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Cracking the Recurring Code: Crafting Effective SaaS Renewal Emails for Subscription Continuity

If we had a dollar for every time an inbox ping made our heart skip a beat, only to reveal it was a software subscription renewal notice… we’d all afford to retire young. But in all seriousness, these seemingly unassuming notifications are the unsung heroes of the SaaS retention rate. They’re like your favorite sitcom rerun – familiar, comforting, and you always know what’s coming next. With the right approach, you can turn this “inbox intruder” into a welcome digital guest!

In this post, we’ll discuss some best practices when crafting renewal emails for your products and show examples from successful SaaS businesses. But before that, let’s explain what exactly renewal emails are.

What are renewal emails 

Renewal emails are critical messages within the SaaS world. These transactional emails are typically sent to subscribers towards the end of their subscription period, making them a pivotal touchpoint in a customer’s lifecycle. They serve to remind customers about their upcoming subscription expiration and primarily aim to encourage them to renew or continue their service. 

Generally, there are three types of renewal emails based on the subscription and lifestage of the customer:

  • Trial expiration emails – This email alerts the user about the end of their subscription, nudging them to renew. In cases where the user provided credit card details during signing up for the trial, this email communicates that charges will be soon applied to their card as the trial period ends. The primary objective of this message is to boost the conversion rates from trial to paid subscriptions.
  • Reminder email for existing customers – this email informs existing customers that their subscription will renew soon. it helps prevent unexpected charges and unhappy customers.
  • Upgrade email – the goal of the upgrade email is to incentivize the user to upgrade to a higher tier plan or an annual subscription when their current subscription is about to expire. 

Understanding the importance of SaaS renewal emails

Implementing an effective renewal email strategy can help you in various ways.

  • Reaching out to those customers who haven’t yet renewed their subscriptions is an effective strategy for retrieving potential lost customers.
  • Emphasizing your SaaS product’s advantages and distinctive features within your renewal emails can effectively motivate your customers to take the renewal action.
  • Effective renewal emails can help increase customer retention rates.
  • Including social proof, such as testimonials or case studies, in renewal emails can build trust and credibility.
  • Renewal emails that entice users to upgrade can increase customer lifetime value.

Best practices for creating effective renewal emails

Craft a compelling subject line to increase open rate  

A subject line is the first interaction a customer will have with your renewal email. It serves as the “curtain raiser” to your message and hence must be carefully fashioned to allure your customers into opening the email 

As a starting point, make your subject line concise and actionable. It should mirror the urgency of the message inside.

Phrases like:

  • “Action Required”
  • “Renew Your Subscription”
  • “Last Chance to Renew”

will certainly get the attention.

A teaser that promises value, like “Unlock New Features with Your Upcoming Renewal”, can also be efficient. Always remember you aim to capture interest within seconds.

Often, customer-centric wordings like “Your Account”, “Your Subscription” work wonders as they give a personal touch. 

Another important tip is to personalize your subject line.  Renewal emails with personalized subject lines have a 22% higher open rate. Your goal should be to make the reader feel that the email is specifically crafted for them.  The information you’ve gathered during your relationship with the customer paves the way for a highly tailored subject line. Anything from the type of plan they’re currently on to the features they frequently use can serve as inspiration.  Use a marketing automation tool that supports custom objects to push your personalization even further.

Personalize your renewal email

Your personalization should go beyond the subject line. Personalized renewal emails have a 26% higher conversion rate compared to generic ones.  

Delve deeper into personalization by tailoring content based on their usage of your SaaS product. Here are some things you can use to personalize your email body copy:

  • The features they’ve used.
  • The date they used the features last.
  • Time they’ve saved using your product. 
  • Money or other resources they’ve saved.
  • Data and benefits they could lose if they cancel or fail to upgrade.
  • Other team members that have been using the product during the last paid period. 

Design an eye-catching email

Who said that transactional emails should be boring? Yes, it’s important to present critical information in a straightforward and easy-to-understand way. Still, you can always spice up your communication with a sprinkle of your brand and an image or two. This is a great example by the Museum of Modern Arts. They use a creative banner image and a few photos from the museum to entice people to upgrade.

Send multiple renewal emails

Sending renewal reminders three weeks before expiration can increase renewal rates by 20%.  Then, of course, you need to send another email 7 or 3 days before the expiration and another one on the day of the expiration.

We have discussed the effectiveness of follow-up emails more than once on this blog, and it still holds true when we talk about renewal emails. Your subscribers are busy, and reminding them twice or thrice about something important is a sure way to get their attention

Segment your audience for targeted renewal campaigns 

Segmenting your audience can be vital in making your renewal campaigns more effective. You can divide your audience into different groups based on various factors such as their usage patterns, subscription plans, user roles, industry and more. This way, you can send targeted renewal emails that speak to the specific needs, preferences, and behaviors of each group.  

Include a clear Call to Action

The main objective of a renewal email is to prompt your users to renew their subscription. So, having a clear call to action one cannot miss is crucial. Guide your customers to the next steps of the renewal process. Simplify the journey by providing a direct link or button that takes them straight to the renewal page. Ensure that the process from receiving the email to renewing their subscription is seamless and user-friendly to increase renewal rates. 

