Experts Report on Bank Performance in 2006:
An E-mail Marketing Summary
The closing few weeks of the year are often filled with last-minute budgeting tweaks and final negotiations. This year, many marketers will choose to reduce spending across more traditional, offline channels and increase their online marketing budgets—with e-mail marketing receiving a larger portion of those dollars. This is a good decision considering that Return on Investment (ROI) for e-mail marketing now leads all other channels, according to the Direct Marketing Association (DMA).
Trends for the coming year culled from various industry resources paint a continued, positive outlook for e-mail marketing. For example, MarketingSherpa recently released its annual Email Marketing Benchmark Guide based on feedback from thousands of e-mail marketers in 2006. When asked about the impact of e-mail marketing this year compared to previous years, 42% of business-to-business (B2B) marketing respondents said the impact is slowly increasing; 35% felt it was increasing significantly.
Statistics from the DMA seem to support the latter opinion. It found that e-mail marketing in 2006 yielded an average return of $51.45 for each dollar spent, as opposed to $21.08 for non-e-mail Internet marketing. Other DMA findings include:
- E-mail-driven sales in the U.S. will show a compound annual growth of 14.9% from 2006 to 2011.
- Commercial e-mail generated $16.5 billion in U.S. sales in 2005 ($7.7 billion in consumer sales and $8.8 billion in B2B). E-mail sales will grow to $18.5 billion in 2006 and $37 billion by 2011.
- U.S. marketers spent $300 million on e-mail in 2005. By the end of 2006, this figure should increase 24.4% to $400 million.
What's working and what's not
As e-mail marketers continue to test everything from delivery days and times to subject lines and opt-in forms, there were some interesting findings reported by industry sources. Online multivariate testing company Optimost reported that opt-in rates improve substantially if companies simply change their double-column opt-in forms to single-column forms.
Despite this finding, design issues had far less of an impact on an individual e-mail campaign's success than did the copy or message itself. MarketingSherpa reported that landing page copy and subject lines were bigger factors.
MailerMailer produced its own study, the Email Metrics Marketing Report, in mid-2006. By aggregating more than 200 million e-mails sent this year by more than 3,500 permission e-mail senders, MailerMailer found that Mondays and Tuesdays generally yielded the highest open and click-through rates. Shorter subject lines (35 characters or less), personalized content and smaller distribution lists also improved read rates.
How financial services measured up
MailerMailer's study divided businesses into 21 sectors and rated them according to various metrics. For example, Banking/Finance ranked fourth in open rates, averaging 31.41%, and performed better as distribution list sizes decreased.
Additionally, Banking/Finance topped the click-through rate category, scoring 8.64%. Again, rates improved as list sizes decreased.
Room for improvement
While Banking/Finance performed notably well in key categories, there is room for improvement. EmailLabs recently audited six market segments—including financial services—to see how they measured up against e-mail marketing best practices. Items measured included ample links for updating subscribers' information, ease of unsubscribing, links to privacy policies and automated forwarding for pass-along readership.
While all six market segments showed there is room for improvement, financial services demonstrated the biggest need. In other words, while positive open and click-through rates indicate high reader interest, more can be done to improve individual reader experiences.
That said, Financial Publishing Services has prepared the "Strategy Facilitator," a discussion document to help you and your colleagues define your mission, establish your goals and execute winning e-mail marketing strategies. Click here to download the PDF.
Banks that successfully deliver compelling content currently have a huge opportunity before them to communicate to a receptive audience. Make sure your bank is taking full advantage of this opportunity by fine-tuning your strategies today.
Adjust Your Sales Strategies to Win
—and Keep—Profitable Clients
By Jeff Thull, CEO, Prime Resource Group
Are your sales techniques stuck in the wrong era? It sounds like a strange question, but if your skills and approach haven't evolved along with the financial technology and business developments of the past few decades, your outdated methodology will knock you right out of the competition when trying to win—and keep—profitable clients.
Many financial advisors today rely on sales methods that worked in the 1980s and even 1990s. But the world and our clients have advanced substantially. Products and services have grown increasingly complex, as have the business issues and problems they address and the regulatory issues that surround us.
Customers have many problems to solve and objectives to meet. Consequently, they find it challenging to sort through all the options available to meet their needs. If your sales techniques aren't making this task easier, your customers will look elsewhere for a solution.
Defining the eras of selling
Today, we're living and working in a time called the "third era" of professional selling. Unfortunately, too many sales professionals still operate in the outdated mindsets of past eras and jeopardize their client relationships as a result. Here is a brief synopsis of those time periods:
Era 1 (1950-1975)
The economy was experiencing unlimited demand and a somewhat limited range of products and services. Customers were open to ideas and willing to spend.
The early '50s saw the first appearance of literature devoted to professional selling. The salesperson's job was to present a compelling story and convince customers to buy their products and services. Training was based on the psychology of stimulus and response, and sales skills focused on presenting, persuading and closing. This era fell out of favor, however, as customers wised up to these manipulative techniques.
Era 2 (1975-1995)
The economy saw more suppliers, emerging globalization and more customer choice, not to mention their increasing level of sophistication. Salespeople reacted by offering a consultative, strategic solutions approach to selling.
Buyers embraced sales' questioning and listening approach, which established trust and built relationships. The salesperson's success was tied to his ability to understand the customer's view of the problem, align his solution to match the customer's view and convince the customer that his solution was the best choice.
Era 3 (1995-???)
The distinguishing characteristic of Era 3 is the increasing complexity of business problems and the financial tools available to address them. Coupled with an economy that is in a state of overcapacity, customers are overwhelmed with choices and options, and seek guidance from a financial sales professional who, in too many cases, is not there.
With the abundance of alternatives, solutions not only look the same, but often are the same. To help customers thoroughly understand the risks they face and sort through available alternatives, financial advisors in Era 3 must play the role of a trusted advisor, and possess skills more attributed to that of an analyst and project manager.
The objective of the Era 3 sales professional is to create a solution that customers would not think of or develop on their own. Do this by asking questions clients are not asking themselves. Conduct deep analyses of clients, look at issues beyond clients' expertise and collaborate with clients to tailor solutions for their specific problems.
Emulate an Era 3 sales professional—by bringing to the table those capabilities, experience, resources and process knowledge that clients lack—and you will clearly stand apart and create competitor-proof relationships.
About the author
Jeff Thull is a leading-edge sales and marketing strategist and valued executive advisor at major companies including Shell Global Solutions, 3M, Microsoft, Intel, Citicorp, IBM and Georgia-Pacific.
He is also the author of the best-selling books Mastering the Complex Sale: How to Compete and Win When the Stakes are High and The Prime Solution: Close the Value Gap, Increase Margins, and Win the Complex Sale. Jeff’s new book, Exceptional Selling: How the Best Connect and Win in High Stakes Sales, is now available.
For more information, please contact: Prime Resource Group, 3655 Plymouth Blvd., Suite 110, Plymouth, MN 55446, [email protected], www.primeresource.com, 1.800.876.0378 or 763.473.7529, Fax: 763.473.0792.