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How to Grow your SaaS with Email Marketing (2022)

We discuss how you can run email marketing for your SaaS growth, its benefits, and how useful and practical running email marketing is for SaaS founders.

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Note: SaaSwrites is a curated growth marketing hub and resource built to help SaaS founders grow their products. We sincerely thank all our experts for their constant value addition to this world.
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Email Marketing promotes your business and its products through an owned media channel. It helps you connect with your customers and build larger connections through a personalized and customized medium.

Why do you need email marketing for your SaaS?

On average, only 2% of website visitors buy. This is a problem. Email marketing solves that problem, and it can be the difference between making millions of dollars per year and going bankrupt.
Let’s take two hypothetical situations.
Situation 1:
  • 1,000 people visit your site every day
  • 20 of them buy for an average of $65
  • You make $1,300
Depending on the cost of your ads and products, you might barely be profitable or you might not be profitable at all.
Why email marketing matters for SaaS
Why email marketing matters for SaaS
Situation 2:
  • 1,000 people visit your site every day
  • 20 of them buy for an average of $65
  • 50 of them subscribe to your newsletter
  • You make $1,300 today
  • 15 of those subs convert over the next month
I see many excellent small indie tools that never send a single email to their users. It's a huge opportunity missed... Email marketing is deeply underrated. Especially for small bootstrapped SaaS, that don't have the budget to generate hundreds of thousands of website views. Now you’re making money from your customers and subscribers. ~ Simon Hoiberg

1. Email helps you with lead generation and nurturing customers

Think of it like this: Every site visitor has an average value depending on how well you convert and how much they spend throughout their lifetime. When you collect more leads, you convert at a higher rate.
When you have people on your email list, you get more repeat buyers. This is why lead generation and nurturing can be the difference between bankruptcy and massive profitability. With it, you can increase the value extracted from your traffic by 25% or more.
And you can do it without spending more than a few extra bucks on software.
notion image
The first two steps to making this happen:
1. Install a lead generation system with an incentive (10% off, free guide, etc) and a popup or flyout
2. Set up welcome, cart abandon, and browse abandon flows that send sales pitches on autopilot
There’s a lot more to it than that, of course. But the point of this thread is to show you how important lead generation and nurturing are. Every visitor can turn into a lifelong customer. Email helps you do it more than ever before.

2. Nothing beats ROI when it comes to Email Marketing

On average, email earns $40 for every $1 spent.
The next highest ROI growth channel returns half that. Growth Tactics spent the last month interviewing email marketers at this year’s fastest-growing startups.
Email is a high ROI and has few gatekeepers.

3. Email is an owned channel.

Instead of relying on social media algorithms to surface your content, you're directly in subscribers’ inboxes.
You have the channel to directly create a relationship with your customer.

4. Email marketing can help your SaaS with outreach

Craft an outreach script with follow-ups that includes reaching brands on both social media + email.
Focus on value and make sure you stand out using voice notes, video messaging, looms, etc.
Be creative and think outside the box.
Tools for outreach (around $110)
→ Instagram or Twitter (FREE) → Domain for email outreach ($20) → Google domain ( $20) → List of brands on Fiverr ($50) → Loom Pro to send value videos, & add a CTA button for people to book calls($10) → Calendly for prospects to book calls ($10)

5. Email marketing helps your SaaS with sales

You’re going to need to understand sales, and the core principles in order to learn what gets a prospect to take their wallet out and pay you for your services. Craft a sales framework that is conversational and resonates with your personality.
Tools for Sales (free)
→ “You can't teach a kid to ride a bike at a seminar” by Sandler(FREE) → "Never Split the Difference" by Tal Rahz and Chris Voss Google the title of the book and put "PDF" after, you'll get it for FREE or you can purchase a physical copy on Amazon.

6. Email is Undervalued

Despite its age, email marketing:
  • Generates $42 for every $1 invested
  • Remains the key strategy channel
  • 3.9 billion people use emails daily
Even Millennials love it. Yet, marketers deviate.

7. Increase Conversion

The number 1 reason marketing is so important, is its been proven time again. In a study by CMI, 31% of B2B said: "Newsletters were their best medium to nurture leads."
9 / 10 marketer's distribute content that improves their click-through rate.
Marketing services are underestimated:
  • Generates passive
  • Brand promotion
  • Easy capture
  • Follow-ups
  • Clean traffic
  • Plus, increased retention
Work smarter, not harder.

