12 Tips for Getting the Most out of your SmartsPro Client Newsletter
Sales start before your salesman calls.
That’s the headline of a famous magazine ad. A grumpy businessman sits with his hands folded in his lap, squinting at the reader with a defiant expression. The ad copy reads:
I don’t know who you are.
I don’t know your company.
I don’t know your company’s product.
I don’t know what your company stands for.
I don’t know your company’s customers.
I don’t know your company’s record.
I don’t know your company’s reputation.
Now — what was it you wanted to sell me?
There are many ways to build awareness: radio and television commercials, Internet pay-per-click ads, a well-optimized website, social media, etc. But arguably the most economical way to build awareness consistently and constructively so that people appreciate hearing from you is the client newsletter. Here are 12 tips for getting the most from your client newsletter.
1. Build your brand by customizing your newsletter — not just with your logo, but in other ways, too. You would be surprised how much the use of a second color throughout your newsletter can really give you ownership. For instance, if your logo’s primary color is red, using red as the highlight color throughout the newsletter can help unify your nameplate branding with the rest of the text.
2. Use your newsletter to publicize your agency with custom articles. They communicate information about specific news and events and make your newsletter uniquely yours. Some article subjects for your newsletter include:
- Short biographies of producers and CSRs
- Information about special programs you offer
- News about the agency or community events that you’re involved in or support
- Articles or opinions about insurance topics by the president or others in the firProviding custom articles consistently is the key to increasing staff and customer involvement with your newsletter.
Create a custom articles schedule with subject ideas for the entire year and put someone in charge of making sure the articles get written and published in your newsletter.
3. If you print your newsletters as self-mailers, take advantage of SmartPro’s variable printing feature to personalize your newsletter for every single customer. Next to the address area you could say something like: “Diane, Scott Valley Insurance is pleased to send you your August issue of Insurance Buyers’ News. Give us a call if you have any questions about the articles in this month’s issue. And thanks for letting us serve you.” If you want to be really friendly and creative, do something like include your recipients’ birthdays in your database and add a greeting for their birthday month, such as “Happy Birthday, Diane! Here’s your March issue of Employee Benefits Report.”
4. Add value and showcase your dedication to customer service by publishing your newsletter consistently. In the age of social media we are increasingly aware of the importance of relationships. You really don’t want your customers to think that the only time you ever reach out to them is to collect a premium or renew their coverages. Everyone wants to be appreciated. You may not be able to afford to send all your customers a box of chocolates on special occasions, but sending them a newsletter regularly conveys your interest in them and is probably more professional anyway.
5. Use your newsletter to build your brand with prospects. The canned sales letters and postcards you use in your drip marketing campaigns may capture attention, but to hold your prospect’s interest and help them appreciate the added value you can bring to a professional relationship, nothing beats an informative newsletter. Newsletters showcase your expertise, build your credibility and demonstrate your interest in helping customers become more informed consumers.
6. Don’t expect newsletters to do all of your marketing for you. “Send them and they will come” should not be your motto. Even if prospects read your newsletter and begin to have confidence in your expertise and access to coverages they need and can afford, most likely they will still not call you. You need to supplement your newsletters with good old fashioned phone calls and shoe leather. As a marketing tool, your newsletter is like a beautiful Ferrari — without an engine. Your follow-up provides the engine.
Most agents who use insurance newsletters as a marketing tool take a three-step approach: 1) identify prospects in those markets you feel you can serve best, 2) send them newsletters, and 3) follow up with a phone call after several months. Your newsletter gives you an automatic opening: “Are you getting our newsletter regularly? Is it going to the right person — and, oh, by the way, is there anything we can do for you? We’d love to quote your business.”
7. For best results, use paper newsletters. Paper newsletters are approximately four to five times more likely to be seen and engaged with than email newsletters. A good open rate for an email newsletter is about 25% — and that’s with an opt-in list. If the email for your newsletter contains only article teasers with links to the complete articles, readers will follow those links only about 10% of the time. On the other hand, with a paper newsletter, even if the recipient doesn’t look at any of the articles, they do see your branding. You have made an impact.
If the only thing an email recipient sees of your newsletter is your subject line and they either delete it or ignore it, your impact has been practically nil —no branding to view, nothing to hold in their hands that might capture their attention … no impact.
If cost is an issue, you can use a combination of email and paper newsletters. Send your paper newsletters to your A list, the customers and prospects you care most about. For the rest and your email opt-ins, send the email version.
8. Use analytics for your email newsletter distribution to improve your sales results. One advantage email provides is the tracking information you can get. Some email service providers, like SmartsPro’s HTML+ service, can trace who opens your email newsletter and which articles they read. If you look up the viewing history for one of your benefits clients, for example, you may find she has been looking at a lot of articles on voluntary benefit products lately. Maybe you should give her a call? Tell her you might have some new ideas to help increase employees’ satisfaction with their benefits package without costing the firm any extra money.
9. Use your email newsletter to bring people back to your website each month. If you have a SmartsPro Website or use SmartsPro’s HTML+ email service, your clients can link directly back to your website each time they get your newsletter. This creates opportunities for them not only to read your content online and improve your search rankings, but to engage with your website to receive quotes, look up coverages, read your blog, visit your social media sites and more.
10. Take every opportunity to distribute your newsletters. Besides posting your newsletters on your website, sending them to your opt-in list and mailing them to your A list, make them available in other ways:
- Place them in your reception area
- Put them in prospect and new customer kits
- Send them to centers of influence, such as accountants and attorneys, who can refer business to you
- Hand them out at trade shows, meetings, and speaking events
- Make sure everyone in your firm gets a copy to read.
Insert a sign-up form in your paper newsletters so people can get them regularly. Put a sign-up form on your website, too. Let people choose between postal mail and email.
11. Business reply cards reach out to readers for their input. You may not get a lot of responses, but you will get some. And simply including them is a thoughtful gesture that reminds customers you value their input and want to hear from them whenever they have questions — not just at renewal time.
SmartsPro business reply cards reflect the content of each issue so it’s easy for clients to indicate what they want to discuss or get more information about. And even if someone doesn’t return the card, it may prompt a phone call. We now provide BRCs with your newsletters for a very low price.
12. Newsletters require commitment. This final tip is the most important. A newsletter program requires consistency. You want customers and prospects to know they can depend on you. You also want to stay top of mind, so when people think of insurance, they think of you. Achieving these goals and receiving the benefits that result—including referrals, new business, informed clients, cross-sales and customer loyalty—will come only with time. So make the commitment and resolve to earn your success in the long run.