Email marketing remains one of the most effective channels for banks to engage customers, drive growth, and provide valuable services. However, with inboxes overflowing and attention spans dwindling, standing out requires thoughtful strategy and execution (not to mention the use of email marketing tools).
This article provides 13 email marketing tips to help banks cut through the noise to better reach, serve, and retain banking customers.
Whether seeking to improve open rates, increase cross-sells, or elevate service levels, there are proven best practices to deploy. Read on to unlock key insights and recommendations for advancing your bank’s email marketing program today.
Significance of Email Marketing for Banking Institutions
Email marketing delivers outsized returns for banks of all types. Studies show financial institutions earn an average ROI of $40 for every $1 spent on email campaigns.
Beyond impressive monetary returns, email enables more frequent and personalized customer communications than other channels. This strengthens engagement and loyalty over time.
Additionally, email’s digital nature allows detailed tracking of open and click-through rates. This quantifiable data guides continuous optimization efforts.
Whether seeking to drive account openings, cross-sell products, improve literacy, or elevate service levels – a strategic email marketing program is well worth the effort for retail banks, credit unions, community banks, and beyond.
Industry research confirms email consistently outperforms other marketing channels for return, relationships, and results.
1. Collect Emails at Account Openings
The foundation of any effective email marketing program is obtaining customers’ email addresses from the start. Banks should require an email address to be provided during all new account openings to ensure this vital piece of contact information is on file.
Social security numbers, home addresses, and phone numbers often change over time – but email addresses remain relatively constant. Capturing this data accurately upfront via account opening forms, online applications, and teller interactions ensures critical future connection points are secured.
With email addresses on file, banks can then onboard new account holders into their email marketing programs and messaging streams.
Sending a series of educational and helpful emails through the first days and weeks of a relationship is important for engagement and literacy. This is especially true for younger demographics like millennials and Gen Zers who may be new to complex financial products.
Early and ongoing email connections build familiarity with mobile/online banking tools as well as available products that may serve evolving needs.
The easiest place to start your list-building efforts is during new account openings. However, banks should also incorporate email collection functionality across other platforms like website pop-ups, ATM screens, mobile logins, and teller interactions.
This provides secondary opportunities to gather email addresses from both new and existing customers for expanded relationship marketing in the future. An ever-growing email subscriber list serves as the fuel to amplify results over time.
2. Segment by Account Types
Once email addresses are captured, email segmentation is critical for personalized and relevant messaging. Most banks have an array of retail banking, small business, commercial, and wealth management offerings.
Each customer will only hold a subset of these products initially. Segmenting email subscribers by their specific account types allows tailored content to be delivered.
For example, retail banking customers would receive emails focused on direct deposit advances, HELOC rates, credit card bonuses, and refinancing offers. Whereas small business account holders would get content about payroll services, QuickBooks integrations, commercial loans, and rewards-based business credit cards instead.
Getting the right message to the right customer supports engagement, cross-sells, and service levels simultaneously. The image below shows an example of an account nurture series:
While most banking systems make this type of segmentation possible, it does require upfront planning and integration work. The marketing team must collaborate with IT stakeholders to appropriately map account data into email marketing platforms and sequence set-up.
Yet this investment pays dividends through response rates to segmented campaigns averaging 22% higher than general, batch-and-blast emails.
3. Send Personalized Money Tips
Beyond promotions for bank products, email marketing also provides a medium for sending regular money tips and financial literacy content.
Banks that invest in educating customers and improving their financial skills tend to enjoy higher long-term retention and satisfaction. Scheduling a regular cadence of money tip emails nurtures this advisory positioning.
When constructing these educational emails, personalization also matters. Rather than general content blasted to all customers, use data intelligence to customize messages based on account profiles.
Inform a young customer about building credit responsibly. Share 401k fee management guidance with middle-aged subscribers. Send Medicare and Social Security optimizing tips to retiring customers. This degree of personalization makes subscribers feel uniquely cared for.
While manual customization would be incredibly labor intensive, dynamic content modules allow automated versioning at scale. Setting up the logic may require initial effort, but gets easier over time as libraries of content modules are developed.
When customers receive tailored education that speaks specifically to them, response rates improve substantially. Personalized money tips nurture confidence in the bank’s expertise.
4. Promote New Digital Banking Tools
As banking digitization accelerates, email serves as the ideal channel for promoting new mobile and online capabilities. Getting customers enrolled in mobile banking alone results in a 20% lift in deposit account balances over time.
Yet many financial institutions struggle getting adopt and usage of their shiny new digital tools. This is where ongoing email nurturing and awareness building are invaluable.
Banks should plan email campaigns that educate customers on new feature releases right as they are launched. Whether showcasing advanced mobile deposits for businesses, enhanced personal financial management dashboards, or peer-to-peer payment options – email spreads awareness rapidly.
