By Sam Holding, Head of International, SparkPost
The secret to a successful marketing campaign, no matter the industry, comes down to a well-oiled email programme.
In the financial industry, high volumes of emails are being sent every day, and it is vitally important that customers trust the sender, and understand the information that is being shared through the email. And in the financial industry, this is even more. But ensuring that emails are being received correctly, both in terms of deliverability and content, is much easier said than done. How can organisations ensure that their emails are reaching customers and prospects successfully, and sending the right message?
While financial services firms certainly need to consider the content and branding of their emails, they must also prioritise the foundational elements of email, namely deliverability, in order to make email the ROI machine it can be. That said, deliverability, content, and branding are the combined ingredients necessary for financial services to fully realise the potential of their email programs.
For high volume senders, even a seemingly nominal decrease in deliverability rates can represent a huge decline in how many customers are actually seeing their emails. More than that, with financial institutions, the value of each converted customer can be quite high meaning that even a 1% decrease in inboxing rates can mean major losses. Once financial organisations understand the pounds and pence of deliverability, it’s time to start implementing tactical best practices to avoid the pitfalls of declining deliverability rates.
Step 1. Improve your reputation as a sender
For financial organisations, using email to help boost their credibility and reputation is essential. Actions such as sending on new IP addresses with unproven reputations, can seriously impact an organisations reputation with current and potential customers, therefore it is vital that email activity is set up to improve a company’s reputation and not the other way round. It is important that anything considered personally identifiable about a customer (or PII), like their phone number, account number, or address, are properly protected and only shared with the customer themselves. On the other hand, another way to build customer trust is by letting them know information that you will never ask for over email, so that they can easily identify any suspicious communication that occurs, without finding out the hard way.
Also, when it comes to building a solid sending reputation financial firms shouldn’t send too much, too soon, from a new IP address.
- Relevant email sending is key
Once the more technical aspects of email sending are in place, organisations must next ensure that the content they are sending in their emails is truly relevant to the recipients. No matter how engaging and interesting an email is, if it is not relevant to the recipient, it simply will not yield success. The more relevant the emails are, the more likely they’ll be well received by consumers.
Financial institutions should be mindful when building lists for sends and use data like past purchases, traffic logs, and on-site search to inform who they’d like to send to, avoiding the temptation to blanket their whole audience with a single email in the name of efficiency. In order to get the most out of email communications, sending highly targeted messages will be much more effective in not only building reputation, but building out a strong and engaged list.
- Produce high quality content
Once the relevant audiences have been defined through segmentation, the next task is to decide on the content of the emails.. When it comes to sending out marketing messages, financial institutions should consider the kind of information their recipients find valuable, and produce content that is in line with their needs. One way of ensuring marketing emails resonate with the audience is through promotions. Who doesn’t love a good offer? Customers need to be able to see the value in subscribing to emails, and offering valuable educational seminars and content and special offers tailored to their financial picture via email is a simple way to do that.
Another best practice for financial institutions is to pay close attention to writing great subject lines. Since many customers won’t see more than the first few words — especially on mobile, senders should put the most relevant and targeted terms up-front, making the value to the customer immediately clear. With smart content informed by great segmentation, financial firms can really leverage the power of email in their marketing strategies.
- Use strong branding to boost integrity
The last foundational ingredient to a great financial services email strategy is branding.
To ensure brand integrity, it is essential that every aspect of an organisation’s messaging — visual identity, voice, value proposition — is consistent and compelling. A common pitfall is to use different systems or third-party providers for automated transactional emails, marketing emails,
and other types of messages. This can lead the look and feel of the messages customers receive to vary widely, creating a confusing brand experience. By managing all messages through a single system, financial firms can build a stronger connection with customers and make each email they receive feel part of a coherent and valuable relationship.
As part of a financial services organisation’s branding strategy, it’s a good idea to use the brand name in the “from” field that shows up in the recipient’s inbox. Some marketers use an individual’s name with the belief that it will seem more personal, but this can also make it seem like spam. Instead, use a name customers will expect to see, then stick with it consistently across all emails to build recognition and trust. Using a solid and consistent brand is a best practice for any brand that sends email!
When it comes to your email marketing strategy, different approaches will work for different organisations, and will depend on the intended outcome. For large volume senders, like financial organisations, this is particularly true, and it is even more important that you know why you are sending your email and who it is intended for in order to get the most success possible. By following best practices, and taking care in your approach, email can be the gateway to a higher reputation and more loyal customer base.