This example demonstrates a clear and easy-to-distinguish CTA:

Read more: 10 Tips To Boost The Effectiveness Of Your Call-To-Action

Common mistakes to avoid with your renewal emails

Here are some of the most common mistakes we’ve seen with renewal emails:

  • Sending the wrong email at the wrong time – you’d be surprised to know, but there are many SaaS businesses that get this wrong. For example, email an upgrade to someone who has already upgraded. It’s important to use a marketing automation platform like Encharge built for such scenarios, where you can easily end a flow for a person when they become a customer. Encharge integrates with payment providers like Stripe and Chargebee, making this super easy.  
  • Promoting in your transactional renewal email – You are not allowed to include any promotional or advertising messages in your transactional email. If you want to send a critically important renewal email you should keep it transactional and avoid promotions – that way users can not unsubscribe from such messages.
  • Making your renewal email unclear – renewal emails should be brief and straight to the point, explaining what will happen when the subscription is renewed or what action is required from the user.

Examples of renewal emails

Reminder or renewal expiration email

A common example of a renewal email is a reminder email. This type of email is sent a few weeks before the renewal date to gently remind the customer that their subscription is about to expire. The email may include a personalized message thanking the customer for their continued support and emphasizing the value they have gained from the SaaS product.

As we said, renewal emails don’t have to be boring and popular MMORPG game World of Warcraft proves it with this email: 

Another more conventional but still effective emails is employed by AI copy-generation platform Jasper:

Renewal confirmation email

Another example is the renewal confirmation email. This email is sent immediately after the customer has successfully renewed their subscription. It serves as a confirmation of the renewal and provides the customer with a receipt or invoice for their records. This email may also include a brief message expressing gratitude for the customer’s loyalty.

Utalitiarian and minimalistic this email from webpage builder software Squarespace gets the job done:

Incentivizing renewal email

In some cases, SaaS businesses may offer incentives or discounts to encourage customers to renew their subscriptions. An example of this is a renewal offer email. This email highlights any special promotions or discounts available to the customer if they renew their subscription before the expiration date. It can be an effective way to incentivize customers and increase renewal rates.

Document signing platform DocuSign offers 20% on their monthly and yearly plan upgrades:

How to set up renewal emails in Encharge

Below we’ll explore how to set up renewal emails with Encharge – the marketing automation platform built for SaaS platforms and subscription businesses.

Set up a trial expiration email

Step 1: Connect Encharge to your payment provider

Encharge integrates natively with StripeChargebeeChargifyRecurly, and Paddle. That’s right, all of the major payment providers for SaaS companies.

Once your billing provider is connected to Encharge, all of your billing data like MRR, plan ID, trial start date, and trial end date will automatically sync with Encharge enriching your user profiles with valuable information.

Step 2: Use the “Trial Ends” step in our Flow Builder.

Then, all you have to do is create a flow that is triggered with the “Trial Ends” step.

With the “Trial Ends” trigger step, you can send an email to your trial users When / Before or After their trial ends. The best part is that the step uses relative dates that change dynamically. This means that your trial expiration emails will always be sent at the right time — even when the user’s trial-end date changes.

We are adding the Check Field filter step between the Trial Ends and the Send Email step to ensure we filter out any people that have converted to customers during the trial period.

https://sendspark.com/embed/fgmzswez0tcq7m2qefydqh30tv33uwmq

We also have built a native Trial Ends step in Encharge that works with trial data directly from your product — in case you don’t use your payment provider for trials.

Screenshot 2020-11-23 at 11.41.27 AM.png

Step 3: Go grab a coffee

Indeed, that’s it. There’s no step 3.

Set up a renewal email before the subscription renewal date

In this scenario, we’ll explain how to set up an automated email to go out X days before the subscription date.

It’s important to note that for this scenario to work, you need to have the renewal date of the subscription of the user recorded in their profile as a person field.

If you use the Stripe Encharge integration, for example, this field will be automatically created and synced during the integration process. The field in Stripe (and the one you should look for in Encharge accordingly) is called “Billing period end”, a date field. Chargebee and other providers have similar fields.

With this field passed to Encharge, you can easily send a renewal email. All we need to do is use the Date Field Trigger. This will allow us to trigger a flow and send an email X days before or after the date in the field, as shown below:

With this trigger set up, all we need to do is connect it to a renewal email:

Set up a reminder email for past-due subscriptions

Let’s explore one last scenario. When a person fails to pay their subscription on time due to insufficient funding in their card or another payment issue, you want to remind them to refill their card in order to avoid unplanned subscription interruptions. With the Stripe “Subscription Past Due” trigger in Encharge, you can achieve this.

Set up a flow with this trigger and connect it to an email, similarly to how we did in the previous example. The email will go out when the payment fails for the first time.

Please keep in mind that some subscription billing services, such as Chargebee, offer similar past-due email features, so make sure they are not activated if you set up these emails in Encharge.

Conclusion 

SaaS renewal emails are a vital part of customer retention strategies. They not only remind your customers about the end of their contract but also reiterate the value of their subscription, convincing them of the need to renew. 

Deploying a mix of strategies, including creating compelling subject lines, sending multiple reminders, offering incentives, and segmenting your audience for more targeted campaigns, can significantly increase your renewal rates. 

But remember, it’s not just about getting the customer to click on the renewal button. Each renewal email is an opportunity for you to strengthen your relationship with the customer, provide value, and build trust. So ensure each email is personalized, visually engaging, and includes a clear call to action. 

Never underestimate the power of a well-crafted SaaS renewal email. It could mean the difference between customer retention and churn.

If you need help with your renewal emails do not hesitate to book a free strategy call with us.

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