Tracking digital enrollment and usage lifts by subscriber segment then affirms email’s impact, letting banks double down on winning themes.
The most compelling digital banking-focused emails combine “what’s in it for me” education with easy call-to-action buttons to activate new capabilities on the spot. Savvy financial marketers even incorporate behavioral usage data to prompt the right upgrade offer at the right time for each customer.
Keeping customers informed and digitally enabled over email channels pays exponential dividends.
5. Highlight Rate Specials
With interest rates rising across lending and savings vehicles, email marketing presents a prime channel for alerting customers to rate specials.
Banks using email effectively highlight new CD offerings with attractive yields, mortgage refinancing deals to cut payments, and periodic bonus interest bumps on deposit accounts. Timely alerts on rate incentives open valuable conversations about maximizing returns.
Driving further interest requires savvy timing and targeting for rate special emails. As soon as funds rates move, banks should notify aligned customer segments who stand to benefit most.
- Younger savers get alerts on new high-yield savings options.
- Homeowners with near-market mortgages hear about refinancing deals to lower rates.
- Retirees with maturing CDs are presented with rollover options to capture the latest yields.
Smart timing and segmentation ensure relevancy when showcasing rate incentives over email.
As major Fed decisions approach, preparing a cadence of rate special emails to cover various “what if” scenarios is wise as well. Pre-scheduling emails based on potential rate moves enables rapid response marketing.
Keeping an eye on rate policy and consumer sentiment allows banks to develop email campaigns synchronized with market trends. Being among the first to promote the latest specials captures customer mindshare.
Pro Tip: A/B Test different subject lines to find the best-performing versions for your marketing campaigns.
6. Spotlight Loyalty Rewards Programs
Loyalty and rewards programs build lasting connections between banks and customers. Yet enrollment only happens when aware of the value being offered. This is where email excels – highlighting compelling rewards programs and their benefits at scale. Ongoing messaging ensures subscribers stay engaged once enrolled as well.
Introducing a new points-based credit card offer via email allows broad promotion with tracking enabled. Smart marketers sweeten the deal for prime customer segments with sign-up bonus points or years of no annual fees to accelerate adoption.
Once approved, welcome emails outline how to register for the rewards portal and start redeeming points or miles. Sending monthly updates on points earned and options for utilization nurtures ongoing usage.
For debit card rewards tied to checking accounts, email enables both acquisition and adherence. Monthly statements can include reminders to use loyalty debit cards for purchases to grow points balances over time.
Trigger emails after new point thresholds are reached can alert customers to new redemption opportunities or featured local offers of interest. Email gives banks the ability to amplify program value and keep rewards on top of wallets.
7. Share Financial Planning Advice
Financial literacy remains low, especially among younger demographics. This presents banks with an opportunity to deliver financial planning education over email channels to nurture long-term relationships.
Published research reveals over 80% of banking customers prefer financial services providers who take a consultative advisory approach focused on improving financial health.
Email enables scalable distribution of financial planning tips aligned to major life milestones. Example content would include guides on paying down student loans efficiently after college, setting up 401k auto-contribution approaches when starting a first job, and structuring savings for home down payments and weddings during young family formation years.
Financial planning emails should always incorporate calls-to-action to meet with a banker for personalized assessments as well.
Surveys indicate over 75% of banking customers are more likely to purchase recommended products when the rationale links back to financial planning considerations. Email allows banks to establish advisory positioning and guide customers toward appropriate solutions for their evolving needs over time.
8. Reward Customer Referrals
Referral programs provide a proven method for cost-effectively acquiring new customers. When an existing customer proactively refers family, friends, or colleagues to their bank – these introductions convert at much higher rates thanks to built-in trust and credibility. Email facilitates amplifying referral efforts through customer communications.
Banks can send periodic email campaigns to current account holders highlighting active referral rewards deals. These should outline the relevant benefits for both parties – such as cash bonuses, fee waivers, or loyalty points – to incentivize introductions. making the value exchange clear while streamlining referral submission processes boosts response rates substantially.
Following up with both referring customers and successful referees over email enables prompt thank you messages along with links to redeem rewards promises. This nurtures the relationship with referrers while also welcoming new community members onboard with initial service emails.
Maintaining open referral program messaging ensures subscriber awareness remains high. Active customer referrers become a bank’s best word-of-mouth evangelists.
9. Automate Payment Reminders
Missed loan payments and tardy fees represent significant friction points that erode customer satisfaction over time. However, automated email payment reminders provide helpful nudges that foster better payment compliance and borrowing experiences.
Modern banking systems allow the creation of email reminder sequences timed around typical consumer payment cycles – such as 5 days before a credit card bill’s due date.
