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Thursday, November 26, 2020

Early Returns – CTML & Campaign features pay dividends!

  1. Anecdotal Evidence
  2. Data Backed Results
  3. Not Good Enough

When we released our CTML (Customizable Trackable Marketing Letters) and LE Pro and Platinum campaign features, we knew these tools would be game changers for anyone looking to grow their plan business. What we didn’t know, was just how successful they would be. Well, we have been collecting some statistics over the past few months, and below I will share some of the metrics we have collected and how we are using this information to make the product even better. For those of you unfamiliar with the CTML and Campaign features, you can read an overview here, here, and here. Plus, there are many more case studies on our blog site, rixtrema.com/blog.

Anecdotal Evidence

Shortly after the release of CTML, our client conversations provided a lot of circumstantial evidence that that this new feature was working very well for them. Clients who have spent the time and effort on creating a process around email marketing to their best prospects told us that they were seeing tremendous success in both terms of email opens and, the more important metric, scheduling meetings. As always, listening to our clients led to the development of a new feature, in this case our campaigns feature. Because CTML was working so well, our clients pushed us to create the Pro/Platinum functionality, that is the ability to send a complete sequence of emails to many prospects simultaneously.

With the campaigns feature, one of the primary indicators of success was (and is) the barrage of enhancement requests our clients have requested. Rapid adoption and usage of this level is always an indicator that clients find the functionality useful. In particular, clients have requested enhancements to the Campaigns Dashboard, which is where clients keep track of campaigns and opened email. Clients tell us that they are getting a lot of traction from prospects, and frankly, the initial release of the Campaigns Dashboard wasn’t up to the task of managing hundreds of sends and opens. This has been addressed and is rapidly being further enhanced, and the new features will be the subject of an upcoming blog.

But one of the valuable things about the campaigns feature is the data we receive on the sent emails. Valuable data points like which subjects are most likely to be opened, which templates are most frequently sent, etc. This is where the real insights can be found.

Data Backed Results

While success stories are great, a few people sharing exceptional results doesn’t necessarily mean all of our clients are sharing in that success. Many clients never tell us anything about the successes or failures from their prospecting efforts. But because many of our clients are now using our templates to send campaigns, we have enough data to show that our clients, in general, are having great success with these features.

On average our clients are seeing open rates of over 25% on all emails sent from our system. How good is that? Well, let’s look to some independent sources for some insight. Campaign Monitor reports that the average open rate is with their service 17.8%, with financial services coming in higher at 20.2%. If a 5% increase in opens doesn’t seem like that large of an increase, let’s look more closely at what they are they measuring.

When you initiate a campaign through these services, they are supposed to be for subscribers to your email lists. By definition, these are supposed to be people who have opted in to receive your emails. And with bounce rates of less than 0.5%, I believe that they are just that. Bounce rates will be higher than 0.5% even if you just had your email cleaned by a professional service, in fact, we have found bounce rates to be as high as 10% with lists that we have purchased and cleaned through such systems. What this really means, is that the reported average opens are based largely on emails sent to a friendly audience. Recipients of the email campaign know, or are at least familiar with, the sender, and are therefore more likely to be receptive to the message.

Like you, I get emails from a lot of different marketers, so I can use my in-box to give you an example of what the stats above really mean. My sons are both rock climbers, and at 12 years old, they are growing fast, which means I am constantly buying rock climbing shoes. I am probably on the list of most climbing companies as we have used their products at some point. One of my kids only wears Five Ten climbing shoes, so if I get an email from Five Ten announcing a sale, I am opening that email because I need the next pair of shoes as cheaply as possible. I am also likely to open emails from other companies to see what else is out there. I won’t open all of them, but I won’t unsubscribe either. They have thousands of people on their email lists but I am likely one of the stats in the 13.9% Retail industry open rates. Likewise, as an advisor if you get an email that says “Lower Fees on 100’s of Funds” from a fund company you have worked and have subscribed to, you may open that email. You would be part of that 20.9% open rate. That’s what the stats above are measuring. Open rates to a friendly audience.

What we are measuring with our open rate is completely different. We are measuring open rates by an audience that is, in most cases, completely unfamiliar with the sender. Like if I get an email from Cheap Meds, I am going to unsubscribe or at least not open it. These are called ‘cold’ emails – where the sender is not known by the recipient. Similar to the cold call concept. And the success rate with cold emails is much, much lower, as low as 7% according to one study. So a 25%+ open rate of cold emails is pretty spectacular.

You can see the results of individual templates by logging into Larkspur Executive and going to the Email Templates page. You’ll see something similar to the graphic below:

 

Not Good Enough

While the results of email opens and client campaigns are very encouraging, we are not resting on our laurels. We are continuing to improve the product to make sure that these results are maintained and hopefully increased. A few initiatives are coming:

1. A/B testing: We are starting to test the open rates for emails with different subject lines. For example, “Know You Plan by Benchmarking It” receives “only” an 18% open rate. If we change the subject line to “What Benchmarking Tells Me about Your Plan”, will that improve the open rate? We’ll find out and share the results. The bottom line is that the subject lines are key to piquing interest and getting opens and we are going to be doing the analysis to ensure that we are as effective as possible.

2. Sequence Success: Are you more or less likely to get opens later in an email sequence or earlier? My hypothesis is later, because the more contact you make with the prospect, the more likely they warm to opening your correspondence. Your name becomes familiar in their in-box and they become more likely to open. But we will supply some data

3. Days of the week success: Does the day that the email is delivered matter? Indications are that it does, so once we have more data to evaluate, we’ll share the results of that too.

The bottom line is that we are trying to make your marketing as successful as possible with Pro. Even if you write your own copy, you can use the success metrics to inform how you structure your emails.

If there is anything else we can do to help you be more successful, feel free to reach out and let us know.

 

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