Make it personal
Your competitors are nurturing their leads. Are you?
By Tim Sawyer
E-mail campaigns keep your customers engaged and loyal to your agency.
According to SiriusDecisions (www.siriusdecisions.com), 80% of the people you talk to today aren't ready to buy right away; but it's likely they will make their purchase within two years. If your potential customers don't have a chance to learn about your agency, they may go to your competitor when they're ready to buy.
With the rise of social media and interactive digital marketing, it's become the norm for consumers to feel close and connected to brands. A love you have for a certain clothing brand may intensify into a lifetime loyalty if you follow the brand on Facebook and receive e-mail offers periodically.
Build prospective customers' brand loyalty to your agency by nurturing them, getting close to them, and allowing them to learn about your brand.
Automation: Set it and forget it
E-mail is the best medium for nurturing leads and I'm sure you've sent e-mails out to leads in the past. But are you using automation? The power of e-mail marketing lies in the ability to automate and develop several campaigns geared toward certain targets and goals.
Automation allows you to set the time and date that e-mails are sent. Strategize by reaching out to leads a few hours after you know they've received a call from one of your staff. A follow-up e-mail will keep your agency's name and their sales conversation fresh.
Potential clients are impressed when they receive a Happy Birthday e-mail, a Holiday e-mail, or an e-mail that offers information on the specific insurance they've been shopping for. You can develop several campaigns that are shaped to pique the individual interests of leads. This is much more impressive than renting a billboard and plastering up a single generic message about your agency.
Personalization: segment and categorize
People love to receive relevant information or offers that pertain to their situation. Lead nurturing e-mail campaigns allow you to do just that. Learn everything you can about your leads and use that information to make them feel connected to your agency.
Where is the lead in the sales process? How engaged are they with your agency? What type of insurance are they interested in? Segment your leads based on characteristics like these and develop campaigns that cater to what they need to move them through the sales process. You'll be sending information that will help the lead make a decision and a quicker purchase.
Segmentation can also be used to round out accounts. Find out which clients have one policy with your agency but not another, and plan an e-mail campaign to nurture them into a sale.
Here's an example of how to set up a marketing checklist for a cross-sell e-mail campaign:
• What is the goal of this e-mail campaign? To alert current customers about EPLI insurance.
• Who is your target audience? Current commercial customers.
• What would you like the message of the campaign to be?
• E-mail #1: Information on a recent sexual harassment case.
• E-mail #2: Sample EPLI rates.
• E-mail #3: Average settlement costs for EPLI claims.
• E-mail #4: You don't have to be at fault to get sued.
• E-mail #5: Second EPLI case information.
What other marketing are you doing to support this?
• SEO: Writing two blog posts this month.
• Social media: Connecting on LinkedIn with customers opening these e-mails.
• Traditional marketing: Adding information to out- bound mail communication.
• Staff training: Friday training for the team on what EPLI is and sample talk tracks. Announcing a bonus plan for EPLI sales.
• What part of the purchase cycle are these targets in? Current customer looking for additional policies and protection.
Design: Leading your leads
Lead nurturing isn't just about leads receiving e-mails. You can design the entire flow of the campaign and plan exactly how a lead will go through it.
When you host a dinner party, you probably set the table and design it around the courses that will be served. If you're serving soup, you set a spoon. Steak? A steak knife. Lead nurturing allows you to set the table for your leads and plan what will be served.
Sit down and map out a strategy for the campaign. Use a blended approach and incorporate calls from sales reps, social media contests, and other means to complement the automated e-mails. You can also create a flow that changes where a lead is directed based on whether they click through an e-mail, fill out a form, or delete without opening.
Hitting leads from all angles and moving them through a campaign that responds to their behavior allows your leads to learn more about your agency, and you to learn more about your leads.
Content: Speaking to them
Creating the actual content of the campaign should be fun. Focus on boasting about your agency, your products, and why you're the best.
If you're creating a campaign for new leads, don't forget to introduce yourself. Always include your agency's logo. This is a branding opportunity. Use a consistent voice and add an e-mail signature or photo. The average modern consumer receives more than 100 e-mails daily. They're more likely to pay attention to yours if they can connect with you on a personal level and see the educational value of your e-mail.
Think of each e-mail as a fresh ad with a new approach to a lead. While your branding should stay consistent, you can change your message and call-to-action. Encourage the recipient to fill out a form (where you can gain more information about the lead), call the office (which puts them in touch with a sales rep), or visit your Web site (where you can track their behavior).
Measurement: Know what's working
When you run a print ad, it's difficult to measure what response, if any, you'll receive. With e-mail lead nurturing, you know if you're engaging a lead or if things need to change right away.
Before you launch a campaign, decide what success looks like for the campaign. You can measure statistics like who's opening the e-mail, who's deleting it, and the click-through rate.
If you're not meeting your goals or you're noticing a high unsubscribe rate, change things up. The metrics of e-mail campaigns take out the hoping, guessing, and praying that are associated with expensive print ads. You can see your results instantly and tweak the campaigns if you're not achieving the desired numbers.
CRM: The key to e-mail marketing
Most successful businesses attribute their lead-nurturing ability to using a great customer relationship management system. You may already have a CRM system, but if it doesn't have e-mail capabilities, you simply can't compete with other successful agencies.
According to EmailStatCenter.com (www.emailstatcenter.com), 88% of business-to-consumer companies use e-mail marketing campaigns to keep in contact with clients. With numbers like that, chances are your competitors are nurturing leads via e-mail campaigns. The bottom line: You have to get involved and do it better than they do to keep up, or risk losing leads and never seeing growth.
Using e-mail campaigns to nurture leads not only will grow your business, it will save you time. E-mail marketing is like a personalized ad campaign. You can reach leads on a more personalized level and cover more ground by including information on your agency, testimonials, and staff introductions. You can observe lead behavior and analyze metrics instantly. If you want to create brand loyalty and move your leads quickly through the sales funnel, you need to get your agency on board with lead-nurturing e-mail campaigns.
Tim Sawyer is president of Astonish, a digital marketing solutions and insurance sales training company based in Rhode Island. He has trained hundreds of insurance professionals in every aspect of the business with a focus on leadership, digital marketing, and best sales practices.