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How We Use Email Marketing to Onboard, Convert, and Retain Customers

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Forget the naysayers, email marketing was ranked as the best channel in terms of return on investment, with 68% of companies rating the channel as ‘good’ or ‘excellent’.” – Graham Charlton, Econsultancy

At Piktochart, emails are without a doubt one of the most preferred communication medium we use to connect with users. When communicating about latest updates or valuable content that people might find useful, emails can reach users’ inbox directly. In this regard, it is markedly more reliable than social media, for example. Email marketing is really about talking to your customers and communicating interesting stories, valuable lessons, and relevant content to them.

Why email marketing?

It’s been debated for more than half a decade already, whether email marketing is dead or not. Hubspot claims that email marketing doesn’t work the same way anymore, but can still reign supreme through “reflecting user behavior and the customer’s journey to your product or service”.

One thing that hasn’t changed throughout the years of digital marketing is that email marketing still empowers marketers to reach specific target audiences directly. Being able to tailor valuable content towards your direct audiences generate highly effective outreach that stands out in the inbox and converts leads into customers, especially after segmentation.

The way Piktochart approaches email marketing can be broken down and analyzed in three major components:

  1. Onboarding
  2. Conversion
  3. Retention

Onboarding New Users

Where should I start? What should I pick? How should I begin?

These are some of the questions that might cross a user’s mind when they first step into Piktochart, akin to what you might have in mind when using any other app for the first time.

When users sign up to Piktochart, they enter the infographic world with tons of templates at their disposal. Picking a template on Piktochart might be easy, but picking the right one is a significantly taller order for most people. This is actually vital to determine your infographic’s success, but many wouldn’t know that.

In comes our effort to onboard users and guide them throughout their journey with emails and in-app messages, also known as email drips. We utilize Intercom as our main platform to do this, where we can segment customers based on their activities.

An In-app message that greets first-time users helps their journey a lot

The ultimate purpose here is to educate users as they explore the editor. This helps reduce the likelihood of someone churning due to usability confusion or lack of guidance. We set up a mix of emails and in-app messages for targeted users at various points in their user journey to tailor content and help for them. These stages include:

There’s a certain science behind how we interact with our users at each point of their journey. Our UX researchers, who spend time talking to customers frequently, found out they typically seem to want to just try out the app without distractions (read: no message popups). Then again, they don’t always know what to do and can end up churning or exiting.

Once we manage to pinpoint the specific moments where people subconsciously require help, we schedule the relevant criteria for when the in-app messages or emails should reach them. Help and content will be relevant and valuable, while at the same time less spammy and more appreciated.

Converting non-users to free users, and free users to paid users

For conversions, we split focus into two segments:

  • Converting non-users to free users through blog newsletters, and
  • Converting current free users to paid users through valued content, dubbed the PiktoTips email series

Blog Newsletters

A screenshot of one of Piktochart's blog newsletters

Piktochart’s blog subscribers receive weekly newsletters sharing the past week’s most valuable content. This subscription is open for all, and can be easily subscribed through clicking on the top right button in the header of any blogpost.

MailChimp is used here instead of Intercom as the unique blog subscriber list contains both existing users and non-users who are leads.

Both our email newsletters revolves around the concept of inbound marketing and the methodology of providing valuable content and positioning oneself as a thought leader. This helps us in building credibility and to be perceived as an expert in the field, which would (hopefully) lead to more conversions.

Now, we don’t include all new users into this specific blog newsletter list. Piktochart’s blog subscribership is purely opt-in, so it usually includes people that are not signed up with a Piktochart account. These are leads that can come to learn and love your product in the future. The focus of weekly newsletters revolves around encouraging return visits from our readers and building emotional connections over time to encourage signups.

The PiktoTips Email Campaign

What does ‘PiktoTips’ mean? You guessed it: Piktochart Tips! PiktoTips are sent out to our user base and comprise of more content that is tailored about Piktochart and infographics.

Our PiktoTips campaign is only slightly different from our weekly newsletters, but it has the advantage of a defined target audience – existing users. By tailoring and repurposing existing blog content to this audience, we are able to further guide them along their Piktochart journey.

In the infographic above, Week 1 depicts the first week the user enters after the onboarding email drip is completed. They’ll start receiving steady, valuable streams of content that will slowly build up from basic tips and tricks to more in-depth content such as marketing and startup usage, social sharing practices and so on.

How this helps convert free users to pro users is that as long as they are retained, these guides can assist them in becoming more and more successful with infographics. Once again, that’s what inbound email marketing is all about – relevant, applicable content and improvement tips that make a user emotionally attached to their favorite tool. You’ll become the first on their evoked mindset!

Retention through Delight

Rewind 8 seconds and you were probably reading the “…convert free users to pro users is that as long as they are retained…” sentence. That’s right, PiktoTips email offering weekly content and building trust is also a method of encouraging loyalty and attachment! Imagine yourself receiving weekly content relevant and useful to yourself from your favorite brand because they care. Making users happy isn’t too hard if you act in sincerity, are good at listening to their problems and reach them with content that helps.

The compulsory step before being able to delight your users would be to listen to them. It would be the same for developers working on a new feature, or for the customer support team looking to solve customer issues. Listening to your users’ actual problems enables you to identify which solutions can help them, which in turn, delights them and increases your retention rate.

For email marketing at Piktochart, caring and listening to users is a daily effort. With up to at least a hundred thousand emails and in-app messages in combination sent out daily, users can reply to them at any point of time. Everyday, our marketing team spends a fraction of their time combing through those replies, and these range from basic help needed to product feedback, payment issues or even partnership requests. As we receive replies, we can also direct it to our customer support team, or approach the dev team for a clear fix or clarification to the respective issue. Everyone in the team takes part in delighting customers!

Of course, communication with users should be a two-way thing. While we listen to them (and encourage them to talk to us frequently), we also talk to them through emails. The following is one of our favorite emails that delights loyal users:

Piktochart's email to users when they have logged in more than 150 times

This email gets sent to users who have logged in 150 times to create their infographics, and it’s an acknowledgement of their milestone. It makes a difference when you care about your customers, as it shows that you’re not all about making profit off them, but actually appreciating their support. The email also encourages and reminds them that the Piktochart team is always within reach, and reinforces the relationship between the brand and the user.

Delight your customers by being a sincere listener, effective problem solver, and last but not least, encourage and support them.

At Piktochart, we believe emails shouldn’t be used to sell. Take advantage of emails as the privileged medium of direct communication with your customers and connect, help, and delight them along their journey. They’ll appreciate it.

How do you approach your email marketing? Let us know if we helped, or if you have your own sound advice to offer our team instead!

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