Whilst email marketing for SaaS has the potential to be highly efficient, delivering campaigns to your prospects and results back to your business more rapidly than traditional offline marketing, it is often done ineffectively but SaaS businesses. This impacts campaign performance and ultimately undermines the value that the marketing budget returns to your business.
Email marketing offers the chance to hit your prospects where it matters most – right in the business Inbox. Importantly it is easy to determine the value of email marketing because its effectiveness is readily measured.
This guide focuses on the best practice ‘what’, ‘why’ and ‘how’ of lead generation B2B email marketing for SaaS companies. Here we offer advice to help successfully implement strategies and make email marketing more effective and efficient by showing how to:
Email marketing generates sales leads by measuring the responses of email recipients. Understanding who has interacted with the email and how much interaction has taken place establishes the relative interest of each recipient in the subject line and content of the email.
Anyone that interacts may be termed a lead. The most basic interaction level, an ‘Opener’ is the coolest lead. The more a recipient interacts with a campaign, (the number of ‘Clicks’) the greater the interest and the hotter the lead.
It is the measurement and analysis provided by marketing systems that enables marketers to assess the success and determine the value of email marketing activity.
SaaS email marketing software enable marketers to manage email campaigns to many thousands of recipients in a few mouse clicks. Such systems have the ability to collect information on interactions with a campaign.
The primary statistics identify who has:
Recipients that click links may trigger actions such as direct download of information or visits to web pages where there may be a number of further elements with which to interact via clicking or entering information. Marketing systems may measure all of these interactions as well.
The key form of offline direct marketing activity for comparison here is Direct Mail, or DM. The cost base of DM is generally composed of creative costs (design and copywriting) and production costs (artwork, paper and printing). There may also be storage and transport considerations as well as stationery (envelopes), delivery (bulk mail or postage) and marketing personnel salaries. Specialist fulfilment houses offer services that may simplify and reduce the costs through economy of scale.
The costs of email marketing usually consist of creative, software – the marketing system – and marketing personnel costs. Once again external agencies offer email marketing fulfilment services. Both DM and email marketing require a data list. This may be a bought list, a list compiled from customer/contact data activity or a combination.
For both the costs of creative should be the same; however the cost calculation shifts significantly once we consider the consumable elements. Email marketing has no directly comparable consumable costs. Email marketing systems use templates to provide graphics and branding, and once created, a template can be used time and again.
Many email marketing systems are online products and have no purchase cost. There may be a monthly subscription for some. However the most straightforwardly priced ones base monthly charges on the volume of email that is sent or size of database. There may be costs for template production or training, but these are one-off or as required rather than recurring.
With monthly costs for some systems of between £50 and £200 for 10,000 emails, it is extremely cost effective to get your message out with email marketing when compared with DM. However it is not in cost alone that email offers benefits.
Besides reducing the operational costs of marketing activity, as a consequence of its feedback mechanism that measures and analyses opens and clicks, email marketing delivers priceless value-adds that enable your marketing function to return greater value to the business.
The philosophy behind SaaS B2B lead generation email marketing is to offer recipients information that is of value as a means to winning trust and establishing thought leadership. Typical information types are white papers, business or market guides and links to videos. If people show an interest in information given by you they are more likely to be receptive to other opportunities to interact, such as a phone call. What makes this technique particularly appealing is its unobtrusive nature and ability to cultivate better open and click through rates over time. Experience shows that this approach is more successful than other types of email marketing; this is the method considered in this guide.
To make any broadcast more effective it is advisable to decide on and collect data for one or more segments of your market; segments can be divided up according to company size, location, employee numbers, job title or any other requirements that your company may have.
Although your company may already have compiled data lists (the names of people to be targeted in marketing campaigns), it may be that your current data records are out of date, of uncertain provenance or irrelevant. Or it may be that you want to generate more leads. In any of these cases it is necessary for you to buy a new data list of potential customers in your target market.
Email marketing software is a tool for managing campaign design and delivery, tracking responses (open and click metrics) and analysis. Crucially, at this stage it is very important to establish the features and benefits that best meet the needs of your business.
Now that you’ve established your email marketing platform it’s time to create your campaigns. This involves creating effective subject lines and email copy.
It is vital to understand the importance of your subject line. This is the first piece of information that grabs the recipient’s attention. It’s make or break; any subject line that does not deliver the spark of interest that compels the recipient to open the message is inviting the campaign to underperform.
Now you have a great subject line you need copy in the email body to match. To make your copy effective try to tick off the recommendations on this list:
|Warning: Email marketing is not right for every recipient|
|For some recipients on a mailing list unsolicited emails can be a bit like Marmite – they’ll either love it or hate it. Many people enjoy receiving and reading information sent to them; some though may construe it as spam. Others, however, may be indifferent.
If readers perceive your email to be spam this not only results in email not being read but may also potentially promote a negative view of your company.
