Conversion is not just about what you do in-app, but also what you do in email. Email can make a huge impact on your ability to convert trial users into full-fledged customers.

For even the best SaaS, conversion hovers around 2%. For most others, it’s around 1.20%.

Image Courtesy of Cobloom

Out of every 1,000 visitors, only around 12 to 20 people will become retained customers. Come on, we can do better than that. How? Through email marketing.

Email marketing gives you the flexibility and freedom to reach out to your users and help them understand the value of your product. Educate them, nurture them, rock them to sleep if you have to, and convert them– all from the inbox.

Let’s take a look at key email marketing strategies you should implement in your SaaS.

Here’s a list of best practices for using email marketing to convert trial users to customers.

Send Out a Welcome Email Immediately

The welcome email is pretty obvious, but very few SaaS companies optimize their welcome email to its fullest potential.

When you send your welcome email, new users are super pumped. This is likely the most engaged and open most of your users will ever be. Don’t squander this opportunity to get them addicted to your product.

Ideally, you want the user to open your email and then get right back into using your app. The best way to do this is by including a quick “getting started” guide in your email. Take them on a mini-tour of your app, and help them get familiar with everything you offer. Don’t get bogged down in the details. Just introduce them and help them feel comfortable with the basics.

A lot of users abandon ship because they get confused and don’t know what to do next. Start your users off on the right foot with this beginner-friendly guide.

Also, on your welcome email, find out something about your user. You’ll use this information to establish a more targeted email communication with them. If you cater to different types of users, ask them to self-identify. For example, create one beginner-friendly guide each for solopreneurs, agencies, small businesses. Then, on your welcome email, ask the user to click on the guide that best defines them.

If you don’t want to use customer personas, you can also use customer goals as your method of segmentation. So, instead of asking what type of user they are, you can ask them what they want to do with your app. This, too, effectively enrolls the user into a specific course.

And just like that, you know who the user is and you can segment accordingly. Plus, you’ll provide a more customized experience for the user, which is always appreciated.

Enroll Them in a Short Email Course

Now that you know something about the user, you can enroll them in a short, customized email course that teaches them how to use your app like a power user.

It’s astonishing how many SaaS just send one welcome email and then completely disappear into the abyss. You’re never going to convert users into customers like that. They’re not familiar with your product, and you’ve got to show them the ropes. Set them up for success, make it part of their daily routine, and then conversion will come easier.

During the trial period, send out an email course that:

  • Explains how to use your product
  • Shows them the value of your product
  • Gently and frequently nudges them back to use your product

I recommend sending one email lesson at least once every few days that cover the entire length of your trial. Stay top of mind by sending frequently.

It’s also a good idea to send emails during key periods of vulnerability. Look at your metrics. When do activity levels for trial users taper off? Send an email to combat churn.

As I mentioned above, you should tailor your email course to your users’ needs.

Gamify Your Trial

In addition to teaching people how to use your product, make it fun for them, too. Do that through gamification. Give the user a special, new reward for learning or progressing through the trial.

In order to do this, you need to go into each trial with a game plan. Set a goal for each user (as we talked about above) and then set mini-goals along the way. Once the user completes these goals, they earn a special badge that you’ll send via email. Encourage your users to share their accomplishments on social media and it can act as a referral tool, too.

Gamifying your trial makes the user feel like they’re working towards something. People are motivated by an end goal. Think of ways that you can add moments of special recognition inside of your app. It can be fun and rewarding for your users.

Persuade Them to Upgrade Early

The early days of your app (especially the first three days) are critical for conversion. Users who actively use your product for the first three days are four times more likely to convert into customers.

You can use this time to persuade users to upgrade to customers. If they’re already finding use for your product, then it can’t hurt to ask them to upgrade.

Consider sweetening the deal by offering a discount for users who upgrade early.

Send a Case Study

As part of your email marketing efforts during the trial period, be sure to include a case study. It’s best to choose a study that aligns with the user’s needs. Show them how similar customers found success using your product.

Be sure to create multiple case studies for each customer persona that will be using your product. Then, you can easily automate this email to send towards the end of the trial.

Have a Plan in Place for Cart Abandonment

Let’s say you’ve succeeded and gotten the user to click over to your site after your call to action plea– but then they get there and decide, Nope. What do you do next?

You send them an email, of course. This time, reminding them of their abandoned item. Not everyone abandons carts out of sticker shock. Some abandon carts because your site crashed, their computer crashed, or they got distracted. And then there’s the savvy few who do it because they’re expecting a discount in return.

Perhaps giving them a discount isn’t that bad. 90% is better than 0%.

Interview Exit Users

Some users are going to churn, no matter what. You may not be able to convert them, but you can learn from them.

If you’ve sent offers but failed to convert, send a personal email asking why and for ways that you can improve your service for the future. Don’t expect people to lay out an essay. Instead, ask specific questions like:

  • What made you stop using our app?
  • What’s one way we can improve our app?
  • Is there anything we could have done to stop you from leaving?
  • Was our app easy to use?
  • How much would you pay for our service?
  • What can we do differently?

Not everyone will answer, but the ones who do will provide valuable insight that will help you improve your conversion rates moving forward.

A/B Split Test

Always test your emails to see what’s resonating with your users. Just by tweaking a few words or elements, you can dramatically improve your conversion rate.

Here are a few things to test:

  • Subject line
  • Call to action
  • Offer
  • Body of the email
  • Sender name

Additional Resources

Check out these additional posts for related information:

Don’t forget to download this list of best practices when using email marketing to convert trial users to customers.

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