Financial institutions are always looking to cultivate long-term relationships and find new customers. Email marketing continues to be one of the most powerful and measurable marketing tools for the financial industry. In an Econsultancy survey, results showed that almost 73% of companies score email marketing as ‘excellent’ for ROI. Marketers are going as far as to say that email alone may drive similar revenue as social commerce, search and display ad efforts combined, according to The Relevancy Group. Source: The Financial Brand Imagine targeting offers to engage prospects, and marketing automation campaigns for statements or transactional emails. So, don’t forget about trusty old email! It still works, and financial brands should stop underfunding this top performer. With the right tools and approach, your financial organization can expand email from a simple communication platform to an engaging marketing channel used to provide valuable information and increase revenue. Financial services clients are much more likely to check their email on a regular basis, which is what makes email marketing so important. It’s also more affordable with respect to ROI. According to DBS Data, companies often see an average return of $38 for every $1 spent on email marketing. That’s why we have created this email marketing guide specifically for financial institutions. The five topics covered in this series include:
Integrations for Financial Institutions
Building a successful email marketing strategy will give your financial organization a wealth of information. You must have a place to store, organize and use that information in order to maximize your email marketing investment and boost your ROI. The best way to capture this information in a way that is useful to your entire organization is to integrate it with your central database. Whatever your system, your goals are to maintain the integrity of your data, save time and put your information into a usable format for decision making. Integration of your financial customer information is the straightest path to accomplishing those goals. Feeling a bit overwhelmed by this idea of integration? You’re not alone. 94% of marketers cited a need for improvement in integrating email data with other systems. You can get a leg up on your competition in one of two ways. Your first option is to see if your Email Service Provider (ESP) has an out-of-the-box integration with your database. Ask your ESP (or prospective ESP) if they have an integration solution for your current database. If you are using a mainstream system and don’t have a lot of custom development needs, you are ready to go. For those of you that can’t find such a solution, there is still hope! Your second option is to have a custom system built to suit your needs. It is important to make sure that your ESP has an API that enables you to perform custom integration. It is important to note that this route does cost more than an out-of-the-box solution and requires additional developer resources. However, the benefits of seamless integration are very valuable. Some ESPs are positioned to provide the developer resources needed so be sure to ask.
Benefits of Integrated Data
Once data is integrated, financial institutions will see even greater benefits to their email marketing plan. First, you will save valuable time avoiding manual importing and exporting of lists. Integration with your CRM program means your sales and marketing teams can easily share this information. Timely sales communication based on email marketing results allows you to capitalize on your lead generation efforts. Furthermore, combining your email and sales data provides an opportunity to further segment with more effective targeted messages. Targeted communication increases conversion success. While the prospect of integration might seem like a challenge, the benefits, including jumping ahead of your struggling competition, make it worth the effort.
Email Marketing Design for Financial Institutions
The right design for your email marketing campaign can make the difference between having your emails read or immediately deleted. Design is not just about the email looking nice. It should also take into account the variety of platforms and devices used by your subscribers.
Email Design Essentials
Source: Campaign Monitor There are some elements to your email design that are essential to campaign success. First, you need to provide HTML and plain text options. Spam filters don’t always like HTML only emails. Also, mobile device users often view plain text options. More than half of people are viewing emails on a mobile device. Rendering tools can help you determine if your audience is viewing from a mobile device, PC or Mac and even tell you the mail service being used. Next, watch your images and video. Don’t make your emails completely dependent on images or video. Subscribers might view a text-only version and they need proper context to understand the email. Images and video are very powerful but should not be the only option available. Your email subject line is the next area of focus. Craft it as a headline and make your readers interested in the body of the email. At a minimum, avoid spammy words like “Free” or “Opportunity”. Surprisingly (or not), longer subject lines are outperforming short ones for financial institutions. According to Return Path’s research, 65 characters is the sweet spot for subject lines, which is when they’re most likely to be read. However, different devices show different lengths of content, so keep in mind these display capabilities when you write your subject lines. Source: The Financial Brand Create a call-to-action (CTA) with every email. A call-to-action doesn’t have to be asking for a sale or donation. It could be simply asking your reader to click on a link for the full article or viewing a photo gallery of your latest event. Don’t bury important links or your call-to-action. Make them obvious and be clear on what you’re asking your reader to do. Testing is also highly recommended. A/B testing can help you decide on the best CTA. Testing could include wording, color or placement. Designing your email campaign doesn’t have to be time consuming or require you to shop for a creative team. Explore your internal resources and ask your ESP if they have advice or could even do this work for you. Email design can easily pay for itself over time by improving deliverability, readability and conversion rates.
Email Content Ideas for Financial Institutions
Sending an email is easy. Getting your emails read is extremely difficult. You have put a lot of work to gain a subscriber. Now it’s time to get your email read and move that reader toward a specific behavior. The way to do this is to deliver highly relevant content to each subscriber. In a recent email benchmark report, 69% of email marketers listed delivering highly relevant content as a top objective for their organization. So how do you create content that matters to each subscriber and direct them toward a specific action? Use a combination of subscriber data, content variety and call-to-action techniques. Try the following 10 tips and tactics to energize your financial industry email content strategy:
Using Data to Craft Your Message
- With the plethora of information marketers have access to in 2019, you can and should personalize emails. Dynamically personalize email content by filling specific fields with subscriber information such as first name.