How to do email marketing as a SaaS founder or SaaS company

Email marketing may seem daunting to begin with. Without an actual plan, your email marketing campaigns might not achieve the desired results.
Stages of email marketing: Beginner: blast campaigns Intermediate: segment campaigns by customer vs. leads Advanced: personalize based on previous actions Master: automate everything ~ Joe Portsmouth
But here is a step-by-step process on how you can begin email marketing as a SaaS founder:

Step 1. Create a great nurturing sequence

A good email sequence does 3 things:
  1. Establishes trust
  1. Sells your products
  1. Warms customers to you/your brand
The idea is to 'nurture' your subscribers to convert them into buyers.
It's all about Awareness. If you don't know what this means.
This is a concept created by Eugene Schwartz (author of Breakthrough Advertising & copy legend). It describes where your prospects/leads are at in the customer journey.
On one side you have 'Unaware'. And the other side 'Most Aware'.
Unaware prospects don't know who you are OR what you sell. Also, they probably don't even know they have a problem that needs fixing
On the other side of the spectrum, Most Aware prospects know their problems, who you are, and what you sell.
The goal of a nurturing email sequence is to move prospects from Unaware -> Most Aware.
How to write emails based on customer awareness for your SaaS.
How to write emails based on customer awareness for your SaaS.
How to email unaware SaaS prospects?
Sometimes, you are advertising to consumers who don't know who you are or and what you sell. But, they also don't even know they have a problem at all (which means they don't know they need your product).
For example, let's say you sell a teeth whitening product. Tons of people drink coffee but don't understand the effect it can have on teeth over time.
Hypefury sends a ‘secret to’ email for twitter growth using their SaaS tool.
Hypefury sends a ‘secret to’ email for twitter growth using their SaaS tool.
If you can make these Unaware consumers Aware that coffee is staining their teeth, they will be more likely to buy your product.
So, At the start of your email sequence, you can tell stories about the effects of coffee on teeth (and this is just one example - you can go into other problems that your product fixes).
This is necessary to bring prospects from Unaware -> Problem Aware.
How to email problem-aware SaaS prospects?
Now, your prospects understand the problem. Continuing with our teeth whitening product: Your emails have made them aware that coffee stains teeth.
Now, you need to make them aware that there's a solution. Don't start talking about your product just yet. Instead, provide educational + valuable emails about topics related to your brand.
Zlappo providing education email series to problem-aware prospects.
Zlappo providing education email series to problem-aware prospects.
This will establish you as an authority + trusted source. And this is necessary before the next stage of awareness.
How to email solution-aware SaaS prospects?
Your prospects understand they have a problem + they now trust you as a credible source. So, now you can start advertising your product.
In your emails, start offering claims + showing testimonials for your product. Prove you have a solution that works.
How to email product-aware SaaS prospects?
At this stage, Prospects understand their problems, know there is a solution, and know you offer the solution (via your products). Now, prospects are Product Aware.
If they haven't bought yet, they likely have objections + need to be persuaded. So, this part of your email sequence should be dedicated to features + benefits of your product(s).
Jotform announcing a new feature launch to product-aware prospects
Jotform announcing a new feature launch to product-aware prospects
You don't need to convince them they have a problem - you need to convince them your product is THE solution to their problem. This is where great copywriting comes in.
How to email most aware SaaS prospects?
Your Most Aware prospects know they have a problem, that solutions exist, that you offer solutions, + what your products can do for them. They haven't bought yet, so the goal here is to give a little extra 'push'.
Jasper AI sending a wonderful deal to most-aware SaaSp prospects.
Jasper AI sending a wonderful deal to most-aware SaaSp prospects.
No need to beat around the bush - it's time to be direct + knock them off the fence. Offer special deals, sales & discounts at the end of your Nurturing Sequence to convert anyone who hasn't bought yet. Most e-com stores email this way.
A good nurturing sequence is just one aspect of email marketing.

