Email. Can't live with it; can't live without it. As a consumer, how many times have you scrolled through your inbox and wondered, "why on Earth do I get so much junk mail?!" It's okay to admit it. I'm a marketer, and I still feel that way about 92.6% of the time. On the flip side, that "junk mail" lets me know about the upcoming can't-miss concert, the Groupon deal I can't pass up, and when my car is due for its next oil change. So, like I said, can't live with it, can't live without it!
For many financial institutions and businesses alike, email marketing is an "easy" and "free" way to market to their customers, and—maybe even—pick up a few new ones. Whether you're an email marketing novice, or have been at it for some time, there are always new tips and tricks you can learn to improve your skills.
Before we dive in, let me start by saying there are a few email marketing rules you cannot afford to break. Read our Do's and Don'ts of email marketing for the complete list.
Okay, now that we've gotten that out of the way, let's talk about some of the basics of email marketing and how you can implement them to become an email marketing boss.
Build Your List
The best way to build your list is to do it organically. Not only does it help you avoid breaking any of those CAN-SPAM laws, but it's also the best way to ensure your messages are being delivered to the people that want to hear from you. Check out three simple ways to build your list:
Display the opt-in form, visibly and prominently, on your website in multiple locations and ask visitors to subscribe. You could also have every employee add a link to the opt-in form in your email signature. Leverage every touch-point to ask people to sign up, such as on-hold script messages, social media networks, plasma screen messages, etc.
2. Make it shareable
Add social sharing and share-with-a-friend email buttons to each message and ask your recipients to share your messages with their friends, family, and social media networks.
3. Run a contest
People love giveaways. I can't tell you how many email lists I've signed up for just for a 1 in 1,000,000 chance to win a trip to the Caribbean. If I had a quarter for each one, I could probably just pay for the trip myself! Consider running a promotion for a chance to win a gift card, an iPad, or anything that you think your members would find compelling if they opt-in to your email distribution list. Obviously, there is a nominal expense with this approach, but consider the payoff. According to Hubspot, email marketing has an ROI of 4,300%. Tweet this stat!
So go ahead, invest the $500 in a great prize; the payoff could be exponential!
Bonus: Offer an extra entry if they promote the contest socially with their friends and family.
Create Compelling Subject Lines
Email subject lines are essential. Sometimes it can be the deciding factor in whether or not your email gets opened at all. The truth is, the jury is still out on the "perfect" subject line, and it could vary by industry and subject matter. Testing is key—try different approaches to find out what works best. A few of my personal favorite tips are:
Use personalization when possible
DO NOT use capitalization. No one likes being screamed at. (Yes, I realize the irony here)
Be clear, concise, and to the point
The Skimm, a daily email newsletter that breaks down major current events into quick, digestible bits of info for its busy readers, does a phenomenal job of writing compelling and clever subject lines. The sample included here could easily be used for an auto loan rate promotion.
Create Compelling Messages
Your customers are busy, and if you want them to take the time to read your email out of the dozens they receive per day, don't disappoint them with stale, boring, irrelevant content. Bore your audience once, and they're likely to disregard all future correspondence from you. No one knows your customer demographic as well as you do, so take their personalities, age, socioeconomic class, and most importantly, their needs into consideration when crafting emails. For example, if you have a younger, Gen Y-type audience, don't be afraid to use a little humor, sarcasm, or sprinkle in a pun or two.
Even service-related emails can be compelling. They key is to use personalization—in both the way you "speak" to your customers (i.e., the language you use) and how you refer to them in the email.
Here are two examples of emails notifying a customer that their payment is due:
Dear valued customer,
Your auto loan payment is due on [DUE DATE]. Please remit payment within 10 days of your due date or be subject to late fees.
ABC Credit Union
Whomp whooomp, right?? This email is probably going straight to the deleted folder because it's clearly automated. It sounds like it's from a robot—not a human. And, a robot sending email is kind of like that tree you don't see falling in the woods. No. One. Cares.
Instead, spruce it up a little and give it a human touch:
I know how much you love cruising around in your [VEHICLE MAKE AND MODEL], so don't forget, your payment is due on [DUE DATE].
As always, you can click here to pay online, call 888-888-8888 to pay-by-phone, or stop on by our branch—we'd love to see you!
Sr. Loan Officer
ABC Credit Union
Notice the difference?
Make it Mobile
If you're still holding out on jumping aboard the mobile optimization train, let me advise you to start jumping. Mobile optimization is no longer optional. Want to know why? According to Litmus, 51% of the email open rate is done on a mobile device. In addition, by 2018, 80% of all email users are expected to check their email via mobile devices. Since your customers are going to be checking their email via their phones—both now and in the future—you want to make sure that your email messages are set up for optimal viewing.
ALWAYS Include a Call-to-Action (CTA)
What do you want your readers to do? Should they call you for a quote? Do you want them to visit your website to learn more information about a product? Should they join you for your next Saturday morning financial literacy class? Whatever the goal of your message, make sure you communicate it; make it clear, prominent, and compelling. Why should they call you for a quote? What's the incentive? Oh, they could potentially save hundreds of dollars per year on their auto insurance? Make sure you tell them that!
Bonus: graphics and button CTAs are a plus.
Do you have any additional email marketing tips or best practices? Share them in the comments below!