Email marketing is commonly used by many industries to engage with leads and customers alike. That’s why this week on the Broker Tool Belt, we’re listing out the top 5 emerging insurance agency email marketing trends to look out for heading into 2018.

According to research from VentureBeat, email has proven to provide the highest ROI against all other marketing channels. With that sort of success it’s easy to understand why cold email outreach is a mainstay strategy for digital marketing.  Despite the incredible returns email marketing can provide, every year it seems to get harder and harder to get prospects to click through email content. While email open rates climb each year, click rates have declined consistently since 2013. The last time click rates increased was back in Q1 of 2013; the average rate was 5.1%. Click rates for marketing emails currently average at 1.5%.

In order for email marketing to continue to be a worthy marketing channel it needs to evolve. As technology evolves, email marketing has as well. As we enter into Q4 of 2017, we take a look at upcoming insurance agency email marketing trends for 2018.

1. INTERACTIVE EMAILS

Most modern marketing emails utilize the Hypertext Markup Language (HTML) format. This code is what allows you to add branded content to your agency’s marketing emails, and results in a more engaging experience for the recipient. Interactive emails will take engagement to the next level. When it comes to insurance agency email marketing trends to stay on top of, we recommend keeping an eye out on this one. It will be a game changer for brokers when this technology is fully developed. 

What is an interactive email?

An interactive email provides users the ability to take an action within an email that then triggers an event within the very same email. Most marketing emails have a call to action (CTA) that requires the user to click through, leave their inbox, and end up on a website to follow through on the CTA.

The ultimate goal for interactive email is to create a functional experience so the user doesn’t need to leave the email. Some current commonly used examples are:

  • A photo gallery or carousel within an email
  • Dropdowns or navigation within an email
  • Countdowns or timers
  • Using quizzes, polls, or surveys within an email

For a broker this would be an incredibly useful tool to advertise voluntary lines for employee benefits, detailing your agency’s product offerings, generating quote requests, or getting feedback from clients. Creating an effective interactive email requires some knowledge of design, HTML, and of course an understanding of email marketing. So we recommend letting a graphic designer assist in the creation of this growing email marketing strategy. One downside of HTML styled emails is that cold outbound emails get flagged and sent to spam if they have images. Given this, it’s paramount to properly strategize in what cases you use this format.  

2. OMNICHANNEL EMAIL MARKETING

Consider bookmarking this growing marketing strategy, because it’s the next buzz term of digital marketing. As a quick overview, this means delivering a consistent and uninterrupted customer experience across multiple channels.

Now at first glance this may sound like what you’re doing already because you have a website, social media page, and regularly send out marketing emails that contain a consistent brand voice. However, what I just described falls under multi-channel marketing. Think of Omnichannel Marketing as multi-channel marketing on steroids. It takes the attributes of multi-channel marketing up to a new level by creating a more fluid experience across all touchpoints.

So what exactly does Omnichannel Marketing look like?

Great real world examples of companies that utilize this method of marketing can be found in Bank of America, Disney, and Starbucks. In all three cases, the companies utilize a mobile app to complement their services, and leverage internal technology solutions to create a seamless, intuitive customer experience no matter what touchpoint is being engaged. This provides convenience, accessibility, and consistency for the customer.

Disney gets omni-channel marketing right, down to the most minute details. The entertainment giant provides a beautiful, intuitive mobile-responsive website. Even their trip-planning website works well on mobile. Once a trip is booked, customers can use the “My Disney Experience” tool to plan almost every detail of their vacation; from where they’ll be dining to securing their “Fast Pass”. The seamless, functional experience continues even while at the park itself. Visitors can use Disney’s mobile app to locate the attractions they want to see, and view estimated wait times for each of them.

Hearing that corporate giants like Disney and Bank of America utilize this marketing strategy may make it seem like an out of reach concept for a small to midsize brokerage. But, brokers can easily implement this marketing strategy by combining:

  • Interactive email marketing
  • A mobile-responsive website
  • A technology solution with your brand to optimize internal workflow
  • An easy to use client portal
  • And a mobile app to complement customer facing services

If you’re still on the fence, consider that companies with solid omni-channel customer engagement see a 9.5% year-over-year increase in annual revenue, compared to 3.4% for weak omni-channel companies. Similarly, strong omnichannel companies see a 7.5% year-over-year decrease in cost per contact, compared to a 0.2% year-over-year decrease for weak companies. Omnichannel marketing is one of the leading insurance agency email marketing trends to aspire to in 2018. 

