Don’t overlook the newsletter! Here’s how you can maximize the power of this ubiquitous marketing tool.
Are you guilty of underestimating the humble email newsletter in your credit union marketing strategy? Perhaps your credit union isn’t on TikTok. Perhaps your credit union isn’t on Snapchat. But an email newsletter—that is an understandable and approachable point of entry. And it can deliver results.
It’s true: Email newsletters are among the most powerful digital marketing tools available. Although email newsletters may feel a little old school (the first mass email marketing campaign was sent in 1978), it is both a dynamic and ever-relevant form of communication. In fact, as digital marketing goes, email thrives because it is both familiar and cautiously dynamic.
Email marketing can:
- Increase social media follows
- Help complete sales and drive website traffic
- Reveal your most engaged audience members
These basic results make email marketing a winner. But there are creative upsides as well. With email newsletters, your credit union can educate and inform. Emails can also be highly personalized, driving connections. And, with the ability to design custom messages in free or premium templates from services like MailChimp or Constant Contact, you can create eye-catching messages that feature images and video. Knowing when to play with the email format and personalize will be key in making your email marketing stand out.
Inbox at Capacity
Email marketing delivers in part because your audience already understands it as a tool. How many people in the world have an email address? There are 3.9 billion active email users, or more than half of the global population. Having an email address is like having a telephone number. People expect to be able to reach you, online and on the phone. And businesses and organizations don’t bat an eye at asking for your digital contact info.
So, we know people are online and emailing. Now consider this: The average person checks their email inbox about 15 times a day. And that stat is from 2018, a time before we all worked from home and stayed continuously glued to our screens. Now, it’s easy to imagine many folks simply having their email inbox constantly open in the background.
Yikes! Compare this system to, say, one trip to the physical mailbox. In fact, we spend so much time in our email inboxes, there’s plenty of advice on how to make it more streamlined. For example, some researchers suggest you could alleviate stress if you only checked your email three times a day. Another system encourages five times daily: first thing in the morning, mid-morning, after lunch, mid-afternoon, and end of day.
What can marketers do with this information? On the one hand, email is a proven tool. And on the other hand, inboxes have never been busier. For your email marketing to succeed, for your credit union or any organization, a strong strategy is imperative. Think about the time you send emails, the day of the week, and don’t forget to craft a strong subject line.
Email Marketing 101
Given the proliferation of email, there is a good chance your credit union engages in digital marketing. Additionally, your credit union may already have an email newsletter campaign. But does your credit union have an overall email marketing strategy? Let’s back it up.
Whether or not your credit union uses email newsletters and digital marketing, start at the beginning with these questions:
- What do I know about my audience?
- What does my audience want to hear?
- How frequently does my audience want to hear from me?
- How can my communications help my audience?
These are basic intake questions, helping your organization align its marketing strategy with audience needs. A thoughtful start (or regroup!) can ensure your emails do not end up headed for the trash bin. Or, worse, that your audience members unsubscribe or report your emails as spam.
As our Futurist in Residence Peter Shankman reminds us, it has never been easier to listen to and focus on your audience. So, you can ask your audience their email and communications preferences. Do they want to get your emails? Do they want to hear from you once a week or once a month? And do they want to hear about general topics or targeted reports? Just remember, once you ask, pay attention to the answer!
Don’t Forget List Hygiene!
A quick note: Your email marketing strategy will only be successful if your credit union keeps clean data. Did you know that in 2019, one in five emails failed to make it to an inbox? The intended recipient never even saw them! This is a reminder that even if your email newsletter game is strong, there is always work to do to keep the process running.
Not only is the above stat frustrating for marketers, but it can also indicate a costly problem. Inactive followers will hurt the integrity of your email list, landing too many of your messages in spam folders and damaging overall deliverability. Additionally, you may be paying for an email service that charges based on list size, and if you include inactive addresses, you are simply wasting money.
Practicing list hygiene—or a regular cleaning of your digital address book—will help your organization better connect with clients and potential customers. In other words, do a digital checkup to ensure your emails are safely delivered.
As a bonus practice, consider segmenting your email lists, too. When you segment your lists, you take a few extra steps to make your emails more targeted. If a basic email marketing strategy is to send out one mass email newsletter a month, a segmented strategy looks at the layers of people in your audience. For example, a credit union might want to send a specialized message about home buying and loans to first-time home buyers. A segmented email list would look at the data and find people who match certain criteria, perhaps based on age and location. Then, the message is sent directly to that smaller group. Ultimately, this could make your email marketing strategy stronger for your credit union. Only the people who need to see the message receive the email, which also lends a personalized feeling.
Make Digital Communications Savvy
Personalize, personalize, personalize! It can’t be said enough in digital marketing. With inboxes being such busy places, sending targeted, creative, and personalized messages is key. If your credit union already has a print newsletter, review the content for email. How can existing copy be repurposed and redesigned for a digital format? Think about your content pillars. Is there one piece of news that could stand on its own in an inbox or become a unique campaign?
The good news is that email marketing is effective. It can also be easy—to a point. Taking the extra steps to hone your credit union’s message and voice will lead to returns.