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The Last Guide to SaaS Email Marketing You Need

SaaS email marketing is the most complex form of email marketing out there. The main reasons for this include:

  • The need for precise customer data and segmentation for sending behavior-based emails (emails based on the activity or inactivity of the user)
  • The unique data format of each SaaS app. While eCommerce sites use common platforms like Shopify and WooCommerce, SaaS tools are custom-built and have their unique data schema and setup. 
  • The need to set up emails across the whole customer lifecycle – from lead generation to customer acquisition, onboarding, and retention. 
  • The need to implement various transactional emails.

In other words, while a blogger could simply send un-targeted email blasts using an all-purpose email marketing provider like Mailchimp, a SaaS business needs to employ marketers, developers, and product owners to prepare a data plan, code app actions, and implement a specialized marketing automation or email marketing tool built for SaaS

Since 2018 we have worked with hundreds of SaaS companies, big and small, to help them create their email marketing campaigns. In this guide, we aim to help you navigate this complex process and provide a step-by-step walkthrough of how we would approach it. 

Here are the steps we’ll explore:

SaaS Email Marketing Steps

  1. Plan
  2. Collect user data
  3. Create segments
  4. Set up emails and flows

Let’s jump right in!

Step 1: Plan, plan, plan

Setting up your SaaS email marketing requires a lot of preparation and planning. The more you plan, the easier the process will be. Of course, the popular mantra “done is better than perfect” also stands true here, so you don’t want to overdo the planning and put the real action on the backburner forever. As a rule of thumb, we recommend planning your email marketing strategy for a ~week. 

Ask yourself these questions:

What stage of the customer lifecycle do we want to start with? The answer to this will depend on the current metrics of your funnel. You want to start with where the biggest drop-off is. For example, if you attract enough leads as trials but fail to convert them, you’d want to start with emails that help you with trial conversion, like onboarding emails.

What data do we need – What user actions and user fields/data fields are required in order to implement our emails? For onboarding emails, this would be any user actions trial users take during the trial, as well as any signup user data.

How does email marketing fit into our business model –  Do you run a free trial, a freemium, or an enterprise tool? This will have a huge impact on the emails you set up.

Who is going to implement the data? You need to free up development time for this project. Between 2 and 5 days should be enough.

Who is going to write the copy of the emails? Do you have a copywriter on the team? Prepare 1-2 weeks for this. 

Who is going to implement the emails into the email marketing platform? You need a relatively tech-savvy marketing person to implement the platform. Prepare 2-3 weeks for this. 

Step 2: User data

Once you choose the lifecycle stage, you want to focus on the data. 

User properties

Obviously, their name, email, and company are a good start. 

For lead nurturing, you might want to collect information about what lead magnets they have downloaded, what pages they have visited, and their email preferences. For instance, at Encharge, we track what lead magnets people download and put them in the appropriate lead nurturing sequence. 

For onboarding, you want to ensure you have all the signup data, such as any demographic and firmographic data submitted during the registration. 

The more user properties you collect, the more personalized your emails will be. Tools such as Encharge support advanced email merge tags and personalization features that allow you to send targeted emails based on user properties.

With liquid tags, you can even show different email sections to different customer segments.

For example:

App events

Event is the technical term for any actions your users perform on your website and inside your product. Like User Signed Up, Task Created, Project Updated, etc.


You need app events flowing to your email provider in order to send behavior emails. Tools like Encharge specialize in event data and behavior emails.

These events take more than installing a javascript snipped in your site header in order for them to work. A developer must implement them (usually on the back-end) and connect them to the email marketing/marketing automation tool. 

Make sure to read to check out our free video guide on behavior emails for a full-step walkthrough on selecting and creating events.

Before the developers code these events, a non-technical person (the marketer or product owner in your team) needs to define them.

Think about the critical actions you need to track in order to send the right events at the right time. For example, you’d want to track a “User Signed Up” event to send an onboarding email when a person signs up. 

Encharge has a powerful Event Management feature that allows you to organize and manage all events in your app, even before the events are coded. 

Your CRM data

Depending on whether you run a high-touch sales SaaS, a self-serve product-led tool, or a hybrid of the two, you might need to sync your sales data into your marketing automation tool. 

Information such as the CRM lifecycle stage of the lead, lead status, or any details about the person collected by salespeople in the CRM should be synced to your email marketing tool.

Encharge has two-way sync integrations with HubSpot and Salesforce that can help you achieve this.

With the CRM sync, you can automate sales and marketing processes and send emails based on sales activity. For instance, you can send an automated email when a person books a call with you.

Your billing provider’s data

SaaS platforms are subscription-based businesses. Having your billing provider data at hand is crucial in order to segregate customers from free users, free users from trial users, and so on. Encharge is the only tool on the market that offers two-way sync integrations with billing providers like Stripe and Chargebee

Once you sync your billing provider, the billing data will automatically flow to your Encharge account, and you can use this information to segment users and automate billing actions. You can also start automations (flows) with Stripe actions:

A flow in Encharge using Stripe triggers.

Step 3: Create segments

Segmentation is critical for the success of your SaaS email marketing. It allows you to send personalized messages, but not only that – it allows you to send the right messages. In SaaS, this means that people will receive their onboarding, trial expiration, reminder, and other emails on time and with the right information. 

In our own Encharge account, we have a ton of segments for different people across the various stages of the lifecycle. You can create segments of leads, users, customers, etc. 

