The Pirate’s Map to Valuable Lifecycle Emails
Getting caught in the trap of thinking about your email campaign to-do’s in a scatter? Gain direction with a map of a comprehensive customer lifecycle — one like Dave McClure’s 5-part pirate metrics model of Acquisition, Activation, Retention, Referral, and Revenue (AARRR!). Then, treat email as part of your broader user experience — triggered by behavior and informed by lifecycle stage — to make customers happier and more successful in your product over the long-term. Here are 5 specific email campaigns for each stage of the pirate metrics framework:
- Acquisition: People become aware of you and give you their email address to become users or subscribers.
✉ Email Campaign: forking newsletter drip
- Activation: People experience the aha! moment(s) necessary to grasp your value and hook them.
✉ Email Campaign: account activity notification
- Retention: Users keep coming back.
✉ Email Campaign: inactivity email
- Referral: Happy users and customers refer friends to try the product.
✉ Email Campaign: referral progress email
- Revenue: People become paid customers, upgrade to larger plans, and give you their moneys.
✉ Email Campaign: personal new feature update
1. Acquisition Is Easier With FamiliarityA regular newsletter is one of the best ways for people to get to know you. The rhythm of newsletter emails trigger the familiarity principle, which states that the more people are exposed to something, the more they tend to prefer it (like that new song you hated the first time you heard it but now find yourself humming after a few more listens). That doesn’t mean you can just churn out a generic email once a week. These emails are extensions of your business, which means that like any good product, they should provide value to people and express who you are as a brand. So the trick is harnessing the effect of familiarity and exposure with regularly-delivered relevant information. Customize your newsletters or product welcome emails from the start to create positive familiarity and increase your reader’s inclinations to give your product a try.
When you sign up for the newsletter from Kissmetrics, which offers marketing analytics for SaaS companies, you get to choose your own adventure with an “email forking” campaign that tailors subsequent emails.
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2. Activate Users With Helpful UpdatesBetween the time of sign up and aha! moments, email updates can provide vital evidence of your product’s value. New users aren’t in the habit of using your app or service yet, and that means their relationship with you is still tenuous. Any friction point, including forgetting about you, could end it. Appeal to a users’ self-efficacy, or belief in their own ability to perform tasks and reach their goals. If people are convinced that they can meet their goals by spending more time with your product, they’ll keep making progress towards activation and beyond. Account activity notifications, for example, appeal to self-efficacy in two ways. First, even when people aren’t using your app, emails can remind them how your service is working for them. Second, if they haven’t completed important steps in the process, the email can show users that it’s easy to set up certain features or tasks to reach their goals.
How Linkedin uses account activity to inspire usersLike any social product, LinkedIn, the professional network, runs on user content. In their case, they’d like you to build detailed profiles. When you have a substantive profile, you can increase interest, connections, and the likelihood of finding jobs and other professional opportunities. With an empty or sparse profile, you’re probably missing out on key benefits. Value or no value — most people simply won’t fill out their profiles upon signing up, because there’s so much work involved in doing so. That’s why LinkedIn reminds users of that value every so often with a notification email when their profile gets viewed.
3. Retain More Users By Triggering Loss AversionIt’s not a good sign when people stop using your app or service, but don’t quit on them so quickly either. While it might be counterintuitive to call attention to a cancellation, there’s an interesting psychological phenomenon called loss aversion where people find it more painful to lose something than to gain something. Two keys to note here: for loss aversion to kick in, people need to have felt a sense of ownership first and the loss tends to be felt around benefits, rather than attributes. If you can reach out and remind people of the benefits they’re letting go of, summoning that initial motivation of why they tried and enjoyed your product in the first place — you can inspire them to come back. If you’re tracking your user cohorts to see when people stop using your product, you can figure out how long you have before they drop out altogether. Send people showing signs of inactivity an email before that moment to remind them what they’re missing — instead of saying that you miss them.
How Grammarly Targets Churned Users to Win Them BackGrammarly is a free browser extension that provides accurate grammar and spell checking online. But if people turn off their extension, it’s not going to be long before they forget about it or uninstall it and churn out completely. So when Grammarly notices that the extension has been deactivated, they trigger an email.
4. Spur Referrals By AskingWord of mouth is one of the most persuasive marketing means out there. Yet it’s often the case that we forget to actually ask people for referrals. Your referral program could simply consist of well-timed, targeted emails with your request, tapping directly into the intrinsic motivation happy customers feel to help spread the word and help their friends. Or maybe there’s an incentive, depending on the nature of your business or product. You might be familiar with Dropbox’s famously successful refer-a-friend program, which increased signups by 60%. They offered the referrer and referee extra storage space, framing the incentives and call-to-actions around their core value — a triple-win for all parties. While it may feel like a tightrope walk to get the tone and pitch of referral emails to feel right and not spammy, the goals are straightforward: ask nicely, at an opportune time, and clear the path for the referral to happen. If something is easy to do, it’s more likely to be done.
How Mention inspires people to refer at the right timeMention, the social monitoring tool, takes an interesting approach to referral emails. Like Dropbox, they offer an incentive around their core value — the number of mentions that you can access. What’s smart about their approach is their timing. Mention triggers an email when you’re about to exceed the mention quota allotted to your plan as well as right after you’ve exceeded it.
5. Grow Revenue With Relevant Email UpdatesTo grow a business, there’s the cold fact of having to turn users into paying customers and get paying customers to upgrade. You might have identified and created features that your customers will love so much they’ll upgrade, but people aren’t necessarily spending time looking at your pricing page or paying attention to in-app feature announcements. That’s why every new feature you release should be accompanied by personalized new feature updates that target the specific customers who have expressed interest in that feature. Getting a personalized email with a clear path to upgrading will remind users you paid attention to their request and want to improve their experience with your product.
How StatusPage Used Email To Upgrade Existing UsersStatusPage, the server status communication platform, approached their feature roadmap with their revenue stage in perspective, designing a process that culminates in a perfectly timed, personal email campaign. Their engineering team didn’t just build random features and pray that customers liked them. They began by keeping close track of what customers actually wanted. For every major request, they recorded the number of people who expressed interest in it, the price tier the feature would live in, and the additional MRR expected from implementation. When enough users requested a feature that aligned with their business goals, the team prioritized building the feature and made it happen. Then, when the feature rolled out, StatusPage sent personalized emails to the customers who’d made the request.