3. HTML5 VIDEO MARKETING

We’ve discussed video marketing before, but we can’t stress enough how much video content dominates in media consumption. In the context of email marketing, adding a video to your promotional email can increase click through rates by a staggering 200-300%. That applies to both B2C and B2B.

Currently, most email clients don’t support embedded video content. However, Apple’s iOS 10  started to support the HTML5 video format. Which may be the first sign that key players in the online/tech industry are taking steps to allow embedded videos in emails. If this becomes equally available across email clients in 2018, then it would be a huge benefit for email marketing campaigns. Data showed that since the iOS update, users opened more than 53% of their emails in Apple email apps over other email clients. This gives credence to further developing video embedding capabilities in email clients.

Brokers will be able to include video content to create a more personalized email message. Due to the diversity of video marketing, it will have a significant impact on insurance agency email marketing trends in the near future. Take a look at our Insurance Agency Video Marketing blog post to see innovative ways brokers can utilize video content.

In lieu of embedded videos we recommend using an animated Graphic Interchange Format; more popularly known as GIF (for the record, John Uphoff, one of our engineers at EaseCentral, pronounces it as “JIF”). This format creates a more visually engaging HTML email. Most email clients support GIFs, thus making it a popular choice among marketing professionals. Brokers can use GIFs to animate imagery in HTML emails.

4. EMAIL AUTOMATION

We’ve previously outlined some of the most powerful marketing automation tools today. This time around we discuss email automation. For the outsider, who has never utilized an email automation tool, this would just seem like those random emails that end up under the “Promotions” tab in your inbox. Yet, those promotional automated emails get 152% higher click through rates than regular direct business emails. Email automation adoption has grown rapidly. Research found that 90% of respondents report usage of marketing automation software for large scale email campaigns. Going into 2018 this explosive adoption rate will continue as email marketing automation becomes an industry standard.

Email automation can help you track audience behavior across multiple channels, analyze how recipients engage with your email content, and automate responses for different triggers. This creates an incredibly efficient workflow for email campaigns. You can scale up operations without letting leads go cold due to lack of interaction with your agency’s online touch points. Above all else, due to the various customization tools many email marketing automated tools provide, you’ll be able to accomplish all this while maintaining the personal touch that modern consumers demand. Expect to see higher adoption of this insurance agency email marketing trend in 2018. Don’t miss the bandwagon! We highly recommend adopting this technology to optimize your cold email campaigns. Check out our Top Picks: Insurance Agency Automation Software blog post for the best options.

5. MOBILE EMAIL MARKETING

Mobile phones now come stacked with functional features. It’s no surprise that 55% of emails are currently opened on mobile devices. Furthermore, marketing research projects that by 2018 more than 80% of users will access email through their smartphones.

We’ve outlined the importance of mobile-friendly marketing, but when it comes to email marketing a 2016 report found that 38% of mobile users made purchases online through their smartphone after receiving a mobile marketing email. This ties into establishing an omnichannel marketing strategy. The more seamless and fluid the buyer journey is, the easier it is to increase conversions. Of course the B2B sales cycles is a longer process, however as we previously outlined, this sort of fluidity creates positive outcomes in both B2B and B2C markets.

As more users gravitate towards accessing content via their smartphones, the more necessary it is to create mobile friendly marketing content. Email is no exception. Many marketing automation tools provide email templates that can also be optimized for mobile. This is one of the insurance agency email marketing trends that’s already fully ready and available for brokers to capitalize on. Given that by 2018, majority of consumers are projected to access their email through their mobile devices it’s apparent why now is the time to start optimizing emails for mobile. 

MORE INSURANCE AGENCY EMAIL MARKETING TRENDS

These five strategies and technology advancements will shake up email marketing in 2018, and provide a new way to increase engagement and conversions. There are other insurance agency email marketing trends for 2018 that we’ll share details on in the near future. Stay tuned to the Broker Tool Belt to learn more, and to stay one step ahead of the competition heading into 2018.