Mention e-mail marketing to fellow insurance professionals and you may find that many are still hesitant to move away from their tried-and-true snail mail methods. Others, however, are rapidly discovering that e-mail marketing is just about one of the most effective means of generating business.
Want proof? When Shop.org surveyed retailers for their State of Retailing Online 2009 report, they found that e-mail was the most-mentioned successful tactic overall. The Ad Effectiveness Survey commissioned by Forbes Media in February/March 2009 placed e-mail marketing second only to SEO for generating conversions. And, research conducted in 2009 by the Direct Marketing Association demonstrated that e-mail out-performs all other forms of direct marketing.
The bigger question, of course, is why? Out of all the hundreds or even thousands of messages consumers are exposed to each day, why is e-mail marketing so effective?
There are several reasons, and insurance businesses who embrace these principles will quickly find themselves with more customer relationships. It’s competitive out there, and building relationships is often key to writing new business.
1. E-mail marketing has a broad reach. It’s tough to find anyone who doesn’t have at least one e-mail address these days, which means you can reach out to your entire customer and/or prospect base. Just be sure to get their permission first by asking if you can add them to your mailing list.
2. E-mail marketing is proactive. Many insurance professionals – especially those running a small office – start promoting their services by taking out ads in a phone directory, a local community newspaper, or by sending direct mail. The problem is your customers and prospects have to happen across the ads in order to see them. E-mail marketing goes directly to a place they’re already looking – their e-mail in-box. And unlike paper-based mail or door hangers, e-mail gives them the opportunity to contact you directly to get a quote or more information by simply clicking a mouse.
3. E-mail marketing is targeted. Most forms of advertising are based on the concept that if you hit thousands of people with your message, even though it means nothing to most of them, a few are likely to respond. E-mail marketing, though, is based on the idea of sending the right message directly to the right people based on their preferences, local market conditions and other factors. You can build one master list, then segment it by geographic location, marital status, gender, age, income, seasonality, etc. It eliminates a lot of the guesswork that makes other forms of marketing so inefficient. It also allows you to harness the power of your customer data and create very specific offers tailored to specific groups, such as suggesting that parents add their kids to an insurance policy.
4. E-mail marketing provides data. If you’re using an email marketing application or service designed for small business, you can run reports that show which e-mails or messages worked, as well as which didn’t, so you can improve your next campaign. You can even run split tests, sending one offer or message to half your list and a different one to the other half, so you can get a better feel for exactly what makes customers and prospects buy from you.
5. E-mail marketing allows you to engage. It’s nice to get the immediate reaction from a person who sees your e-mail just as he/she decides to get coverage. But your real goal is to build a relationship with a broader base of prospects so they think of you whenever it’s time for them to reconsider their insurance policy or add new coverage. E-mail marketing allows you to do that by bringing them community and market news, safety checklists to keep claims down, timely tips (like consolidating policies with you for a lower rate), and even seasonal ideas related to their insurance needs. It’s a great way to engage them – and keep them engaged.
6. E-mail marketing has a low cost of entry. Most forms of advertising or marketing require a big up-front investment before you see any results. That can get expensive for a mortgage broker trying to keep expenses down. E-mail marketing has very little up-front cost, allowing you to market effectively without having to stop your core business work for long periods to get it done.
7. E-mail marketing is less intrusive. Unlike a lot of advertising, such as telemarketing calls, e-mail marketing doesn’t interrupt a prior activity to deliver a message. Opening e-mail is the activity your customers and prospects are engaged in when they see your message. If you’ve done a good job of building that relationship, they’ll actually look forward to seeing what you have to say.
8. E-mail marketing works. According to the DMA’s research, e-mail marketing generated a return on investment of $43.62 for every dollar spent on it in 2009. You’re unlikely to find that kind of ROI out of any other form of marketing or advertising. That, of course, is the best reason of all to launch an e-mail marketing campaign.
Done correctly, e-mail marketing allows you to become (and remain) visible to your customers and prospects with highly-targeted messages at a minimal cost. All while delivering outstanding, measurable results.
Wendy Lowe is director of product marketing for Campaigner (www.campaigner.com), an e-mail marketing solution that enables organizations to have highly personalized one-to-one e-mail dialogues with their customers, measure how they respond, and analyze those responses to interact in a more intelligent, automated way – resulting in more profitable relationships. Wendy can be reached at email@example.com.