Agents know that the best and easiest way to grow their businesses is through cross-selling. However, most agencies only sell, on average, two or less policies per account. According to a Bain & Co. study, new customer acquisition can cost five times more than retaining an existing customer. Despite knowing this, the cross-selling conversation just doesn’t happen between agents and their clients.

But with the right approach and tools, increasing your policy-to-account ratio no longer has to be left to chance or to the comfort level of your customer service reps. In fact, discerning customers’ and prospects’ areas of interest or pain points is one of the strengths that automated e-mail marketing addresses.

The concept behind e-mail marketing is two-fold: By periodically sending out informational e-mails, it keeps your business top of mind with your customers. Secondly, these messages provide links to additional material, which leads customers down the marketing funnel.

By giving information on insurance and risk, then asking follow-up questions based on what actions the prospect takes regarding your information, you will understand their interests. These are often tied to life events—new home, new child, retirement, a major purchase, etc.

There is profit in knowing your customers well, but finding time to make those contacts and have those conversations with each of your clients is challenging. An automated e-mail marketing system will gather that information, free the limited time your staff has and identify low-hanging fruit that’s ideal for cross-selling.

Automated E-mail 101

Most automated marketing systems send auto responder campaigns. These are a series of e-mails that deploy in a particular order at predetermined intervals.

Your best approach to creating the proper campaign is to first identify two or three end points, such as adding auto policies among your existing clients.

Write the e-mails as though you are meeting individually with each person; keep it educational and informal. Start the e-mails from a broad topic that could be tied to something seasonal or current (in our example, this could be information on telematics), which means that once you have the campaign created and running, you’ll need to update the first message to keep it fresh.

The series of e-mails should cover different topics so your agency builds credibility and a reputation of its expertise. Each one should have a call to action, such as a link that takes readers to additional information on your website or blog (for example, a list of insurers that offer usage-based insurance programs or a downloadable white paper that you received from one of your carriers). If this action is taken, the software stops the first campaign and starts these readers down a different path specific to their interested topic, which is an opportunity for you to follow up.

If you are struggling with the current personal lines market or if you are looking to offset the volatile commercial lines market, then cross-selling and growing your policy-to-account ratio is the path to take. The technology is there to support you.