Reaching your prospects and customers with Automated Marketing - So many choices. . . so easy to get it wrong Part 1
Chris King, CMT
I really feel sorry for today’s youth. Thanks to technology, communicating with friends presents so many choices. “Should I call or text? Email or Message post? Which Social Media should I use? What should I say/write? One wrong word and it’s all over . . .”
It’s much the same way for today’s Marketing Departments. In “the old days” the choices were much easier. “Do we make a ton of calls, send out a post card or do we send an email?” Today it’s a bit overwhelming. Email vs SMS Text?…. Web site Blog or Social Media? How often and how should the content look? Should we use a lot of images, bullets, links? Should we use pictures or animated GIFs or Videos? Will the message render okay on a 4.3 inch Phone and what about how it looks in Outlook v11 vs Gmail on a Desktop PC? And how do we measure the opens, click thrus, ROI and is anything paying off from all of this effort!?
Now add another complexity…. Your audience may have varying degrees of preferences. Baby Boomers (ages 53-72) tend to prefer emails and post cards. Gen X (33-52) and Gen Y/Millennials (13-32) tend to prefer email/text/social. Who knows what Gen Z (younger than 13) will want but I’m sure you can guess it won’t be post cards!
The Strategy – What/When
What tool should we use?
So let’s try to boil this down. We are primarily focused on marketing to prospects/customers for securing a mortgage or to Active/prospective Referral Partners and Agents. So that market is probably someone within the ages of 25-65 to keep it simple. Secondly, so that this does not turn into a novel, we’ll try to focus on the one option that will, for the most part, be appropriate for our selected age group/audience. I know everyone is excited about using SMS/text and it’s a great communication choice for things like loan status notifications to borrowers and agents but it’s very limited (140 characters), there are legal requirements for usage (opting in) and most studies have shown it’s a poor choice for non-urgent communications. Social media and web sites are extremely important as well and we’ll cover those tools but they are still secondary to the main communication engine that can be used to proactively and consistently reach the masses if done properly…. and that’s email.
When/how often should we use it?
Again, here is where technology plays a part in choices and options and possibly danger. Let’s cover the danger part first. Since most CRM systems can easily send out thousands of emails at once with a single click there is so much that can go wrong! So before you rush to click and blast let’s talk about choices, options and best execution.
Whether the strategy is periodic “blast emails” or strategic “drips” or “tracks” as we call them the frequency of your emails will dictate success and failure or catastrophic failure. Success would obviously mean your timing is optimal, emails are welcomed, read and the desired call to action fulfilled. Failure results from slight irritation with the level of frequency and your emails go un-read (note: depending on the audience, the closer your relationship the higher the tolerance as discussed in the next setion). Catastrophic failure results in two little words… “OPT OUT”. From a legal perspective this means game over in that you now can never email that person again. In most cases, the opt out button is clicked due to frequency.
So frequency becomes a balancing act. Lower frequency means longer periods between communication, higher frequency runs the risk of opt out. The best rule of thumb in the world of marketing for mortgage companies would be to separate frequency amongst the five main groups in your market (Borrower Prospects, Borrowers in Process, Past Borrowers/Customers, Active Partners and Partner Recruits/Inactive Partners). Put yourself in the shoes of each role:
Borrower Prospect – “I want to know you can help me with my loan needs but I don’t need this reminder every day. Depending on my specific situation I’d like to hear from you more frequently on how you can help me get a loan given my circumstances.”
Borrower in Process – “Email me all you want! Closing this loan is THE most important thing in my life right now. You can even text me with ANY/ALL updates any time!”
Past Borrower/Customer – “You’ve helped me get a loan so I only need to hear from you occasionally just to keep in touch or to remind me to send others your way or if there is something relevant to my situation or relationship with you. “
Partner (Active) – “If I’m a top producer with you I really don’t need to be bombarded with unrelated marketing emails. The occasional Happy Birthday/Holiday email is great and so are timely messages about rate trends, products, etc. Other than that, ONLY email me with pipeline reports or status milestones (maybe SMS/Text if preferred) on my deals because the only thing on my mind is closing the loans on my transactions. Oh and by the way…. I get a ton of emails!”
Partner Recruits/Inactive – “I’m not doing business with you. Try to show me why I should work with you. What is your unique value within my specific market? But don’t overdo it. I get tons of emails!”
Blast vs Drip/Track:
As it relates to the strategy and execution, you’ll need to decide between blast and drip/track or combination of both. Blast emails are great for unforeseen/timely communications or periodic events like birthdays. Drip/track is better for pre-planned communications for targets that fall into/out of specific scenarios based on their profile.
Blast (single or recurring emails)
Birthdays New Lead
Holidays Attempting Contact
New Product Announcments Loan Approved
Rate Sheets/Changes Loan Funded
Newsletters Nurture (withdrawn/on hold)
Annual Loan Reviews Partner Recruit
Drip/Track (pre-planned series of communications that auto trigger or stop based on changes in data profiles)
Nurture (withdrawn/on hold)
So we’ve tackled and addressed one of the five main components of successful automated marketing (Frequency/Timeliness). Now let’s explore the other four:
If your email is going to the junk folder or being marked as spam nothing else matters. Although most email readers/services do not divulge their filter algorithims you can bet it has a lot to do with 3 things:
- Sender domain (ie @abcmortgage.com) the sender name/email and the subject. If your sender domain (ie abcmortgage.com) has a poor reputation or sender score (more on these later)
- Sender email: If your “from” is not a real email address it will most likely get blocked. Make sure you are using a real email address.
- Subject line: If your subject contains words well known in spam emails (words like free, guaranteed, etc.) there’s a good chance your message is going into the junk folder.
Again, put yourself in the shoes of your target market. You are much more likely to open an email based on the relevance of the subject line (this is second in importance only to the sender). If I know the sender well, I’ll open it regardless of the subject. If I don’t know the sender or don’t know them well, I then look at the subject. If the subject is relevant to me I might open it. So don’t underestimate the significance of your subject line!
Ok so you got past the initial email spam filters and the recipient has the time and patience to at least open your email. Now comes the body or content of the email (which by the way might be previewed in one of a number of email readers and in one of a number of devices (desktop PC, phone, tablet, watch, etc.). Most likely, the smaller the device the less will be read. Again, relevance plays a role…. If I start to read your email and the content is not relevant to me I’m done.... because I get a LOT of emails!
Assuming we’re good on relevance now the next component comes into play. How “readable” is the content? This is a subjective question. Depending on the recipient’s age (generation), eye sight, patience at the time of delivery and the device they are using, they will be more or less discerning when it comes to how your content is displayed.
Click here to read Part 2