Case Studies: Womply Automatic Emails, a SaaS Product Redesign
Womply’s SaaS product for small businesses historically offered financial and online reputation management features. However, starting in late 2017, email marketing features became an area of focus for the growth of the product and company, which was led initially by an automated emailing feature that was represented by three different areas of the product; Customer Email Settings, Customer Email Previews, and Customer Email Results.
After the launch of Womply Offers, our attention turned back to an extensive reimagining of the core email marketing product, which consolidated the three areas into one called Automatic Emails and significantly improved the experience.
The automated email feature sends emails on behalf of the small business to its customers, triggered by certain actions or dates, such as welcome greetings, thanks for purchases, birthdays, holidays, review requests, and more. Despite being a single concept, this feature was represented by three different areas of the product.
Customer Email Settings was the most powerful area, as it housed all the controls to configure this feature, including turning the entire feature on and off (as well as activating individual email types, such as just turning on welcome emails but deactivating birthday emails).
Customer Email Previews displayed a preview of all the email types that would be sent a customers on behalf of a small business.
Customer Email Results showed high level stats for the activity and performance of the automated emails for the last 30 days.
In collaboration with Customer Success (who have direct relationships with our existing small business owner customers), we identified several pain points in the experience.
Sales and Customer Success would focus heavily on the Customer Email Settings with small business owners, but because the actual emails themselves weren’t visible from this area (or any other form of visual interest that would support the notion that this is a marketing tool), it was difficult for small business owners to grasp, to visualize, what this feature of our product does for their business.
Using the main navigation to go from configuration to preview and seeing the performance of the emails introduced too much friction, especially when our product takes a bit of time to load new screens. Further compounding the issue was slow and unstable internet connection at many of our customers’ shops and offices.
The global on/off button for this feature at the top of Customer Email Settings was a good shortcut for Sales to quickly enable the feature as part of sales pitches and initial onboarding. However, it was also too easy for small business owners to turn the entire feature off, and the prominence of the switch only exacerbated the issue. Many small business owners didn’t realize they could turn off individual email types, because when they got frustrated with the feature not performing exactly as they expected, they were quick to throw the baby out with the bath water and just turn off all automated emails with on click.
Many small business owners requested the ability to customize the text of some of the automated emails, particularly the holiday ones, so that they could have those emails say they are either open, closed, or open with special limited hours on any given holiday. Having to jump back and forth between two different areas of the product just to type in a custom message and then see a preview of that message in the email template would shine a harsh light on an already poor user experience of having separate Customer Email Settings and Customer Email Previews areas.
Whenever anyone at Womply gathered feedback from small business owners on how we might be able to best help them, on what they worry about most with their small business, the most common answer was that they were worried not enough customers would come shop with at their business tomorrow.
The strong visual interest brought about by the prevalent but focused use of illustration throughout the Offers product was received very well throughout the company and our small business owner customers. For the first time, there was genuine excitement about the product! There was interest in continuing that in other areas of the product, but we needed to make sure any added visual interest would be in support of any specific feature and of our company’s business goals more broadly.
We took a step back and thought about what the job to be done is for the small business owner in relation to this automated emailing feature. And prior to the start of this project, I found out that the two brand designers on the design team, Libby and Maddy, were interested in learning more about product design, so I walked us through various core principles of JTBD and identified why a small business owner would hire the automated emailing feature for their small business.
The thing is, we weren’t competing with other emailing platforms. For one, the other emailing platforms’ automated emailing features were usually very sophisticated or unnecessarily complex, as they were catering to enterprise customers. Even MailChimp’s automated emailing features proved difficult to use for our small business owners.
So who were these small business owners hiring when they didn’t use anyone’s (ours or our competitors) automated emailing features? I recalled this national advertisement that The UPS Store ran in the previous year;
Here we have small business owners, bored out of their mind and playing with their own products, all because no one’s coming to their business. The UPS Store says that they will print banners, flyers, and other marketing materials for them so that they can tell their story and engage with their customers.
Automated emails allows businesses to form relationships with new customers, and to keep engaged with their existing customers so that they come back. We’re not competing with Kissmetrics; a small business owner decides between The UPS Store and us for getting the word out and forming relationships with their customers!
