Customer Success Outreach: How To Email Customers & Get A Reply!

Article by

Sarah Keliris

Journalist @



March 20, 2023

As a CSM, you can't give tailored, high touch assistance to your customers if they won't reply to you!

How do you send customer outreach emails, and get consistent responses?

I spoke with five Customer Success pros from companies like Salesforce, Modash, and Optimizely to get their advice on customer outreach strategy.

We’ll explore each of them in detail. But first, some customer outreach quick wins to get you started…

5 quick wins for customer outreach

1. Use support tickets to start conversations

If you see your customer has raised a support ticket, reach out and offer your help. People love to feel as though they have someone on their side trying to find solutions faster.

2. Keep an eye out for updates, new & announcements

If your customer has just launched a new initiative, or been recognized for their work, reach out and offer your congratulations. Follow your customers on LinkedIn & Twitter to learn about what's going on. People will often respond to personal messages, and you’ll have opened up a new conversation.

3. Leverage product usage data

Generate a report of some key activity metrics and send them to your customers on a regular basis. Even better - benchmark those in comparison to industry trends. Demonstrate the treasure you’re holding and how you can help your customer get ahead.

4. Be short, sweet and to the point

If there’s something you want your customer to do, be upfront about it. People don’t want to work to find your advice. Tell them what the problem is and be clear about how you can help.

5. Enhance your customer network

Share customer spotlights, offer introductions, spark conversations on social media, ask for their advice and introduce them to your product team. Encourage them to reap the rewards of being active members of your customer community.

Ready for more detailed advice from the pros?

1. Be provocative

Patrick Youngs, Customer Success Manager at Salesforce

You’ve been commoditized. You need to establish yourself as a trusted, valuable partner, rather than just a tool.

“It’s not about reaching out with a piece of training, advice or a question. It’s about doing your research, finding an insight that your customer is going to be really interested in seeing - the more challenging the better - and backing that up with real data. Be provocative. For example, show them why you think 4/5s of their staff time is wasted. People are more likely to start talking to you if they’re in disagreement.”

- Patrick Youngs

This technique opens up a dialogue between you and your customer. Once they bite, you can delve further into your reasoning and solutions. It’s common for customer outreach to start with the product. This approach changes its focus, starting with the company your product is serving. Take time to analyze the company and understand what they care most about hearing.

The importance of EQ

Being provocative might sound like a risky strategy. But don’t forget; you’re trying to re-engage those you don’t have an active relationship with. “You haven’t got a lot to lose”, says Patrick.

If you can really empathize with your customers - their challenges, motivations and goals - you can have a big impact. Invest time into understanding what they’re specifically looking for; challenge them to think bigger than your product. It’s not just about throwing numbers at them to get them annoyed, it’s about having conviction in something you know will create a big impact.

2. Give your customers FOMO

Emma Ojapuska, Customer Success Manager at Seidat

We’ve all experienced the Fear of Missing Out (FOMO) - the feeling that other people are having a better time than you. Create this feeling for your customers and they’ll want to re-join the party.

Taking inspiration from Spotify, Emma launched ‘Seidat Wrapped’: a visually impactful way of demonstrating where customers are missing out in comparison to other Seidat users. The aim: to get customers on a call.

Using slide decks, ‘Seidat Wrapped’ shares a digestible snapshot of how the company is performing in comparison to others - emails opened, new feature adoption rate, logins, etc. 

“My most common method for creating FOMO is to show how other companies are using the software better. I use data to demonstrate this and show comparisons of activity levels. Even if customers are happy with the software and aren’t at risk of churn, it’s still a priority to encourage them to utilize the software more, so that it digs deeper into their organization, making it harder for them to leave.”

- Emma Ojapuska

While ‘Seidat Wrapped’ shows customers where they’re missing out, it doesn’t provide the solutions. Instead, Emma offers a phone call; baiting the hook so that customers proactively re-engage.

Example outreach email

Hi Joe

I created a short ‘Seidat Wrapped’ presentation from your Seidat team activity over the past month. 

It seems there are some new features you guys are not yet familiar with - I'm happy to help you get started; feel free to book a time to discuss more.

Emma Ojapuska

Customer Success Manager

3. Adapt your engagement model to your customer's goals

Ely Lenik, Director of Customer Success and Support at Torqata

“Nobody cares about using your product”, says Ely. They care about getting their work done, and you’re either a tool or an inhibitor in their ability to do this. Building your customer engagement model around what your customer is trying to achieve will ensure you’re the tool.

