Marketing emails remain a strong way to engage financial services customers and drive sales. According to OptinMonster:

  • 60% of consumers subscribe to brand email lists to get promotional messages
  • 44% of people check email when they want to find a special deal
  • 60% of consumers have made purchases after receiving marketing emails

However, it’s crucial to ensure that the messages your customers receive are relevant to their needs. If they’re not, the fallout can be deadly: according to SuperOffice, when people see emails that aren’t tailored to them:

  • 60% of them delete the message
  • 27% click the “unsubscribe” link
  • 23% do the worst thing possible: they mark the email as spam

All of those things can not only hurt your engagement numbers but also do damage to your sender reputation, which can make it tougher to reach your customers’ inboxes.

Create personas and develop a customer journey

The best way to keep that from happening and avoid the “one size fits all” approach is to slice your customer list into segments according to specific criteria, such as:

  • Customer’s ages, if you know that
  • How long customers have been with you
  • The last time they interacted with your company, such as opening an email or logging into their account
  • Where your customers live (certain financial services products may not be available everywhere, depending on local laws)
  • Which of your products they use (useful for cross-selling and upselling)
  • How much they spend per month or year, or if they’re only using free services (helpful for ROI calculations for different segments)

You can then create personas for those segments. For example, look at the data for your new customers and imagine who they are and how they feel. Do they tend to be younger or older? What are they likely hoping to get out of their relationship with your company? (That could be different from what your long-term customers want.) How do they feel when they get that welcome email? Excited? Nervous? Relieved that they’ve completed a difficult process?

Repeat that exercise for each segment. If necessary, create a quick profile of who the typical customer is in each segment, so you can write your marketing emails as if you’re talking to them. For example: “John is 28 years old. He downloaded our mobile app and created an account for the first time. He’s single, or possibly newly married, and has some extra money to invest every month, before he starts a family and those funds are diverted to other things. He’s open to riskier investments with bigger potential payoffs, such as crowd-funded start-ups, but he’s also nervous about losing money on them.”

Here are 6 examples of financial services emails that do a good job of speaking to specific customer personas.

1. QuickBooks: “We’re so glad you’re here!”

Intuit has carved out a nice chunk of the market by providing financial software to small businesses as well as accountants and other sole proprietors in that space. Their welcome email sets the right tone by making the customer feel like they made the right choice and, in a nifty bit of personalization, acknowledging why they’re there. (“You told us you want to send invoices.”)

The email is short and simple, as a welcome message should be, and puts the main focus on what the customer wants to do, complete with a list of steps and a CTA that sends them to the right place to get started. Intuit still does a little bit of cross-selling by closing the email with a list of other things that the customer is likely to be interested in too, but it wisely avoids any hard sells.

2. Weekly report from Mint: “Here’s how you’re doing”

This is a good example of a triggered email sent to a customer who has had an account for a while. Mint lets users link their bank accounts, credit cards, investment portfolios, and loans to one account, as well as create budgets and set financial goals. It drives revenues from referrals to financial institutions, credit cards, and other financial services products.

The company sends a weekly email that lays out everything the customer needs to know about their account, providing them with a useful visual snapshot of a point in time, so the customer understands the complete picture of their financial health. They adopt a breezy, conversational tone, speaking to the customer as if they’re a good friend giving them some useful advice.

Mint also uses the email to drive engagement if the customer hasn’t completed their account setup, with comments like, “You spent $0.00 in the last week. Wait, that can’t be right…” They make sure to include value props, so the customer understands why they should click through and finish those tasks.

3. ScholarShare 529: “The new year brings a new opportunity”

ScholarShare 529 helps parents save for their kids’ college educations, or private elementary and high school educations, by setting up 529 plans, which are college savings accounts that are exempt from federal taxes.

This promotional email was sent out during the first week of January, so it assumes the recipients are likely making personal improvement resolutions and feeling optimistic about getting a fresh start. It also acknowledges that the reader is very likely a parent, so it adopts the tone of a financial planner who’s letting their client know that they should start thinking about saving for college and, by the way, it’s never too late to get started on that.

4. Wells Fargo: “Depositing checks is as easy as snapping a photo”

This marketing email from Wells Fargo is aimed at longer term customers – probably older Gen Xers and Baby Boomers – who haven’t made the leap to smartphone-based deposits yet by showing them how easy it is. The lifestyle photo conveys the idea that members of an older generation can do it too: “Look how easily her daughter is making a deposit,” it seems to say.

The bullet points reinforce the idea that depositing a check with your phone is easy, convenient, and secure, and the Sign On CTA button takes the recipient straight into their account, which makes sense given how many people read email on their phones.

5. Great Lakes: “Your 2018 Student Loan Tax Information”

This triggered email was sent to all student loan borrowers at the end of November, a time when many people are not only thinking about the holidays but also wrapping up their finances for the year. The lifestyle image and the text assume the recipient is probably in their 20s, or maybe 30s, and needs a prompt to remember about accounting for their student loan interest on their taxes.

That’s why the tone is a bit parental, like someone sitting down with their adult child to remind them about something that may not be top of mind at tax time, when they’re more likely to be thinking about W-2s, 1099s, charitable contributions, and other items that tend to get more focus.

6. Acorns: “Let’s talk mortgages”

We’ll wrap up with a promotional cross-sell message that’s also aimed at a younger crowd. Acorns is an investment service that rounds up its users’ purchases to the nearest dollar and puts the leftover change into investment funds, so it fosters many partnerships with financial companies that can be useful to their customers.

This email is written as if it’s coming from a parent, or perhaps a financial advisor, who wants to explain how the home buying process starts before segueing into a pitch for a partner who can help with the first step in that journey. The message also assumes that the reader has been a customer for a while and trusts Acorns to steer them in the right direction with their financial decisions.


~ Casey