Email Marketing: 7 Steps For Getting and Closing More Leads For Less
When it’s done right, email marketing can help you guide thousands of prospects and leads toward a submitted application – for a lot less than regular mail or telephone calls. But most agents do it the wrong way and waste their time trying to use their Outlook or online email account for marketing purposes. So while other agents are still trying to figure out email marketing, you can launch your first campaign today with these simple tips.
There are a lot of rules and regulations to follow, as well as pitfalls and mistakes to avoid. But you can create a successful health insurance email marketing plan in just 7 easy steps:
1) Don’t Spam
Spam has gone beyond annoyance. It’s costly. According to a 2004 National Technology Readiness Survey, spam cost businesses nearly $21.6 billion in lost productivity.
And with the passage of the federal CAN-SPAM act, email spamming is also illegal. You won’t necessarily go to jail for spamming, but you do face stiff financial penalties.
But don’t fret. There are 4 basic rules you need to be aware of when using email as a marketing tool:
- •Truthful identification
The email must identify the sender. The “From” line and routing information must identify the sender’s domain name and email address. In addition, the body of the email must contain the sender’s physical address.
- •Accurate subject lines
The email’s subject line must not be deceptive. It cannot mislead email recipients about the true content or subject matter. The email must also be clearly identified as an advertisement.
- •Provide an opt-out
Commercial email recipients must have at least one acceptable opt-out option, such as a return email address or an online mechanism. This mechanism must be operational for at least 30 days after the email is sent. And once you do receive an opt-out or “unsubscribe,” you must process that request and stop sending any emails to that address within 10 days.
- •Restrictions on mailing list transfers
Although it’s legal to buy, sell, rent and lease mailing lists, the CAN-SPAM act steps in when it comes to the email addresses of people who have opted out. You cannot sell or transfer the email addresses of anyone who has chosen not to receive any of your emails.
2) Build Your Database
Because there are no variable costs like postage and printing expenses to worry about, email marketing really pays off when you have a big mailing list. But it must be a mailing list of people who have expressed an interest in your insurance service.
Start with your existing database of unclosed leads and prospects. Don’t bother checking for duplicates, as your email service provider can do that automatically. But I do recommend that you check the spelling of your prospects’ names as diligently as possible.
3) Create A Drip Marketing Plan
Drip marketing is the ideal strategy for handling leads who aren’t ready to close right away. As the name implies, drip marketing entails guiding these long-term leads with a continuous stream of messages.
It’s about being persistent – and email marketing is the perfect tool. But to be effective, you need to have a plan and the right tools. A good plan will start with two or three emails the first week you get the lead, then switch to weekly messages for the rest of the month. After the first month, you should then send at least one reminder email each month to your long-term leads.
The right tool is an integrated health insurance autoresponder, such as LeadMiner, which can automatically send thousands of emails each week based on a schedule you set. More importantly, each LeadMiner message can include an updated plan quote personalized for each prospect.
When that long-term lead is finally ready to buy health insurance, your drip marketing campaign will ensure that your up-to-date quote and contact information is at their fingertips.
4) Keep Subscribers Happy
As kids, one of the most annoying things we could say to our parents on those long road trips was “are we there yet?” If your drip marketing messages just ask for a sale, you’re basically sending a grown-up version of that annoying line.
I recommend that you instead keep your prospects and leads happy by first providing them with something of value. Keep them informed about what’s going on with health insurance. More importantly, I suggest you offer them tips on how they can find the most affordable plan available – such as using your quote engine.
One way many agents build trust while they stay connected with prospects is through an email newsletter. It does take a little more effort, but it is an effective tool for presenting an image as a thought leader and professional that they can trust with their health insurance needs.
5) Email Marketing Service Provider
If you do plan to use newsletters, I recommend subscribing to an email marketing service provider. The two industry leaders are ConstantContact.com and iContact.com.
They provide dozens of templates to give your email newsletters a professional look. But they also handle all of the back-end work, such as handling opt-outs and screening your newsletter for potential “spaminess.” Most importantly, they allow you to create a subscription box that you can insert into webpages – to sign up people who may be interested in receiving your newsletter.
6) Maximize Your Open Rate
You may have a killer drip marketing messages and the right tools to reach out to thousands of prospects and leads. But your investment won’t yield its full potential if you can’t get your prospects to open your emails.
Here are 3 tips to help you maximize your open rates:
- •Weekend deployment
According to eROI’s email statistics report for 2006, business-to-consumer (B2C) emails achieved the best open rates on the weekends. So I recommend sending out your consumer-oriented emails on Friday.
- •Subject line
First of all, keep it short. Many email programs only show the first 50 characters of the subject line – until the email is fully opened. And studies have shown that shorter subject lines routinely get higher open rates.
Jupiter Research found that including the company’s name in the subject line can double open rates, versus similar emails that don’t include it. And you should also try to clearly state your offer or highlighted benefits.
- •Test, test, test!
If your database reaches several hundred, you should start testing your messages to find the one that works best. For example, if you have two ideas for a subject line but aren’t sure which one will have the higher open rate, test them on a small portion of your email list.
Send the email with the first subject line to 50 people; and send the same email with the second subject line to another 50. Then use subject line that gets the better open rate on the rest of your database. But you should also test other parts of your email, such as your call to action, special offers and even design.
7) Integrate Your Weapons
The biggest benefit of email marketing is it makes your marketing more efficient and productive. But you lose some of that efficiency if your Internet marketing tools aren’t integrated.
As you shop for marketing technology tools, make sure that they’re able to integrate and work with other tools. For example, the LeadMiner email drip marketing tool comes with a free lead management system that keeps you on top of all your lead marketing efforts, including appointments and online brochures. It can also integrate with your quote engine and website to provide a packaged online marketing solution.
Having an integrated system eliminates the need to re-input data or manually synchronize your reports and mailing lists. And that means more time to close the leads that your drip marketing campaign has guided to that all-important buying decision.