Saying, "We have always done it this way," is easy. Changing a process that has been done the same way for many years is not so easy. Insurance marketers know the way we sell insurance is very rigid due to compliance and regulations. Marketers may only be able to mail to certain states, say certain words or phrases, and must include specific underwriting language. While these rules exist to protect consumers and are intended to provide clarity, the list of insurance regulations with which we must comply is lengthy.
Luckily, we know a lot about these regulations, and we can innovate while still adhering to compliance and policy limitations. We've innovated our insurance marketing processes by using email to send policy holders their information and market available options to them.
A majority of our clients (associations, brokers, credit unions, carriers, employers) frequently send large amounts of US mail to their group members. This mail could be used to communicate carrier change information or takeover letters for policy holders, or offers to increase coverage for members who don't yet carry a particular kind of insurance. Our clients look to us to help them reduce the expense they incur through these mailings. One way we have reduced these costs is by sending information via email.
Step 1: Addressing Safety Concerns
Convincing a partner who has been mailing for many years to switch to email can be a tricky task. Many of the concerns we hear are:
- Malware: Email can be used maliciously to send software that is intended to damage or disable computers and computer systems.
- Spear Phishing: This is the fraudulent practice of sending emails, ostensibly from a known or trusted sender in order to induce targeted individuals to reveal confidential information.
- Large Email Attachments: Email servers usually limit the size of files to 10 MB.
- Data Loss: Communicating private/personal information through unsecured email is always a bad idea.
- Compliance Issues: Insurance industry regulations impose data security requirements about how data can be transmitted.
To ensure these concerns are addressed, we use high-volume email platforms that follow industry compliance regulations. Behind the scenes, these types of hosted platforms use the latest security scans, and they carefully manage their "white list" status (think of this as reputation on the Internet) by making sure they don't let spammers abuse the platform. Many email platforms forbid certain types of email setups, such as attachments or executable files. They often have features that automate CAN-SPAM compliance and cookie tracking for sending to European Union member countries. If any company is still using Outlook to send email to many recipients, they should know those days have long been over. There is a new "right way" to send emails on a large scale.
However, the biggest worry that concerns our clients is the danger of emailing personal/private information to or from policy holders. We ensure that all member personal/private information is sent through a secure email or file transfer system. Our emails are carefully crafted to give recipients only one call-to-action (one hyperlink) per email. Furthermore, users can't hit "reply" to the sending email address. These practices reduce the possibility that a recipient would type in personal information and send it in an email.
Have you ever received annoying emails from companies that you didn't want to receive anymore? Everyone has! In order to stay within compliance regulations, we also include an unsubscribe option at the bottom of every email. This guarantees that any individual who does not want emails from us can unsubscribe. Not only is it the law, it's better for customers who aren't interested, and better for clients who want to focus on members who are interested in offers.
Step 2: Selling the Benefits of Email
Most clients are looking to improve their Return on Investment (ROI) from insurance marketing. When we discuss the idea of email with our clients, we provide some key points on how switching can actually improve ROI. Here are some of those key points:
- Think Green: Communicating with your customers/clients means less paper. Less paper means fewer trees being cut down, yes, but it also translates to a lower cost of business. The average amount of money spent per kit for a direct mail campaign is $.50-$3. The total amount of money spent per recipient per email campaign ranges from $.01-.03.
- Save Time: Developing an email template is a lot easier than a direct mail piece. The number of people it takes to deploy an email campaign is dramatically less than a direct mail campaign. Plus, it's digital, so making a change is as simple as making a click. This saves time and budget.
- Get in Front: Technology trend watchers have predicted the death of email many times since it was invented. But, email isn't going anywhere. According to the Radicati Group's 2016 finding, "Email use worldwide will top 3 billion users by 2020." And Gmail alone has over 1 billion active users worldwide (Statista, 2016)! Our clients' members still use, and still love email. Smart brands go where their customers are.
Despite these persuasive points in favor of switching from direct mail to email, some of our clients still prefer direct mail. To this we say: Let the data speak for itself. Email campaigns allow our clients to gather insight quickly and accurately. We can measure who opened the email, who clicked on the links, and even which types of devices were used. Email affords clients so much more actionable data than a business reply envelope ever could.
Step 3: Flip the Switch
It's easy to make the switch to email. Assuming the member list of email addresses has already been segmented and "cleaned," setting up an email campaign is actually a quick process--especially compared to a direct mail campaign. The member list is delivered to Selman & Company securely, and it is then uploaded (securely) to the email sending platform. The email itself is crafted with variable tokens such as member first name and name of the sending organization. Almost all of the email materials we send on behalf of clients are branded with their colors and logos. They are made to resemble, as much as possible, the identity of the client organization. This helps increase open rates: Members love their credit union or association, but they have no idea who their insurance administrator is! After the design is complete, we can set up testing and delivery. Our emails are just the first stage in a carefully-crafted, digital buyer's journey that takes members through information, quote, and enroll. After emails are sent, they can be reused and modified for the client's next campaigns.
Out With The Old and In With The New... Kinda
If email is so great, why not dispense with print letters all together? According to SelmanCo data, we've found that it's actually beneficial to run a direct mail campaign in conjunction with an email campaign, assuming there is room in the budget to do both. Running the two tactics in the same campaign reinforces your marketing efforts through repetition and consistency.
For example, a member might receive this sequence of communication:
- Send direct mail piece telling the customer to go to a link, which leads to a landing page with information; Can be accessed by mobile device
- Send a similar email seven days later, instructing the member to click the link to the same landing page; May feature slightly different messaging
- If the member hasn't visited the link seven days after that, send a second email to visit the link to the landing page.
In this campaign, we contact the member three times to encourage them to enter the campaign. The same offer is repeated, but each time it's tweaked with slightly different messaging. This yields great results, and we use this model for many clients.
Want to learn more about how our digital marketing efforts are changing, and how it can help your group insurance marketing? Ask us how it would be employed for your group members or employees.