Email marketing remains one of the most effective channels for customer acquisition and retention for software as a service (SaaS) companies.
Leveraging a repeat revenue model, SaaS businesses almost literally live and die based on their ability to convert free users to paying customers to super fans, reducing churn as they go.
What part does email marketing have to play in this? Well, email offers a direct line of communication. From that initial welcome email to thoughtful drip campaigns, you can gently guide prospects through each stage of the buyer's journey. So don't just send an email - nurture every prospect into a loyal, long-term customer.
The Rise of AI for SaaS Email Marketing
As we are all aware, artificial intelligence is poised to play an increasingly vital role in email marketing in the coming years.
What will the impact be of AI on writing emails, sales conversations, and future campaigns? At first glance, it's obvious that AI will become a go-to for smarter content creation and data analysis.
Ahead of the curve, HubSpot recently launched its very own AI assistant, called ChatSpot. This AI tool is similar to ChatGPT, and can analyse CRM data in seconds.
With this tool, marketers can ask ChatSpot to provide insights of all kinds, asking questions such as “Who are the 10 most engaged contacts who have recently clicked on marketing emails?”.
This kind of AI-enabled analysis makes for infinitely more targeted and effective email campaigns, and can give you a serious competitive edge.
Gone are the days where a simple CRM will do the job. We're now at the dawn of the "Smart CRM" where AI can help take customer relationship management to the next level.
Example of Chatspot.ai reporting prompts
With AI capabilities for generating content and extracting actionable insights from data, SaaS email marketers will be able to improve campaign performance and extract more value whichever Smart CRM platform they use.
What Makes Email Marketing for SaaS So Different?
Many SaaS companies wrongly assume that traditional marketing methods will work just as well for promoting their SaaS product or service. However (and as you well know!) the nature of SaaS is fundamentally different from traditional software.
Recurring revenue, flexible pricing tiers, and low-to-no implementation costs change the buyer's journey. Their touchpoints differ, their needs change, and savvy communicators know that they'll need to get more creative with their sales and marketing software.
When it comes to maximising every single email marketing campaign, your business needs a platform that not only meets customers' needs, but keeps you ahead of the curve.
Email Marketing for SaaS: The Inbox is Sacred!
Did you know that 89% of all B2B emails have the company name as the email sender, rather than a human being? We are all inundated by emails, almost every moment of every day. At AutomateNow, we believe that your prospect's inbox is a sacred space - not a dumping ground for product updates or transactional email messages.
Given how important it is for companies to properly nurture their prospects, it should be easy to see where a lot of SaaS email marketing campaigns fail!
Your reps decide to send out a quick blast to your email list in the hopes of driving some revenue - sending the same message to everyone and treating every single prospective buyer in the same way.
Despite their best efforts, those reps have probably caused some serious leaks in your marketing funnel. Yikes.
The key is not to see your prospects as a transactional list of email addresses. Instead, you have to focus on the person at the other end of each email. Think of it this way: every interaction is a personal conversation.
You wouldn't show up to someone's house, shout at them constantly about how great you are for weeks on end, and expect them to buy from you, would you?
Instead, start listening. Get to know your prospects' pain points and goals. Talk to them like you would a colleague or a boss, with relevant, thoughtful content. Tailor what you do to where they are in their journey. This human-to-human approach is crucial for email marketing success.
That being said, we also know that competition is fierce, time is tight, and your sales team has targets to meet. This is why you need marketing tools that blend personalisation seamlessly with email automation.
Researching and Mapping Your Buyer's SaaS Sales Journey
The first step in effective SaaS email marketing is researching your audience's personas and mapping their typical buyer's journey. Where are their pain points? What content do they need at each stage? How are you uniquely placed to help? Understanding all of these things is fundamental to running successful SaaS email marketing campaigns.
Why? Well, this understanding allows you to meet subscribers where they are with relevant messages. For example, someone who just signed up for a free trial may need onboarding materials to get started, whereas a two-week free trial user coming to the end of their trial plan period might need a gentle nudge to upgrade.
Buyer Journey touchpoints example.
How HubSpot Helps You Optimise The Sales Journey
Nuance like this is where a platform like HubSpot is essential. Its purpose is not to replace the sales journey, but to optimise it so you can scale your success without compromising your integrity (or that of your customer relationships).
HubSpot empowers SaaS companies to take that personalised approach and scale it with specific email marketing software and market-leading tools that are directly integrated into your CRM.
Offering everything from a single email sequence to full-blown campaign analysis (more on that later!) you can map subscribers' journeys, identify sale-ready behavioural signals, and use that insight to deliver targeted marketing automation and an awesome customer experience.
HubSpot makes it easy to spot and thoughtfully respond to customer behaviours and preferences. The platform automatically tracks key email marketing metrics, and engagement signals like trial sign-ups, logins, and feature usage.
You can leverage this data to build detailed journey maps and develop appropriate content for each stage - meeting your prospects where they are.
Example of Marketing Automation in HubSpot when prospect visited pricing page.