“At Torqata, our current customer base is time-strapped. It’s really tricky to get them on the phone and they’re not particularly open to meetings. We prioritize getting small snippets of content to the customer. We almost never offer entire product training anymore, for example. The CSM will pick out snippets of exactly what the customer needs to do in the moment to achieve what they’re currently working on. And we’ll train them heavily on that.”

- Ely Lenik

Torqata’s outreach model is high-touch and targeted. Their initial challenge was that customers didn’t proactively raise issues. Ely’s team needed to shift the customer mindset, so they’d start identifying pain points and approaching the CS team for solutions.

Torqata introduced pain point experiments called ‘shop diagnostics’. They identify one pain point in the business (e.g. inventory practices, pricing model, brand alignment) and build a targeted customer success plan, working with the customer to define KPIs.

Ely shared an example shop diagnostic from Stanridge Tire Pros:

Throw vanity metrics out the window

This approach means defining your metrics based on customer needs. Ely focuses on quality over quantity, with the key goal of creating success stories that will continue to promote this solution-focussed mindset amongst customers. Be smart about aligning your customer needs with the outcomes you want to build internally.

“CS leads need to take a step back and critically think about the outcomes they’re trying to drive. Build an engagement model, marketing approach and communication method that will drive these goals. Intentionality is key - make sure you’re doing what works for your company right now.”

- Ely Lenik

4. Understand your customer priorities and be clear about how you can help

Gautam Bawa, Customer Success Manager at Optimizely

“The catch-all ‘I can help you do your job better’ approach is unhelpful”, says Gautam. Most customers will have multiple software windows open at once - CRM, website, procurement, marketing automation. And everyone will be claiming they can help them do their job better. You need to cut through the noise.

Different customers have different priorities. Customer outreach is about understanding those priorities and knowing where you can add value. Think about who you’re speaking to - your message might be gold, but are you sharing it with the right audience?

Research your customer’s job role and the KPIs they’re working to. Check LinkedIn, visit their website, read their blogs; get to know their motivations, pain points and career aspirations.

From there, you can work out what they want to hear. If they’re in the technical team, focus on performance metrics, response time, downtime. Marketing teams want to hear about automation, content journeys, campaign ideas, and reach. Senior leaders are interested in return on investment and strategic decision-making.

“Customer outreach is about building a relationship”, says Gautam. It’s about being personal, treating someone like an individual and really understanding what it is they want to hear about. It doesn’t always have to be about upsell.

“It’s important to have a relationship built on trust. You need to understand what you’re trying to build, it needs to be more than a transactional relationship. Outreach is about cultivating a relationship that means a customer feels comfortable sharing with you when they’re facing issues, or if something changes in the landscape, because they know they’ll get an honest answer.”

- Gautam Bawa.

5. Balance automation with personalization

Paula Palm, Customer Success Lead at Modash

There’s a time and a place for automation. The key is striking the right balance, so you can automate in a way that continues to build trust and authenticity.

When joining Modash, Paula used high-touch methods to nurture new relationships with customers. She spent time communicating with each customer, building her understanding of what they each needed to feel they were in safe hands.

But with more and more customers added to her portfolio, Paula had to find a way to automate some of this outreach.

“The key is to find the voice of your brand”, says Paula. If you maintain a personal, consistent and authentic tone across communications, whether that’s in newsletters, emails, in-platform notifications, or product updates, your customers will still feel as though they have a connection with you.

“My tone doesn’t change across my communications at any stage of the customer relationship journey. I use the same, friendly tone and always think about what benefits the customer. It’s the content that changes. You really need to understand what content is of value to your customer. For example, the onboarding phase is about education; the middle of the journey is about offering help and being available; the expansion phase is about making sure the customer is getting the best experience and making good decisions.”

- Paula Palm

Customer outreach is changing

Tech stacks are getting noisier, making it harder for customers to listen. It’s more important than ever to ensure your outreach is adding value to your customers.

Align your engagement strategy with their goals, demonstrate where they could be working smarter, show where they’re underperforming in comparison to others, and be super clear about how you can help.

Get the balance right with your messaging. Automation and self-serve troubleshooting don’t have to be the enemies of personalized relationship management. Use them to free up your time to focus on those strategic, value-add conversations.

Find the experts on LinkedIn

Patrick Youngs, Customer Success Manager at Salesforce

Emma Ojapuska, Customer Success Manager at Seidat

Ely Lenik, Director of Customer Success and Support at Torqata

Gautam Bawa, Customer Success Manager at Optimizely

Paula Palm, Customer Success Lead at Modash