Smarter SaaS marketing campaigns are not just a bonus, they are an absolute necessity in the SaaS industry. In SaaS, you have neither the excuse nor the luxury to procrastinate on using the best of modern “smart” marketing technology and strategies.
But what do I mean by that exactly? Well, let me expand on this for a bit. As digital marketers, our ability to produce ever smarter and more personalized campaigns has grown exponentially.
These days we can produce super-finely personalized campaigns that automatically gather data based on what your user does on your site, inside of your product, and their behavior when engaging your marketing emails.
You can no longer afford to send the exact same campaigns to everyone. And this is especially true in a SaaS where it is relatively easy to leverage our advanced features. You have both the resources and mindset to do this without much effort, but more on that later.
1) Pick the right implementation partner
Nobody likes feeling that they’re just a number on a screen for accounting purposes. But this is generally what happens when you sign up for most marketing platforms. They brag about all the features you’ll get by signing up for the service… but once you sign up you’re largely on your own.
On most platforms, if you ask for any help, it will mostly be limited to understanding how the software works, but not how to actually implement it to produce better results and growth for your own SaaS. In fact, you’ll need to get used to talking to bots and receiving canned copy-paste responses from support.
This is very different when you work with us. We see everyone that uses Emercury as a “partner” of sorts. Yes, we develop the software and all the features you need to automate and manage your email marketing campaigns. But we see the software as just a tool in achieving our primary goal.
And our primary goal is to help you make more profits. The software is just the tool we use to help you achieve this goal. And the more your SaaS grows with the help of our team and our software, the more we make in return as well. So the incentive is built right-in.
2) Understand personalization vs “the customer journey”
In marketing we often have huge hype-trains where a feature gets hyped up in a superficial way and the deeper meaning behind it gets lost. Such is the case with the idea of modern hyper-personalized marketing.
And don’t get me wrong, we’ve worked very hard to implement all the features you need to provide a super-personalized experience. But it is easy to focus on implementation, and forget why we are doing it in the first place.
If you’re looking to master SaaS marketing campaigns and understand what makes them effective, you have to go back to the basics. You really need to delve deep into understanding the concept of the “customer journey”.
The fact is that there are steps a person can take from first learning about your SaaS to one day becoming a raving evangelist that tells their friends to sign up for your product. And understanding what these steps are, what are some of the common sequences and what makes a person move from one step to the other, is crucial.
The customer journey is what makes advanced personalization work, not the other way around
We invented advanced personalization in marketing in order to be able to give people a different experience. Instead of everyone getting the same emails in the same order, you can be smart about it and have all of this determined dynamically by our software. Just define the experience you want to provide by defining it with the journey builder.
Unfortunately, a lot of people have gotten the impression that advanced personalization features such as custom experiences have a magical power in and of themselves. They don’t.
If you personalize the experience based on completely irrelevant and meaningless data, this will not make your campaigns smarter or produce more profits. And yes, you can customize the experience on things other than the customer journey stage (or lifecycle). However, it is a good idea to first master this fundamental. But more on that in the next step.
3) Define your “marketing data structures”
In software-development circles you will often find lots of memes making fun of junior developers that avoid learning about, and understanding “data structures”. The reason for this is that figuring out how you will store what kind of information is a process that isn’t fun, it isn’t exciting, but it will save you a lot of grief in the long-run.
The same is true when it comes to smart modern marketing. The fact is that we all want to focus on all the fun things that are possible with automated personalized marketing. We like doing the fancy stuff…
For example… If a person opens this email, then send them this set of emails. Or perhaps, if a free-tier user clicks the monthly toggle on the pricing page, give them this specific tag. And if a person gets two specific tags, then add them to the sales list in google sheets.
The bad news is that coming up with this stuff on the fly is a bad idea. Yes, you can open the journey builder and start coming up with some really cool stuff. You can get an idea like “hey if people don’t open this email in the sequence, I think I’ll add a tag like… what should I call it, oh yah, I’ll give the tag this name”.
But it is a much better idea to do the groundwork in advance and decide which kind of data you will track, and what each one means in both marketing and sales terms. Coming up with stuff on the fly is fun, but you will end up with hundreds of tags, and disjointed data. You need a structure, you need a framework, and it’s best if you decide on these things in advance.
Let’s get into some specifics
Let’s go with the best example to start with. This is a type of marketing data structure you need to set up first. If you define it first, it is going to give you the biggest bang for your buck. In fact, even if this is the only data that you track and use to personalize campaigns, you will still beat most SaaS marketers out there.
I’m talking about tracking the customer journey stages. Now if you’ve studied the customer journey, you might have heard of the classical stages such as in the AIDA model. But when it comes to your SaaS, you will need to adjust this to your exact needs.
