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The Surprising Effectiveness of Recap Emails

How Grammarly boosted retention with emails that users actually want to read.

Hey — It’s Nico.

Here's another episode of Behind Tactics 🧠, where I look at the different ways startups are succeeding in their markets.

This issue is brought to you by Semrush, the all-in-one SEO tool.

Today, I will talk about how companies like Grammarly use weekly emails to increase user engagement, reduce churn, and even drive upsells.

Rest assured, I am not talking about the typical promotional emails that flood your inbox.

Instead, I will shine a spotlight on a unique and effective type of personalized email: Value Recap Emails.

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The Strategy

Value Emails

Everyone loves Spotify Wrapped. As every year draws to a close, Spotify takes center stage on social media as users eagerly share their top-played songs, making it a trending topic.

This annual tradition not only serves as a potent marketing tool for Spotify but also works as a gentle reminder to users of the significant value the app has provided them.

The idea is just great. It is cheap to make, and it allows users to reflect on how much they have used Spotify in the last year and gain a deeper appreciation for the platform’s role in their daily lives.

So, how could we apply the same ideas behind Spotify Wrapped to other businesses?

Enter personalized Value Recap Emails, a strategy that mirrors the essence of Spotify Wrapped in a different context.

These types of emails do not focus on advertising new features but rather on giving a quick and personalized explanation of the value the user has gotten out of your tool.

Grammarly’s Weekly Writing Updates

Let's look at Grammarly’s Weekly Writing Updates as a prime example. Each week, users receive a concise email detailing their writing statistics, including word count, error analysis, and comparative performance metrics.

This not only offers users valuable feedback on their writing habits but also fosters a sense of community by showcasing how they compare to other people.

Clearly, this type of email is much more appealing than an email telling you the latest news about Grammarly. 

The best part is that it not only tells users how much they have used Grammarly, but it also provides them with actually helpful information.

For instance, tracking the number of words written can be a good metric for overall productivity, offering users meaningful feedback on their writing habits.

Furthermore, this email format leverages gamification to captivate users, enabling them to compare their stats with those from previous weeks and with others. This feature incentivizes users to check their emails consistently, fostering sustained engagement with the platform.

Additionally, Grammarly makes these emails more personal by adjusting them based on how much you’ve written and the mistakes found. This also means that Grammarly can add personalized upsell sections like this one:

This call to action is effective because it follows a section outlining the user's achievements with the app. It's akin to saying, "You've already gotten all this value, but with this plan, you could unlock even more."

Finally, Grammarly puts effort into making their emails visually attractive by using aesthetic graphs and charts. This makes them more likely to be shared since people enjoy sharing visually appealing data.

In summary, these types of emails are an easy way to enhance user retention. When users are regularly reminded of your tool's value, they're less likely to leave.

Not Just for B2C

Grammarly is not the only company using Value Recap Emails.

In fact, this strategy can be adapted to fit almost any business, even B2B companies.

Take, for example, the billing platform ProfitWell. Every week, they email all the founders who have implemented their solution, detailing how much money they have saved using their platform.

It is easy to see how this idea could be applied to almost any business. Here are some ideas:

  • Stripe: We saved you $X in fees this month (compared to other payment processors).

  • Superhuman: We saved you X hours of managing your inbox this week.

  • Apollo: We helped you find X contacts this week, which would have taken you X time.

Should I?

Why This Works

  • It shows your value: It reminds users of what you provide them, increasing user retention and decreasing the churn rate.

  • It is interesting and useful: Value recap emails usually have higher open rates than other promotional emails because users find them exciting and get valuable insights from them. 

  • It is shareable: Some of these emails will be more shareable than others, but in general, it is more likely that someone will share their Grammarly Writing Update than any other promotional email. The more personalized and interesting the email is, the more likely it is to be shared around.

  • It enhances upsells: Value recap emails complement upselling strategies well. Once users see the value they're receiving from your tool, they're more inclined to invest further, especially when presented with potential benefits.

  • It is simple and flexible: Value recap emails are cost-effective and easy to set up. They can be adapted to almost any industry or business type.

How to Apply It

The first step is to find out how you are saving your customers time, effort, or resources. 

Then, you should try to quantify this value. This may be straightforward for some businesses but more challenging for others. For instance, it's relatively simple for Grammarly to quantify the number of words a user has written, whereas for a project management software like Asana, quantifying the time and effort saved for users is more complex.

Nonetheless, it's crucial to resist the temptation to provide inaccurate or roughly estimated data. The effectiveness of value recap emails hinges directly on how valuable users perceive the data to be.

Once you have the numbers, it is time to put them in the email. There are a few essential things to consider when writing the email template:

  • Be concise: Keep the email text minimal and avoid lengthy introductions. Dive straight into the data. If you want to include a call to action, place it after presenting the data.

  • Use visual aids: Utilize various visual aids such as charts, graphs, and bars to present the data clearly and aesthetically. Strive to make them visually appealing, as people are more inclined to share visually pleasing data charts.

  • Personalize: Aim to personalize the email as much as possible. Segment your users and create different email variations for each user type. Tailor the content based on the user's level of engagement with your tool; active users should receive different content compared to less active users.

Yes, But

  • Value recap emails can become repetitive. Users can get tired of receiving it because you will be mostly sending the same email template. To mitigate this, always offer users the option to adjust the email frequency to their preference.

  • If a user isn't actively utilizing your tool or isn't deriving significant value from it, the email serves as a reminder of this reality. In such cases, consider refraining from sending emails to these users or sending alternative content aimed at helping them derive more value from your tool.

  • Quantifying the value provided can be challenging in many instances, and it's essential to avoid fabricating numbers. If you do provide numerical estimates, ensure they are justified. For example, if Zapier claims to have saved users X hours, they should outline how they arrived at this estimate for each task.

Keep Learning

Others Playing It

Canva sends an annual email providing a detailed overview of your usage of their tool:

Zapier sends a weekly email detailing the number of tasks completed for you during the week.

HubSpot sends a monthly email containing various statistics, such as new contacts and closed deals.

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