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5 Outstanding SaaS Email Marketing Strategies and Examples for Start-ups

9 min read

SaaS (Software as a Service) is one of the fastest-growing business models globally. The idea of paying a monthly fee for software has become commonplace, making the market ripe for start-ups looking to capitalize on sequential growth.

Email marketing is by far the most popular SaaS marketing channel. Most SaaS businesses use newsletters, promotional messages, and promotional emails to keep customers updated. And with almost every consumer subscribed to a variety of email services, there’s no end in sight to the boom of email marketing in the SaaS landscape.

So, while it’s an excellent time to launch your own SaaS company if you have an eye for detail and a knack for designing user-friendly interfaces, it’s also the perfect time to maximize the power of emails in your sales strategy.

Explore this blog for all the information you need to build an ideal SaaS email marketing strategy, plus examples to guide you.

What is SaaS Marketing?

Software as a service marketing is the act of promoting subscription-based products through multiple communications channels to attract qualified leads.

SaaS marketing revolves around a customer lifecycle process. This process allows SaaS marketers to provide personalized messages that positively influence consumers’ decisions at any phase of the buying journey.

How is SaaS Marketing Different?

Unlike the traditional business model, where clients pay for goods and services on a one-off basis, SaaS businesses provide cloud-based products consumers can access via a monthly or yearly subscription. SaaS marketing thrives on recurring fees, high-value products and less completion.

Let’s explain using Zoom as a case study.

Zoom, a SaaS video conferencing tool, gained traction in 2020 in the middle of the pandemic. Zoom wasn’t the first video conferencing tool to hit the market, nor did it have the best features. However, the company recorded a 420% increase in growth within the past year; why is that?

Attribute Description
Product To succeed with the SaaS business model, you need a product that’s reliable, flexible, and can withstand change.

Zoom thrived in the middle of a pandemic because it could fluidly evolve into the powerful video conferencing tool businesses needed to reach a large audience.

Customer As a SaaS marketer, identifying your customers and keeping them happy is important. Zoom knew its market and audience well and continued to invest in learning about its ever-changing needs.

So, in a benign effort to keep up with its customers’ needs, the conferencing giants regularly upgrade their product features, reliability, and pricing.

Competition In the SaaS landscape, market positioning speaks volumes about success. Zoom didn’t thrive by trying to stay ahead of the competition.

Instead, it positioned itself as a brand close to the people; cool and casual—using entertaining content, an eye for trends, and a foolproof email marketing strategy—Zoom effortlessly drove engagement.

What is a SaaS Email Marketing Strategy?

SaaS email marketing uses automated email sequences to tend to the needs of leads and existing customers at any phase of their buying journey. These emails consist of informational, promotional, and sales content.

Most SaaS email marketing strategy revolves around the six compact sequences below (though you can always include a new email sequence depending on your marketing needs).

1. Lead to Sign up

So your product is ready; time to test the waters. Time to know if leads would indeed be interested in your product. Plus, an opportunity to weigh their reaction and survey your product for possible flaws.

In this stage, you want to arouse interest, convince people to sign up and get influencers in your niche talking about your product.

The easiest way to get leads to sign up is by offering a free plan using a newsletter, blog sign-up form, sales leads, or pre-launch list, depending on your budget.

However, while it’s okay to use any lead generation method your marketing team deems probable, we’ll advise you to avoid pushiness.

Try to be a bit laid back with your messaging as much as possible. You can do this by balancing the value of your product against pushy sales messages.

You will need a series of welcome and sign-up emails for this phase.

2. Sign Up for Activation

You will have a handful of leads asking questions about your product at this phase. They’ve signed up for your free plan and would like to know more.

The easiest way to get customers from signup to activation is to establish your product value. First, examine your product to know if it’s providing the desired results—ensure every active customer gets a bang for their bucks.

Suppose your product is at the top of its game; kudos! It’s time to invest in an informational email series. Center your message around product discovery.

