The financial services industry is suffering from a crisis of trust. In fact, 47% of their customers say they do not trust their own financial provider. How can the industry recover from this damaging fact?
Trust-building should definitely be part of the equation. Trust is a fundamental element that factors into almost every buying decision for a customer.
This is where email marketing proves to be of high value for financial institutions.
Email marketing is one of the long-standing digital strategies that companies employ regardless of industry or methodology. Savvy companies understand the consistency and high ROI that comes from email marketing.
As with every new strategy, it is always good to perform due diligence before commitment. Email marketing is no different, although its performance metrics have been proven time and again.
Let’s take a closer look into what makes email such an impactful platform in a constantly evolving marketplace.
ROI of Email Marketing: Why Brands Prefer Email to Market Themselves
The financial services sector refuses to use email at its own peril. Because regardless of industry, email remains to be a highly effective digital marketing channel.
But many financial services companies mistakenly believe they are building trust with clients and prospects by refusing and even denouncing email as a form of communication.
Econsultancy proves these notions false. 73% of companies surveyed by this group believe email marketing ROI to be excellent or good. Findings from The Relevancy Group echo this sentiment. Marketing executives believe that email, by itself, drives similar revenue levels as display ads, social media and website investment combined.
Email has also been shown to future-proof marketing campaigns. As one of the oldest forms of digital marketing, this may come as a surprise to many digital marketers. However, statistics don’t lie:
Millennials, a group that was originally thought to be the first to email, actually prefers it in many cases, especially for business communications
According to Marketing Sherpa, 35- to 44-year-olds also prefer email
On the other hand, the assumption that email will die with the rise of the Digital Natives has been debunked, with 68% of the teens today saying email is still part of their day-to-day
Designing the Right Email Campaign for a Financial Services Brand
What many marketers are calling a failure of a marketing channel is really a failure to pivot within that channel.
The overall statistics for email marketing remain consistent over the past two decades, and so too does the acceptance level for email marketing as a viable channel.
With this in mind, let’s take a look at some of the ways in which marketers should design an email campaign to better fit a financial services brand in the modern business landscape.
Your Subject Line
Subject lines are incredibly important. Longer subject lines actually outperform shorter ones. Here’s why.
The modern digital consumer is geared to automatically tune out sales messages. And sales messages tend to be short, whereas informational messages are long.
This is why subject lines with a percentage or statistic in them outperform all others across industries and buyer profiles.
For best results, aim for an email subject line of 65 characters. But if you know that the majority of your customers access your email through mobile devices, make sure the first 25 characters get your point across. Many mobile devices will only show 25–30 characters maximum on a subject line.
Cutting Back on the List
For best results, always sanitise your email list. You don’t need to keep everyone on your list hoping that low-interest prospects will eventually turn around.
Conversely, you should consider these hard bounces as a signal that your message may need some tweaking. After you have tweaked the message, you can re-engage these dead leads.
Another reason to cut back on your list is that you need to focus your energies towards engaging with people who are actually interested in your brand. Once you have identified these people, you can create messages that are geared specifically to them. This is likely to improve engagement rates and click-throughs.
Always consider testing the small variables in your campaigns. Perhaps your audience responds better to pictures than to words.
Maybe you should use more text to move the needle.
You will never know unless you invoke some A/B testing into the mix. Email makes it easy because of its relatively low-cost.
If you have multiple buyer profiles, test different campaigns on them. Not only will you be able to determine the most effective design for your emails, but you will also be able to focus on the profiles who respond best to your campaigns.
Proper Email Authentication
Also, make sure that you have been authenticated as an email producer. You need to become familiar with acronyms like DMARC, SPF, and DKIM. As time goes on, email spam filters will become more lethal at weeding out emails that have not been properly authenticated.
Always Entertain or Inform
Finally, make sure that the body of your email is consistently providing either entertainment or information for your target customer.
Most people do not give their full attention to email, so you will constantly have to compete for the eyes and ears of your audience. Consider these numbers:
70% of people check email at the same time they watch television
52% check email from bed
50% check it while on vacation
43% check email while on the phone
42% use the bathroom at the same time that they are reading your messages
You never know how your audience will be viewing your email content. Many mobile devices do not have the capacity to present an HTML email properly. Always give an option for plain-text emails. You may have to reorganise your text email to include statistics embedded in an infograph or a video, but this can be quickly automated with the right marketing partner by your side.
A Call to Action
Believe it or not, customers like to be told what to do. So ensure your emails always include a compelling call to action.
But you should not be shy about putting this call to action in multiple places. You do not have to wait until the end of the email to do this.
Assume that different people in your audience may become interested in your services at different times. Give them the chance to engage you when they want to and do not assume.
Successful Marketing Campaigns
Now let’s take a look at some successful email marketing campaigns that use the above best practices in the financial services industry.
Nearly everyone knows the basic services that PayPal provides. But many people are not aware of the expanded suite of financial services that the company now offers.
PayPal has perfected the art of the gentle onboarding email. When someone signs up for the company’s basic service, they receive a gracious, well-organised email detailing some of the other services that PayPal has.
It is worth noting that this is one of those companies you might think would send out emails saying, “We will never spam you with unnecessary content.” Actually, PayPal does exactly the opposite. They do have a warning system to help customers identify fake emails, but they send their own emails at quite a high frequency.
This is a company that understands how to entertain at the same time inform. Financial services can be somewhat esoteric for some people. Acorns uses this to its advantage. Instead of boring its customers with nuanced details of accounts and investments, it meets its audience halfway.
Benefits, not features, is the name of the Acorns game. The emails that customers receive from this financial services brand have to do with the amazing vacations and activities you can accomplish with a stable financial plan.
Wealthsimple realises that people are averse to changing their banking brand after making that initial decision. Bankrate has found that the average person stays with the same bank for an average of 16 years.
Wealthsimple gets around this with some eye-opening statistics in its promotional campaigns.
It does not start out advertising its services when it sends out emails. Rather, it tells prospects about their ability to become millionaires by saving only a few thousand dollars per year. The statement is bold, but it does check out (at least in the ideal situation).
Emails from this company also have a tendency to be quite humorous. They have found that this mix of information and education garners them more than the average amount of attention, and eventually, conversions.
The visual aspect of your email is an incredibly important part of how well it performs. Mint can tell you this firsthand. This company uses bright colours, striking pictures, bold font to get its powerful message across. Whether the news that it is bringing is bad, good, or neutral, you will understand exactly what that message is within milliseconds of opening the email.
Mint also immediately hits you with things that are important to you such as the ability to get a free credit score report. The company tells you about every update that it provides you with a message about how it will directly improve your life.
Finally, Harvest is a great example of how to build a monthly newsletter. Many people want to know about their accounts — they just don’t want to be bored with esoteric details.
Harvest gives its clients a perfect balance of easy-to-read statistics and deep knowledge about their accounts through well-organised monthly newsletters. They may take a bit more time to personalise, but they keep engagement rates high and bounce rates low.
After presenting relevant information, Harvest leads into whatever call to action it prefers that month.
It wasn’t a long time ago that some “thought leaders” predicted the end of email. Obviously, there is no ounce of truth to it. Many marketers can attest that it’s one of today’s strongest-performing platforms.
If an email marketing strategy is well executed, it could build brand trust, improve brand loyalty, and ultimately increase sales.