Making email easier and more effective
ACT-ON: What does Act-On enable you to do now that you couldn’t do before?
KYLE: We used to send emails from our core system. Well, our core system was not an email management system. Therefore we wouldn’t have the reporting or the response or any of the information on undeliverable email addresses. So by the sheer fact of moving it over to a proper email service, we now get a lot more information, and we’re working to loop back all those bad email addresses to our core so we improve our overall data on our members.
ROXY: One thing is the customizable templates that you can make for your stationery. That’s been so helpful for keeping us branded correctly.
Before, I would have to build every email in Dreamweaver and make modifications from that, try to keep it the same always. That was sometimes difficult. Now it’s just so much easier to send out an email at any time, just dropping in text. That and the landing pages have been wonderful. And forms, I just think it really dressed up the forms. Once we got that down, it brought our forms into this century.
KYLE: Right about the time we started Act-On was about the time we started making all of our emails fully responsive. Some of our other attempts, some of the other email services we used here and there, didn’t always allow you to put full HTML5 control in there and make it 100 percent your own. There were certain filters or blocks in place, but we can pretty much do whatever we want now.
ROXY: I can tell you two really great things. First, we’re able to send variable information. Let’s say somebody’s preapproved for a rate of 2.75 on an auto loan, and they have a limit of $20,000 that they could use, we didn’t have that. We would have to make separate lists for each group of people, make separate emails. It was labor intensive. Whereas now, using that variable information, it’s so easy. And we can just do data merges, which is wonderful. It cuts down the amount of time to create those emails.
KYLE: A testament to Roxy: she’s set up something like 20 automation campaigns, which probably contain 40 to 50 emails that are sent out on a regular basis. So it’s a lot of work in one year’s time.
ROXY: But the emails and campaigns are now set up and maintaining on their own and so are the lists. And we’re seeing a lot more results.
ACT-ON: How do you measure success? Have you been able to benchmark your improvements?
KYLE: Absolutely. We gauge some of the standard metrics: how many we send, percent open, percent clicked, and then – if we can get it, because not everything’s this cut and dried in the financial world – but if we can get it, a conversion rate.
ROXY: Here’s a good example. When we did credit card campaigns before, we’d have a pretty good turnaround, but our numbers are just skyrocketing compared to previous years.
KYLE: It’s hard to compare or talk about an improvement, because we just weren’t doing this before. We sent emails that made an offer, ”Why don’t you open a credit card, here are the advantages.” What Roxy’s describing now is more of a full integration where we are sending out the emails, and following up at the appropriate time with the appropriate new message. But it also gives people the option to fill out a form, which gets routed to our credit card department, to work with them to finalize the new credit card.
I think there was some expectation that it wouldn’t work quite as well as it did. And then the first week that we had 200 credit card applications come in, and our staff said “What’s going on?” And we responded that “This a good problem to have, let’s keep it going.”
ACT-ON: Are there any metrics around the increased email open rate, click-through rates, qualified leads, higher conversion rates, even increased sales revenue?
KYLE: Comparing it to past years, before we had Act-On in place, it’s like 200 percent more opens or something like that. But we’re sending more emails than we used to, so that’s a hard one to look at. But if you look at the percentage of what was opened versus what we sent, we probably got about a 10 percent increase.
ROXY: I’ve got an example because I run campaigns on our credit card offers. So just from all the credit card offers that we’ve sent since using Act-On, from the emails we’ve got a 42.5 percent open rate. These are the ones that are just preapprovals or credit card offers if you’re interested in a credit card. This is not like the one at just an event. These are what we’re sending out to our members. And our click rate on those is about 9.21, which is pretty incredible.
I think there’s so many components at play, especially with spam scoring, we’re making sure that these are landing in people’s in boxes. We’re also seeing who’s bouncing, what bad emails we have.
KYLE: In many ways marketing automation has fundamentally changed how we’ve done things. We used to have a website with just had some information and how to call us. But marketing automation has really allowed us, the four of us in our department, to implement best practices in digital marketing, to create content to use to reach the people, to use forms to gather information, gather leads, or gather actions that members want to take, and push it from there. We don’t have a meeting where we’re not discussing some kind of promotion or effort to communicate with our members, where we don’t consider how Act-On can help us because of the flexibility, and the forms.
It’s not an email program. It’s more than that. Because it’s integrated with our website, we’re able to hook it up various places on social media, we’re able to use it in a variety of avenues at these events to make sure that we use it to do more than just emails, but true marketing automation.
ACT-ON: Generally speaking do you feel like you’re a more kind of effective, competitive marketing organization with this tool?
KYLE: We are, like it or not, compared to the very biggest banks because no matter where we are located geographically, all our members have the Internet and can just go online and leave us at any point and go somewhere else if they wanted to. But it allows us to stay competitive with a much larger organization. It’s changed our capacity.