Step 2: Create emails sequences and segment your SaaS prospects

1. Use flows—automated emails triggered by subscriber actions
Two critical flows:
  1. Nurture: Subs are more likely to take action when they first sign up. Move quick.
  1. Post-purchase: Over 50% of customers who make 2 purchases make a 3rd.
  1. Optimize for that 2nd purchase!
Setting us email sequences for SaaS.
Setting us email sequences for SaaS.
2. Marketers generate 760% more email revenue from SEGMENTED campaigns
Deliver the right message to the right person at the right time.
For example, someone who signs up while reading an article on keto eating receives an email that educates them on keto and seeds relevant products.
Deliverability = The percentage of emails that make it to inboxes instead of spam folders
Goals:
  • Increase open rates, clicks, forwards, replies
  • DECREASE bounce, unsubscribe, and spam reports
How?
  • Routinely REMOVE inactive contacts from your list.
  • Use double opt-in to confirm your subscription.
3. Choose the right software for your business type
• SaaS, apps, service businesses: @CustomerIO, @iterable
• E-com startups: @klaviyo, @getdrip
• Creators: @ConvertKit
 
4. Keep growing your email list
You DON'T need a huge list. You want a growing list of people who are in the mindset to actually trust and buy.
  1. Create a lead generation asset that excites people quickly. For example, ridiculously good content.
  1. Use popups. They work.
  1. Quality of subscribers > volume of subscribers

Step 3: Craft the perfect emails

Chase Dimond shares 3 questions you need to address before you start designing an email:
  1. Who is your subscriber?
  1. What single action will they take?
  1. Why is the email valuable to them?
Here is the anatomy of a simple email
  1. Subject line
  1. Preheader
  1. Branding
  1. Header image
  1. Headline
  1. Intro
  1. Content
  1. CTA
  1. Footer
How to write the perfect email for your SaaS.
How to write the perfect email for your SaaS.

  1. Subject Line Growth Tactics gives actionable email insights
    1. If people don't open it, nothing else matters
      • Self-evident: You DON'T want people GUESSING why you’re bugging them
      • Segmented: Have a subject that's hyper-relevant to each sub-audience
      • Concise: 50 characters or less—or mobile users won't open
      Chase Diomond shares, subject lines:
      • Greatly influences open rates
      • Personalization is tops
      • Can leverage a curiosity gap
      • Can explicitly describe email content
      • 60 characters or less with 1 emoji
      • Best candidate for A/B testing
Create the perfect subject lines for your SaaS email marketing.
Create the perfect subject lines for your SaaS email marketing.
b. Email preheader text
  • Often hidden in HTML render
  • Reinforces the reason to open
  • 250 characters or less
  • Similar function to a meta description
  • Influences open rate
c. Branding elements
  • Important for familiarity
  • Leverages repetition
  • Your logo at a reasonable size
  • Or a small social media profile pic
  • The name of the email series
Notion uses branding emails. header image and a great subject line in emails.
Notion uses branding emails. header image and a great subject line in emails.
d. Email header image
  • Your subscriber is the hero
  • How should subscribers feel?
  • Featured image approach
  • Social feed and blog format familiarity
  • Visually striking and relevant
e. Email headline
  • Aim for clarity over cleverness
  • Orients your subscribers
  • Not a carbon copy of the subject line
  • Crucial when images are blocked
  • Can be above or below the header image
f. Email intro statement
  • Start with empathy
  • One or two sentences
  • Customer-centric perspective
  • Directly address their need
g. Email content
  • The meat of the email
  • Deliver explicit value
  • Clear, concise, and to the point
  • My hot take: avoid columns
  • Stack content in rows
h. Email CTA
  • Specific desired outcome
  • Personalized, user-centric
  • Action-oriented
  • Just ONE thing:
    • buy a product
    • book a call
    • link to a website
    • forward to a friend
    • reply
Canva uses a consistent CTA in its email campaigns.
Canva uses a consistent CTA in its email campaigns.
i. Email footer
  • Keep it understated
  • This is not a website
  • Avoid social links and additional CTAs
  • Must include a physical address
  • Must include an unsubscribe option

Design your emails right for SaaS
Once an email is opened, people reflexively decide if they’ll read, skim, or bounce. Your design should:
  • Draw your eye
  • Be pretty
Chase Diomond shares
  • Design your layout before production
  • Don't design in a drag-n-drop editor
  • Use layout software or sketch it out
  • Aim for 9x16 vertical orientation
  • Design for retina smartphones (2X images)
Create great email designs for your SaaS email campaigns.
Create great email designs for your SaaS email campaigns.
 