Example segments could be:

  • Visited pricing page 3 times this month
  • Downloaded lead magnet “eBook report 2024”
  • Signed up in the last 7 days
  • Opened “Black Friday offer”
  • “Invited team member” and has logged at least 3 times
  • Has booked a call in the CRM and is part of a company with more than 20 people

Segments are built with the data you collected in the previous step. Encharge has one of the most powerful segmentation capabilities for SaaS tools on the market. For instance, you can segment based on app events, up-to-date CRM data, and billing data from payment providers like Stripe and Chargebee. You can learn more about the segment conditions we support.

The best part is that you can easily use segments to send emails and start automation flows in Encharge.

A flow in Encharge using Entered Segment trigger.

Step 4: Set up your emails and flows

With your data flowing to your email marketing tool and with your segments created, it’s time to create your emails and your automation flows.

You need an email marketing tool or a marketing automation platform that supports user events and behavior emails. Encharge is the only SaaS-focused marketing automation platform on the market that supports user events, advanced user segmentation, and can also sync with your billing provider and CRM. Other platforms that work well for SaaS tools are Customer.io and Intercom. 

Here are some campaigns you can send based on the customer lifecycle stage:

  • Lead capture campaign – turn new website visitors into leads by providing valuable lead magnets.
  • Onboarding campaign – send onboarding campaigns to new users.
  • Trial expiration campaigns – remind trial users about their trial expiration date.
  • Renewal emails – for existing customers
  • One-time broadcasts – one-off for all people in your email list audience. 
  • Transactional emails – system emails sent after a specific user action such as password reset, new order, etc.

Let’s review each type of campaign and show examples.

Lead nurturing campaigns

Lead nurturing is the process of providing value and building relationships with your potential customers. It is a top-of-the-funnel marketing strategy. People opt-in usually through a form on your website — either to download a lead magnet or get in touch with you. In response, you put them into a series of lead nurturing emails (a sequence) with the ultimate goal of helping the user solve their biggest problem(s) and demonstrate how your tool aligns with this goal.

Here is an example lead nurturing flow you can set up in Encharge:

You want to send at least 2-3 lead nurturing email with free value before pitching your product. These emails could be helpful tips, guides, free reports, case studies, or other interesting material. 

Once some rapport is built and you have provided value, you can go with a close email. This email by Headspace is a great example of providing value and also showing a clear CTA:

Lead nurturing emails basics

Opt-in: through a lead magnet or contact us form
Type of email: marketing
Target: leads and potential customers
Goal: nurture and/or qualify leads into users and customers

Onboarding campaigns

Onboarding emails are sent after a user signs up for your product. Their goal is to help the user experience value in your tool by educating and guiding them. 

There are various types of onboarding emails you can implement, like the welcome email, app usage email, reward email, and more. 

Check out our comprehensive guide on onboarding emails for SaaS companies.

Example onboarding email

Onboarding emails basics

Opt-in: through app sign-up
Type of email: marketing or transactional
Target: trial users and free users
Goal: guide them in the app and help them experience value as fast as possible

Trial expiration email

You want to send a trial expiration email (or a series of them) to inform your trial users that their free trial period is about to expire or has already expired. 

This email is an opportunity to convert more trial users to paying customers and demonstrate the value they have experienced during the trial period.

Trial expiration emails basics

Opt-in: through app sign-up
Type of email: marketing or transactional
Target: expiring trial users
Goal: nudge trial users to convert and prevent un-predicted interruptions in the app service

Renewal emails

Renewal emails sent to paying subscribers towards the end of their subscription period, making them an important 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. 

Renewal emails basics

Opt-in: through app sign-up
Type of email: transactional
Target: existing customers/paying subscribers
Goal: inform users of upcoming subscription charges. Upsell.

Broadcasts

Broadcasts or newsletters are one-time emails with news, product updates, or important announcements. You can send these emails to your whole email audience but we recommend that you segment them based on specific interests and craft personalized newsletters for each.

Broadcast basics

Opt-in: through lead magnet signups, app registration, and others
Type of email: marketing 
Target: depends on the goal of the newsletter
Goal: Inform email contacts and stay top of mind

Transactional emails

Transactional emails are critical system emails sent to users in response to a specific action or event. For example, password reset, order confirmations, new team member invites, etc.

Transactional emails basics

Opt-in: through lead magnet signups, app registration, and others
Type of email: transactional – unsubscribe is not required or recommended 
Target: user that has performed a specific action
Goal: Inform the user about something important or request follow-up action

Get the ball rolling

SaaS email marketing is tough but not impossible if you have the right strategy in mind. At Encharge we have helped hundreds of new SaaS businesses set up their email marketing campaigns and convert more users into customers. Do not hesitate to get in touch with us and book a free strategy call with our customer success team!

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Meet your new marketing automation platform

Customer messaging tools don’t automate workflows outside your product and marketing automation tools are bad at behavior emails. Encharge is the best of both worlds — a marketing automation platform built specifically for B2B SaaS businesses

“Encharge helped us visually redesign our onboarding flow resulting in a 10% increase in our trial activation rate."

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Camille Richon
Founder Payfacile
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Landbot automates the onboarding for 80,000+ users while saving 320 hours/month
Confect transitioned to Product-Led Growth and increased user engagement by 28%
Samdock reduced the cost and time spent on acquiring a new customer by 77% with Encharge
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