Email · Tools

Best tool for marketing automation / onboarding email series?

Aaron Severs Product & Engineering Leader

May 22nd, 2013

I need to integrate email messaging into my product, specifically, onboarding emails such as a series that begins when a user signs up and continues for a few weeks. Ideally I would be able to tweak these emails based on the user's behavior / what they've done on my site.

Any suggestions for something that is easy to implement and free or cheap?

Thanks!

Benjamin Curtis Co-Founder at Honeybadger Industries

May 22nd, 2013

Take a look at customer.io and intercom.io

Devin Fee Director of Operations at Chiron Health

May 22nd, 2013

Hi Aaron,

There are two types of emails that I'm familiar with: marketing and transactional.

Transactional emails happen when the user takes an action (e.g. signup -> welcome email). Marketing emails happen on a regular basis (the Mon, Tues, Wed, Thurs series of emails all users get). And then there are emails that fall somewhere in between (1,2,3,4 days out, 1,2,3 weeks out, etc.).

You already have a database maintaining user information, preferences, etc, so now you need to connect that with a communication platform, and send out updated content. There are a number of platforms that will help you create these emails (mailchimp, etc.) and help you filter your audience. Typically these channels require a bit of integration, to pull preferences, habits, personal information for customization purposes.

If this sounds like the problem you're trying to solve, your best bet is to Google "mailchimp vs" and explore the options, and reviews.

Aaron Severs Product & Engineering Leader

May 22nd, 2013

Thanks. I just discovered userfox.com. This seems to be what I'm looking for. Anyone use it?

Joe Keenan Digital Strategist

May 22nd, 2013

Mailchimp.  Not sure about the tweaking based on behavior.  You could segment your subscribers at sign-up based, say, on the source page (the context) of the sign-up, or via self-segmentation (not recommended because an additional ask will impact conversion rate).    Or, you could segment later based on the subscriber's behavior, but I'm not sure how to automate that.    This kind of drip irrigation is pretty common.  I tend to call it email cultivation.   The email marketing should be of course audience-centric, not product centric.

Cheers

Vijay MD Founder Chefalytics, Co-owner Bite Catering Couture, Independent consultant (ex-McKinsey)

May 22nd, 2013

Mail chimp can do this with auto responders if you segment it right. Depending on your crm it may also be able to do this. Sent from my iPhone

Aaron Severs Product & Engineering Leader

May 22nd, 2013

Looks like I'll try customer.io and userfox and decide what's best for me. Thanks for the tips!

Nikhil Bhardwaj Entrepreneur | Tech Advisor | Web Architect

May 22nd, 2013

Similar to customer.io and intercom.io is https://www.getvero.com/ which I have used. Vero's pricing is better than customer.io. Once thing to consider is, for all these services you need to upload user emails / events (mostly via javascript) but that also means the fact should be reflected in your privacy policy.

if you are a dev then another option could be to use http://mandrill.com/ by Mailchimp which gives 12000 emails per month for free.

Jonathan Vanasco

May 22nd, 2013

I just wanted to note a few things:

1. The keywords for type of stuff you're talking about are typically user "tracking" and customer "segmenting".  You'll be able to find a bunch of tips &  tricks online for best-practices from marketing blogs and different email providers.  ( just because you use Service A doesn't mean you don't want advice from Service B,C,D )

2.  Check out how the costs scale , what the integration will require , and how much you get locked into something.

I've product-managed a few huge mailing list initiatives, and the costs to scale with a provider or switch between them can be insane.   With one huge company , it cost us about $25k in internal resources to switch providers - but it was a $120k yearly savings on vendor fees, and freed up about 40k worth of yearly manpower.      With a small startup, one vendor's billing methods had us at $800/month in fees - while another one had us at $40.  The cheaper one just-so-happened to have an api where we could pull all the data out too.


Rich Pirrotta Chief Financial Officer at Logicalis

May 22nd, 2013

Would add that Yesware may be a good initial approach as well.   It has some flexibility on template creation and email tracking.  I recently started working with it and found it to be a simple, free solution for a basic approach.  Good luck!

DKB

May 22nd, 2013

Postmark and Sendgrid for larger volume sends, too. For example, account notifications, updates, alerts, etc.