See why informational messaging is a best practice for bank email marketing programs and get tips for doing it well.
By Sushil Dulai Wenholz, Creative Director
Value-added content is an essential element for any financial services email marketing program. It offers a multitude of advantages that, ultimately, can help to better engage your customers, build positive perceptions of your financial institution and lead to deeper, more profitable relationships. Read on to learn more about the value of value-add, plus best practices and tips to help you get it right.
Build Engagement, Trust — and Sales
Epsilon has noted that email marketers today must focus on “creating more engaging and interactive experiences within the inbox.” Value-added content plays a critical role in doing just that.
By providing useful and relevant information, you can empower customers to make better financial decisions and feel more confident in their financial lives. This can help overcome the skepticism today’s consumers often feel toward traditional financial institutions, helping you build trust. It allows you to position your financial institution as a credible resource that helps guide and educate — as opposed to persuade and sell. Yet, it can still assist with upsells and cross-sells — without the need for rate discounts and other promotions.
The value-added approach can be particularly effective for products that are a more complex sell, giving you a vehicle to explain a process or product in educational terms, rather than via a sales pitch. Likewise, it can help keep customers engaged over a longer purchase cycle.
Value-added content can even help customers realize needs they didn’t know they had. A soft call to action can then guide them toward a solution among your products and services. For instance, a story about “7 signs you need a new roof” could help a homeowner see that it’s time for an update. You can then explain how a home equity loan could be a sensible financing solution.
In short, value-added content is still marketing, but it’s a more subtle, more customer-centric approach than traditional financial email marketing methods.
Value-Add Beats Basic Marketing Messages
Using value-added content can improve financial email marketing metrics. That’s because you can position it as editorial or newsletter content — which tends to have greater appeal than general marketing messages.
CCG’s own clients have seen value-added content increase open rates more than 40 percent and click-thru rates by 200 percent.
Top 10 Best Practices for Bank Email Marketing with Value-Added Content
1. Know what your customers care about.
The more your content matters to your customers, the better engagement you’ll get. Use focus groups, surveys and other feedback mechanisms to gather information about your customers’ specific interests — and then build your content calendar around that information.
2. Coordinate content around trigger events.
Trigger emails can garner open rates as high as 68.2% for financial services email marketing — well above the average opens for “business as usual” emails. Since they’re based on customer behaviors, triggers are inherently more relevant than other emails, making it more likely that customers will open and act on them.
3. Connect content back to your business
with soft, benefits-focused calls to action and links. For instance, if you send an email that links to a consumer guide on saving for retirement, include a sidebar in the email and information in the guide that highlights specific plans you offer and encourage readers to contact you for a consultation.
4. Provide specific solutions and actionable information.
The best way to maximize your customers’ experience through content? Be specific. Solutions that are too general are not helpful — they erode credibility and disappoint customers who were hoping to find an answer or actionable plan. Build more valuable experiences and increase satisfaction by helping customers actualize a solution through a product or service that you provide. Content tools like checklists, step-by-step guides, “how-to” tips and geo-targeted statistics are just a few ideas.
5. Leverage your data to segment your audience for better targeting of your content.
It can be as simple as changing subject lines or calls to action based on each audience’s interests. Or you can get more intricate by swapping out one or more copy blocks and images.
6. Personalize wherever you can.
This is like segmenting, but goes deeper, to the individual level. Test using first names in the subject line and salutation, or including the address or contact information to the customer’s local branch. You can even use dynamic content to provide value-added copy based on demographics, transaction history and other behaviors known through your data at a personal, rather than segment, level.
7. Re-use, repurpose and reference existing content.
The value-added content you use in email marketing for your bank doesn’t have to be a fresh invention every time. Review content you’ve developed for other purposes and see how you could use it as the basis for an email campaign. For instance, if you have educational articles on your website about home equity, consider repurposing them into an opt-in email series. Or simply include links to online content in your emails under a heading like, “You might find this interesting” or “Related reading.”
8. Keep email copy concise.
Focus on a single message, get your point across, then use a strong, clear call to action to drive people to more in-depth value-added content. For instance, that could be to watch a video, download an infographic or click through to a newsletter.
9. Don’t neglect design.
Every type of content, including value-added, can be enhanced or diminished by the design around it. These days, mobile-first design is a must for all emails. Make sure customers can easily read the copy, see the images and click the buttons or text links whether they’re viewing on a smartphone, tablet or desktop. Using a standardized template for your value-added emails can create production efficiency. Just make sure to allow enough flexibility that each email stands out rather than blends in.
10. Use a preference center.
This is a great way to increase content relevance and customer engagement, because you’re literally letting the customer choose which types of information they want to receive from you and how often they want to receive it.
The Next Step
If you haven’t already done it, incorporating value-added content is a logical next step to ramp up the performance of your financial services email marketing efforts. And if you’re already using it, take some time to review your emails to make sure you’re following best practices to maximize results. Then keep the content engine running — and enjoy the better, more profitable customer relationships sure to follow!
Take advantage of CCG’s 40 years of experience in financial services marketing. We specialize in engaging, relevant, informational content that helps motivate your customers to take action. We can also assist with your email marketing strategy, creative and deployment, as well as data analytics — from upfront segmentation to assessing results. Learn more about our financial marketing solutions or schedule a free consultation with CCG Financial Strategist Greg Sultan or call 800.525.0313 for assistance.