The Key Tools You Need for Smarter SaaS Email Campaigns
We both know you’re here because you want to nail email marketing for your SaaS business. To do that at scale, however, you’ll need some smart tools to make sure your email content is intelligent, effective, and customer-focused so you meet your marketing goals.
Sequences and Workflows
HubSpot has two great tools for nurturing your prospects at scale. These are called sequences and workflows. On the surface, they can look fairly similar, but they're two distinct tools and have key differences relating to different stages of the marketing funnel.
What's a workflow?
A workflow is a series of automated processes that move contacts through a set of predefined steps based on the actions they take. These actions can be things like opening an email, submitting a form, or subscribing to a newsletter.
Think of this as an email that goes out in a one-to-many relationship, and usually goes from an info@ email address. You can use smart content to help build out the content of the email, too. So if you’re sending out an invite to an event, you can nurture paying customers by including a paragraph with a free/complimentary ticket that only they can see. Neat, huh?
Workflows automate repetitive tasks and communication with your contacts, and they can be sent to multiple contacts at a time.
And what's a sequence?
Unlike a workflow, which is more conditional and complex, sequences are like an automated drip campaign that's made up of a series of predefined emails, that are sent in a set order.
Depending on your HubSpot license, your sequence can be triggered by a workflow, but even if you don’t have a license that has every function, your sales or marketing team can still trigger a sequence manually.
Contacts can only go through one sequence at a time, and they're more linear and straightforward than a workflow.
What’s brilliant about sequences is their ability to streamline personalised emails and follow ups for your leads. Simply choose a list of leads you’d like to engage with and choose an email template to send from your personal email.
But rather than hitting “send all”, sequences make it super easy to personalise each email, so you can ask about your prospect’s recent conference, their upcoming holiday, and more! As we’ve discussed, that personal touch is the key difference between a positive sales relationship, or making someone feel like they’re just a number in your head.
Oh - and if a prospect replies at any point in a workflow or a sequence, then these tools automatically stop their flow, and let your sales rep take over.
Marketing metrics available in HubSpot Sequence to invite for HubSpot Demo with AutomateNow
Custom Behaviour Tracking
This handy-dandy tool helps you to track customer behaviours. It measures:
What a prospect clicked on
When they clicked on something
When they logged in
What they've downloaded
This stops your email content from just being content, and transforms it into a lens that helps you understand what a prospect is really intrigued by – making your follow-ups more specific and specialised.
Strategies for Successful SaaS Email Marketing Sequences and Behaviour Tracking
There are so many email marketing tactics when it comes to nurturing leads, so let's explore a more detailed example that shows how you can use the tools above from a SaaS sales perspective.
Picture this: your prospect signs up for a free trial. Your email automation tool (in our case, HubSpot) then triggers a series of emails that provide onboarding, training materials, and tips for getting the most value out of the product.
As the trial progresses, you can track the prospect's engagement: understanding which features they've used to gauge their interest. As we’ve seen, HubSpot can even measure things like log-ins to your software, to see if the user has engaged with the product.
If they haven't, you'll be alerted, so your sales rep can pick up the phone and find out what the obstacle to adoption might be.
Then, when the trial comes toward its end, you can shift your messaging to offer a time-bound discount, or share testimonials or super-successful case studies - basically, any content that conveys the benefits of upgrading to a paid plan.
By using dynamic content, you can also customise emails based on the prospect's specific behaviours. If a customer clicked somewhere specific in a previous email, you could reference that in a future message.
There are so many strategies you can use. For example, if they click through to pricing pages, include a discount offer. If they used certain advanced features, include a case study showcasing how that feature drives ROI. Every interaction is an opportunity to show your customers how much you care when it comes to email marketing.
To nurture prospects on this personal level at scale, it's essential to use the right email marketing software. This level of combined personalisation and automation simply isn't possible without a platform like HubSpot. We love to think about it this way. When email marketing is planned out in a smart way, you’ve created a 24/7, always-on digital sales agent, who can educate and nurture your prospects.
So how do you do this? Begin by setting up email workflows triggered by specific prospect behaviours that nurture them down a desired path. When they engage with an email, the automated sequence pauses so your sales reps can continue the conversation. Your digital sales agent nurtures your prospect until your sales team is ready to pick up the conversation.
Nurturing SaaS Prospects by Tracking Customer Behaviours
Understanding the touchpoints a prospect encounters becomes a blueprint for your marketing activities.
From sending an onboarding email to creating a sequence of personalised messages that will be sent after someone downloads a specific eBook - you can create an automated campaign that is genuinely personal.
Once you've mapped the different user journeys and identified behavioural signals, you can use these insights to create a much more effective email marketing strategy.
You'll be constantly nurturing free trial users into paid customers or "warming up" cooler leads - especially important for SaaS businesses, as we've seen.
Lead Scoring Systems for SaaS Sales Success
Of course, it's not enough to track behaviours - you need to make sure you're actually engaging with the right people, too.
Any successful email marketing strategy hinges on the email copy being read by the right person! It's no good tracking the behaviours alone - what if someone's VA is checking their emails for them?
