Email Marketing for Financial Services: What You Need to Know to Make it Work for You

Email marketing is one of the oldest and most respected forms of digital marketing, but it’s also one that often goes wrong, and financial services email marketing is no exception. Email is high-performing in most industries, with an average open rate of 24%, but it’s also intrusive. Nearly anyone you ask would say that they receive too many emails from companies who just want to sell things, which often leads to declining open rates and individuals simply leaving newsletters altogether. Understanding how email marketing works for financial services is important if you want to launch a campaign that drives results, without spamming or alienating customers or prospects.

Importantly, there are many different ways to launch a financial services email marketing campaign. Not all of them are right for every financial organization and you will have to update and tweak your marketing strategies based on your customer base, target demographic, and brand personality.

Get Permission First… No, Really!

Most email newsletters work a bit like this:

“Mary signs up for an account with Organization B. During signup, she inputs her email so she can log in and receive updates about her financial information. During signup, she forgets to uncheck the box (fine print) opting her into the email newsletter and other financial marketing information. Suddenly, she’s receiving an email campaign. Nothing is very interesting or relevant, so she just stops opening up new emails. Eventually, she unsubscribes or even hits the Spam button when she sees a new email.”

While there is a lot of value in having people opted into your finance emails, that value is only as high as the individual interest in what you’re sharing and the relevance of what you are sharing to their interests.

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This means that you’re better off creating small, highly tailored financial email marketing lists designed around specific people and their needs. Mailing out general content won’t likely make you a sale. Depending on the scale at which your organization operates, you can either use automation and a short questionnaire to ascertain what new subscribers are interested in, or manually/automatically sort them based on products, account type, and details such as region, account balance, and portfolio.

You should also set up an automated process where customers are queried whether they are still interested in receiving emails if they don’t open 3-5 emails. You can then follow up and ask customers to redefine interests so that everything remains relevant and you see feedback.

Don’t Just Try to Make a Sale

Most people don’t appreciate being sold to. Most people also don’t like ads. If your emails are a combination of sales pitch and advertisement, chances are, no one likes them. This is especially relevant in financial services email marketing because most people find finances boring. What happens when people keep receiving boring emails they don’t like? They stop reading them.

How can you adapt email marketing for financial services without being boring? In most cases, you’ll have to tie in services, digital storytelling, and human factor or interest points. This means that if you want to pitch a feature, you have to find a story or a human factor that will make it more interesting. If you know your audience is budgeting, that story could be as simple as “Save 1.3% on your savings loan” but if you’re marketing to parents with young children, you could share a story about how a customer put her child through college saving X amount per week on a special college savings account. This would have an emotional factor and an interesting point, as well as storytelling, but leaves room for a very clear call to action and offers an easy way to add value to the customer.

Bottom line: Don’t bore your readers

Tie in Mobile and Social Marketing

Most people read email on their phones or tablets. While this doesn’t account for everyone the vast majority at least check email on their phone. You have to optimize email for mobile but you should also tie in different aspects of marketing. This means linking in social media and mobile marketing to create more engagement and interest.

How does that work? Link social media into emails. Ask users to hashtag and share to a social media account. Create geo campaigns, targeting users based on their phones. Trigger emails when consumers walk into a branch. Most importantly, create complementary campaigns across social media and email, so that consumers can easily find what they are looking for, even as they move across channels.

Don’t Ask Too Much

In any relationship, you can only ask for so much before you have to give something. In your current relationship of marketer-consumer, you are asking the consumer to open your email every time you send one. Each time they do, it’s a show of trust. They trust, or hope, you’ve sent something valuable and interesting that won’t waste their time. If you constantly follow up that initial ask with another ask, you’ll quickly lose interest.

Let’s take this example:

Email Subject: “New Discounted Rates for Customers”

Email Body: “Have you been an AAA Banking customer for 12 months or longer? Take advantage of our new loans, with interest rates reduced to as little as 5.5% for qualifying customers”

CTA: “Click Here to Calculate Your Interest Rate”

Landing Page: Fill Out This Form to See Your Interest Rate

That’s a lot of asks. Most consumers aren’t going to follow through, especially if they didn’t expressly need a loan in the first place. Try to keep asks for most emails down to as few requests as possible and attempt to deliver at every step. If you promise something in the email subject, deliver it in the email body. If you promise something in the CTA, deliver it on the landing page, and so on. No one will keep going without reward.

A Little Personalization Goes a Long Way

Modern email automation and segmentation, as well as app and phone integration, allow financial institutions to collect and utilize more data than ever before. Chances are you already collect all the data you need, you should be utilizing it. Personalized emails and email campaigns are incredibly valuable for driving sales and often require only basic automation.

For example, in the email above, you could take personalization, reduced asks, and mobile marketing to create a highly personalized email. If you have an algorithm calculating a loan interest rate based on the individual’s account, you could automatically do so and pre-approve them for anything from that to a mortgage or actual loan value.

This could then trigger to “Fill in the blanks” emails, where specific values are updated based on individual account holders. An email could then include a story about a homebuyer and possibly some home buying tips, with a sidebar or box detailing what the reader qualifies for (value and interest rate) and a call to action to click through to contact a bank representative or make a banking appointment.

Financial services email marketing is a powerful tool that will put your message directly in front of consumers. However, it’s not the right choice for every message. You should review what works for email and what doesn’t because a “miss” will alienate readers.

The most important aspects of email marketing for financial services include keeping it interesting, engaging, personal, and avoiding making a sales pitch.

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