Write your SaaS email body copy
The goal of body copy is to drive people to your CTA:
  • Fulfill the expectation you set in your subject line.
  • Promise more value that is ONLY delivered through your CTA.
  • Be aggressively concise—don’t waste subscribers’ time.
Chase Diamond shares
  • Don't write within your ESP's editor
  • Write 5 good subject lines
  • Outline your email
  • Aim for 8th-grade reading level or lower
  • Pick the winning subject lines last

Step 4: Optimize your SaaS email campaigns

After generating nearly $13M in email revenue in only 18 months.
a. You do not need to be an expert copywriter or designer.
Although it’s great to learn copywriting, but don’t let it hold you back from starting to do email marketing.
You don't need to carefully craft every word and every pixel to be oriented toward getting the sale. You just need to craft the FEELING of the email in a way that no one else can. How do you do that?
Literally, just talk to your customers like they're human beings. Be so insanely casual that your audience feels like they're talking to a friend or consuming content on YouTube. Check this out from Liquid Death. Nothing fancy at all.
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Read:
The more human, the better. Make mistakes. Tell dumb jokes. Be AUTHENTIC with your audience. "Write as you talk" is not just a platitude. Just be you. People can spot fakeness from a mile away. Also, not every email has to be a sales email. Focus on building a relationship.
b. You do not need to know how to code.
Email development is a good skill to have, but you don't need to do that in order to create stunning emails. In Klaviyo, you can upload image files from a tool like Figma, XD, Photoshop, or Canva and send it that way.
For 9 or 10-figure companies with millions of people on their email list, the process is a little bit different. They develop emails with code because it's more adaptable to the different hosts and devices that their users may have. But for a 7 fig e-com store? Not necessary.
This stunning email created by the team at Structured Agency was most likely done with drag & drop image files. If this is possible without code, your emails can look just like this, too.
notion image
 
c. You think you can get by with plain text only
This is a debate I've had with a number of different marketers, and the smartest ones agree with me (wink wink). Plain text emails are a TOOL, not a strategy in itself. There are a few things that everyone gets wrong.
Plain text is good for:
  • messages from the founder/team.
  • pattern breakers.
  • last-minute emergency emails.
If you do plain text every time, it loses its magic.
When the "founder" wants to address the audience, it appears more authentic in plain text. When you want to change the way you interact with your audience (1-2x a month MAX), go plain text. When you don't have time to design a real email, go plain text.
A well-designed email creates a sense of community and solidarity around your brand. Remember: the point of marketing is to instill a feeling in your audience. Whether you like it or not, a GOOD design will do that for your brand/client.

d. Having Overcomplicated Websites
Building entire sites can be daunting. So, why not create a single-use page
  • Capture attention.
  • Identify a common problem.
Then employ the CTA. Aka...Call To Action.
The best method is a Landing Page. Remember to keep it simple.
e. Lacking Follow-ups
This one is often overlooked. Why? Because marketers fail in preparation, especially with automation:
  • Intros
  • Newsletters
  • Sales Funnels
  • Auto-responders
Virtual Assistants need programing. To promote your business passively. Don't sleep on it.
f. Subscriber Quality
There are two types of subscribers:
  • Curious & Reserved
  • Willing & Ready
Curiosity is good, but less inclined.
A Willing subscriber means they are open to change. Avoid chasing the former clientele.

A Case Study on email marketing helping an e-commerce brand that you can follow for your SaaS too!

