Archive for March, 2011

On behalf our clients in the financial sector I keep my eyes peeled for great banking email.  However, this blog has a Category list called ‘Banking Email Marketing Examples’ and if you look in there, you’ll see that most everything in it is… ah… not good.

In a presentation I used to give about email marketing, one of the slides was headed up  ’Don’t be a banker’.  The theme was that it’s an easy win is to show your customers they are important by ensuring they are, in fact, important.   Customer service is improving.  Banking now get A+ for service, but telco’s still get an F… according to a recent study by Colmar Brunton.   They say that in NZ banks now occupy 7 of the top 10 ‘best customer service experience’ spots. (Press Release here)

Still it’s really annoying when your bank issues e.g. a new low interest rate for new clients, and you’ve been banking with them since you were twelve and you get ‘jack squat’.  See NBR noting this delay in pass along of the OCR cuts this month here.  Telco’s tend to do the same in order to win your business off their competition, but not reward you for loyalty.

You’d think Telecom would know that you first connected your Motorola brick phone in 1995 and have stuck with them since.  That’s loyal, man!

You’d think ASB bank would care that you took your piggy in to bank your pocket money when you were 5, and now have a $500k mortgage with them.  Clearly ‘I LOVE YOU ASB’ – but do you love me?

Can you relate?  How can email marketing help improve things? Cute little plays like Rabobank’s Valentine’s Day help, and we ‘ve been designing some fantastic and effective eDM work with a top-5 New Zealand bank from the over 55′s all the way to the Uni students.

Relevant messaging that simply makes an acknowledgement of my loyalty is a start.   They are not actually a bank but I wish American Express told me more often that they know I’ve paid my card off month in, month out for the past 12 years.  They say it on the card: ‘Member since 1999′ mine says, and I like it.  So why not add that to my email in a personalised way? (They are doing a great job with their OPEN platform though!)

Some let you ‘in the know’ early with advance ticket purchases. Orange UK has the great ‘More from Orange’ program (link at bottom).

A recent study sheds some light on what is happening.  A USA company called subscribermail surveyed 71 banks and 191 credit unions last year.

What’s good:
At some organizations such as Chase, email welcoming messages many times arrive at the customer’s home before the customer returns from opening a new account. This communication is used to thank the customer for opening their account, encourage usage of engagement services (online banking, debit cards, direct deposit) and describe future communication the customer will receive from the bank.
What’s bad:
Fewer than 50% of both banks and credit unions segment their email database in any manner
Half of the responders had email initiatives planned in the next six months
Senior management support of such an initiative was far from a reality according to the survey, with less than 30% of the bank respondents stating that senior management was supportive of email marketing strategies.
Ideas to put into planning:
Email as a lifecycle tool…
To encourage loyalty:
Promote time-sensitive actions:
Partner on the ‘journey’ around money:

More From Orange is the much talked about Loyalty scheme from Orange UK, with half price movies on Wednesdays, and more – see that here.

An excellent post about Bank of America, their email marketing redesign process, and a highlight of their lack of pre-header text; click here.

Download the study that looked at surveyed 71 banks and 191 credit unions  for free you can visit this page.

First up – a definition.  In this post, as with the report suites on our SmartMail Pro platform, and our Metrics Report, we’ve adopted the name approved by The Email Measurement Accuracy Roundtable of the US DMA/Email Experience Council –that is, ‘render rate’.  It’s the same statistic as Open Rate but more accurately describes what happens when the email is ‘counted’*. (More on this below).

Open, or Render rates, have come under scrutiny over the past few years.  Just how useful are they?

We think they are pretty handy – as a measure of brand recognition, subject line relevance and delivery, and as a way of benchmarking a series of emails for improvement or otherwise.  For example: If your ‘From’ name is recognised as a brand that your recipient has a relationship with, your email is more likely to be opened.  If the subject line speaks to their day and their daily needs, sparks their curiosity, or sounds like fun, bingo!  If the email didn’t arrive, it’s not going to be opened.   So if you see rates going up or down, you’ll know something is changing.

TIP 1: Use open rates as a measure of the email campaign, but keep in mind that this is not a perfect metric.  Use alt tags on your images to provide a description of the image, and design your emails so that they make sense without images.  Especially, where possible have your calls to action in text – e.g. ‘Read More’ – don’t just rely on an image, tile or button.
TIP 2: Including your brand name in the From address, and/or the Subject line will aid your recipient’s recognition and increase the likelihood that your email is opened. Ensure that your Subject Line is enticing, accurate and closely related to the key benefit of the email.

