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How timeshel used behavioral messaging to cut their churn rate in half

Photo-printing app timeshel knows how important relationships are. After all, their service is rooted in the joy of savoring memories and celebrating stories through printed photographs. That’s why their marketing approach is much bigger than just adding new users. They recognize the true value of a customer is not just acquisition, but retention. As co-founder Sean Pfitzenmaier notes, “Ultimately, what matters to us is the lifetime value of the customer.” And triggered behavioral messaging is the cornerstone of driving that loyalty. gives timeshel the tools to do the deep segmentation and event-based messaging that lead to long-term customer retention.

You give value, you get value

Being helpful is the guiding principle behind timeshel’s messaging. So they make sure their communications respond to exactly what a customer has done and needs to do next. “Being a subscription service,” says Sean, “means there are certain actions we need the users to perform on a monthly basis. Encouraging them and holding their hands through each step winds up being beneficial for the customers and for us.”

“From the moment someone starts an account, we want to give them the little push they need to do the next thing”

That need to be helpful and personal made an ideal choice for timeshel’s messaging. “From the moment someone starts an account, we want to give them the little push they need to do the next thing,” says Sean. lets timeshel send the right message at the right time, tied to specific behavioral triggers. “We keep adding more events and attributes to personalize the user experience,” Sean notes, and makes it easy.

A friendly, relevant, timely reminder that the user needs to finish setting up their story

Going beyond the old email model

That behavioral power is something timeshel couldn’t find with a simple ESP. “Other email platforms are pretty limited from a behavioral perspective,” notes Sean, and that limitation made it hard for timeshel to make their messages helpful. “But it’s clear that was built with behavioral messaging in mind from the start,” he says, which means lots of options for segmentation and customer attribute data. So their mandate to send useful messages is easy to execute by tying messaging to user actions.

And timeshel relies on multiple messaging methods to reach people when it counts.’s partnership with Urban Airship makes using both email and push notifications—triggered by customer behavior—seamless. “We were so excited when you released your Urban Airship integration,” says Sean. “That was a game-changer for us.”

Well-timed push notifications allow customers to avoid a lapse in print delivery

“Other email platforms are pretty limited from a behavioral perspective, but it’s clear that was built with behavioral messaging in mind from the start.”

Driving strategy with key analytics

“At the beginning of the month, we do a analysis,” says Sean, and they use the metrics to understand how their messages are resonating. One key insight had to do with their monthly email reminding users to upload photos to print. They noticed that the email always had tremendously high engagement and spurred a lot of activity—and they realized the message was an embodiment of their “always be helpful” messaging ethos. “We discovered that people relied on this message to get value from our service,” says Sean. “It wasn’t like a promotional email—it was more like a useful feature of our app.” When they realized how important this message was to maintaining engagement, they knew it would be even more successful—and helpful to customers—to send it through push notifications as well.

timeshel also used as a vehicle for gathering customer input on their product strategy. They knew that feedback from their power users would be vital in developing a new photo album offering, so they used data to identify and reach out to users whose voices they wanted to help shape the new product.

As Sean notes, “Analyzing our campaigns gives me a lot of insights about our customers and our business.” And those insights, combined with timeshel’s commitment to meaningful messages, help create customer relationships that last. Building those long-term relationships is the force behind timeshel’s ongoing growth.