Targeted E-Mail Lists Can Help Sales Execs Reach Producers

By Judy Diamond

Qualified retirement plan sales executives in the mutual fund, insurance and banking industries have begun to question the cost of their printed marketing materials and e-mail campaigns.

The biggest issue is whether the intended target–an advisor or broker actively working with clients who need qualified retirement plan financial products–is actually reading the materials, whether mailed via U.S. Postal Service or e-mailed.

Mailing lists and now e-mailing lists available from list houses are only as good as the number of accurate targeted addresses they represent.

The question is: How can anyone actually verify their usefulness? People move. E-mail server companies are merged and acquired, and e-mail addresses change.

The answer: Look for e-mail lists that have been created from “opt-in” names. An opt-in name is the address of a person who asks to be included on an e-mail list to receive something of perceived value in return. When these persons change their e-mail address, they will often notify the source (particularly if they are reading opt-in newsletters) so they can continue receiving the newsletter, product announcements or whatever they found of value.

The best source of e-mail addresses is from someone who is selling a related, but non-competitive product to the exact audience that the sales executive is trying to reach.

Whether the sales executive wants to send an electronic product newsletter, or alert large numbers of targeted producers about news or regulatory information that impacts product sales, the provider of the e-mail list should be able to segment to meet the target audience in the following ways:

According to the type of financial professional: stock brokers, investment managers, insurance brokers, accountants, bankers, financial planners, third-party administrators.

By region.

By states within a region.

Sales executives should also look into the availability of banner advertising, which, when combined with an e-mail “blast” (industry jargon for a large e-mailing campaign), can produce the heaviest rate of return.

They should also see whether the company with the lists produces other publications where a companys products and services can be advertised online for a fee, such as a resources directory.

The company selling access to its e-mail lists should have qualified, proven in-house Web design experts who can take your message and adapt it to the format of choice. Additionally, they should provide the capability of removing duplications from your list (de-duping), removing bounce backs (bad e-mail addresses) and most important of all, keeping detailed track of removal requests (“removes”) as an important customer service courtesy.

In addition to e-mail lists created through publishing, executives also should look into the e-mail list availability from speakers well known in the retirement industry. Speakers often develop opt-in newsletters to promote their own speaking and consulting services, and they end up with a very targeted list.

Also, executives are advised to check out the larger reputable list brokerage houses, of which there are more than 100. These companies only sell opt-in lists and work diligently on removing “bouncebacks” and “removes.”

Be fussy about what you buy for a list. The busier the producer, the less likely he is to open and read materials that come by the Postal Service. Many producers throw away marketing material before they even open it. They are often too busy contacting prospects to have a keen interest. On the other hand, a tantalizing subject line on an e-mail will be read.

In a study announced recently by DoubleClick.com, e-mail was found to be a major driver of multi-channel purchasing. The study shows that when used effectively, permission-based (opt-in) e-mail has a dramatic effect on both online and offline purchasing. The study said that readers respond to e-mails not only in the online world, but increasingly, offline too.

Sales executives are under the gun to reach more of the right professionals who can sell their products. The right e-mail lists can go a long way toward solving the problem.


Reproduced from National Underwriter Life & Health/Financial Services Edition, January 13, 2003. Copyright 2003 by The National Underwriter Company in the serial publication. All rights reserved.Copyright in this article as an independent work may be held by the author.