend on how many contacts you have, how often you send emails, and much control you want over metrics, automation, and segmentation.
With all the drag and drop features of platforms like Constant Contact, the emails should be easy to put together, and not require the additional cost of a graphic designer.
The common ROI for pay-per-click (PPC) advertising is around $2 for every $1 spent. And, yes, don’t bother scrolling back up to see the stat, let’s repeat the fact that email ROI is $36 for every $1.
Another cost savings to consider for email marketing is the price of trust. Consumers are increasingly wary of data collection and targeted advertising. It remains to be seen how much this will affect pay-per-click (PPC) campaigns. With email, users give their consent to be contacted. They know what to expect, and–when you do this right–they want to hear from you because you’re a trusted advisor.
3. Make a memorable first impression
If the first impression is poor, it’s an uphill battle to win back the customer’s trust in you. Instill confidence and a spirit of collaboration with your customer from the get-go. More importantly, make it friendly and lighthearted.
A few tips to make a great first impression with your initial onboarding email series:
- An automated and fast response after sign-up starts with a first impression. Introduce yourself, thank them, and other things you would do in person.
- Tell them what to expect in the upcoming process
- Personalization is key–you can even have customer segment themselves from the start by answering a few short questions
- Keep each email focused on one call to action (CTA)
Using email for this allows you to create an automated, consistent, and measurable process. You know every customer group is going through the same journey and it will be easier to spot where customers consistently get stuck in the journey to TTV markers.
4. Accelerate TTV with activation emails
There’s a misperception that the user experience (UX) is everything. If you make a great product with all the features your ideal prospect needs, and it’s intuitive, then the product speaks for itself.
Having a great product is not enough. Supporting your customers to reach that initial TTV and the milestone after that is more important to the perceived value of your product. Understand their goals and be that friendly, trusted advisor you introduced yourself as in the onboarding emails. (Notice a theme here?)
Email activation sequences should be segmented and lead your customers through features of your product that will make the most impact for them. Make it smooth and even (gasp!) fun to implement your product.
These emails should be simple, focusing on one call to action (CTA). Always ask yourself, is this useful to this customer? Am I making it clear to them how to use this feature? Are they understanding the benefit for their business?
Remember, change is hard for everyone. The more frictionless you can make the process, the better. Give them not only information about how to use your product, but how to use it to achieve their goals.
5. Earn loyalty and maybe even garner a brand ambassador!
You get the activation right, your customers are clipping along and showing all the right KPIs. Then after a few months, or maybe a year, more complaints are rolling in and their usage seems to be stagnant. They’re on the ropes.
There can certainly be good churn–when you lose customers they weren’t really ever right for your product. Good churn can free up your resources to serve your other customers better. However, it’s worth noting that it pays to have a strategy to implement customer lifecycle campaigns.
These campaigns can be as simple as twice monthly e-newsletters keeping them educated on industry trends, best practices, and to highlight when a new feature has been added. If you’re really looking to shine, offering free webinars to your customers about topics that enhance their profitability or best practices would ensure your company is seen as–you know what I’m going to say– a valued partner.
A little strategy goes a long way
From first impressions to establishing your company as a partner in profit, email is a persuasive tool in your marketing efforts throughout the customer life cycle. It’s also a way to show the personality of your company. A few gifs go a long way on a cold, rainy Friday day–right?
Failing to utilize this low cost, high ROI tool is missing out on building a relationship with reasonably minimal effort.
If your strategy considers onboarding, activation, and loyalty, you have a very low-touch tool that can maximize retention. Since much of this can be automated, you’re also empowering your CSM team to focus on what they do best.
This is an original piece of work from AJ Baron, B2B writer. Learn more about AJ on LinkedIn.