You need onboarding emails to help leads move to the activation stage. Onboarding emails are informational series highlighting how your product can help consumers overcome objections and get them to the desired promise land.

You can also customize some of the emails in your welcome series to portray discovery messages.

Tip: Nowadays, everyone wants a personalized marketing experience. If you want your email marketing strategy to yield results, you must learn to stop spamming and start targeting.

3. Activation to Conversion

Now that leads have all the information they need to make an informed decision, nothing is holding you back; you want them to get off the free plan groove and into the real thing— it’s okay to get sales with your emails.

Driving conversion requires that you restate your discovery message, reminding customers how valuable your product is and finalizing with a bold call to action to make them hasten their decision.

Create an upgrade email sequence highlighting the available plans, perks, and privileges that come with each. Capitalize on the activation momentum and upsell critical benefits.

If, for some reason, leads refuse to opt out of the free plan or decide to forfeit their subscription entirely, don’t panic! Stay on course with your upgrade series. They will come along when the time is right.

4. Conversion to Retention

If your product is truly valuable, you should have a solid customer base at this point. And if such is the case, it’s time to create a retention email sequence.

Leads who opted out of the free plan into your paid plans are the real MVPs—the VIPs that, if treated right, can stay with your brand for a lifetime.

So, before you get started, know that your retention email sequence can technically last forever; take your time to draft a design sequence and strategy capable of withstanding the test of time.

This is where you need to provide deep dives into user experience and case studies. In this sequence, some of the notable emails include transactional emails, launch emails, feature expansion, summary emails, etc.

The goal here is to remind subscribers that your product is of value and that you’re constantly updating its features to meet the dynamic needs of ever-changing market trends.

5. Retention to Expansion

With a stable customer base, you’d want to improve cash flow and reduce churn rate. And yes, you need emails for such endeavors.

You can keep the funds rolling in by offering subscribers yearly subscription packages. Create a series of product emails telling how much they would save by opting for a yearly subscription.

Make a one-time offer; create a sense of urgency, and highlight all the key benefits they would enjoy. You also need informational emails that tell subscribers when to and when not to upgrade their package.

There is no silver-bullet email marketing game plan to move from retention to expansion. The best advice, experiment with as many strategies as possible.

6. Retention to Referrals

We kept referral for last, not because there is anything inappropriate with asking freemium users or paid subscribers to refer friends, family, or colleagues from the onset, but because the referral email sequence needs to be sent out in parallel with others.

Not all subscribers or users would blink an eye at your referral request. And since you don’t want your emails to appear spam, it’s best to run a net promoter survey (NPS) before asking for referrals.

In the meantime, you can also apply to an influencer referral program and work with industry-famous content creators. The emails required in this sequence are your NPS, and your specific ask.

SaaS Email Marketing: Understanding the Basics

Email marketing runs the gamut for the SaaS business model. It’s the easiest and the most effective way to reach customers with the right content at the right time. Below are a few steps to keep in mind as you kickstart your journey to SaaS email marketing success.

1. Know Your Customer Journey

Every successful journey begins with a roadmap to the endpoint. And for SaaS email marketing success, your roadmap is your customers’ journey.

You need to know how each customer in your sales cycle can get from point A to B. Create a well-researched and detailed roadmap highlighting key points in their journey.

2. Undertake Intelligent Referral Marketing

Word of mouth (WOM) marketing is the backbone of every thriving SaaS business. Even with social media marketing and emails taking a front role in the SaaS marketing lifecycle, nothing still beats a good old referral from family or friends.

Invest in an intelligent referral system that makes it easy for consumers to invite their friends at a convenient cost.

3. Spend Time on Your Site’s SEO

How visible is your brand’s online presence? Is your content ranking on the first page of Google for a niche-specific keyword, or is your brand leading industry conversations with thought leadership content?

Every SaaS business needs a solid online presence. Spend time creating informational, promotional, and sales content.

