Email is the channel most likely to still exist a decade from now, according to The Financial Brand. In fact, email was cited by 70% of consumers surveyed, more than Facebook, Snapchat, postal mail, and even cable TV. That percentage was higher among older millennials (72.1%), demonstrating that reports of email’s death have indeed been exaggerated.
That’s good news for financial services businesses, especially since a Q1 2017 report by Yes Lifecycle Marketing showed a 35.7% open rate for marketing emails in that vertical, which led all industries. And with 269 million emails sent each day among 3.7 billion people worldwide in 2017, there are plenty of opportunities for businesses in that sector to engage customers and grow their revenue.
With that in mind, it’s important to follow these best practices when planning, executing, measuring, and refining your financial services email marketing campaigns.
1. Optimize your emails for mobile devices
Smartphones now allow consumers to transact business – check bank account balances, pay bills, and even apply for credit – anywhere, any time. In fact, according to The Financial Brand, 60% of smartphone users said they use some form of mobile banking, compared to 36% just four years prior.
When it comes to email, the number of people on the planet using mobile email is expected to top 2.2 billion by the end of 2018. When those on-the-go consumers open emails that haven’t been optimized for their mobile devices, 80.3% of them delete those messages. You don’t want someone ignoring a credit card offer or a bank account alert because the email wasn’t optimized for their device.
Use a responsive email template to ensure customers have no problems viewing your messages on smaller mobile screens, especially if they haven’t upgraded to one of the newer “phablet” phones. Keep your messaging short and to the point, with such relevant details as account balances, alerts, and so forth, at the top of the email.
Make sure your CTAs are clear, so that the reader knows exactly what will happen when they tap the buttons. Multiple CTAs can be useful, if there are secondary actions your customers might want to take, especially when alerting them to a problem with a transaction. In such a situation, you could use “See Transaction” and “Contact Us” CTAs, but keep the options to a minimum – two potential actions are usually best.
2. Segment your customer lists
Financial services can easily lend itself to the creation of distinct personas that you can use to segment your customer lists based on various characteristics. You can use the information you have about your customers to slice your lists by various criteria, such as:
- Age: People who are near, or at, retirement age will respond differently to investment options than younger people, who may be more interested in home loans or credit cards. Middle-aged customers could be more receptive to student loan information.
- Location: This is useful for promoting a new business location to people living in that area, or for highlighting home loan rates in cities with active real estate markets.
- Stage in the sales cycle: Some financial services products have long sales cycles, so create a series of emails that will be sent to customers at each stage of that journey. For example, if you send a location-based message highlighting home loans to people in cities with a lot of real estate activity, you can retarget people who opened the emails but didn’t take further action, and then you can retarget people who started to fill out a form but dropped out, and so forth.
- Habits: If you have customers who interact with your business infrequently, try prompting them to become more active by upselling them on a product or service.
3. Create triggered emails tied to the customer journey and review them often
It’s important to create transactional emails that let customers know about the status of loan applications, activities such as stock trades, and so forth, but you can also get a lot of value out of triggered emails that are tied to specific stages in your customer journey. They would be sent out in addition to the usual triggered emails that notify customers about low account balances and other events.
For example, you can send emails when a customer:
- Sets up a new account (be sure to send out at least one “How are you doing?” follow-up that lets the customer know you appreciate their business)
- Reaches an account anniversary
- Has had a lapse in activity for a certain period of time
- Hits a certain transactional threshold and would be a good prospect for an upsell
Review your triggered emails at least once or twice a year to ensure they’re still relevant, especially since financial products and the laws governing them can change often.
4. Consider subject lines and preview text, and test as much as you can
Transactional emails tend to have high open rates because customers have a vested interest in those messages, but you need to add a little extra finesse to triggered emails. The subject line and preview text should entice the customer to click to open, so we recommend taking a look at “164 Best Email Subject Lines to Boost Your Email Open Rates” at OptinMonster.
Preview text is important to pay attention to as well, especially since modern email clients will often fill that field with something if the sender hasn’t provided anything. That means your customers could end up seeing alt-text from a header image or other non-useful information. You definitely want to avoid that scenario.
Keep in mind that it can be tricky to determine how long the preview text should be – if it’s too long, it will get cut off, but if it’s too short, that aforementioned non-useful information could get added to your text. Litmus has a useful hack that lets you create white space after your preview text, so email clients won’t be able to fill in any gaps.
Once you’ve determined the best subject lines and preview text for your emails, you’ll want to do some A/B testing to determine which approach will work best. Set aside 10% of your audience as a no-email control group and split the rest 50/50 between, for example, a subject line that uses a question and one that doesn’t.
You can also test the insides of an email too, such as CTA placement, but try to test one variable at a time. Testing a subject line and the contents of the email in the same experiment may not give you useful results.
5. Personalize your messages as much as possible and include interactive content
Sure, addressing customers by their names is Personalization 101, but you can use a lot of the other information you know about them to offer a customized experience that makes them feel like the email they’ve received is just for them. For example, you can pull in:
- An estimated APR for a loan or credit card
- An end-of-month summary of their account, such as deposit and withdrawal totals
- Local business information, including addresses, hours of operation, and the names and phone numbers of team members who can assist them with their needs
- Real-time data, such as stock prices
- Loyalty program totals
You can add interactive content to make your messages more engaging. For example, you can insert calculators, quizzes, videos, and other pieces of content that can make your emails so valuable that customers may want to retain them for future reference.