E-mail continues to play an important role for delivering messages directly to your target audience.
E-mail may not be as savvy as social or digital, but e-mail works: Companies using e-mail to nurture leads generate 50% more sales-ready leads and at 33% lower cost. And nurtured leads, on average, produce a 20% increase in sales opportunities compared to non-nurtured leads, according to HubSpot.
In addition to lead nurturing and customer acquisition, e-mail marketing is also a great vehicle for insurance marketers to industry to retain customers and boost loyalty.
If you are not using e-mail marketing, it’s time to step up and add this strategy to your marketing toolkit. Especially considering that for every $1 spent on e-mail marketing, the average return on investment is $44.25, according to ExactTarget.
Here are five tips to help you get started:
Who are you trying to reach, and why? (Photo: iStock)
1. Understand your target audience
As in all industries, insurance marketers today are bombarded with data and are collecting as much data as they possibly can. But more often than not, marketers forget to ask, “Am I collecting the right data?” If it doesn’t provide any insights into who your target audience is, data is, well just data. It clogs up your marketing systems, causes more havoc, more time, and more resources.
Your acquisition dollars should be focused on understanding your audience through a combination of your internal customer and prospect data, as well as third-party demographic data:
Internal data: This data includes anything sitting in a data warehouse, customer relationship management system or other sources that have not been integrated into your marketing database. Examples of internal data include customer service records, transactional data, credit card purchases, or e-mail.
Consumer demographics: Data providers aggregate and source these data sets to compile additional consumer insights such as age, gender, and income. Data may be aggregated from sources including public records, phone directories, U.S. Census data, consumer surveys and other proprietary sources. Example of the types of consumer data selects that can be appended to your database include date of birth, home ownership, occupation, gender, estimated income, age, telephone number, credit card, hobbies, language spoken, purchase behavior, lifestyle interests, presence of children, and investments.
Knowing information about a customer isn’t much help when you can contact them. (Photo: iStock)
2. Be sure your e-mail list is up to date
An average of 30% of subscribers change e-mail addresses each year.
E-mails go bad, and customers move and change their e-mail. Or as is often the case, you may have a huge list of prospects and customers — you know their name, where they live, but have no e-mail address on file.
By using an e-mail append service, you can add these missing e-mail addresses to your customer file. Your customer records, which most likely already consist of names and postal addresses, are matched against a third-party database to produce a corresponding e-mail address.
One of the most often overlooked components of e-mail marketing is e-mail validation and verification. When sourcing new e-mail addresses, a good e-mail append provider will run these addresses through a validation and hygiene process to ensure your newly acquired e-mails are clean and deliverable. The validation process identifies addresses known to be associated with spam traps, invalid e-mails and domains, role accounts, complainers, and known hard-bounces. This process also removes duplicate e-mails and corrects formatting errors.
Prospects and customers respond better to a personalized message. (Photo: iStock)
3. Segment your e-mail list
List segmentation is all about creating personalized e-mails. The segments can be as large or as small as you want, but the more targeted the segment, the more it will resonate with your customers. E-mail segmentation doesn’t need to be a daunting task either — simply starting with when a purchase was last made is a start. But the larger your database and the more varied your product portfolio, the more sophisticated your techniques should become.
The most successful e-mail marketers understand the importance of using data to drive focused campaigns. Data about each of your customer interactions must be combined into one consolidated customer view. Any number of segmentation strategies can then be applied to create hyper-targeted lists.
For example, use data such as credit score, income and products of interest to create targeted segments for particular product offers. These segments can then be further refined by other demographics and data selects, such as age. A marketing message geared towards millennials should be worded differently than one geared towards GenXers or baby boomers.
Prospects and customers are much more apt to respond to a personalized offer based on their interests and just as quickly may delete one that has no relevance. Here are some of these statistics on the benefits of personalized e-mail:
- Personalized e-mails improve click-through rate by an average of 14% and conversions by 10%.
- Personalized subject lines deliver 26% higher unique open rates.
- 94% of companies say personalization is critical to their success.
- Personalized promotional e-mails see transaction rates and revenue per e-mail more than six times higher than messages of the non-personalized variety.
After first contact, it is good idea to send a welcome e-mail. (Photo: iStock)
4. Send e-mails according to the buying cycle
Consumers may contact you immediately for a quote or more often than not, they are in the early stages of the buying cycle.
They may just be checking out your company for future consideration, may need more information and need to be nurtured, or perhaps they indeed reached out indicating they are ready to purchase.
Different messaging should be used for each stage:
- Welcome e-mails: Consumers who first sign up on your website are in the early phase of the buying cycle. Send them a welcome e-mail to set the tone, personalized with their first name of course. Although you may not have other consumer details at this point, an e-mail enhancement provider can provide additional demographic details so these prospects can be nurtured better in the future.
- Nurture e-mails. These e-mails should provide content and show subscribers what your agency has to offer in terms of products, value adds, services, etc. Nurture e-mails should be focused on getting the subscriber to take an action such as filling out a free quote form or contacting an agent.
- Active e-mails. These e-mails should be sent after an e-mail subscriber takes a specific action that indicates he or she is ready to purchase, such as filling out a free quote form on your website. The goal should be to get the prospect to the next stage — purchasing a policy. Use these e-mails to provide more information, a specific offer or promotion, or more details about the policy of interest.
Life changes are a good time to reach customers. (Photo: iStock)
5. Market to consumers in a state of change
In insurance marketing, timing is everything. Regardless of the type of consumer targeting your marketing plan employs, experts agree that state of change targeting produces results.
The two main types of consumer states of change are life changes and asset changes. Examples of life changes are marriage, divorce, new job, new child or moving to a new city. Examples of asset changes would be purchase of a new car, boat or house. Consumers follow a path of fairly predictable life-stage events, and because asset changes often follow closely after life changes, the two are closely related.
Marketers who can leverage data analytics to identify consumers in a state of change significantly increase the likelihood of attaining a new customer by reaching out at the opportune moment. Once analytic tools identify signals that imply change of state in life or assets, highly targeted e-mails can be sent when the moment is right.
When it comes to marketing insurance, e-mail should be an integral component of an integrated multi-channel campaign strategy. With the right data and a well-crafted e-mail message, targeting and acquiring new policy holders with e-mail can be the key differentiator between you and the competition.
Jim Kaiser is vice president of data solutions for Wesley Chapel, Fla.-based data marketing company DataMentors.
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