Email Marketing and the Insurance Agent

March 14, 2011

Electronic mail (email) is now so deeply entrenched in our everyday activities that we often overlook it as the marketing tool that it can be. But email offers agents the perfect platform for marketing: it's free, easy, and something their clients access on a daily basis.

Email marketing, however, is not successful for everyone. It takes a delicate, focused touch to keep your valid and valuable marketing efforts from being marked as a canned meat product and being sent to the junk folder. When used properly, email marketing can be your tool to educating prospects and gaining loyalty from your customers.

Ways to Use Email for Marketing: Newsletters

Newsletters offer one of the most popular uses for email marketing. When you create a newsletter to send to your clients there are two important questions you must ask yourself:

1. Is the content in my newsletter providing value to the reader?

While you are creating a newsletter as a means to keep yourself in the mind of your clients and prospects, this won't work if you create a newsletter that gives the recipient little reason to actually read it. No one wants to read about how amazing you or your service are every month or quarter. Instead, they want to learn from you, their accessible insurance expert. It is through this sharing of knowledge that you will help build trust and become seen as a valuable resource rather than just another individual who wants something from them.

2. Does the frequency of my newsletter make it annoying?

No matter how interesting your articles are, if you send a newsletter out to your readers too often they will become inundated and might end up unsubscribing simply to stop it from filling their inbox. Newsletters should probably not be sent more often than once per month or quarter.

In order to give your newsletter the amount of reach it needs to be effective, try to get email addresses from as many visitors to your website as possible. Of course, you can collect as many email addresses as you like but if no one actually opens the email it won't really matter. One way to ensure a high open rate is to create subject lines for your newsletter emails that entice the recipient to open them. For instance, the subject line, 'January's Newsletter' isn't nearly as interesting as, 'Tips to Winterize Your Home.'

Another way to maximize the use and draw of your newsletters is to merge them with your other social media efforts. You can do so easily by including social media icons that link to your profiles in all newsletters. This will help your readers connect with you on Facebook, Twitter and any other network you use.

Creating articles that are read on the internet is a different process than creating print articles. Web readers like short paragraphs and bullet points so they can easily scan your articles. Keep this in mind when creating your content. For longer pieces, be sure to include a 'read more' link that brings the reader back to your website. This will also help you get a better idea of what articles are best received since you can measure the click-through rates.

Ways to Use Email for Marketing: Announcements

When you have the ability to offer your customers and prospects new products that they need, an email announcement can be the perfect way to let them know. After all, prospects and customers don't usually check your website for potential updates-but by putting a reminder directly into their email box you not only inform them about the additional services you can offer them but you also show them how proactive you are in considering the solutions to all their insurance needs.

You can also use the occasional announcement email to discuss any awards your agency has won, magazines or journals you will be appearing in, praise for your employees or agency, seminars you will be hosting or community activities you are taking part in.

But before you hit, 'Send' on your announcement email, be sure that your announcement isn't just a pat on the back for your agency but that it also explains to the reader why this change or activity benefits them or the community. Also, make sure that you don't send announcement emails too often. Two to three times per year is probably the most you want to do this.

No matter how you decide to use your customer's email addresses for marketing, make sure you always ask for referrals, give the reader a way to unsubscribe easily, and you include all your contact information in each email. Not only will this make the reading experience better for your subscribers, but it will also give them a little nudge to contact you and recommend you to others.

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