Like many industries, insurance has moved away from face-to-face interactions and has become a business where many transactions are handled online. However, email remains a key channel for activity, as evidenced by email marketing’s strong ROI of 42:1 on average, according to Litmus’ 2019 State of Email Survey.

Here are 5 tips to keep in mind when building an email strategy for your insurance business.

1. Use triggered and transactional emails to keep customers engaged

Insurance may be a “set it and forget it” part of people’s lives, but you can still use email to maintain a relationship with customers and earn their trust. Triggered and transactional emails are a great way to do that.

  • Triggered emails alert customers to events, such as suspicious log-in attempts, upcoming due dates for premiums and other payments, and monthly reports.
  • Transactional emails are sent in response to customers’ actions, such as premium payments, claim initiations, new account creations, and password resets.

You should set up both types of emails. While many of them aren’t useful for marketing purposes – customers don’t want to be sold on getting another policy while dealing with a claim or a password reset – monthly reports are one kind of triggered email that you can bundle with additional information, such as related insurance products that you offer.

You can also use monthly reports to give customers useful information that’s not sales-related but which can build trust. For example, you can offer seasonal maintenance tips to people with homeowners insurance policies. Doing so helps make your emails more valuable and can increase engagement rates, which is useful for building a positive sender reputation with email providers.

And don’t forget to set a regular reminder to review all your triggered and transactional emails to ensure they’re still current. That review should include everything from the types of policies you offer to the fine print you need to put at the bottom of every message.

2. Give a warm welcome to new customers

According to Campaign Monitor, welcome emails have a 50% open rate, which makes them 86% more effective than other emails sent to customers. That’s why a welcome email should be the first transactional message you send to new customers. Some things to keep in mind:

  • Forget sales pitches: Welcome new customers in a friendly, straightforward way. Keep the message as simple as possible and don’t try to do any upselling or cross-selling in the email – that’s not an optimal way to build trust.
  • Set expectations: Let people know how often they’ll hear from your company, and don’t try to hide the mandatory unsubscribe link at the bottom of the email. You can always offer some options on your unsubscribe page, so people can choose to stay on your list but hear from you less often.
  • Consider multiple welcome emails: Many companies like to build an onboarding experience that walks new customers through their products or services. You might want to do the same, especially for complex types of insurance. You can also use emails after the first one to let new customers know what else you have to offer.
  • Keep it short: Don’t use a welcome email to dump a lot of little details on new customers. Use your website for hosting deep dives into policy features and include a relevant link in the welcome email for customers who want to learn more.

3. Keep an eye on security and compliance regulations

The U.S. insurance industry operates in a fragmented regulatory environment that’s handled mostly at the state level, so it’s important to be aware of which laws affect how you email your customers. There’s likely some fine print that needs to be at the bottom of every message, and you should take care to keep sensitive personal information out of emails.

In addition, you’ll want to ensure your emails are in compliance with the federal CAN-SPAM law in the United States as well as GDPR, which can affect businesses based outside Europe. And don’t forget to do regular email list maintenance: honor unsubscribe requests immediately, and remove addresses that bounce as well as ones that have stopped engaging with you.

You should also be aware of three free security standards that can help ensure your messages are delivered to your customers’ in boxes and you’re notified about any suspicious messages that are sent to spam folders or quarantined.

  • Sender Policy Framework (SPF) enables mailbox providers to verify that an incoming message was sent from a host IP authorized by the sender’s domain administrators.
  • DomainKeys Authenticated Mail (DKIM) uses a private key to create a unique digital signature for an email’s header and content. The key is added to the message’s header and validated against a public key in the sender’s DNS records.
  • Domain-based Message Authentication, Reporting, and Conformance (DMARC) enables a company to publish their authentication practices, advise receivers on how to treat messages that don’t validate against SPF and DKIM, and to request that notifications be sent to the business when a mailbox provider encounters non-authenticated messages.

When you implement those three standards in unison, you can dramatically reduce the likelihood that a bad actor will successfully impersonate your company in a phishing email and compromise some of your customers’ accounts.

4. Segment your email list

Email list segmentation involves splitting your customer list into sub-lists based on different attributes. Doing so lets you send more targeted messages to those segments, such as offering a bundled discount on homeowners insurance to people who have vehicle policies. You can vary your imagery and text by segment too, such as using lifestyle photos that match customers’ ages and speaking to them in different ways.

Segmentation can be a powerful way to drive email performance:

  • Revenues can increase by 781% (Jupiter Research)
  • Average click-through rate was 12% higher for emails sent to segmented lists, according to a HubSpot analysis

There are several ways to segment your email list, including but not limited to:

  • Customers’ ages (insurance needs can vary by age)
  • What your customers own, such as homes, cars, boats, and so forth
  • Marital and/or family status
  • Types of insurance policies they have with you (this one and the previous two items can be used in tandem for upselling and cross-selling)
  • How long they’ve been customers (useful for offering special deals for long-time policy holders, or simply thanking them for their loyalty)
  • How much they spend per month or year (helpful for ROI calculations for different segments)
  • How they’ve engaged with your emails in the past (for example, you might want to try a different strategy with people who typically open your emails but don’t click through)
  • Lapsed customers (you should develop a strategy for bringing them back)
  • Sales cycle stage (it can be helpful to create a segment for sales prospects who haven’t become paying customers yet)

You can conduct surveys to get more information about your customers, if you don’t have enough data to create useful segments.

5. Drive healthy open and click-through rates with personalized messaging and strong content

First name personalization is fine, but that’s just a start. You can rely on other kinds of personalization to engage customers too, such as:

  • The types of policies they have
  • Their location (helpful for also including the contact information for your nearest office)
  • Payment acknowledgements (“Thanks for your premium payment on [insert date].”)
  • Their interactions with you (“Thanks for your [phone call/email/letter] to our office last week.”)

Next, pair your personalization with strong content. Subject lines should be simple – try including at least one power word to drive the kind of emotion you want to convey. It can be helpful to think about your subject lines as if they’re headlines, like you’d see on a website. Copyblogger has a useful e-book about writing magnetic headlines, which you can apply to subject lines.

You should complement the subject line with your preheader, which is the text that email clients, including nearly all mobile ones, display below the subject line. If you don’t specify a preheader, the recipient will typically see the first several words of the email, which could be something unhelpful like, “To view this email in a web browser, click here.” Your preheader should offer people an additional incentive to click to open.

And don’t neglect the “from” address and name. Avoid a generic “[email protected]” address that uses the name “Insurance Policy” or something similar. Use a name that makes your customers feel like someone is reaching out to them personally, and use a reply-to address that’s functional and sends the message somewhere useful, such as the customer’s CRM record. Even if you don’t want people to reply to your emails, some will try anyway, so it can be helpful to capture what they have to say.

Finally, prompt the action you want with the body of your email. Make sure all your emails are mobile responsive, which means they’ll automatically adapt to the devices used by your recipients, whether they’re on small-screen phones or computers with widescreen displays. The text, image sizes, and layout will adjust on the fly to offer the best possible experience.

Finally, consider that at least 50% of emails were opened on mobile devices in 2018, according to Campaign Monitor, so in addition to a responsive layout, make sure you use short pieces of text and as many bullet points as you can. Try to deliver one key message per email and include a clear CTA button that indicates what you want people to do, such as “Pay My Premium” or “View My Monthly Report.” Here’s a trick: Say “I want to…” when writing your CTA text to consider it from your customers’ point-of-view.

~ Casey