Note: This is a guest post by Nina Cvijovic of Etools, where she talks about the lessons they took away from reading the SaaS Email Marketing Handbook. Nina, take it away!
Joseph Brodsky once said: “There are worse crimes than burning books. One of them is not reading them.” And if you are a SaaS startup looking to grow, it would be a crime not to read the SaaS Email Marketing Handbook.
There are two possible scenarios here: on the one hand, you might think that everything you do is just fine, and you get good results, but you want to do better and achieve more. On the other hand, you might not be satisfied with the progress your company is making and you’re not sure what to do about it.
The first and most important thing that will make your company and your employees grow is education. Education is a lifelong learning process. It doesn’t stop when you finish college. It’s an ongoing self motivated pursuit for knowledge and it is something that will help you keep up with the times.
At Etools we believe that the base for our growth is investment in lifelong learning. Finding a great book can help your company on so many levels; it is like finding a hidden gem and when you grab it you want to read it over and over again.
This is what happened with SaaS Email Marketing Handbook when we first read it. We were getting great results but we wanted to be even better. The book gave us confirmation of the things that we were already implementing and gave as a strong boost to enforce some changes, mostly about follow-up email campaigns. We will show you how our team was already implementing processes shown in the book and what we learned and how we applied that knowledge to get even better results.
Lead Generation through cold emailing
Before getting into details, let me state this: A focused cold emailing strategy got us most of our clients and a dedicated lead nurturing campaign converted our leads into loyal customers.
If you ever had any doubts about email outreach campaigns and wondered whether they can help you grow your business, I would say - think again. We are experiencing a big change in the way we communicate today.
Yes, social media platforms really made a difference, but email is still a more personal medium when it comes to business. The true power of cold emails comes from the way you use them and an excellent email campaign can take your business to another level.
Here are a few tips that we always follow:
Set up your campaign goals and define why you are cold emailing and who
This is the first and most basic step in our email campaigns. Having a clear goal in mind helps us stay on track with our campaign plans. It is also crucial for measuring our results.
Create your own email list
With our own email list we are in control of targeting qualified leads. Besides, having our own email list gets us one step closer to email personalization which is indispensable in today’s marketing world. Using someone else’s email list is great to get in front of a different audience, but start building your own as soon as possible.
Research your leads in order to know them and relate to them
We spend a lot of time researching our leads. We get to know them, their names, their interests, and the things they’re working on. This helps us personalize the messages we send.
Focus on your lead’s needs
This is another important thing we do to make the initial relationship with our leads strong and healthy: don’t jump in and start talking about your glorious solution and all the cool features you have. Start with articulating their pain - that’s what they care about and that’s where you can connect with them.
Prepare your campaign strategies prior to execution, craft templates for initial emails and follow-ups and leave room for personalization
Before we start with our campaign we prepare our email templates to make our workflow faster and more efficient. Over the course of our company’s growth, this proved to be very useful for us. And it also didn’t get in the way of email personalization.
Always personalize your emails, even though you might be automating the whole process
One part of our email outreach is automated and we also manage to still send personalized emails. This way, the whole process is made much faster and more efficient.
Schedule your emails and deliver them at the right time
This is a simple step we implemented when we started our email outreach campaigns. One that proved to be very efficient in terms of prospect engagement. It’s not a rarity that your prospect is in an entirely different time zone from your own, distancing you by as much as 8 hours (an entire work day!). We have thus implemented the use of tools which help us send out our email campaigns at the appropriate time for each lead.
Don’t give up after the first outreach email - follow up!
The first and the most basic advice we’d like to share is: send follow- ups. Our persistence in sending follow-ups to (qualified - don’t waste precious time on furthering the discussion with leads that have no use for your product) leads has helped us convert them into customers.
Iterate your emails and you’ll get better over time.
In the end, it’s all about learning and practicing. The more experience we gained, the more we understood what’s good or bad when it comes to cold emailing, and we were able to implement the necessary changes. Don’t be afraid of failure - it can only help you grow. All’s well that ends well, right? And learning can only end in success.