This is where a lead scoring system comes in. HubSpot uses lead scoring to determine an individual prospect's sales readiness based on their actions.
Now, we know that sounds a little bit like Big Brother is Watching You - but it actually enables you to spot when someone is ready to buy, just by measuring the language in their email - words like "we" instead of "I" could mean your contact has got senior or budget holder buy-in.
Best of all, understanding customer behaviour at this level with HubSpot prevents you from doing things that could negatively affect the sale: from sending sales outreach to unqualified leads or neglecting qualified leads.
Defining Sales Readiness, and Turning Warm Leads Hot
Let's build on tracking those customer behaviours. As top SaaS marketing specialists know: not all leads are created equal. With finite sales resources, you need to identify which leads are most sales-ready so reps focus their time effectively.
Again, lead scoring comes into play here. The specific criteria will vary by your product (and what you offer!), but may include actions like someone:
- Downloading a pricing sheet or eBook
- Clicking on a demo request link
- Viewing a certain number of product pages
- Referencing pain points in contact form submissions
By tracking these signals, you can also set lead scores that indicate when a prospect is ready for a sales call. Better yet, HubSpot’s contact record also has a related timeline, so you can see at a glance when your prospect is most engaged, and send them emails at 4pm on a Friday that will actually catch their attention, for example!
But if your lead isn’t ready to buy, then personalised nurturing can still take place via smart email - providing relevant content to educate prospects until they hit that threshold. You can also leverage language cues to gauge readiness. If a prospect suddenly switches from using "I" to "we" pronouns in email responses, that could indicate they're getting buy-in from decision-makers. Terms like "budget" and "proposal" also signal sales readiness.
HubSpot also allows you to set up goals for each workflow, tracking engagement with your automated emails. You can define the actions you’d like someone to take, such as downloading an eBook. filling in a form, or visiting a certain page.
When you leverage data like this, combined with that personal care and automating your emails, you can have those essential 1:1 conversations at scale.
Campaigns - HubSpot's Smart Way to Measure Email Marketing for SaaS
So you’ve set up your sequences and workflows around the prospect’s sales journey, you’ve personalised your automated email copy, you’re tracking behaviours and keeping an eye on a lead’s readiness score. Great job!
But with all of that going on, even in an integrated platform, it can be tricky to measure ROI and manage all your metrics at a glance as your marketing team will well know.
HubSpot Campaign General Metrics
When you're time-poor, need to report on your email marketing quickly, or figure out the more widespread effectiveness of your digital marketing efforts, you need a tool that's designed to do exactly that.
If that sounds handy, may we introduce you to HubSpot's Campaigns Tool? This tool is heaven-sent and, in our view, captures the very essence of marketing.
How much revenue did your content marketing create? Are people moving from a free plan to a paid product? How many click-throughs, individual email opens, or downloads did you achieve? Are customers actually using the product?
Let's say you have a campaign promoting an interactive eBook that teaches your prospects how to use your awesome software to make remote video production simple and straightforward.
The campaign to get people to download and engage with the eBook includes everything from emails, to landing pages, social posts, ads, and more. How do you measure the impact of every element of your campaign? Well, with HubSpot's campaign tool, you can see things like:
- These track traffic to your campaign pages and assets, showing how many prospects visited the landing page to download the eBook.
- New Contacts
- This metric measures new leads generated from the campaign, attributed to the activity that directed them to your website for the first time.
- Influenced Contacts
- This handy metric measured new contacts who engage with assets like your emails or social posts - those who were "influenced" by your campaign.
- For gated assets, this shows closed-won revenue from influenced contacts who became paying customers, but might not be directly attributed to your campaign.
- Attributed Revenue
- This measures revenue that can be directly credited to your campaign activity.
With these campaign metrics, you can quantify engagement, leads, and ROI for your interactive eBook, measuring the success of your SaaS email marketing efforts with a unified view of overall performance.
Make second-guessing the impact of your strategies for your SaaS email marketing list a thing of the past.
HubSpot Campaign Metrics vs Marketing Assets
The HubSpot Advantage for Smarter SaaS Product Marketing
With its unified CRM and marketing platform, HubSpot gives companies an unparalleled ability to track prospect behaviours, build customer journey maps, align omnichannel marketing efforts, and leverage insights. HubSpot has several email marketing tools to help your sales reps nurture, engage, and genuinely connect with potential buyers as you grow your SaaS client base.
Email as a channel will only be effective if you connect the dots across your prospect’s sales journey, and manage your interactions accordingly - from first touch to free trial to customer retention.
As we’ve explored, automated workflows engage prospects at exactly the right time with relevant, personalised content, while your awesome sales reps build relationships with high-value leads.
If you’re looking for scalable growth powered by repeat revenue, HubSpot not only provides the infrastructure to turn email from a static communication tool into an intelligent system that engages your sales potential buyers in a human, genuine way.
If you're ready to transform the way you use email to acquire, retain, and delight your customers, let’s talk! Book a demo with us today to see how HubSpot can improve your email marketing. A smarter, automated, human-to-human approach is ready and waiting for you.