3 Tips About Financial Services E-mails

For financial institutions to win the tug of war in their customers’ inboxes, they need to cede control to the subscribers, finds Forrester Research.

Considering financial services e-mails will nearly double during the next few years, from 8 billion messages in 2009 to 14 billion in 2013, the Cambridge, Mass.-based research company recommends giving customers more control in order to earn their trust. The advice comes as a result of survey findings Forrester details in its Why Consumers Subscribe to Financial Services E-mails report, which it released June 24.

In an online survey conducted last August, Forrester found that 52 percent of respondents said they subscribe to e-mails from financial institutions because they want to be in control of their money. More than half reported being annoyed when they receive e-mail for which they didn’t opt in. (But only 36 percent said they actually receive e-mail they didn’t ask for.) Meanwhile, among the 64 percent of online adults who receive financial services e-mails, most get messages from more than one such institution.

Forrester says that while some assumptions are true—financially stable consumers are more likely to subscribe to e-mails than low-income earners—others are not. For instance, career-motivated customers are more likely to subscribe than those motivated by family or entertainment. High-income consumers are just as likely to subscribe as the average consumer, but 42 percent claimed they never opted in to receive financial services e-mails. “So proceed with caution in contacting this group,” according to Forrester.

So, Forrester says, hold on loosely, but don’t let go:

  • Share information about e-mail alerts. Relying on the technicality that e-mail alerts aren’t e-mail marketing doesn’t mean much to customers—to them, they’re e-mails. “In a communications center, e-mail marketers should list the types of e-mail messages consumers can receive and under what circumstances they would receive them,” Forrester advises.
  • Allow control over subscription details. In a preference center, e-mail marketers can let customers pick from a list of messages they receive, complete with frequency and message format options. (The financial institutions retain control of the messages’ creative aspects and content.)
  • Add features that allow customers to understand how their money works. If the information in the e-mail lends itself to interactive financial tools such as calculators and graphs, provide them.

Heather Fletcher is senior content editor with Target Marketing.

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