10 Questions To Ask Before Launching Your Next Email Campaign

Studies show that using multiple channels to engage consumers results in higher response rates and ROI. Many financial marketers, however, stick with direct mail due to concerns about scalability, cost or risk. By understanding how best to use email, these concerns can all be addressed.

Marketers everywhere are embracing multichannel campaigns – and for good reason. Studies show that using multiple channels to engage consumers results in up to a 37% increase in response and up to 18% higher return on investment. Unfortunately, many financial marketers still rely too heavily on just direct mail efforts, often due to concerns about scalability, cost, difficulty or compliance risk.

While you may still see positive returns, there is one additional channel that financial marketers can use to cost-effectively reach new customers while still complying with key regulations — email.

Banks and credit unions that properly integrate email into their overall marketing efforts are seeing amazing results, but there are a few key questions to consider. Doing so will help you determine how big a role email should play in your marketing plan to achieve the kind of success that would make any CEO proud.

1. Can I Reach a Large Enough Audience With Email?

Email is ideal for product lines that have a mass appeal, since other digital channels often limit advertising for loan-based services like credit card offers. That means scalability is critical. The good news is that it can be simple to create large-scale email campaigns, even if your in-house email list is small, thanks in part to identity graphs. If you’ve heard of identity graphs, then you probably know they allow you to easily create lists of hundreds of thousands to millions of prospects.

Not all identity graphs are alike though. A good identity graph allows you to link data, like physical addresses, directly to email addresses, and a good identity graph’s email database consistently delivers high deliverability rates. It can also link data on demographics and buying behaviors to those email addresses, allowing you to create more targeted campaigns.

The Claritas Identity Graph, for example, allows you to link more than 330 million email addresses to other identifiers to easily deliver an email campaign to a customized list of prospects who are highly likely to buy.

2. Can I Use Email and Still Comply With the Fair Credit Reporting Act?

Direct mail allows financial marketers to remain in compliance with FCRA regulations, but if direct mail isn’t delivering the ROI you are looking for, consider giving email a try. You can still cost-effectively target prospects via email while remaining compliant with FCRA regulations.

Identity graph data plays a key role here because it allows you to match your prospects with an email address. You can then use that email address to target a portion of your list — or to use email as your “second touch” in a multichannel campaign.

3. What Cost Benefits Does Email Provide Over Direct Mail?

Email allows you to reach a wider audience with a smaller budget than you could with direct mail. For instance, say you have a list of 1 million prospects, but your budget will only support a direct mail campaign to 500,000. Email allows you to test below the line and target a wider audience without breaking your budget.

4. How Can I Make Sure I’m Targeting the Right Prospects in My Email Campaign?

It’s no secret that strict regulations mean financial marketers are forced to market with one hand tied behind their back. While other marketers can use consumer data such as age, income, ethnicity or zip code to determine which prospects they wish to target, financial marketers are expressly forbidden to use this “protected class” data to develop their prospect lists. This makes it more difficult to reach the right audience, particularly when extending invitation to apply (ITA) offers, where prospects have not been pre-qualified for the offer.

This is one area where “credit proxies” for targeted prospects are an advantage. Working with an email partner that has these tools available will keep you fully compliant with FCRA guidelines while still obtaining invaluable insight into a prospect’s credit qualification and credit need.

5. How Do I Know My Offers Will Reach the Intended Person?

As many as one out of every five emails addresses becomes invalid each year. That’s why it’s important to pick an email partner that practices good hygiene. Your email provider should have email addresses that are current and valid to protect you from excessive bounce backs and potential blacklisting, plus they should use sophisticated filtering techniques to validate domains and suppress suspicious email addresses.

Many vendors will brag about their high “match rates.” A match rate is the percentage of email addresses that you can “match” to another identifier such as a physical address. For example, if you have an existing list of 100,000 customer or prospect names that you want to target and you need email addresses to pair with those names, a match rate of 80% would return email addresses for 80,000 of those 100,000 prospects.

A high match rate doesn’t always mean you’re reaching a person’s preferred email address, or even a valid one. That means, even if a vendor runs a list and gets an 80% match rate, they’re not always providing you with the best email address for those 80,000 names. Many people have two or more email addresses and sending your message to their inactive or under-utilized email can hurt your response rate. In contrast, sending your campaign to a prospect’s primary email address increases the chance it will be read by 14x.

6. How Much Can I Test Using Email – And Can I Customize That Testing?

One of the other big benefits of email is that testing a particular offer or creative doesn’t involve extra print and mailing-related expenses as it does with direct mail. That said, not every email vendor offers the flexibility and the scalability needed to support multiple email tests for its clients.

Ask your potential partner specifics about how much they can segment their email audience and if they’re able to support testing of multiple offers and creative. Be sure to also ask them how flexible they are when delivering campaigns — for example, can they optimize features like email frequency on an individual level to maximize response.

Finally, your email partner should only use domains approved by you. This allows you to confirm email communications are professional, non-evasive and protect your equity.

7. Can I Use My Existing Acquisition Processes When Executing an Email Campaign?

Your email provider should have partnerships in place with existing credit bureaus and financial marketing delivery partners so you can seamlessly execute an email campaign using the same process you use for other campaigns.

Ask a potential email vendor how much control they give you over the data analytics process. For instance, will they allow your analytics team to access their data to create your own audience models?

8. Can I Target Prospects Based on ‘Hand Raiser’ or ‘Trigger’ Events?

Email is the perfect tool for marketing to prospects who have just experienced a “hand raising” or “trigger” event that might make them more likely to convert. For instance, the prospect may have a child who just graduated from high school and needs college tuition aid. Or perhaps a prospect just bought a house and is in the market for a credit line to pay for renovations.

An identity graph should give you unparalleled insight into the customer or prospect who just had the “hand raiser” event by determining their credit proxy score, where they like to shop, what car they drive and their best email address.

9. How Are My Email Results Measured?

Your vendor’s ROI analysis should include a matchback analysis to determine whether the same prospect who received an email signed up for the advertised product or service via the website, by visiting a branch or by using some other method. That’s because experience shows that more than half of your email buyers will purchase at a later date, rather than immediately clicking through to a landing page.

A unique methodology that measures incremental/net conversions where a control group measurement and a matchback analysis are combined can determine how many conversions are directly attributed to an email campaign. Your email partner should also evaluate your campaign in-flight, including measuring conversions and engagement by audience, message, creative and more so you can make adjustments that boost ROI.

10. How Do I Compile My Data?

The bottom line is that when picking an email partner, the two most critical things to consider are data quality, and how they improve performance to maximize your ROI.

Good data allows you to create a large enough list to make email worth the investment while complying with industry regulations. Good data also helps you develop messages and creative that are highly likely to encourage conversions because you can adjust your campaign in-flight to maximize results.

Additional Resources:
Report — Ten Tips for Acquisition Email Success
Podcast — From Customer Repellent to Lead Magnet

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