You will need to figure out what are the stages that a lead goes through in order to become a paying user of your SaaS service. Now, let me give you my preferred “data structure” for keeping track of the SaaS customer journey.
Personally, I’m not a fan of a linear model that tries to cram every journey into a single 5 or 6 step model. This is because in a SaaS your leads can jump between stages and it is not always linear. So I came up with a three-dimensional model that is a lot more useful.
In the first dimension you will track data about their status as a user. Are they just an email list subscriber, or do they have a registered account on your service? And then finally, are they an active user, or did they just register a username and don’t even use it?
In the second dimension you will track whether they are a paying member or not. If you do a trial-system instead of a freemium, you would track that in this field.
The third dimension is to track the plan for those who are on a paid plan. It simply holds the value that describes said plan. You might store the name of the plan, or a plan ID number.
So, in practice, you would have three custom data fields
One field in which you’ll store the following possible values: Subscriber; Registered User; Active User
The second field can have values like: Free User* or Paid User
In third field you can track values such as: Free Tier; Starter Plan; Pro Plan; Enterprise Plan
*- If your SaaS model is based on offering a free trial instead of a free tier, just have “Trial User” instead of “Free User.
These three fields right there are the 80-20 when it comes to marketing data structures
You can go wild and define hundreds of possible tags and things to keep track of during your marketing adventures… However, let me warn you, it’s easy to overdo it.
This isn’t to say that you shouldn’t evolve past merely tracking the customer stage. What I am saying is that if you did nothing else except track these 3 values, you will be able to come up with some amazingly smart campaigns that beat most SaaS out there.
If your model also does a good job of tracking other data points and using them to personalize the experience further, that’s great. But you can quickly get in the territory of rapidly diminishing returns. Especially if you don’t know what you’re doing and just randomly add more and more data points to track and use just for the sake of it.
Additional data points and utilizing them is is something that you want to add over time
It is best do so in a cautious manner. Only after you get used to making a lot of great campaigns relying mostly on tracking the customer stage. Or more specifically personalizing things based on the 3 specific dimensions that I recommend.
To learn more about this concept and how you can expand things over time, see our super popular guide on SaaS lifecycle marketing.
Now, to be honest, when I work with people one-on-one, I do recommend even more custom and personalized data structures.
For example, I might notice something very unique about their SaaS and recommend that they also create some tags or custom fields to track some other data. In their case it might make a big difference in the ability to produce highly profitable campaigns.
However, that is when I talk to people one-on-one and get to know the specifics of their SaaS. This is an article and I am talking to everyone, so I have to give safe recommendations that will work all of the time for everyone.
If you want to get an experience of what it is like getting special one-on-one attention tailored to your specific needs, consider requesting a free demo while I’m available for those.
4) Understand the role of both broadcasting and automating your campaigns
What I find often in SaaS circles is that they really go for the automated emailing side of things. They love to create all sorts of fun and interesting automations based on custom events, link them to incoming and outgoing webhooks, and tackle different scenarios.
Unfortunately, many of them completely ignore the email broadcasting side of things, as if email automation replaces broadcast email. Here’s a hint: it doesn’t. The two serve different purposes and when done correctly they complement each other.
I think a major problem is that a lot of people have an outdated version of what a broadcast is. They think it is about sending the exact same message to everyone, all at the same time.
However, we have evolved much further than that. With the data that you defined in the previous step, you can build super-smart segments that let you treat different people very differently.
Yes, everyone will be informed about your big feature launch, special discount or promotion… But they don’t all have to get the email at the same time. In fact, modern broadcasting strategy involves ramping things up and sending to different segments at a different time. In addition, you can and should send different content to the different segments.
And here’s another secret, most big profits come from broadcasting one-off campaigns and special promotions. Furthermore, if that wasn’t enough, smart broadcasts gather data that you can use to improve your automations as well.
To learn more about all of this, check out our guest article on Mailcon: Automation vs. Bulk? How to Reach the Pinnacle of Email Marketing Using Both. It is a good idea to understand this before you go too far into the fun and cool automation features we are about to discuss next.
This is the fun part, and most SaaS marketers try to skip straight to this step. And if you’ve applied the first four steps in this guide, you will have much a better experience and results than most SaaS marketers.
When it comes to implementing smart-campaigns, I’m about to share my biggest secret with you. This comes from coaching hundreds of marketers into becoming more profitable with their email campaigns.
The number one issue that I see is that most marketers try to implement everything all at once and get overwhelmed. The advice is simple, you need to implement things in a progressive manner, focusing on your ROI.
Or put in another way, the 80-20 rule is your friend when you choose what to implement, and in what in order.
