E-mail opt-in lists: Ask for the order!
As a marketing communications company that works primarily with banks, we often ask bank marketers to share with us the greatest challenges they face in trying to achieve their goals. Despite the exploding growth of e-mail as a primary communications channel, a surprising number of bankers say they still struggle to build robust client and prospect e-mail lists.
E-mail has proven to be a highly effective and profitable marketing vehicle, with one survey reporting a $65 return on each $1 invested. That kind of return on investment, combined with the ability of today's e-mail technology to track reader behavior and identify buying signals, makes developing a list of client and prospect e-mail addresses an imperative for any bank wanting to stay competitive in the business-to-business (B2B) marketplace.
Meanwhile, newer e-mail-powered interactive media, such as Web video, is upping the ante in bank marketing. No longer is a sizeable list of quality business e-mail addresses just something "nice to have." Today most banks consider a solid B2B e-mail list a "critical, must have" asset in order to communicate effectively with clients and prospects.
The good news is that even if you have not yet done so, there are a number of strategies you can use to quickly develop a list of several thousand e-mail addresses. Banks typically maintain lists of between 1,000 and 5,000 middle-market and large-corporate e-mail addresses, while communicating by e-mail with somewhat larger numbers of small businesses.
Let's look at a few of the vehicles you can use to build your address list.
Your Web site
While significantly investing in search engine optimization and pay-per-click programs to drive traffic to their Web sites, banks often fail to capitalize on this traffic because they don't "ask for the order." In other words, they don't make a strong enough effort to solicit e-mail addresses from Web site visitors.
E-mail marketers agree that well-written subscription offers — solicitations inviting visitors to receive business-related e-newsletters and other business banking communications — should not only be prominent on a bank's business home page, but also on each landing page, including the Contact Us page. Your subscription offer should tell prospective subscribers in a compelling fashion what they can expect from your e-newsletter or other electronic communication.
Another way to capture e-mail addresses is to feature a white paper, video or article on a hot topic on your bank's more popular B2B Web pages and require a minimal registration — at least an e-mail address — before allowing the desired content to be downloaded. Include on the registration form a checked box that says "subscribe me." This reminds the visitor what they will receive in return for supplying their e-mail address. Sometimes a simple slogan like "stay informed," or "be the first to know" can be enough of an incentive to get the opt-in.
Kimberly Snyder, Account Executive with e-mail marketing company Bronto, suggests that you can maximize exposure for your e-newsletter subscription form by placing the subscription link near your navigation buttons, or in the middle portion of your home page where readership is highest.
Existing paper communications
Your bank is already sending business clients invoices, notifications and direct mail promotions. Include in these communications an offer to subscribe to your e-communications. You also might want to maintain subscription forms at each of your branch locations and ask tellers and business bankers to encourage business clients to sign up for your e-newsletter.
Trade shows provide an opportunity to personally distribute hard copy printouts of your e-communications. Make such handouts available in exchange for a business card and permission to add the recipient to your e-mail address list.
Any banker contact with clients and prospects, either in person or over the phone, is an opportunity to ask for e-newsletter subscription opt-ins. Offering incentives for bank staff to gather e-mail addresses can jump-start these efforts, particularly when employees understand the importance of the initiative in being able to effectively communicate value to clients and prospects.
Your relationship managers (RMs) have the most to gain by making a habit of asking for subscriber opt-ins. They also are the ones most likely to have a substantial number of these e-mail addresses in their possession. By making RMs aware of how an e-newsletter can help them identify hot prospects and sell more services faster, you increase the likelihood of them sharing with your marketing team their client e-mail addresses.
In a recent survey our company conducted, almost all relationship managers interviewed said they were frustrated by their inability to get enough "face time" with clients. These same sales representatives said that while they would prefer more face-to-face client meetings, they recognized that having personalized, solutions-based messages going out to their clients by e-mail was an effective way of keeping connected to clients in between calls.
As more online channels for targeted-content marketing continue to emerge, your database of client and prospect e-mail addresses and other relevant information will continue to be one of your most valuable assets.