Receiving these friendly tips helps customers stay on track, avoiding blemishes on credit bureau reporting as well as bank penalty charges from delinquencies. Beyond preserving credit, automated reminders also strengthen loyalty with the institution.
For customers registered for online banking and enrolled in paperless statements, adding custom fields for preferred reminder lead days allows further self-service. Accommodating customer preferences where possible across communication and payment channels is essential.
Allowing account holders the option to modify timing or cancel automated reminders offers an added dimension of service personalization as well. No one enjoys late fees, but customers will sure appreciate banks that proactively help them avoid such hassles!
10. Cross-Sell Additional Services
The most sophisticated bank marketers actively mine customer data and behaviors to model cross-sell propensity. They configure customized email campaigns to match compatible services aligned to revealed customer needs and profile attributes. The analytics inform when to message who with what offer for optimal response.
For example, A/B testing may reveal that homeowners under age 40 who carry a mortgage from another provider respond favorably to HELOC pre-approval invitations delivered over email. Meanwhile, commercial banking customers with 2-year-old businesses averaging $3,000 cash balances month-to-date benefit from introductions to premium business checking accounts.
Continuously analyzing account patterns allows banks to identify evolving financial needs. Equipped with predictive intelligence, timely and relevant offers for suitable products get extended over email channels.
This positions future cross-sell conversations on a solid foundation backed by individual use cases. When executed responsibly, data-driven cross-sell email campaigns breed value.
11. Retarget Website Visitors
Valuable prospects often visit a bank’s website but leave without converting. Savvy marketing teams implement retargeting capabilities allowing customized email follow-ups for re-engagement.
Capturing IP addresses or deploying cookies lets banks track online browsing behavior. When target segments exhibit defined patterns – such as visiting HELOC calculator tools – tailored emails get dynamically triggered to reignite interest.
The email content itself should acknowledge recent browsing activity and offer helpful next steps catered to demonstrated needs.
This might include mortgage rates specific to their geo-location, links to branch appointment schedulers to advance HELOC conversations or webinar invites about home tapping strategies. Matching context in a privacy-compliant manner conveys attentiveness.
Sophisticated platforms make the deployment of retargeting emails simple, with full integration into core banking and email service provider systems. Everything is tailored around the needs and demonstrated interests of each prospect.
This eliminates wasted effort while optimizing relevant dialogue through preferred digital channels. Website retargeting lifts conversions by keeping your brand top-of-mind.
12. Send Customer Satisfaction Surveys
How do banks truly know feelings of satisfaction (or dissatisfaction) among customers without asking? Email surveys provide invaluable Voice-of-Customer insights, giving accountholders a forum to share feedback.
Deploying quarterly relationship surveys, event-triggered surveys after service interactions, and multi-touch episodic journey surveys produces a rich dataset for analysis.
Online survey links allow simple distribution at scale. Asking short lists of open-text questions also signals the bank’s sincere interest in enhancing experiences:
- How were you treated by our representative?
- What did you appreciate most about our mobile app?
- What could we have done better during the account change you requested last month?
Compiling this qualitative feedback exposes improvement opportunities. Analyzing survey responses also allows the identification of detractors vulnerable to attrition. Proactively engaging dissatisfied customers by email to resolve pain points prevents defection to competitors.
Closing experience gaps increases retention multiplier effects over time. Listening to customer voices through email surveys, and then demonstrating responsive actions based on input received fortifies lasting loyalty.
13. Track Campaign ROI Metrics
The importance of monitoring email campaign return on investment (ROI) can not be overstated. By tracking open rates, click-through rates, and conversion per email sent, banks gain quantified visibility into channel effectiveness.
Technical integrations connecting marketing automation platforms with core banking systems enable robust measurement capabilities to optimize resource allocations over time.
Tagging and assigning campaign codes at the start of email deployments allows granular segmentation of results data later. Reliably tying response rates back to each send allows apple-to-apple comparisons in search of winning formulas. Over time, analytics-driven optimizations compound, improving email ROI substantially.
Ongoing review of email channel metrics also facilitates forecasting responded revenue relative to costs. This illuminates true yield and informs broader budget decisions across marketing mix models.
Quantifying contribution at a programmatic level maintains stakeholder confidence and justification in email channel investments. Simply put, banks should be tracking what works and what does not across sender identities to sharpen performance.
Email marketing remains a high-performing channel for banks seeking to engage customers, drive revenue, and elevate service levels. By thoughtfully embracing email best practices – from collecting subscriber data to personalizing content to measuring results – financial institutions can cut through inbox noise to deliver value.
Banks that invest in understanding audience needs, speak to those needs clearly over email, and continuously optimize efforts based on data-driven insights will win market share. The marketing tactics covered across these 13 tips demonstrate proven ways to connect with customers over their preferred digital inboxes to foster lasting financial relationships.