With Intercom, you can send personalized emails to the right users based on who they are, what they do inside your product, and where they are in their lifecycle. Below, we’ll show you how to create targeted, personal and measurable emails that inspire action.
Define your objective.
Before you start writing your email, you need to be clear on why you’re sending it. We recommend setting a goal in Intercom to track the action you want your customers to take after reading your email. Your goal should be SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Time-bound). If you want to get 500 message recipients to create their first project during the next quarter, for example, you can set this as your goal. You can then track how many people completed your goal after reading your email. You can set any behaviour or action you track in Intercom as your goal.
Address your customers’ needs.
Good emails aren’t about what you want to say. They’re about what your customers want or need to know. Before crafting your email, ask questions like, ‘How can I excite people?’, ‘How can I help them?’ and ‘How can I create value?’, rather than ‘How can I make them buy? or ‘How can I make them reply?’ Stay focussed on your users’ needs, not yours and anticipate what they want to know next.
Speak to each user individually.
When your customers open your message and it begins with ‘Dear Sir/Madam’, they’re already losing interest. But why should they care? They can easily tell that the message isn’t written for them. You need to personalize each message so that it's customized to everyone who gets it. But the challenge comes when you’re sending the email to hundreds or thousands of customers. Here’s how to stay personal at scale:
- We most often use a simple plain text email as they feel handwritten and direct.
- Snappy, casual messages are best for engaging readers.
- Speak like a human. A friendly tone builds warmth and connection.
- Address your customers by their first name. Add a first name attribute by clicking on the arrows on the right-hand side of the message composer.
- You can include custom attributes in your email, so that the content is specific to each user (select the arrows on the right-hand side of your message composer).
- Intercom lets you send emails from your own address. Not only does this add a more personal touch, it can also improve your deliverability by reducing the risk of your emails being marked as spam.
- We’ve written in detail about staying personal at scale here.
Focus on the feeling.
‘People don’t buy products; they buy better versions of themselves.’ as onboarding and marketing expert, Samuel Hulick says. Put yourself in your recipient’s shoes and imagine how it would feel to get the email in your own inbox. Your job is to make customers feel understood and to help them envision the success they’ll achieve by taking the action you’re proposing. Maybe success for your customers means feeling smart, seeming cool or being organized. Decide what your customers want to achieve and focus on fostering that feeling.
Use subject lines that pique interest.
Reader fatigue and click fatigue are making it harder than ever for your subject lines to stand out and get opened. So it’s important to continuously try fresh ideas and test them so you know which ones work best. Great subject lines are brief and trigger an emotional response within your customer. For example, if you say, ‘Let’s make a bet’ they’ll feel challenged and are more likely to click through to see what you’re proposing.
Or if you say something like, ‘Your day just got better’ they’ll want to know why. Break the monotony; don’t let customers get bored or come to expect anything from your brand. Instead, make them sit up, smile and wonder.
Other ideas you can try to surprise and pique interest:
- Change the sender of your emails (for example, you could send your next email from your CEO and see how it affects open rates).
- Try a personalized subject line that includes your customer’s name.
- Add interesting characters and symbols.
Make your links obvious.
While your subject lines should surprise and delight, your link style should actually be obvious and easy to find. A digest style, with predictable link locations, for example, has a far higher click through rate than scattering links inline. A weak style on a link halves its click-through rate. So make sure your links are obvious, favour clarity over beauty; your job is to get clicks, not become a master of subtlety.
Utilise the power of the P.S.
It’s often said that the P.S. is the most read part of an email. It's a fun way to say, ‘Now that the business is out of the way, let’s get to the good stuff.’ This “good stuff” can include extra tips for getting the most of your product, valuable content, a secret discount code or exclusive information about an upcoming industry event. And it gives you the chance to lightly pitch something in an off-handed kind of way, without directly selling anything.
Use minimum design for maximum impact.
Messages that contain lots of images, headers, large buttons and fancy formatting look like advertisements designed for the masses. And as soon as we see a message that isn’t written specifically for us, we afford it less importance. Minimal design works best as it feels more friendly and personal. However, if you want to really grab your customer’s attention, Intercom lets you choose from a selection of customizable templates to best match your message. You can also add images, attachments and HTML blocks to your email.
Here are some ideas for keeping your design bare, yet visually engaging :
- If you’re going to use visual elements in your email, it’s best practice to focus on a select few and keep the rest of the email plain and easy to read.
- A well placed, high-resolution image stretched across the top of your email can grab the attention of customers when launching a new feature. It can also very quickly communicate what you’re trying to say without the user needing to read anything. For example, if you’re announcing a new product or feature:
- Your call to action in an upsell email can be a simple button created in a color that contrasts against your branding. Intercom lets you add these to your emails without needing to write any code whatsoever.
- Your email should be short and scannable. Avoid large chunks of text, break up your paragraphs with whitespace and use bullet points, where needed.
Email the right group.
Intercom lets you target your audience based on their behavior, their profile and time. Here are some examples you can try:
Loyal Customers - You could send an email to this group of users, offering them a thank-you gift or a discount off a future purchase. Your filters here might be something like ‘Signed up more than 365 days ago’ and ‘Sessions is greater than 50.’
Engaged trial users - You could send an email to these customers offering them an incentive to upgrade to a paid plan before their trial ends. Your filters here might be something like ‘Signed up less than 14 days ago’, ‘Plan is Free Trial’ and ‘Sessions is more than 10.’
Users who don't take the next step - Or you could email users who have failed to take the next step with your product. This group might need a gentle reminder to take the next step along with a few reasons why they should. Your filter here might be something like ‘Download mobile app is False.’
Send your email at the right time.
With Intercom, you can set a delivery window to any automatic email to ensure it reaches your customers at the best time for them. Just select the days and time you think will get the maximum engagement. Of course, your delivery window will depend on the type of product you have, but it’s important to make a calculated assumption based on your customers’ behaviour. For example, if you have a productivity app, your customers will most likely welcome emails on weekdays and within business hours. Or if you have a leisure app, your email could be more effective sent at 7pm, while people are relaxing after dinner.
Test your emails’ performance.
You should A/B test your messages to help you pinpoint the types of copy and design your customers respond to best. You can then use this information to improve your email content. We recommend only testing one element at a time. This way, if there’s a clear winner, you'll know which variant caused the difference. For example, you can test two button types to find out which performs better in term of clicks. Or you can find out whether your customers prefer a shorter, snappier email or a longer version. Intercom lets you A/B test any element of your email and you can check its performance on the Auto Message list page.
By now, you’ve probably thought of lots of ideas for creating personal and relevant emails. What are you going to say to add value to your customers’ day? :)