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Making emails better: the MixPanel for email

YOU are missing the sweet spot

Nearly all businesses are missing the sweet spot.

Making email better

On the left and right you will see the two most common sorts of emails businesses send to their customers:

The sweet spot is the elusive zone between an all-out, one-to-many promotional campaign and your standard ‘I forgot my password’ event-based email. Using event-based emails for marketing puts you in the sweet spot and drives both conversions of new customers and retention of old ones. Just as importantly, emails in the sweet spot improve your customers’ experience.

Fact: the average open rate for direct marketing emails is around 20% whilst the average open rates for event-based (transactional) emails is around 50%. This means your message is at least 100% more likely to be read if delivered via an event-based email. That’s a big difference.

Everything your users do or don’t do can be used to personalise your messages to them. Their actions provide the opportunity to reach out and deliver the right message at the right time. Event-based emails bridge the gap between these opportunities and better metrics.

Your goal is to keep your customers engaged and satisfied so that you can keep their business and grow your own. By respecting their inbox and tailoring your messages you stand to increase your open rates, your click-throughs and your actual conversions. Email marketing is one of the most powerful weapons in your arsenal. Don’t forget it.

Examples in the wild

There are companies out there that do a good job of event-based email marketing. No small coincidence, you’ll find that these startups are doing extremely well: they have loyal users and fantastic growth. Examples include Dropbox, Buffer, Amazon and HelloFax.

A quick example from Buffer. Whenever you run out of tweets that have been queued, you will receive an email that looks like this:

Buffer Email Marketing Example

Simple and effective. Unlike a forgotten password email I didn’t explicitly trigger this message, instead my inaction did (i.e. not posting more tweets). As a user this email is genuinely useful and reminds me I need to get back to promoting my business. For Buffer it’s a spectacularly simple way to increase user engagement and retention. Win-win.

Another quick example, this time from HelloFax. Two to three days after signing up to HelloFax you’ll get something that looks like this:

Making email better hellofax




This example is softer than the first but still has a real impact. It’s time delayed and addresses you in a personal manner. It’s obviously triggered automatically but it’s so colloquial and friendly that, as a customer, you do wonder if Joseph is typing these out by hand. I’m sure that this email sees large number of responses with feature requests or cries for help. It’s another simple way to use transactional emails to increase customer satisfaction and build a better product.

Three practical steps to get started with event-based emails

  1. Identify key points in your funnel, generally where you see users leaving. Hopefully you’ve already got KISSMetrics or MixPanel installed to get this sorted. Ensure you know which users are at which step. Examples of key events include ‘viewing cart’ and ‘completing checkout’ or ‘signing up for a free trial’ and ‘logging in’.
  2. Use these events individually, or together, to send targeted emails. Using the example above, you could send an email the day after a user views their cart but does not complete checkout.
  3. Start monitoring your email and conversion statistics. Are the emails you setup in step two getting the results you expected? If not, try to analyse why, adjust your emails and work toward increasing your statistics.

Here’s some basic examples of event-based emails you can relate to:

  • When a user abandons the activation process, ask them why.
  • When a user doesn’t sign in after joining your free trial, offer them help.
  • When a user hasn’t used a popular feature, suggest it to them.
  • When a user nears a threshold, remind them of the benefits of your software.

Building out a solid, event-driven email plan is an important step to growing and retaining your business. Every improvement you make with event-based emails results in a permanent increase in your conversion and retention metrics. Permanent!

Gaining permanent improvements is hard. Keeping customers happy is even harder. Event-driven emails are here to help you to do both. By communicating effectively with your customers you’ll be in the best position to drive your product development and growth and ensure you’re building something your customers love: something that will keep them coming back.

Want to send more personalized mobile and email messages to your users?

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