Do you know Lincoln Murphy? If no, then we can safely assume that you are *not* heading a SaaS Business and you may as well skip the rest of this article and do something more useful!
Lincoln’s recent mail titled “You don’t know me. Can I get 30 mins?” triggered me to write this post. However, somewhere during July 2014, we started thinking about the poor use of “Welcome Emails” that are sent by almost all SaaS companies, our workflow automation software company KiSSFLOW included. We got around to doing an A/B testing only recently and throttled few days of our sign ups for the test. Here is what we found out:
|Email Type||# of Email||# of Replies||% Conv.|
|Alternative to Welcome Email||560||131||23.39%|
Yes you read it right! That is roughly 10X jump in our email conversations! It is *not* open rate, or even click rate! It is actual conversation- valid prospects replying back.
Here is what we did:
1) We asked ourselves: Do our prospects need a welcome email?
Yes, this is a scary one- we questioned the very purpose of sending out a welcome email; a typical example of the famous angry monkey experiment. ‘Welcome Emails’ have been sent for so long and by pretty much everyone, and yet no one thought or questioned about why they should be sending it out in the first place.
In the SaaS world, as a prospective SMB customer, I sign up and play with the product. I don’t look into my inbox for a welcome email. In most cases, your prospects either understand your product or they don’t. If they don’t, you have pretty much lost them right there. Though sad, this is the reality! An email titled “Welcome …..” is not going to move that needle. Hence we decided to ditch the welcome email altogether and use the precious opportunity for something better.
2) The Subject Line
In the case of our product KiSSFLOW, which is a workflow / business process management software, often our prospects get workflow and task management mixed up. We end up qualifying if KiSSFLOW is the right software for the problem they have. This is just not a problem for us, the service providers, but a problem for our potential customers who are evaluating the software too. So, figuring this out early has a lot of value for the prospects as she/he can decide if they need to spend time on evaluating the software. The problem is genuine and the only intention is to help the customer make the right decision; so it is all fair play and no place for cheesy opening lines!
Hence, our subject line went like this:
KiSSFLOW is *not* for everyone!
Since subject lines contribute heavily towards high open rates of emails, this led to the improvement in conversation rate.
3) Email Body
I will first share with you what the email content was and then explain the nuances of it.
Thanks for signing up!
Lots of software say they can do anything and everything for you. We are *not* one of them. KiSSFLOW is not a jack of all trades. We have mastered one thing really well: *workflows*.
Now, do you have a workflow problem or a task management problem or both ?! Tough, right!? That’s exactly why I am writing to you. Within 5 minutes I can assess if KiSSFLOW is best fit for the problem you have, saving you lots of time on evaluation. I value time and wish neither of us waste it.
I will call you in the next 30 minutes or do you want to do this over email?
Here are the nuances:
- We consciously chose not to use a third party email tool. Our customer success team sent a ‘text only’ email every 30 mins using our Google Apps account. Why? Because most of our customers are Google Apps Customers and I am sure most of your sign ups too happen through Gmail. Most SaaS providers automate their welcome emails through mailchimp or other such tools. Gmail has an automatic inbox classification mechanism that puts these mails delivered through popular 3rd party programs into the ‘Update’ folder, which means it skips the “Primary” inbox. If the prospect is not even seeing the mail, then where is the question of opening, reading, or replying?
- You might be thinking on how we track open rates. We simply don’t! Because it is nothing but a vanity metric. Only ‘replies’ matter to us and that is the only thing we track and we don’t need 3rd party software for that. Remember K.I.S.S (Keep it simple stupid)?
- We avoided HTML, and used ‘pure text’ email, simply to score high deliverability into the primary inbox. If it were HTML, we could have used features like BOLD to highlight a word. But we really did not miss that. If we did seriously want to bring attention to a phrase We simply used ‘*’ after and before the word. e.g. *not*. That worked out pretty well!