The pros and cons of email marketing should be weighed up. Although some people may have negative reactions to email marketing communications, on the other hand it can provide you with the leads you need. Many businesses adopt the approach that ‘it can’t please all of the people all of the time.’
Email marketing systems record the actions of each recipient in response to emails. The base statistical data reported by email marketing systems is:
For a single campaign, the number of Clicks determines the level of interest of each recipient. Over time, the responses gained from regular, well planned and conceived broadcast activity allows behaviour to be analysed with respect to:
One critical B2B SaaS email marketing best practice is testing. Testing lets you compare the performance of variables. Undertaken in conjunction with testing, aggregation and analysis across the entire data reveals how to best design and structure the content of email communications.
All marketing systems vary in their reporting capabilities. Be certain that you understand what can be delivered from ones that you shortlist. Examples of the sort of intelligence reporting can deliver include:
|How you ensure your email gets through spam filters|
|Resist the temptation to make offers in your subject lines.
Avoid words like ‘free’, ‘win’, ‘cheap’, ‘cost’ and ‘sales’ as these will hit spam filters, bypassing your prospects’ Inboxes completely.
Pre-test campaign emails to see if they get picked up by spam filters, get blocked by ISPs or put on anti-spam ‘blacklists’ that are recorded against your domain.
Although your business may have gathered its own list of contacts and email addresses (data) it might be worthwhile obtaining additional data to expand it. Of course prospects must be relevant to your offers and services. Working closely with a data house you can specify precise criteria for your data.
Obtaining data segmented by factors such as industry, location, job title, turnover and the number of employees, not only helps your selection and targeting of recipients, but it also allows you to send different emails to different segments of your data.
An example data profile might look like this:
There are some key things to remember when purchasing data. Collectively, these define data quality.
Always ensure that any data list you use has been derived legally and ethically and is fit for the purpose for which you intend to use it.
Most reputable data houses will have these covered. However be sure of what you are buying. The last points in particular are especially important. There needs to be an explicit discussion with the data house about when the data was last verified. If it is out of date, the list broker may no longer have permission to use the data, or it may be irrelevant to the campaign.
FACT: Poor data quality impacts campaign and lead generation results.
Be wary if data houses do not offer refunds for proportions of emails sent to ‘dead’ or non-existent email addresses. (These are the ‘Undelivered’ reported by marketing systems.) Generally speaking, data lists that record undeliverable email rates in excess of 20% can be taken to be of not the best quality.
The typical cost of a data record is 20p – 30p a record; it is best to avoid anything less, as this could indicate poor quality.
|Warning: GDPR in the EU|
|In 2018 the GDPR regulations in the EU changed email marketing. GDPR doesn’t apply to email marketing to recipients outside of the EU (although they may have their own rules). You will need to seek your own legal advise to decide if email marketing is legitimate when emailing in the EU.|
Most email marketing software offers similar features. Standardised capabilities include being web-based with the ability to load and manage the broadcast of an email in HTML and plain text. But what other things should you consider?
Does the free trial show it works for my business?
B2B email marketing may be a great way to drive lead generation; however it does not have to stand in isolation. The email channel is highly flexible as it is also effective when integrated with other marketing techniques.
The time savings achieved when integrating email marketing and telemarketing are highlighted in the graph below. Rather than cold calling everyone on your list of targeted prospects, you only call recipients that are warmed through engaging and interacting with your email marketing campaign; this should result in better response rates when you warm call them.
When to call
Follow up with the telemarketing phase of your campaign within 2 – 48 hours of the email broadcast
What to say
Establish who you are…
Continue with “We emailed you recently and I noticed you…
This may naturally lead into a conversation
Or after getting their opinion move onto traditional prospecting questions like
As prospects should be more receptive to a phone call and more likely to talk, you are more likely to move that prospect onto the next step of the sales process.
Despite the exceptional advantages of email marketing, DM is not dead. An interesting integrated approach is to combine email marketing with direct mail and telemarketing; send letters one week, email them the next week and call them as a further follow up. If this does not appeal, how about following up an email campaign with DM instead?
The email used in the email marketing campaign can have a call to action that refers recipients to a landing page on your website. A good tactic here is to provide access to free information in exchange for more details that enrich you data list and CRM database.
Working through this article should equip you with the knowledge that you need to get up to speed with best practice for B2B SaaS email marketing. Xander Marketing helps SaaS businesses that do not possess in-house marketing expertise to fully exploit the benefits of email marketing.
We consistently outperform average industry open and click through rates, making Xander Marketing a great choice for businesses that value marketing but don’t have the time, resource or know-how to do it themselves.
When it comes to marketing, SaaS has its own set of rules!
Get leading edge insights into marketing your SaaS business by downloading our free white paper.
Find out more and get started with a free one hour consultation.