The absolute first step
The truth is that there are a lot of things you can do to make your campaigns smarter. At the basic level, you would simply have a different welcome sequence based on how a person signed up for the list. Did they give their email address in exchange for a lead magnet, did they sign up for the free trial, or did they register for a paid account straight away.
This is easy to implement, and it will already give you great results. This is even if you just implement a basic sequence of emails and don’t get any fancier than that. The only difference is that you send a different welcome sequence based on how they sign up for your list. Doesn’t sound too fancy yet, but it is smart, and a great foundation.
Setting the foundations for a SaaS
If you want to start treating people differently based on their user status in the product, this is where your developers come into play.
Simply ask your developers to hook into the Emercury API. Whenever a person signs up for an account, have a check if the person exists in Emercury. If they do, change their status to “registered user” and the payment level to free or paid. And if they registered for a paid plan, change that field in Emercury to the name of the plan.
Tracking “active status” requires some of the fancier features we’ll discuss next. However, if we are talking about the absolute foundations, you need to at least track if they are just a subscriber or actually registered as a user on your service.
This alone will already allow you to produce some quite smart automation and broadcast campaigns. For example, in your automated sequences, you can start introducing if/else conditions where people get a different version of an email based on whether they are still just a subscriber, or have upgraded to an actual user.
You can also treat them differently if they change their plan, for example if they go from a free trial to one of the paid plans. This allows you to have much smarter automated campaigns.
And the same is true for broadcasting. You can broadcast out different promotional campaigns based on their stage in the journey.
Just build some segments based on their status, that is if they are a free user or a paid user. Then choose the right segment when you target your promotional campaigns. For example if you create campaigns that seek to convert free users towards a paid plan.
And if you want to do campaigns that promote people upgrading from one tier to the next, then create segments based off of their plan. With that you can target campaigns that seek to get people to (for example) upgrade from a starter plan to a pro plan.
Get into the more advanced features
We have a lot more advanced features today that let you get really fancy. You can get to a level of hyper-personalization where no two subscribers have the same experience. This is the ultimate ideal in personalization.
And the best part of all of this is that as a SaaS you have developers at hand who can implement these things in minutes. This is a kind of a privilege as most marketers dream of being able to leverage this level of hyper-personalization, but since it requires some developer skills to utilize fully, it is not as easy for them. You however have everything at hand.
6) Get Results and Iterate
Implementation isn’t a one-time thing, and in fact, it is part of a two-step process. First you implement an idea, then you study the results, and then you implement an improved version. This is actually the number one secret to building smarter and more profitable SaaS Marketing campaigns. Every other step is merely a prerequisite.
Now back to iteration, if we are talking about your automated campaigns, this is straightforward. You can just go into the journey builder and reconfigure your scenario based on what you learn from your results.
This might involve making slight tweaks to the scenario, splitting it into multiple scenarios, or even a complete “rewrite” where you build a new scenario that works very differently, but tries to achieve the same goal.
When it comes to broadcasts, you will generally study your results, learn from the experience, and then do one of two things (or both). You might decide to rework your segments, or you might decide to create your next broadcasts differently based on the lessons you have learned here.
Note that if your lists are big enough, you can iterate mid-campaign. That is, you don’t have to send your broadcast to the entire list first, and apply lessons in the future.
You might decide to only send your broadcast to one segment, for example the most engaged people in your list. Study the results, and then tweak slightly for the next segment. But again, this depends if your list is large enough.
Don’t be afraid to consult us for more tips like this and how to pull this staggered approach. If you are on one of the plans that include this, we would love to work with you on this.
7) Saas marketing takes work, don’t be afraid to ask for help
Look, we work hard to produce the best learning materials that we can. So if you really insist on doing it all on your own, you can. Our educational guides will be here for you.
However, as hard as we try, we just can’t give you the best possible advice in this blog format. We’re talking to everyone at once, so we have to generalize. Your SaaS is unique and you need more specific advice, and this is only possible if we talk to you one-on-one.
As of late, we have been working very hard to make Emercury a great choice for SaaS owners, managers and CMOs. Imagine if you had a business partner that was almost obsessed with your success. A person who is constantly making sure that your SaaS can scale as fast as possible with the help of email.
Imagine further that this partner would be super-responsive to all of your needs. A business partner that tweaked and implemented features as they became necessary for your business. And what if this business partner knew exactly what you need to do in terms of email strategy and showed you exactly how to do it and was always there to help?
That’s what the Emercury experience is like for any SaaS that chooses to try this. Isn’t it about time you partnered with an email marketing expert that understands and cares about your needs as a SaaS?
Fortunately, you can get a great sense for this SaaS-centric experience by simply booking a free demo. Our team can’t wait to show you around and share some tips and strategies with you.
Alternatively, consider getting a generous forever-free account while we still have those.