It wasn’t so long ago that the majority of insurance agents focused their marketing efforts on mailing letters to the communities they served, advertising in local newspapers and sponsoring area events.
These days, however, email marketing is the leading tool to increase market share among most independent agents. A recent survey by comScore Inc., a digital business analytics firm, found that checking and sending email is the most common activity U.S. adults do on their smartphones. Of the 7,400 people surveyed, 78 percent of respondents said they use their smartphone to check email, compared to 73 percent who browse the Internet and 70 percent who do something on Facebook.
The survey also suggests the majority of people are reachable on their smartphones. An estimated 145 million Americans now own one of these devices. With so many people reachable anytime and anywhere, it goes without saying that email marketing needs to be part of your overall marketing plan. Here are some ideas that will help you get started if you aren’t doing it already.
Write Out Your Email Marketing Plan
As with any endeavor, you can’t just jump into it without a plan and expect it to work. It is critical that you first write down your goals and your general plan of action in order to accomplish them.
At this stage of the game, you should:
- Identify who is going to be on your email marketing list: prospects, existing customers, vendors, etc. Who will receive your emails?
- Determine the purpose of your email. Is it to tell people about a new service you are offering or a special discount that’s available? What’s the message?
- Outline your goals. Do you want to convert a prospect to a customer, get people to sign up for a new promotion or secure requests for quotes for new policies? You have to know the end goal in order to figure out how to get there.
Determine Your Content
Once you make the decision to begin an email marketing program, you need to develop content that can be sent out on a regular basis. Some good topic choices for an email coming from an insurance agent include industry news, stories about how having adequate insurance coverage has benefitted your customers, a recap of your latest offers and news stories involving insurance. The body of your email is just one aspect of the content. It’s important to pay close attention to your subject lines as well as take the time to test your email before you send it.
If your subject line simply says “Insurance Industry News,” most recipients won’t click on that. If you use a “click bait” subject line that mentions something off-the-wall or something interesting, it may make them want to open your email to read more. So instead of “Adequate Insurance Coverage Has Benefited My Customers” in the subject line, try “See How Adequate Insurance Coverage Saved Ashley’s Life.”
Successful insurance agents who use email marketing find it important to stand out with their emails to clients. They usually don’t send just a plain-text email. They typically include graphics and other types of visually stimulating aspects to the email itself. However, with these added graphics and html coding, there comes a higher risk of mistakes. Before sending your email, send a test message to yourself and some friends or coworkers to ensure that all of the graphics load correctly and everything shows up the way you envisioned. Make sure to send it to a variety of email platforms, such as gmail, yahoo and others. This is also a good time to proofread your email one more time to catch any embarrassing typos or broken web links.
Decide Message Frequency
How often will you communicate with people on your email list? There’s a delicate balance between spamming your recipients with several emails a day and not sending enough messages so they forget you exist. If you only send an email once a month, there’s a chance that you’re going to lose your subscribers’ interest, and you are no longer at the top of their minds. But sending an email every day is too intrusive. One email every week or two is usually the maximum you should be sending to your clients. However, the number of emails you send also depends on the content. If you have important news to share, such as a price drop, for example, prospects and customers will appreciate knowing that information. If you don’t have anything newsworthy or time sensitive to send, don’t send an email “just because” – doing so will only put a useless email in your client’s inbox.
Develop a Campaign Schedule
It isn’t always going to be possible to send out an email every Tuesday at 11 a.m. but having a timeline to shoot for is helpful because it will give people working on the project a deadline to work toward. Here’s an example of how you may want to plan your campaigns.
- Day One: Jot down ideas about what you want to include in the email.
- Day Two: Write out the copy and pull any artwork you may need for the email.
- Day Three: Log onto MailChimp, Constant Contact or another email marketing tool and create your campaign. Be sure to send a test email to yourself and at least one other person so it can be proofread.
- Day Four: Send your campaign.
Email List Management
List management is one of the most overlooked yet most important aspects of email marketing. It’s important to keep your contact list up-to-date. Otherwise, what’s the point of sending out emails that no one will never read? One way to ensure your contacts are up to date is to send a reconfirmation email to your recipients. Some programs offer a tool to automatically ask the recipients to reconfirm their subscriptions to your emails.
If you’re noticing a lot of “bounce-backs,” i.e., emails being sent back saying the recipient didn’t receive your communication, remove those people from your list and then try to find their most recent email address by calling them or even looking up their LinkedIn profile. You can even Google their name and the word “email” to see what comes back. The fewer number of names that the email has to be sent to, the faster the sending will be. Weed out people who no longer want to be included or who have new contact information so you can send your emails more quickly to the ones who do want to read them. This also removes the “bloat” of your email list, which could lead to lower costs on your email marketing campaigns.