DM News' Essential Guide to E-Mail Marketing: What Finance E-Mail Subscribers Want

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Forty-four percent of Americans who do banking and bill paying use the Internet for those purposes at some point, according to the Pew Internet & American Life Project. And half of U.S. adults use the Internet for financial management and investing, based on Harris Interactive findings.


Those statistics suggest a solid market opportunity for financial companies to use e-mail to communicate with customers. Making decisions about money is one of the most personal and important tasks consumers undertake, and a well-constructed e-mail marketing effort can boost finance e-mail subscribers' use and loyalty.


So who are these finance e-mail subscribers, what do they like in their e-mail communications and how can you attract and retain them?


Defining characteristics of finance e-mail subscribers. Quris' recent View from the Inbox survey of 2,543 U.S. adult e-mail users found that 16 percent receive financial information via e-mail. Here are some defining characteristics of these subscribers, according to the survey:


· Very male. Sixty-eight percent of finance e-mail subscribers are male. The proportion of males is greater in the finance topic than any other e-mail communication topic.


· Older crowd with higher income. Forty-two percent of these subscribers are 55 or older compared with 29 percent of non-finance subscribers. And 43 percent have an income of $50,000 or above versus 21 percent of non-finance subscribers.


· Experienced Internet and e-mail users. Seventy-three percent have been online for at least six years, while 39 percent have racked up nine or more years online.


· Big fans of permission e-mail. Half consider e-mail a good way for companies to stay in touch with customers, compared with 44 percent of non-finance subscribers. More than 70 percent say they read at least half of the permission e-mails they receive, and 72 percent say they respond to permission e-mails at least occasionally.


What finance e-mail subscribers want.


· Finance e-mail subscribers think e-mail is a good way for companies to send account statements and summaries of transactions. Fifty-five percent rank them highly, compared with 36 percent of non-finance subscribers.


· These subscribers particularly appreciate account status messages across a range of businesses. When it comes to account status messages from banks, credit card companies or brokerage firms, more than 60 percent say they already receive, or want to receive, such information.


· They value information alerts more highly than others do. Twenty-seven percent find them worth reading versus 10 percent of non-finance subscribers. Conversely, e-mail coupons were more appealing to non-finance subscribers. Twenty-one percent consider them worth reading compared with 13 percent of finance e-mail subscribers.


· Finance e-mail subscribers prefer messages offering relevant information they can act on or information that confirms their account activities. E-mails that don't fit these two categories may well go unread.


· Strategic recommendations. Finance e-mail subscribers' positive attitude toward permission e-mails, combined with their propensity to be loyal to a company, makes them a highly attractive customer segment. However, marketing missteps or poor customer information management practices can quickly break even the most longstanding relationship. Here are key points when developing e-mail marketing communications aimed at finance enthusiasts:


· Use double opt in. It used to be that confirming a new subscriber this way was something for e-mail marketing purists. But for financial services marketers, it's a necessity. Sixty-nine percent of finance e-mail subscribers prefer it.


· Use account status messages to cross-sell and upsell new products. Finance e-mail subscribers appreciate regular updates about their accounts and may be more receptive to new marketing messages within those updates instead of as separate e-mails.


· Reach out to the existing customer base and attract them with valuable content. One top reason that finance e-mail subscribers give their e-mail addresses to a company is that they already are existing customers of that company. Fifty-four percent cited this reason, versus 39 percent of non-finance subscribers. Another motivating factor, which works nearly as well for non-finance subscribers, is simply to require e-mail addresses in return for gaining access to valuable content.


· Keep your permission pledge. Half of all survey respondents think spam comes from companies sharing their e-mail address without asking. Make your customer data policy open and available, not buried in a privacy policy few consumers will read.


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