Open (Render) Rate often vary by List Size

The old sales adage is that it’s ‘a numbers game’.  In terms of sheer numbers, clearly if you send your email to a large database, you’d expect to get more response.   However, we don’t all have huge databases, and a small list can be just as informative and powerful.

Smaller lists almost always out perform larger lists in metrics.  It is easier to keep a smaller list clean.  Smaller lists may be used by smaller businesses, so their database is their well-known customer base. Conversely, the largest databases may be run by the companies for whom the database is connected in with billing, so strong efforts are made to ensure the accuracy of the list. Segmenting your database to send more relevant content to smaller groups will produce better results – as can be seen in click through rate and list size in section 5.
TIP 3: It’s possible to treat a large list like a small one by using dynamic content – that is, a tool to enable data fields to change out blocks of content automatically – for example if your recipient is a male, open your email with the image of the footy boots, not the sports bras.
To download your own copy of the Metrics Report for benchmarking click through here.

*How are they measured? Render rates are tracked by the sending servers when an invisible 1×1 pixel image is displayed.  This relies on images being displayed in the recipient’s email program. Many email programs block images by default, and many recipients read their emails without downloading images, or they read them on mobile devices – all of which means that the email will not be recorded as opened or ‘Rendered’.  Combining render rates with click through rates gives a fuller picture.  Often called ‘Opens’  the render rate shows renders from unique subscribers, with the measure taken when an email is displayed (whether fully opened or within the preview pane) by any user. If a user opens the email multiple times, or multiple tracking pixel requests are recorded due to forwarding, only one ‘Open’ is counted per unique email address.


This metric is  measured for HTML format emails only.  Growing prevalence of smart phone use to read emails may well have accounted for international studies some of which have shown as slight  downward trend in open rates over recent years….
Different industries are likely to serve different demographics, so business to business communications and those of you with a ‘mobile’ clientele may find your render rate affected. The smarter the phone though the more chance this wont be an issue anymore, as images render into mobiles and the render is counted.

When people look for solutions online, they need a range of different content – information, help, ideas, and answers.

For example they:

  • seek specific information like airline flight arrival times.
  • want help when they have new tasks or responsibilities to understand, such as managing staff training.
  • seek new ideas to help them do what they already do, better, such as generating more leads from trade shows.
  • search for new ways to solve old problems, such as extending the reach of their marketing messages without spending any more money.

No there is no actual money here, we're just making a point.

When you have great relevant content that’s easily accessible on the web, you have the opportunity to present your product or service to these people at precisely the moment they are looking for it.
There may be many companies whose offering is similar to yours. And for your prospect, it’s hard to tell you apart.   They don’t have a clue, and they don’t have the time or inclination to decipher corporate-speak like mission statements or homepage waffle.
It’s your job to make it clear you are the right team to work with. The best way I know to do that is to demonstrate your expertise by writing about what you know, and what you do well, in clear everyday language.

Copywriting needs resourcing, and you’ll need to decide if you can do it in house or need to outsource it. It really is preferable to have someone in your organisation writing, for a number of reasons.  Then you can use experts to edit and simplify your thoughts when you need to, to ensure the end result is wow!  Why is best to use your own team to get your writing started?:

  • It’s right there, so you can write about things that are topical, quicker.
  • It’s more authentic, and someone who knows your values, strengths and clients will be able to make sure its relevant
  • So, where does the free money come in? Here are four key ways – you might think of others.

    1. You already pay to have your company open today, so if you can attract new customers by doing what you do already while making it clear what you are good at, and by making it easy for them to say yes to you, then you have more customers for little more cost.

    2. You can re-use the content you write in many variants and through a variety of channels. One particular subject might be used a blog post like this, then in your email newsletter, archived on your website, referred to in webpage copy where relevant, repackaged and expanded as a value add such as a White Paper or Tutorial Series e.g. “4 Ways to Make Insurance Work for You” that triggers automatically from an enquiry or subscription form on your website.

    3. Great fresh content will also have a positive impact on the Google ranking your pages receive and the likelihood of you appearing higher in search results.

    4. Extending the reach of your business and it’s content using social media is a great way to get free money, and we wrote about that in a previous post - Subscribe yourself, share with your network (SWYN) and other missed opportunities

    If you would like to work with best very best, approachable and award-winning email design, email copywriting, and digital strategy specialists call us at Jericho +64 9 360 6463