Email Marketing is Still a Good Bang for Your Buck — But You Have to Do It Right

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    Email marketing is tried-and-true.

    Though not the newest or most cutting edge of digital tactics, it’s certainly one of the most productive. When used correctly, it’s a technique that can help independent agents add qualified leads to their sales funnel and reel in more customers.

    Email marketing also happens to have an amazing ROI. For every dollar spent on email marketing in 2016, the return on investment was $44, the Campaign Monitor reports.

    Unfortunately, many new agents hit a snag with their email marketing, especially if they’re just starting out. Sometimes it’s a matter of relevance; other times it’s a matter of sending out promotional emails rather than informative ones. And once in a while, it’s failing to employ copywriting best practices.  

    Whatever the case may be, here’s how to avoid unnecessary mistakes and put together a winning email strategy to grow your agency.


    Start with Personalization

    One of the first places that independent agents go wrong is sending generic email “blasts” that don’t target any particular segment of subscribers.

    This is problematic because it’s a huge turnoff for many people. If the email doesn’t address their specific needs and pain points, it will at best be overlooked. And at worst, a large percentage of people will simply unsubscribe.

    In fact, over half (52 percent) of customers say that they’ll actually go elsewhere if they receive email content that isn’t personalized, Blake Miller at Salesforce writes. The potential repercussions are enormous.

    On the other hand, personalization can have a huge positive impact. The Experian team found that personalizing the subject lines in marketing emails resulted in a 27 percent higher unique click rate and more than double the transaction rate when compared to non-personalized emails.

    So exactly how do you achieve this?

    It’s simple. Break your email list down into smaller segments.

    Segment your list by buyer habits and interests, location, age and gender, new subscribers and even users who have abandoned your site, marketer Syed Balkhi writes. The trick is to create separate emails for each segment; that each segment subscriber gets unique content tailored just for them.

    It’s important to view the purpose of segmentation as making sure that all your subscribers receive highly relevant content that genuinely interests them and is worth their time, marketing expert Kristen Buerman says. If subscribers continuously receive emails they’re not interested in, it’s going to lead to people unsubscribing or even marking your messages as spam.

    interested - email marketing


    Focus on Informing Rather Than Promoting

    Nurturing is very much a critical component of email marketing. You will seldom find success by being hyper-promotional, especially right off the bat. Instead, you should take your time and concentrate more on educating and informing subscribers on the ins and outs of insurance.

    Simply put, be extremely helpful.

    “If you are helpful, users will start to trust and enjoy hearing from you,” finance writer and founder of Personal Profitability Eric Rosenberg writes. “Either include something useful for your target audience in the email text or point readers to another resource on the web, maybe something new on your blog, that will help them succeed.”

    For instance, you may point them to content that discusses how a particular insurance policy works, what’s covered and how much it costs. At the same time, you want to avoid sending overly promotional messages that implore subscribers to buy a policy right away.

    Stay away from the hard sell, and strive to gradually build relationships. The sales should eventually come.


    Switch Up Your Content

    It’s obvious that the content you deliver to subscribers must be new or updated each time. Added to that is how you deliver that information: The last thing you want to do is bore people with the exact same format every single time.

    There are several options to choose from, Jeff Cox at email marketing automation software company, SendinBlue says. These include newsletters, transactional messages (e.g. reminding someone of an upcoming appointment), seasonal messages and special promotions.

    And it doesn’t have to end there — you’re free to be as creative as you want. Many marketers are incorporating video and having great success with it. Video can generate a lot of buzz and is often the catalyst for increased engagement, marketer Lisa Furgison McEwen writes at Pinpointe Marketing.

    Just including the word “video” in the subject line increases the average open rate by 19 percent, boosts click-through rates by 65 percent and even reduces unsubscribes by 26 percent, digital marketing company Syndacast reports.

    At the end of the day, however, it’s all about delivering value. As long as every email provides real value to your customers, you should be in good shape.


    Fine Tune Your Subject Lines

    The subject line is a simple yet critical part of an email. It’s the main factor that impacts your open rate, Kevin George at email design and coding company, EmailMonks, writes.

    In fact, 47 percent of people open an email based on the subject line alone, according to Khalid Saleh, cofounder and CEO of Invesp, a provider of conversion optimization software and services. So it’s not something that you want to haphazardly write. Believe it or not, there’s a lot of science that goes into the process.

    Chad Edmonds, senior marketing manager at Add This, suggests using one of three categories:

    • Benefit. This focuses on something that’s advantageous to subscribers (e.g. How to choose the best homeowners insurance).
    • Logic. This is based on common sense and goes deeper than something that’s purely beneficial (e.g. How to save on homeowners insurance).
    • Threat. This isn’t as nefarious as it may sound and is merely rooted in the fear of missing out (e.g. Are you spending way too much on homeowners insurance?).

    This should serve as a good starting point and help you with your basic approach.

    The MailChimp team takes it one step further and touches on current best practices for writing email subject lines. Keep the number of characters short to accommodate mobile users; use highly descriptive words to pique the reader’s interest; and don’t overdo it with emojis.

    They also explain the importance of A/B testing. This is where you where measure key metrics such as the open rate of different emails to see which one had a bigger impact. You will gain insights on what people are most responsive to, which will help you draft stronger subject lines in future.  

    response - email marketing


    Use Strong Copywriting

    Similarly, keep the email body copy brief, Ben Sailer at marketing calendar CoSchedule advises. He says that you should use a maximum of 25 words per sentence and no more than three sentences per paragraph.

    Another topic he tackles is the call-to-action (CTA) where you prompt readers to click on a link. Sailer recommends keeping it simple and only using one CTA per email. However, he says that it’s totally fine to use it in multiple spots within the same email.

    Use the second person (you and your), adds HubSpot’s Lindsay Kolowich. Keep the email body relevant to the subject line and focus on the benefits for readers.


    Factor in Timing

    Roughly 269 billion emails are sent every day, and that number will increase to 316 billion per day by 2021, IT company Templafy reports. This means that most of our inboxes are filled to the brim and people can barely keep up with all of the emails they receive.

    So it’s important that you have a strategy in place that allows your emails to get noticed over all of the others. One of the easiest ways to do this is to strategically time your emails so that they’re sent when people are most likely to check their inbox.

    There have been several studies on this topic, but cofounder and CMO of email marketing tool Sleeknote, Emil Kristensen crunches the data and says that the absolute best times are Tuesdays and Thursdays between 10 and 11 a.m. The worst times for open rates are on the weekend.

    While you’ll likely want to do some of your own experimentation to find the sweet spot for your company, these times tend to work well across the board.


    Strategizing to Grow Your Business

    Marketing techniques come and go. But one that continues to flourish is email marketing.

    And it’s interesting to note that email is the preferred means of business communication for millennials, Allen Finn at Wordstream writes, by a large majority at 73 percent. This is unlikely to change any time soon.

    The key to making email marketing work as an independent agent is knowing your subscribers, implementing best practices and developing an effective strategy around them, and providing high quality, useful information.

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