Another important thing is to not be afraid of sending too many emails. Of course this doesn’t mean that you should be a spammer. Providing value is what makes your cold emailing campaigns professional and sensible.
We always strive to provide value in our emails. And as long as we do that, our subscribers will be happy to receive emails from us on a regular basis. The emails we send are never just about our product. We want to help our prospects and customers learn and reach the goals they’ve set out for their own business ventures. And we achieve that by writing relevant and informative content for them.
So, “send more than you feel comfortable” is our email motto from the book that has increased our overall signup rates.
Creating a list for cold outreach
“The more focused your list is the easier it will be to craft a targeted message later.” That is why we never buy pre-made email lists. The strong basis for our excellent email outreach results is a good outreach list.
To make all the steps in the process fit like a puzzle and work perfectly together we build our own list. Because, simply said, nobody knows our product or service better than us.
There are many tools you can opt for to help you create your own outreach list. Naturally, we used our in-house tools, as they enable us to finish the whole lead generation process and save a lot of time by providing us with relevant and verified information. By using our own tools we can complete the whole process without losing too much time, while gathering relevant and verified email contacts.
Paying a lot of attention to this step improved our open and click rates dramatically. We managed to pass the 20% reply rate threshold and over a course of a few months our open rates have increased by 10%.
Shaping our first outreach email
We used various sources for shaping and improving the first outreach email templates, the book being one of them.
Regarding different parts of an email this is what we always do:
Our subject lines are crafted in a way that is clear and succinct, so we keep it short but also try to personalize. What has worked best for us was including the company name in the first outreach email subject line.
Our emails are always short and to the point. We value our prospects’ time and don’t overwhelm them with unnecessary information. It also goes without saying - if you can’t present your product and its value briefly, then you need to do your homework and figure out how your services can benefit your prospects.
As we are the ones reaching out to our prospects and asking for a favor, we spend a lot of time just researching about them to be able to build a better initial relationship. To do that, we write at least one highly personalized sentence to connect with our recipients.
At the end of our emails we include one CTA that clearly communicates our goal in order to get the desired response. Our business development team is currently looking into how to best apply repeating the CTA in the PS section of the email body, in order to further increase lead engagement.
Here are the examples of our first outreach emails:
As stated in the handbook: “Making your emails feel like they are one-to-one interactions,
although they are automated, is an art.”
Yes, but you can always master the skills of the art of personalization.
These are the basic rules mentioned in the book that you should follow:
- always send emails from a personal email address. Use Gravatar and link all social media profiles to that email address
- send the emails at the right time for each of our readers
- create our own email list and segment leads
- pre-write email templates, leaving room for personalization
- include the prospect’s name, role and company name
- craft different personalized introductory sentences
- always concentrate on your prospect’s needs
Increasing the frequency of follow-up emails
“Just as important as your first emails are the emails you send to follow-up with non-respondents. Most people simply won’t respond to your first email.”
The SaaS Email Marketing Handbook prompted us to increase email frequency in terms of follow-up campaigns.
Don’t be afraid of sending too many emails and annoying people. People will often be happy that you followed up.
Finally, take this advice from Steli Efti: follow up until you get a “yes” or “no”
This helped us turn churning leads into satisfied customers. We intensified communication with leads that were unresponsive for months or unsure of whether they would proceed.
What we also learned is that the main question is not – Should I send follow-ups? The main question is – Am I sending follow-ups to the right people?
By sending follow-ups over the course of several months or more to our qualified leads, we turned our potentially lost opportunities into increased conversion rates.
No matter if the results are such you’re struggling to make it or are already doing pretty well, room for improvement always exists. The Etools team strongly believes in the power of constant learning and we just love to watch how a small change in our workflow can make a big difference. The SaaS Email Marketing Handbook served as a great guide for us. It helped us not only confirm what we already knew, but also gave us new ideas and encouragement to implement them. And we truly hope you’ll feel the same when you read it!
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