Guest Blog Series: SubscriberMail – Email Marketing Caveats

This is the third of three guest posts from the team at SubscriberMail on the topic of financial institutions using email to reach account holders.

Part 3 – Email Marketing Caveats

Be aware of compliance concerns

The “CAN SPAM Act” governs commercial email, exempting emails that are transactional.  When is an email not considered a “commercial” email?  You could apply the old “if it looks, sounds, walks like a duck” rule here.  If your recipients think it’s a commercial message (to them)-it’s a commercial message. Think of it this way: a truly transactional message should facilitate/complete/confirm a transaction, provide warranty, product recall, safety or security information, or notify recipients concerning a subscription, membership, or account.
Financial institutions (FIs) engaged in permission-only email marketing while using best practices don’t have to worry.  You (and your ESP) will review your layout, copy, graphics and subject line with an objective eye before ever deploying a campaign.  Would a recipient “reasonably” interpret the subject line as commercial (i.e. trying to sell something)?  Does the body of the email have more commercial than transactional copy/images?  Is the transactional message positioned after the commercial material?

Focus on segmentation not “blasting”

The best thing an FI can do when managing an email program is to structure the emails around the recipients.  Abandon the notion of sending “blasts” (common in direct mail and email) as much as possible.  Instead, you should be sending targeted, segmented and personalized marketing messages that will yield more profitable results. MarketingSherpa notes that open rates for segmented versus non-segmented campaigns are as much as 20% higher on average for the first 30 days of a campaign.
FIs should work with their ESP to develop a “preference center” on a landing page to allow subscribers to tell you their interests.  When you are segmenting based on known behavioral data (such as clicks, opens, non-clicks, non-opens, and recency and frequency of actions), and sending relative content personalized to the recipient (at their preferred frequency), you will see improved core metrics across the board.  Financial institutions have some of the greatest opportunities for segmentation already in their databases:  geographic data (based on ZIP Code), demographic data such as age, gender, income level, responsiveness, etc. and, best of all, habitual behavioral data.

Risks of mismanaging email efforts

Email is also about managing your risks.  Email marketing done haphazardly or incorrectly can lead to blacklisting, angry customers and prospects, poor delivery, brand/reputation damage and decreased revenues.  Your ESP should work with you to ensure your email is delivered and should help you manage all of the risks from start to finish.  If they’re not, find one who will.


Email marketing is here to stay and will provide financial institutions with invaluable metrics and efficient incremental revenue gains.  Work with an ESP like SubscriberMail (a Harland Clarke company) to discuss how best to get started today!
Disclosure and legal obligation: I am currently employed by Harland Clarke, the parent company of SubscriberMail. The views expressed in this post do not necessarily reflect the views of my employer.