If you’re ready to make churn prevention a priority in your business, you need to be consistently communicating with and engaging your customers. The beauty of retention emails is the ways that they can automate your engagement with users.
Engagement is the best tool for improving your retention rates, because it ties users more closely to your business and consistently provides reminders of why and how your product improves their workflow. Constant communication can be overwhelming for a business, though.
This week we’re taking at look a the retention emails your SaaS business needs to be sending.
1. Onboarding Emails
Coming at the beginning of the user lifecycle, your onboarding emails are an introduction of sorts. Think of it as a handshake from your business.
These early retention emails should work to educate new users through their trial (if you offer one) or through the first steps of getting to know the product.
Your onboarding emails are there to make sure your customers experience success with the product early on. The sooner that a user “gets” the value of your product, the better the chance you have of building a long-term relationship.
2. Activation Email
Activation, or the point that a user starts integrating your tool more deeply into their workflow, is a key step to building a long-term relationship. We’ve defined this in the past as the point where your service moves from a shiny new toy into a well-worn, indispensable aspect of their working life.
Ideally you should hit this milestone in your onboarding phase, but that’s not always possible, and it won’t happen with every user.
The goal of your activation email should be to set up the user with a simple, actionable process by which they can engage more deeply with your tool. In a nutshell, this email exists to create a “breakthrough” experience.
Think about meaningful goalposts within your product that prove growth.
3. Progress Updates and Receipts
These retention emails are all about showing the value of your tool by reminding users of their successes, and giving them a clear sense of the benefit they’ve received over the course of using your service.
It can be helpful to tie these to your receipts. This way, at the same time as users are seeing the cost of your service, they are also getting a sense of the benefits.
Use-metrics can break down the amount of time that customers have spent on your platform over the course of the previous month or show off the new features they’ve discovered.
The metrics you choose will be specific to your product and your user goals. As a starting point, think about success in the activation process and how to translate that into an engaging follow-up.
4. “How are you doing?” Emails
These simple retention emails have one purpose: catching users before there’s a significant issue. See what they think should be improved. Find the elements of your service that are causing friction that may not make it to a customer service complaint.
Which elements of your service feel unintuitive? Where is the learning curve steepest?
By connecting at these points you can build customer satisfaction in helpful, positive interactions, as opposed to “saving” a user’s experience when it is already in crisis.
5. Educational Emails
An educated user is a long-term customer in the making. Users that have a strong grasp of your platform without a huge time investment on their end are far most likely to be successful and integrate your tool into their workflow.
With that in mind, retention emails that educate and deeper your user’s understanding of the product are a great way to fight churn and develop customer loyalty.
Consider offering webinars or informational courses and remember that streamlining the learning process is key. If users feel like the demands of becoming fluent in your software are too great, they will likely look elsewhere for simpler options. It may take some hand-holding, but the overall payoff can be huge.
These educational messages combine nicely with our next retention emails: newsletters.
For some businesses, a newsletter can seem like a no-brainer. For others, it might feel unnecessary. As retention emails, though, newsletters are a great way to stay in consistent contact with your users and encourage involvement.
For a strong newsletter you will need content that provides value to your user-base on a regular basis.
Spend time building up a content plan and exploring complementary niches to your own.
The beauty of a newsletter is its versatility. It can be a great tool for sharing educational resources, company announcements, relevant industry news, and a huge range of other communications.
When your software wins an award, for example, your newsletter is a great place to humble brag and position yourself as a leader in your niche.
6. Product Updates
Any time you make updates to your product, you need to be communicating clearly with your users.
This has two main effects. First, it shows that you are constantly growing and changing, that your product is not static. For users that have requested updates, it’s gratifying and exciting to see those changes occurring.
Second, emails communicating product updates are huge for educating users on the steps they need to take and the new options available to them.
Generally, you will want to build hype by teasing new releases before they come out, then send an email blast upon release.
7. Dunning Emails
Dunning, or communication with customers to ensure payment after a billing issue, is a huge part of keeping a SaaS business afloat.
With the ever-present risk of online scamming, consumers are generally very careful in their interactions with any kind of message asking for money. Your dunning emails need to be clearly branded and sent from your domain.
As much as possible, avoid pre-dunning. It’s important to track how these messages are working for you and make changes as needed. Keep an eye on open, click-through, and bounce rates.
8. Ask for Testimonials
Consumers consistently trust the opinions of other consumers over any other form of advertising. Testimonials provide the kind of social proof that is vital to any business, but they are particularly vital in the online space.
Reaching out for testimonials requires tact and excellent timing, and we’ve explored the process in detail here.
In a nutshell, for the best testimonials possible:
- Make the process of leaving a testimonial as easy and streamlined as possible.
- Ask helpful questions to get the user started, and don’t require that they leave your site.
- Ask at the right time, when the user is excited and engaged with your product. This can be right after the activation point, when your customer success team has just gone above and beyond in solving a problem, or after a user has referred a new customer.
- Offer incentives like a discounted month of use.
9. Cancellation Emails
When a customer discontinues use of your service, they are often sending you a message.
Your product may not be providing the value that they need, in which case they may have been poorly-suited from the beginning. Alternately, they may churn due to a shift in their particular set of needs.
Similar to emails asking for testimonials, your cancellation email should make it as simple as possible to provide feedback.
Consider sending a brief questionnaire that makes it easy to segment your responses. If the lack of a specific feature is a key reason for a customer leaving, add them to a re-engagement list if that feature is eventually released.
Sort bad-fit leads from users that simply grew in a different direction.
From here, you can look back through your entire retention funnel and see when and where you are encountering issues and losing users.
Consider building churn cohort tables based around the different reasons that users churn to see when specifically it occurs in your user lifecycle.
Retention Emails Built to Last
These retention emails are vital tools for engaging your user base and keeping them involved with your product over time.
Remember that this process can be continually refined to better suit their needs. From onboarding all the way to cancellation, you are consistently receiving feedback from customers in terms of open and click through rates.
Track these, A/B test new options, and explore the best results over time. Look for gaps in your communication platform. Align your teams and make sure they are proactively communicating through the entire process.
Each of these emails maps closely onto a crossroads point in the user journey. Learn more about churn prevention throughout the user journey here.