Customer retention is critical to any SaaS company, especially one that is just starting out. As the SaaS industry continues to grow, the question of how to reduce churn (i.e. the rate at which customers cancel their recurring subscriptions) has come to the forefront of many people’s minds. After all, the lower your SaaS churn rate, the higher your revenue.
Believe it or not, email marketing can actually play a huge role in reducing your churn rate. Customers are used to frequent email communication by now, almost to the point that the absence of it can increase their chances of dropping off from your service. Keeping in touch with the right emails can make a huge difference in their retention rates.
But what types of emails are most effective? What do customers expect, and how can you delight them by giving them something they weren’t expecting?
Let’s start with the four basic e-mails that you should incorporate from the start.
1) The Welcome Email
Since SaaS companies most often interact with new customers via a trial period, it is essential to get this first communication right. This is the first impression, the moment of discovery, for your customer.
Your welcome email should be engaging, entertaining, and chock-full of information that provides real value. While you do not want to give everything away in this initial communication, you likely will need to include a few essential items, including:
- A strong, warm thank-you to the customer for choosing your service;
- A personalized message about the next step to take in the customer journey;
- A notification of what the customer can expect in terms of additional email frequency and content;
- A final word of repeated thanks to the customer.
The more personalized this first interaction is, the better positioned you are to continue a warm, long-lasting relationship with your customers.
2) The "Look At This" Email
A natural follow-up to the welcome email, this email message encourages the customer about the choice he/she has made to go with your company. This can be one email or a series of small emails that show the customer how best to use your product.
Underscoring the different features of your service is a good source of content for these "Look At This" emails. Videos and written tutorials can also be quite effective. A great example of this is the instructional e-mails Evernote sends following an initial sign-up; the series includes tips on getting the most out of the service, as well as details about premium features.
One word of caution, however: These emails should be short and to the point. Think of this as gently nurturing your customers, rather than saturating them with too much information right from the get-go.
3) The Milestone Email
The purpose of the milestone email is to pat your customer on the back for sticking with your service for a certain amount of time or to a certain pre-defined customer milestone, like an anniversary or birthday.
This email keeps your company at the forefront of your customer's mind. It fosters the perception that you are interested in his/her individual situation. A soft-sell message about additional offerings that might benefit the customer would be welcomed here.
This email is all about relationship building. Including some simple, soft calls to action will work well. For instance, asking for a referral of a friend or encouraging your customer to follow you on social media are good ways to deepen and strengthen your relationship at this stage.
4) The Strong CTA
The strong call-to-action email is designed to win conversions quickly. This email should give a clearly defined recommended next step for your customer. Reiterating premium product features that drew your customer to you in the first place is good.
It’s also important in this email to provide added value to the customer. Now is the time to emphasize additional features of your service in a positive, upbeat manner. Providing a quick and easy way for your customer to upgrade is key at this point.
Your goal is to make it both attractive and convenient for your customer to take the desired action. Quick links to easy checkout and clearly defined customer support options will optimize the customer experience and drive conversion rates upward.
One Part of a Winning Strategy
Of course, email correspondence should continue with your customers well past the initial subscription. There are other instances where this type of communication will make a lasting impression, but you can’t get there without the basics in place.
When it comes to SaaS customer retention, a steady stream of engaging emails is essential to keep your service foremost in the minds of your customer base and thereby reduce churn rates.