More bankers rely on emails than phone calls and in-person visits to communicate with, and market to, their customers and prospects. Unfortunately, what may work in person may not translate well to email communication. We see thousands of emails from hundreds of commercial lenders every year, and we want to share some best practices for email subject lines for initial marketing and ongoing emails.
Challenge of Email Communication and Marketing
A professional person receives on average 211 daily emails (according to a study by The Radicati Group, Inc.). Studies show that 52% of all emails are deleted after reading only the subject line, and a reader only spends as little as three seconds to decide if they want to open an email. While a banker can reach out to many prospects and customers with little effort using email, only a small percentage of those emails will be noticed (much less read). There are some easy strategies that bankers can use to increase the effectiveness of their email communication by drafting effective subject lines.
Psychology of Emails
The first step in drafting a compelling subject line is understanding the triggers that make people decide to purchase our banking products compared to someone else’s banking products. The paramount rule about any form of communication is that people make buy decisions primarily because of emotions and not because of cognitive conclusions. Buy decisions are influenced by our wants and needs, and those are emotionally driven.
There are four primary emotions that bankers need to understand and appeal to when corresponding with clients and prospect - trust, pride, fear, and greed.
Humans decide to buy for emotional reasons and then support their decision with logic. Clients buy from us because they are emotionally drawn to us, and then justify their purchase with reason.
Subject Lines That Work
By far the most important part of the introductory email is the subject line. However, even follow-up emails require a strong and persuasive subject line – otherwise, the rest of the email is ignored or only skimmed. Studies show that approximately 50% of all recipients open emails solely because of the subject line. There are a few basic rules for subject lines, as follows:
Bankers must also remember that prospects are looking for advice and counsel from lenders and our subject lines should reflect on our knowledge and ability to help our prospects. We see many weak subject lines, including the following: “Follow-up,” “Nice to meet you”, “Are you looking for a new bank?”, “I need a moment of your time.” None of these examples tap the four human emotions that motivate humans to make buy decisions, and none of these subject lines demonstrate advice or consultation.
Here are some examples of tested and effective email subject lines that resonate with one of the four human emotions:
“I Have Been Lending to Local Doctors for 26 Years” - If you are targeting doctors, this subject line establishes trust. It shows that the banker has been doing business with local professionals and is established in the community. In the rest of the email, the lender established his credibility and trust by explaining his long history of banking with doctors. The lender also referred prospects in the email to his LinkedIn page which demonstrated many professional connections, testimonials, and endorsements. The lender went on to offer case studies and reference from his previous successes.
“Our Bank CEO Meets with Local Builders” -Studies show that one of the best ways of establishing pride is establishing a connection with the local community. Customers take pride in buying locally and dealing with local decision makers. Community bankers have a strong advantage for this emotion. Make your executive management team available to key customers to instill pride, and make this strategy known in the subject line.
“Interest Rates Are Rising – This is When You Should Refinance” - Fear is the strongest motivator for customers, and rising loan costs is a great way to get a customer’s attention. Further, offering an explanation of when to refinance shows that the bank is consulting and not selling. This is a great example of advising versus selling. Many borrowers are concerned that interest rates are rising and as a banker, you can advise them on how to manage this risk.
“Get a 20-Year Fixed-Rate Loan at Below Prime” - Greed is the second strongest emotional motivator after fear. Borrowers and depositors want to obtain the best rate possible. The rest of the email went on to explain how this pricing was possible and benefits to the borrower, but the banker did not try to close the loan by email. Instead, the banker emphasized the benefit of the structure to the borrower and why his bank was especially good at this structure. The time to close is not in the email. The email serves to explain your consultative value to the client.
Email is a great marketing and communication tool, but the vast majority of emails end up deleted and are never read. The subject line is the most important part of the email and with proper format and substance can take an email from a 0.1% open rate to a 10% to 20% open rate. The key is appealing to human emotions and adding value to clients by providing advice and counsel – and all that can be done in 6 to 10 words.
Submitted by Chris Nichols on August 08, 2018