"The pain point of how small business owners market themselves properly or go out and tell their story kept coming up in our research. With the new ads, we are trying to elevate that pain point and tell the story of how to solve for that problem by using The UPS Store."
Explains Karen Kelly, Director of Marketing and Advertising for The UPS Store
As we see in “The UPS Store’s “Not So Grand Opening” campaign, there’s a strong case for solving for a small business owner’s biggest worry, of not having customers the next day, with marketing support with visual impact and exposure to customers.
Well, the latter is addressed with the actual automated emailing feature itself, since an email in a customer’s personal inbox is even more visible than a sign on the side of a building (perhaps more akin to a sign in the middle of the sidewalk).
However, we needed to do a better job of reinforcing that these automated emails were helping with marketing their small business. What good is a sign that a customer notices, if it’s not interesting enough to also pique their interest? And thus, the business reason to extend the illustration usage in product UI came into sharp focus.
The automated emailing feature had been developed over the course of several months, with additional features being added onto an initial solution that wasn’t designed intentionally. There was a lot of features that made up a fairly sophisticated product that didn’t have an experience that helped make sense of the sum of the parts to a small business owner.
As a result, we had the opportunity to completely rethink the experience, and we explored many radical approaches, including a timeline based UI, cards that expanded out with accordion based UI techniques, various use of modals in combination with other concepts, and much more.
As we tested various approaches, we honed in on an approach that drew upon the two panel composer/previewer of the Offers product, but also solidified its UI approach to be extensible for this more sophisticated feature for automated emails.
In our research, we found that the global on switch was beneficial to both small business owners and to us. We were also identified that in the instances that small business owners complained about the automated emailing feature, it was because the preset email types we turned on by default weren’t suitable for their business category. So rather than get rid of a one-click on feature, we figured out that which email types should be the default preset for which business category.
This allowed us to preserve a one-click activation functionality, and we reimagined it to be a one-click activate button, rather than a global on/off switch. We now had the opportunity to tease and explain the feature to small business owners prior to activation, and remove the one-click deactivation of the entire product functionality that existed previously. Such a removal helped in our efforts to raise the visibility of the individual email types, including the ability to turn each email type on/off to a small business owner’s liking.
We also incorporated Customer Email Results into this revamped Automatic Emails product into each of the email types. This further strengthened, and raised the awareness of, the many email types and how they could be configured, customized, and would end up performing uniquely and independently of each other.
In the initial launch of the Offers product, I worked with Maddy to define an illustration style for the product. But once it became clear that the overall Womply product moving forward would have a significant illustrative element to it, the entire design team worked together to research, brainstorm, and collaborate towards a defined style for the brand, for use in both marketing and product.
Just like how Automatic Emails built upon the UI paradigms of Offers (such as with the two-pane compose/preview UI) to be an extensible UI pattern, we used the Offers illustration style as a starting point to refine into a more opinionated style that would be recognizable to our existing and potential customers, and be extensible across all marketing efforts and product UI usage.
At the beginning of this project, we identified five pain points. At the end of the project, we addressed at least four of them with this complete rethinking of the automated emailing feature.
Not only did we add nice looking illustration, but by defining the correct jobs to be done for this product, we also honed in the UX copy to be better align with the product’s features and goals.
We consolidated three different areas, Customer Email Settings, Customer Email Previews, and Customer Email Results, into one comprehensive product, Automatic Emails. This removed the friction of hopping back and forth, which resulted in more usage of all the various features of the Automatic Emails product.
The global on/off button was both good and bad. We kept the good, which was the one-click activation of the product. We didn’t just simply remove the bad, the one-click deactivation of the entire product. No, we didn’t dwell in the dark arts, but rather, we empowered small business owners to turn on and off individual email types in configurations that would be unique to them and their specific business.
Many small business owners requested the ability to customize the text of some of the automated emails, particularly the holiday ones, so that they could have those emails say they are either open, closed, or open with special limited hours on any given holiday. Not only did we add this feature during this project, we raised the visibility of individual email types, which made this feature more discoverable for small business owners.
While we may not ever be able to fully address the small business owners’ biggest fear, of not having enough customers come to them the next day, we designed the UI and the experience of the product more intentionally based on the job they’re hiring automated emails to accomplish for their business.