The Beginner's Guide to SaaS Conversion Emails

When you're an early stage startup, creating your first conversion email can be a daunting task. Remember, when A/B testing as an early-stage startup, it's infinitely more valuable to pull levers than to tinker with minor changes. Although tinkering may lead to a 5% improvement, pulling levers may lead to a 25% improvement.

Understand Conversion Emails

If you Google "conversion email templates" you get worthwhile reading on things not to do, steps to effectively get emails, and a dissection of the core parts.

The problem? Many of these are "ip sum" or companies marketing their services — not actual templates to get you started.

What's Your Strategy?

Figure out your strategy. What voice do you want to project? Fun, happy, and playful? Act now or you might lose out? For most people, it's a balancing act since you need to seem trustworthy but don't want to be boring or overly professional.

For playful emails, you might consider something like greeting them with a "howdy", incorporating happy face emoticons, and including a fun fact. You can balance this with a quantitative breakdown of your service.

The key is to show users what they can expect to achieve with your service and a breakdown of your tool. For many SaaS companies, the goal is to leave users with the message that they are capable of greatness if they use your tool and that you want to help them be great.

Something else to determine is how often you want to send emails. If you have a 15 day trial period it's likely to send daily emails unless they add value. You can create urgency towards the end with ("your trial is ending soon!").

What's Your Funnel?

We'll look at my prior startup, Slingbot's funnel as an example.

  1. Unactivated
  2. Activated-without-success
  3. Activated-with-success
  4. Customer

1. Unactivated

Exactly what it sounds like. These are people who created accounts (by logging in with Twitter), but never made campaigns to actually use the tool. Most people in this group are just checking out the tool out of curiosity. Some realize the tool isn't for them. Some got distracted and forgot to set it up.

We send an email to this group and offer to extend their trial by 10 days in hopes they move down the funnel, but our expectations for this group is low. If they didn't spend the time to create a campaign, it was likely intentional.

2. Activated without Success

These are users who have created campaigns but who haven't seen any success — followers — using Slingbot. They've either chosen very specific keywords, used an infrequent hashtag, or used multiple keywords for a single campaign.

We send an email to this group and also offer to extend their trial by 10 days. We direct them to our blog and YouTube channel with tips to succeed.

The risk with this group is that the Pareto principle, the 80-20 rule, may apply. Customer feedback is always good, but people with bad experiences tend to speak the loudest. Here, 20% of your users might lead to 80% of your headaches.

3. Activated with Success

This is the most important group. They've have conversions (followers) from their impressions (favorites). We want to show them where they can be if they upgrade plans.

Here, we also mention how their conversion% compares to the average (3%) and the ideal (5%); this acts as a bar to reach or as a metric to show their success.

This is the most important group.

4. Customers

This group upgraded to a premium plan before we sent our conversion email (which we send 1-2 days before their trial ends). We want to thank these users since they see value in the tool.

They have typically optimized the tool and see value in it since they upgraded early. We could also direct them to our blog or YouTube, but they likely don't need help.

Slingbot's Templates

Here were the templates we used and hopefully it's a starting point for you!

1. "Unactivated" Template

Subject:

Did you forget about Slingbot?

Email:

Did you forget to set up Slingbot? If you need any help, or have any questions, shoot us an email and we can extend your trial by 10 days :)

Sebastian from Slingbot

Fact of the Day: Leonardo da Vinci could draw with one hand while writing with the other.
http://slingbot.co

2. "Activated Without Success" Template

Subject:

@sebfung, want to be awesome at Slingbot?

Email:

Howdy @sebfung!

Looks like you set up Slingbot but didn't get any followers!

We have a bunch of tip videos on Twitter and Slingbot at our YouTube channel that we're dubbing Slingbot University. Check it out: http://bit.ly/SlingbotU

Although you didn't get any followers from the trial, we REALLY want to help you succeed! So, check out our tips, edit your campaigns, and we'll extend your trial by 10 days :)

Sebastian from Slingbot

Fact of the Day: Leonardo da Vinci could draw with one hand while writing with the other.
http://slingbot.co

3. "Activated with Success" Template

Subject:

@sebfung, your Slingbot trial is ending

Email:

Howdy @sebfung!

Your 10 day trial of the Sling plan is ending soon and we're pleased to announce that your 3 campaigns made 598 impressions, which led to 46 conversions. That's a 7.7% conversion rate (the average is 3%; the optimal is 5%).

At the end of your trial, you'll automatically be downgraded to our free plan. Wondering if you should upgrade? Here's a breakdown of what you can expect each month:

Free — 1,000 impressions — about 77 followers
Shortbow ($9.99) — 4,000 impressions — about 308 followers
Crossbow ($29.99) — 8,000 impressions — about 616 followers
Catapult ($49.99) — 14,000 impressions/month — about 1,078 followers

The premium plans have additional features exclusive to http://slingbot.co; including filters based on language, location, and sentiment (positive or negative).

If you need help or have any questions (about our different plans, or about how Slingbot works), shoot us an email :)

Sling on!
Sebastian from Slingbot

Fact of the Day: Leonardo da Vinci could draw with one hand while writing with the other.
http://slingbot.co

4. "Customers" Template

Subject:

@sebfung, thanks for upgrading your Slingbot!

Email:

Howdy @sebfung!

We just wanted to email you to thank you for upgrading :)

If you run into any problems or need any help, don't hesitate to reach out to us 24/7!

Lots of love,
Sebastian from Slingbot

Fact of the Day: Leonardo da Vinci could draw with one hand while writing with the other.
http://slingbot.co

Slingbot's Findings

Unactivated: As speculated, very few people respond back to extend their trial. If they didn't bother making a campaign, it was likely for a reason.

Activated Without Success: This group has led to some interesting feedback, some headaches, and some disappointed customers (where the Slingbot would never be appropriate for them given their hyper-niche). Many people in this group seem to be new to Twitter.

Activated with Success: We get a ton of valuable feedback from this group and have implemented various features that they've suggested.

Customers: This group was our biggest advocates and ambassadors.

Release the Emails!

If you're more comfortable with Excel you can create custom emails using the Google Apps Script.

There are better solutions though. Look at MailChimp and sendwithus.


What does your conversion email look like? Let me know on Twitter (@sebfung).

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