Engage with a purpose and always
make sure you are delivering value
By Chris Paradiso
A recent study by Litmus found that every dollar spent on email marketing generates $36 in return. Email marketing can scale up or down with very little effort, and it really doesn’t take much more than researching prospects to pull together an initial list.
Using email marketing can certainly help support your agency retention efforts. That’s important, because acquiring new clients costs five times as much as retaining existing ones. We agency owners should be investing back into the clients who already trust us and our agency.
If you are one of the many agencies that don’t have an email strategy or a CRM tool you can use to begin an email marketing campaign, you simply need to puta few pieces in place. Most email marketing campaigns consist of three main components: your email/prospect/client list, your agency tech stack, and the content.
An email/prospect/client list is self-explanatory. That being said, one issue I see among agencies is whether or not the email lists are “clean,” meaning that they contain accurate, updated contact information. I still come across many agencies that aren’t collecting email addresses from customers and prospects, and that is an even bigger issue.
Remember, clients and prospects can move to new employers, stop using an old address due to spam, or change email addresses for any of a number of other reasons. When speaking to clients or prospects, we should be confirming their email address.
The tech stack is also something you might not be familiar with—for an optimal email campaign, ensure you have a list or lead generation source, data cleaning service, client relationship management software, and sales engagement platform.
We at Paradiso Insurance use Agency Zoom as our CRM, but there are many other tools out there; make sure to do your homework to find the right fit for your agency. I would recommend you chat with a couple of agencies using a CRM on a regular basis and find out the pros and cons. After that, I would do some research to find a consultant to help you and your agency deploy both a renewal email strategy and a prospecting strategy. I have found that tapping an outside resource is a lot less expensive and less taxing on your staff, and you can deploy your strategy in half the time.
Content, on the other hand, can be a bit of a question mark for many insurance agencies. Messaging is vitally important and should be based on your agency-specific goals.
Are yours driving in new business sales? Rounding out your monoline business? Improving brand awareness? Retaining your current clients? Perhaps you merely want to keep clients engaged or increase their loyalty, helping your retention numbers. What-ever your agency goal, make sure it’s clearly defined, and then use that goal to shape your messaging content. I would recommend finding a couple of other agents who are doing this and reviewing their content and messaging strategy.
When it comes to email composition, being concise and exact in your messaging is key. You have yet to earn your prospects’ time, so don’t pretend otherwise. Keep emails brief and to the point, focusing on the problems that you and your agency can solve, not your product’s features or whether it is an HO3 or HO5.
Make sure you have a very clear call-to-action plan. If your email addresses pain points and adds value to each interaction, you’ll be able to nurture your leads. If you’re messaging existing clients, make sure you are bringing value; don’t just email them for the sake of emailing them—you risk their feeling like you are spamming and, in many cases, they will move your email address to junk. Email with a purpose and always make sure you are delivering value.
With your list, tech stack, and agency content in place, you can turn your attention to the campaign’s inner workings. Remember, you’re trying to create a connection (trust) between your target audience and your agency’s brand. It will take some time so be patient and always be reviewing your open ratio; the numbers will tell the story of whether your agency’s content is delivering value or not.
But don’t forget, you can turn your quoted “not sold” and monoline email list recipients into sales—and find success in your overall program—if you incorporate the following tips into your strategy.
- Include more than just emails. Though you might be launching an email marketing strategy, it shouldn’t consist of emails alone. Employ what’s called a “stacking effect,” where you layer multiple channels in your marketing mix to influence prospects and/or clients. In present times, we must include texting, social media, and print advertising. The various components of a campaign support one another, as they give consumers more than one opportunity to take action.
Understand, however, that the more you add to the marketing mix, the more time-intensive it can be. That’s why you should consider hiring a consultant to assist you and your agency. We tapped Mick Hunt of Premier Strategy Box to put our touchpoints together because it was a lot less expensive to outsource this.
Remember, automation will help your agency’s bottom line!
- Recognize the differences between prospects and clients. Many agencies go the easy route and put all prospects into fully automated email sequences. Although this is simple for your CSR/marketing personnel to manage, it means you’re treating everyone the same—which is not the best marketing approach. Reserve this strategy for your low-priority prospects.
Higher priority ones should receive communication of the high-touch variety (e.g., LinkedIn engagements, personalized video content, Zoom, texts, phone calls, etc.). Clients should have their own automation and messaging and should not be grouped in with prospects or any other groups.
Automation works when it is created for the right audience and delivered to that audience.
- Agency email sequence must be longer. Rarely if ever will just one single email be enough to improve con-version rates. An interesting study by Woodpecker Academy found that you’ll get three times the reply rate (increasing from an average of 9% to 27%) when increasing your sequence to include four to seven emails.
Just make sure to add variety to your communication strategy, as sending the same message repeatedly will become very annoying for your clients/prospects and they will tune you out. Once again, this can be time consuming, and I would again recommend you hire someone to assist your agency with this.
- Your agency’s send schedule should vary. Many owners and executives check their emails before starting each and every day—usually between four and six in the morning—and at the end of the day, between six and nine in the evening. Our agency has found that emails sent during these odd times result in higher open rates, anywhere from 41% to 47%, with a 7% reply rate.
Just keep in mind different time zones; in our agency, we write in 44 different states which includes all time zones. We only discovered these varying open rates through trial and error and reviews; if you are studying your results, they will tell you a story and that story has paid off for our agency.
- Add video to the mix. With the continued dominance of platforms such as TikTok (which our agency doesn’t use) and bite-sized video (reels), prospecting with videos is becoming more and more accepted and at the same time offering high conversions.
Not only can adding video increase your click-through rates by up to 200%, the time spent recording one personalized video takes less time than a cold call. The key is to keep them short (25 seconds max), as 35% of viewers will stop watching after 30 seconds, and 44% will leave at the one-minute mark.
Video has taken over the world—not only in the social media arena but also in the email world.
Very few marketing strategies can compare to email marketing, in terms of both cost and effectiveness. I know you’re saying that email marketing isn’t new and exciting. Yes, I agree. But simply put, it works. Email marketing is alive and well if done properly.
Please remember that you’re delivering a message—and a personalized message, at that—directly to someone’s inbox. If the content you are delivering is relevant or the insights are valuable to the prospect/client, the potential for engagement increases exponentially.
It all starts with understanding your agency’s audience and then delivering information at the time they need it most.
Chris Paradiso is president of Paradiso Financial & Insurance Services, in Stafford Springs, Connecticut. He also heads up Paradiso Presents, LLC, which provides social media consulting, seminars and workshops for agencies. Contact Chris via email at email@example.com.