4.  Segment Your Subscribers

Segmenting your list is a must, whether you’re just starting or you already have many subscribers. For those just starting, take your time to list the consumers who’ll most likely blink an eye at your product.

It might be school students, pregnant mothers, lawyers, doctors, or whomever your product serves; make a segmented email list and create your marketing message accordingly.

5. Define Your Content Marketing Strategy

What do you want to achieve with your online marketing efforts? Is your product category still alien to its intended audience, and do you need a way to build credibility as ‘category king’ before the competition duplicates your idea? Or are you already a dominant brand and need more visibility?

You need to know what you want to achieve with content to create strategies with a lasting impact.

One last thing: take your time to study your target audience; understand their pain points and desires and explore all the things you might be overlooking before drafting a content plan or creating a marketing calendar.

SaaS Email Marketing Examples

Now that you have all the information you need to create an ideal SaaS marketing strategy, let’s look at some evergreen SaaS promotional email examples and highlight key takeaways that can help you streamline a clear path to success.

1. Grammarly’s Promotional Emails

Grammarly is one of the leading brands in the SaaS landscape. The writing and editing app helps businesses and students get their message across with clarity and precision.

And Just like Zoom, Grammarly has, within the years, amassed a large audience. So yes, taking a sneak peek at their marketing strategy is worth the time.

Takeaway: what we love most about Grammarly is its promotional emails. Somehow, Grammarly’s email marketing team knows how to present customers with the right offer just when they need it.

Grammarly uses incentives, a swift call to action, and content that cuts through the noise to turn skeptical consumers into recurring subscribers.

2. Shopify’s Promotional Email Newsletter

Start-ups, SMEs, and fortune 500 eCommerce businesses turn to Shopify for its amazing sales platform. The eCommerce giant allows users to customize their online store, build rapport with other business owners and attract customers.

Takeaway: Shopify continues to lead the eCommerce integration and sales bandwagon because of its exciting features and heart-warming marketing messages.

Shopify’s promotional email above highlights its empathetic and warm approach to marketing. The SaaS brand thrives on customized messaging that is, in some cases, sales yet always feels intimate and personalized to the reader.

3. LinkedIn Personalized Emails

Believe it or not, LinkedIn is where work happens—the future workplace. It’s a social media where professionals unite, share ideas and explore possibilities. And at the moment, LinkedIn premium thrives on recurring fees. So yes, LinkedIn is a SaaS business.

Takeaway: from all LinkedIn marketing endeavors, the obvious once and the once that go unnoticed, what we loved the most was their personalized emails.

LinkedIn personalized emails highlight how a user is performing. From how many people viewed your profile, notable mentions, and courses completed to weekly activity, their personalized emails excite or sometimes bore customers with every detail. 😉

4. Discounted eBay Emails

eBay, just like Shopify, is an eCommerce company connecting millions of buyers and sellers across the globe. eBay operates in over 190 markets and has evolved into a SaaS business.

Takeaway: who doesn’t love gifts, discounts, or incentives that give you a bang for your buck? Well, not eBay’s customers.

Using well-thought-out discount emails, eBay has built an iconic customer base. And thankfully, by exploring their discount emails—like the one above—and making a few tweaks in line with your brand’s identity, you can help your SaaS business win with emails.

Bottom Line

Building an ideal SaaS marketing strategy won’t be a tough row to hoe if you have the right marketing experts and a reliable email service provider.

Still, unlike the traditional business model, the SaaS landscape exists in an ever-changing flux; the foolproof strategies of today can easily become redundant in tomorrow’s market.

Your best bet at success is to stay on top of trends and work with a flexible strategy that allows you to fluidly reinvent the wheel and automate as many sales processes as possible. Good luck!


Author BIO

Skirmantas Venckus is a writer by day and reader by night. He hates talking about himself in the third person. He is also the growth hacker at Sender.net – the email marketing provider that is focused on user-friendliness, affordability, and utility.

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