I know. Email is dead. Everyone is Facebook messaging, texting, and tweeting instead. So why am I asking about email?
Because when it comes to products, email is far from dead. I’m not going to beat a dead horse. Lots of people have written about this. Instead, I’m going to focus on why building email outreach into your product is one of the most important things you can do as a product manager.
But first, let’s look at a few common objectives.
Myth: My target audience is young people. They don’t use email.
Incorrect. According to this Pew research report, 73% of teens and 96% of millennials use email. People of all ages still prefer email for corporate communications.
Myth: Spam has killed email.
Also, not true. Between better spam filters and better law enforcement, spam is decreasing.
Myth: My users will be annoyed by product emails.
Not likely. Most products send email. Amazon sent me 6 emails in the past 4 days. LinkedIn sent me 6 emails in the past 24 hours. Most were relevant to me. They added value. It turns out, we have a high tolerance for email, as long as it’s not spam. Even Facebook has to email its users to keep them coming back. Still not convinced? Read this article.
Ok, enough with that dead horse. Let’s get into why product emails are absolutely necessary.
Product Emails Remind People Your Service Exists
If you followed that last link, you saw that people wanted product emails. They didn’t want to miss good content. People are busy. They need to be reminded that your product exists. Sometimes I forget my friends exist and I love my friends. Do you really think I’m going to remember your web service that I tried for five minutes in between meetings?
Create Value By Putting The User First
Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m not suggesting that you spam your users. With spam, everybody loses. Instead, think about product emails as delivering little bits of magic. Make sure that every time you add to somebody’s inbox clutter, it’s worth it.
The only way to do this is to put the user first. Put yourself in their shoes. Why did they try your service? What do they use it for? How can you introduce product emails that make their lives easier?
Send Email At The Right Frequency
A lot of creating value with email involves sending email at the right time. Again, think about your email schedule from the standpoint of your user. Is the content timely? Will something bad happen if I don’t get it right away? Then send immediately.
Is it of interest, but not urgent, maybe summarize daily. Is it of interest, but not at all timely, maybe summarize weekly. There is no one right answer. But there is a wrong answer. Don’t send email just because you want to. Send email because it creates value for the recipient.
A couple of case studies.
Twice now, I’ve started at a new company and realized the biggest short-term win was to overhaul our product email strategy.
At the first company, we went from sending low-value emails like birthday reminders which were completely irrelevant to our audience to high-value emails like weekly summaries of personalized content. The change grew our email traffic fourfold and sustained the company through some tough times.
At the second company, we went from occasionally sending email to a fraction of our users to sending weekly emails to all of our users. We saw a 3x increase in monthly active users within 30 days of the change.
Product email really does matter. It can have a big impact on how you engage your users. Designing a smart email strategy is one of the easiest things you can do to see immediate gains.
What’s been your experience with product emails? Are you sending enough email to your users?
Susan Barrett Kelly says
This post was very helpful, Teresa. I’ve been kicking around an email strategy for some time for my practice. Have had this nagging thought that it might be annoying to users. But you are right, I don’t get annoyed with messages from places like LinkedIn. Think the key is in the quality of the content.
Teresa Torres says
Susan, I’m glad it helped. I’ll be writing some related posts in the coming weeks that follow up on this including designing a good email template, managing your contact list, etc. So look for more in the near future.
Vidyashankar Ramakrishnan says
Sender’s address and email relevance have equal importance………………
Christine Hansen says
I completely agree with the Teresa’s summary (nicely done!) At my last company, we found the same result in polling our customers – they *preferred* email communications, particularly for information which was time-sensitive like product operations considerations (it was a cloud-based business). So email strategy is critical and keeping the perspective of the reader key.