- Send emails based on subscribers’ stage in your sales cycle.
- Set-up triggers in your email database based on behavior to past emails. If someone clicked through to a link on refinancing their home loan, their next email might relate to scheduling a meeting with a home loan expert.
- Allow subscribers to specify their own email preferences. This way, they only receive messages on topics they have decided are interesting.
- The more interactive the content, the more engagement you’ll get, and it's been the top design trends for email marketers for two years in a row. Emails that play around with quizzes, short surveys, image carousels and GIFs allow your customers to interact with your brand without leaving the content itself. Interactive content can be used for a variety of purposes – to collect information, educate, engage, or simply entertain.
- Right next to personalization, is automation. Set up automated email campaigns that use data and subscriber behavior triggers to reduce your workload and optimize your email marketing efforts. You can use it to send customized emails to your customer at different touch-points of their journey, get them to return after a long period of inactivity, and increase customer satisfaction and retention.
- Determine your five most popular emails of the last year. Now write more like those! The right design for your email marketing campaign can make the difference between having your emails read or immediately deleted. Design is not just about the email looking nice. It should also take into account the variety of platforms and devices used by your subscribers.
- First impressions are everything. Don’t overlook that on-boarding email, it’s an important foot in the door. PayPal is a great example of this and has set the bar high for a simple and effective on-boarding email. It delivers helpful information when it’s most relevant to the customer.
Source: Campaign Monitor Your subject line is your headline. Pique the interest of your reader or be very clear on how your email will help. Avoid spammy words like “Free” and “Hurry”. Spam filters will kill your conversions. Provide a link for your call-to-action in every email. Make it easy for your reader to understand the next step. For lengthy content, keep your email short and link to a descriptive landing page or blog post. Unfortunately, finance isn’t “sexy”. Most people have a preconceived notion of financial brands, (and, by extension, their content) as being “dry and boring”. You need to present these topics in such a way that you get your readers excited. It also helps to do your research on which demographic you’re marketing to (for example, younger generations care more about saving for travel and lifestyle, than retirement). Source: Campaign Monitor
- Make sure that the sender is a trusted source or brand. Subscribers won’t open an email from someone they don’t know.
Segmentation Tips for FinanceSegmented emails
increase the chance that your email will be opened. It’s that simple. Email list segmentation is the ability to put your subscribers into categories. For example, financial institutions could divide their list regionally or by branches, type of account, purchase behavior or any other criteria captured. Three of your most important email metrics are open rate, click through rate and unsubscribes. Ultimately, all of your measurables should be tied to revenue. Dividing email lists into segments provides a chance to improve the success of all three metrics and increase revenue. In fact, a recent survey of email marketers found the following results:
- 39% of marketers segmenting their emails found higher open rates
- 34% improved email relevance
- 28% experienced lower unsubscribe rates
- 24% experienced greater revenue
Once your list is properly segmented, your message, competing to stand out in a sea of competition, will be tailored to a particular reader segment. Rather than writing a generic message in hopes of appealing to your entire list, you can have messages that appeal to those suffering through a harsh winter in the northeast and those enjoying a sunny winter in the southwest simultaneously.
Email Metrics for Financial Institutions
Analytics allow you to measure the success of your email marketing. While other web-based marketing platforms are debating how to measure ROI, email analytics tell you who is interested in your content, who opened your email and what they did next. It’s important to establish goals and benchmarks in order to accurately measure your campaign performance. Specific industry benchmarks allow you to set goals and compare yourself to the competition. There are five important areas that you will want to begin tracking and analyzing immediately. Once you are consistently tracking these metrics, you can begin digging deeper into your data to gain more valuable information.
Ideally, open rates track whether our email was actually opened instead of simply deleted. Open rates can gauge the effectiveness of your subject lines. With so many emails, readers need to be convinced that yours is important. Make sure the name of the sender is known and trusted by the email recipient.
List size is an easy place to start. Although you don’t want to grow your list with people that are not your target market, list size can give you a quick gauge as to whether your content is interesting to your audience. You can also test a variety of free downloads or incentives in order to learn how to grow your list.
Analyze your unsubscribe rate carefully. An increasing unsubscribe rate could mean your emails have grown stagnant. However, don’t jump to this conclusion too soon. Have you had a recent price change or more clearly defined your target market? Unsubscribes might be from people that aren’t actually your ideal customer. Not a bad result for your marketing efforts.
Click-through Rate (CTR)
CTR is another metric that should be analyzed carefully. CTR measures whether your recipient clicked on a link in your email and is extremely valuable information. Just make sure you know what you are measuring. CTR will likely differ widely among various categories of email.
Conversion rates let you know whether the recipient completed the desired action. When you set a goal at the beginning of an email campaign, your most desired result is likely measured by your conversion rate. If your CTR is high and your conversion is low on the same campaign, explore your landing page or checkout procedure to see if the problem might exist outside of your email.
See why so many financial institutions are turning to Delivra for our email marketing automation services. Delivra’s experience working with banks, accounting firms, and investment companies, is unmatched. Want to know why? Because we understand that the financial services sector is a vital, yet highly misunderstood topic. We work hard, alongside your team, to deliver value and get the best results for your marketing efforts. Request a demo with our team today.