Financial services companies that send their customers permission-based e-mail messages tend to reap dividends in the form of enhanced credibility and brand loyalty, according to a study by Epsilon, which found that these campaigns can significantly influence both online and offline customer behaviour.
It was noted that both brand awareness and loyalty improved due to e-mail marketing campaigns by financial services companies. The majority of respondents (54%) had a more favourable opinion of companies that send them e-mail, and 44% said that e-mail from financial services companies makes them feel more loyal toward those companies and their products.
According to Kevin Mabley, senior vice president for Epsilon Strategic Services, "Our research shows the effectiveness of these e-mail programmes which drive online and offline behaviour, from applying for credit cards to opening new accounts and selecting investment products."
The survey found that permission-based email from financial services companies can very effectively elicit online consumer actions. For example, as a direct result of receiving such an e-mail:
- 82% of respondents accessed their account via online customer service;
- 71% researched a specific offer online;
- 63% clicked a link in the e-mail to learn more;
- 58% gathered competitive information;
- 42% typed or copied a URL directly into their web browser.
Permission-based emails also influenced offline activities by consumers:
- 31% contacted their financial advisor by telephone;
- 25% visited their local branch or office;
- 25% contacted their financial advisor by e-mail.
The research also explored the reasons why consumers subscribed to receive e-mail from financial services companies, and the type of content that is considered most valuable to them. The main reasons that consumers subscribe were to receive e-statement notifications (75%) and to receive account alerts such as statement ready, fraud protection, overdraft, and so on (74%). More than two-thirds (69%) said they wanted to receive personalised content based on their web site activity, past investments, and other factors.
However, some consumers still demonstrate some suspicion about e-mails from financial institutions. For example:
- 58% said they are hesitant to click on links in e-mails from financial services companies because they don't always trust where they are coming from;
- 32% said that, instead of clicking on a link in the e-mail, they usually go directly to the company's web site.
According to Mabley, although some customers remain hesitant to click on links from financial services companies, many others actually do so and, despite security concerns, consumers are generally still receptive to these messages:
- 21% had forwarded one of these e-mails to a friend;
- 85% like receiving e-mail from companies they've registered with because, even if they don't always read it, it's good to know it will be there when they're ready for it;
- 70% said that, if they're in the process of making a purchase decision, an e-mail from a company with related products or services helps influence that decision.