Diego helped an E-com store owner go from sending random emails to making 32% revenue from email marketing in 2 months
  • He started working together with the client in July. Before he started working with her, she was on Mailchimp (easy way to know they need help).
  • He joined her list and got an email from the pop-up app, not a welcome flow. He asked her if she had a welcome flow email "Yeah I do!", Then why didn't I get it?
  • After checking Mailchimp I noticed it was paused since January (this is June). You can imagine how much money was lost...
  • How many campaigns do you send a month- "3 per month". Kinda true, one month she did 3, another month 1. But the emails were just "Hot Sale! (kind of BCFM in Mexico). Back in stock, and new products.
  • No segmentation, no campaign planning, not even an "every 2 weeks we send email". Just random promotion emailsthe .
  • So first thing we did? Migrate to Klaviyo. He no longer wanted to work on Mailchimp, don't know the backend, horrible dashboard. His fellow colleagues hate Mailchimp
  • After going to Klaviyo and connecting everything got to work. First priority? Create the welcome flow. She had the generic 10% off, but Diego got a better idea. You see, a product she had was free cookbooks (that go in hand with her main product).
  • Instead of selling them for $0 I asked her - Upload the PDFs to drive and give me the link, I'm going to send them on the welcome email. Pop up now said something like: "Subscribe and get our 3 cookbooks for FREE!" Instead of a 10% discount. More conversions and more margin for her.
  • Next I got to build a couple more of the essential flows. Browse abandonment, cart abandonment, etc. Since she had no segmentation and we just changed to Klaviyo I decided to send campaigns to her whole list.
  • Testing the Open Rate, CTR, and sales- Results were meh (some emails low open rates but sales, others high open rates no sale). Not great, but decent for starting out. One small problem tho... Klaviyo + Shopify integration got fucked up.
  • But performance in Klaviyo started to show 0% on everything. "This isn't working, not even the welcome flow is making sales". Diego realized he wasn't as creative, didn't plan things, kind of let it be. Until one day I asked her - So how are the sales going? She said "Amazing!" Oh really??
  • Asked her to sync Klaviyo again and boom! They went from 0% rev (the real number could be like 1-3% in Mailchimp). Up to 14% in July, with a few core flows (welcome flow was finished by near the end of the month), and just 4 campaigns
  • Diego's main struggle was communicating with my client and getting things approved by her. Understandable, she just gave a kid she talked with once a part of her business. And I gave her one promise.
  • "I'll make you AT LEAST the Klaviyo cost back". And he came through. Next month he focused on getting all the main flow up and running. They did one campaign a week, to the whole list.
  • Before segmenting it, need to get more data on which are engaged and unengaged subscribers. So, he kept sending emails to her whole list. August came to an end, and he asked her- was she happy with the results? She said "YES! They've worked extremely well!"
  • Email marketing was responsible for 32% of her revenue in August (she asked for her numbers to be kept private, but %s are good). She had now discovered a new direct marketing channel to her amazing following
It's amazing, She's not using paid ads, all her traffic comes from her TikTok account with almost 400k followers,and her Instagram account with 65k followers.

7 email marketing mistakes SaaS founders make that you can avoid

FACT: You are missing out on revenue every time you send an email. There are common mistakes I see 99% of businesses making with their email marketing, & today I want to address them.
Mistakes new SaaS email marketers make.
Mistakes new SaaS email marketers make.

1. Poor segmentation

Segmentation is one of the most important aspects of email marketing, especially for e-Commerce. Not segmenting properly can mean lots of unsubscribed, low opens, emails landing in spam, and more.

2. Poor subject lines

Subject lines get your emails opened. The subject line doesn’t sell the product, it sells the open. And to sell the open, you need to intrigue your subs.
These are all subject lines engineered for INTRIGUE

3. Too wordy

In emails, you never want to be too wordy or longer than necessary. Keep your copy as brief as it can possibly be. Your customers are busy - provide all the info you need to sell the click, and nothing more. And this also leads to the next common email mistake.

4. Selling the product, not the click

Don't sell the product in your emails - your product or sales pages do that. The goal of emails? To sell the click. This means inspiring curiosity to get prospects to click-thru. Stop writing entire sales pages in your emails.

5. No value/entertainment

All emails should have some element of value or entertainment. If they don't your emails won't get read. As legendary Howard Gossage said: "Nobody reads advertising. People read what interests them, and sometimes it’s an ad.”

6. Weak CTA

Your CTA should be direct + strong. Trust me: You need to tell people exactly what to do. Don't shy away from clear instructions.
Good examples:
'Buy Now' 'Shop Now' 'Save Today'

7. No flows

Flows are salespeople that work 24/7 for you on autopilot. Set them up once, iterate, get paid forever. If you don't have flows? You're missing out on revenue every single day. Here's how to set up the most important flow in your store

Conclusion:

The best time to start email marketing for your SaaS is during the beta testing phase. The second best time is now.

How to get started with email marketing in the next three months for your SaaS?
  1. Send more campaigns
  1. Clean and segment your list once I have enough data
  1. Perfect the flows
  1. Learn what your audience likes in emails
  1. Get to 40% revenue from email marketing