How Top SaaS Companies Use Email Marketing

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Effectively using email to connect with your customers is an important part of being a SaaS company.

When someone signs up, you want to reach out to show off what your product can do, or tempt someone into upgrading to your premium service.

We know this all too well, and we know how difficult it can be.

With low open rates and even lower click through rates, email can sometimes seem like a daunting area to focus on.

This is why we conducted a study of how top SaaS companies approach their email marketing and sales.

In partnership with PersistIQ, we looked at the sales cycles and drip marketing techniques of 281 top SaaS companies, analyzing 1183 emails in the process.

We compiled all the emails into a searchable database at first but decided to make it a bit more user friendly for people to browse by turning it into the microsite Inside SaaS Sales.

You can hop on there to search by company and view their emails; analyzing their approach.

Our tip is to find a few companies like yours – i.e. with similar business objectives – and work out why they’ve created and structured their emails in the way they did.

But there’s only so much we can learn from one email at a time. What trends can we find in the data? What sales cycle takeaways do we have?

The key findings from analyzing 281 companies’ emails

Companies follow up for 9 days before stopping contact

Companies tend to be persistent. While avoiding sending emails on weekends, the average period of a sales cadence is 9 days – just short of two working weeks.

Some companies tended to stray quite a distance from this average. Salesforce, for example, took 1 month before giving up with their outreach. While a company like Slack, where each customer tends to be of less value to the business, hit the 9 day mark square on the head.

Companies send one email per day until the end of the cycle

In that opening flurry of emails, the SaaS company doesn’t want to overdo it and scare you the customer away, but they don’t want you to move on either.

Looking at the two previous examples, Slack send the first 4 emails over the first 5 days with the final email coming on the 9th day. That pattern of sustained outreach initially followed by quiet rare reminders is mirrored by Salesforce’s approach, even if their cadence is longer.

Salesforce send two emails a day for the first two days and one email a day for the following four days. The last email in their cadence comes over a fortnight after the penultimate.

This pattern can be seen across the data set and suggests that a sprint start is preferable to a balanced campaign.

65% of companies hand you over to an automated marketing campaign

Automation is huge at the moment, and not just in marketing.

We’re slowly walking into a world where computers are performing an increasing number of our tasks. In the report Four Fundamentals of Workplace Automation from McKinsey, they predict that 18% of a marketing executive’s working time could already be automated by existing commercially available technologies.

And that report is about 18 months old. Zapier have integrated with an extra 500 companies since then!

In our data, it is clear that though lots of companies use automated elements, many of them combine automated with manual. Both Slack and Salesforce send automated marketing email, but Salesforce have a person on hand to reach out to you too; using the double tap method to follow up on previous outreach as a warmer mechanism

Consider automation! All I’m saying…

Most SaaS companies have two sales contacts per lead

Typically a company will have two contacts and at least one of them will have a title which is geared toward bringing in new customers: Sales (35%), Business Development (18%), or Marketing (18%).

It’s not unusual, however, for a company to reach out from a different member of staff – something which puts a friendly face on the company. Like the CEO or Founders themselves (7%) or a Customer Success (6%) person.

This kind of internal branding could add a little more positive to the mix, maybe?

74% of companies don’t leave voicemails

If a company leaves voicemails, the sales cycle length is usually 160% longer.

This shouldn’t come as a surprise because voicemails are indicative of a high touch sales approach. This involves a lot more effort and a lot more commitment from your sales team.

Generally, a company like Slack has no interest in sending you voicemails. Yet, a company like Epicor – who provide serious industrial services in a high value specialized niche – knows that their market is smaller and each lead is super valuable.

It’s in their favor to leave voicemails where possible! (All voicemails we received are transcribed with the rest of the email data on the microsite)

MailChimp is the most common email marketing software

Used by 49% of the sample, Mailchimp is the faraway winner of the email marketing software battle.

Up in second place is Marketo at 21% with HubSpot biting at their heels on 19%.

The rest come in a little further behind with “other” coming before (in order) Eloqua, Tout, Sidekick, Pardot, Marketing Cloud, Sable, and Sendgrid.

Mailchimp is very easy to use and they’ve offered useful automation elements for a while now. It’s surprising to see how far ahead they were in terms of usage amongst industry leaders, but it’s a compelling sign for anyone searching for an email marketing tool.

Learn your techniques from the best

It’s very easy to write an article online about how you should approach your email marketing.

You’ve probably read loads of these articles. I know I have.

But often these articles are written without the expertise for your particular needs. The expertise you need to listen to and learn from lies within the businesses with whom you share business objectives and demographics.

Hopefully, we can help you cut the bull and check out what the real big players do, so you can learn from them.

Let me know how your company approaches its email marketing in the comments below!