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Jul 2, 2020


This is the last episode in our email marketing series. If you haven’t listened to the others, I’d encourage you to start with episode 47 for the email marketing series and if you want to learn a little more about marketing, listen to episodes 44 and 45.

The topic today is a little more advanced. With the exception of the concept around birthdays or anniversaries, I would not suggest you introduce this aspect of email marketing until you have your basic email marketing campaigns set up and running consistently. 

We are talking about automation. 

You might hear the term autoresponders or automation, for email marketing, it’s the same concept. Basically we are discussing  a series of emails that you can schedule in advance that are sent based on a certain trigger.  The trigger might be someone downloads something or it’s a birthday or they sign up for something. 

It’s a series of emails that go out on a pre scheduled basis once the trigger has occurred. You might send one email or you might send a series of 10 emails over the course of 3 months. How many and how often are up to you and over time, things you’ll have to measure and probably revise. While for the most part, you set it up and your done, if you aren’t getting the responses you want, that’s where the revisions come in. 

Many CRM programs have autoresponders built in.

Check with your platform to see how much of this can be done with the system you're already using. If you have an older platform or you aren’t using an agency crm, then I’d suggest that you use an ESP (an email service provider). We talked about ESP’s in episode 48

Integrate them so you don’t have to use two separate systems. 

If you are in the process of looking at a new platform, I’d suggest that you look for a platform that can perform these services for you as part of the features they provide. Keep in mind some of the features that you should look for based on what has been suggested on other episodes in this series.

There are many different uses for autoresponders. For this episode, we will focus on 4.

  • Automate electronic birthday cards 
  • Onboarding process for new employees
  • Automated series for new customers
  • Automated series for the digital documents that you give away

So let’s start with an easy one:

Automated Birthday Cards

  • Sending a birthday card is one of the simplest forms of marketing you can do. I love the idea of sending birthday cards in the mail, but if you don’t have the budget or if your client list is really to big to do this effectively, I’d encourage you to look at automating birthday cards through email. It’s not as effective, but it does work! It’s a touch. It’s better than not doing anything at all. 
  • Here’s how I would suggest you do this. Make sure you have the birthday for all of your clients and referral partners.
  • Each platform is going to operate differently on how you set up the birthday cards.
  • In Constant Contact which is the platform I’ve used the most, I put everyone with a birthday into a list and its triggered with the date of their birthday and then email is sent automatically. Every year, on January 1, I go in and update the card that is sent, I.e. update the graphic and then the email cards are sent automatically the following year on the right date. 
  • Sending birthday emails is automated, it won’t get dropped if you get busy because it’s automatic. All you need to do is remember to change the graphic once a year, but even if you don’t do that, the email will still get sent. 

Use marketing automation to onboard new employees

Think about this - you bring on a new employee and what happens? They have an orientation on the first day, then paperwork for taxes, health insurance, employee handbook, etc and for the first few days can feel  overwhelming. 

Then there’s an orientation about where everything is. They are put in front of a computer and depending on their experience level, they might be handed clients to work with and they are off and running. 

Think of your first day on the job. Every company is different, but it’s usually on the first day, a ton of information is thrown at you and then you start working! And then you forget some of it and feel embarrassed having to ask about the simple stuff!

But what happens is they forgot about what the kitchen policy is, they forget about what needs to be logged into for the first pay period, they forgot about who they need to contact for taking PTO or working overtime. 

Your onboarding emails can cover these topics or whatever is relevant to your onboarding process. As part of your automated onboarding process, drip out the important stuff over a period of days or weeks to remind them of the things they might have forgotten.

You could do that in all of them. This helps you to know the new employee is engaged and doing what you want them to do. By sending an automated email series using a platform that has metrics built in will also allow you to check if the new employee is even reading the email, much less taking the action you’ve included.

One of the reasons I’m suggesting that you send more emails than less is that too much information in one email can get lost. When the subject line in each email tracks with the content, it’s easier to do a search to get the details. Remember the KISS principle.

Plus, if only one email is sent and it’s really long, it’s very likely that it won't  get read in its entirety because it is so long. 

So think about your new employee onboarding process. What are the steps that you go through and what could you automate? Once the process is set up, all you need to do is add the new employee’s email address and the rest will happen automatically! Here’s an idea for a sequence - but I’m sure your sequence would be much better. Keep in mind that I’ve been self employed for 20 years, working for myself mostly without a staff and things have changed in the onboarding world, so your list might reflect changes in procedures.

  • Day 1 - welcome - include a video from the different key staff members to help them get oriented
  • Day 2 - list of contact people - maybe include where they can find the list as it is updated or who is leading other departments that they might want to introduce themselves to.
  • Day 3 - overview of kitchen policies - lunch etiquette
  • Day 4 - employee handbook - highlight 3 items that you want them to understand. Give them an activity to complete on the handbook and that way you know they have  read the email!
  • Day 5 - computer policies - email setup, templates, CRM details
  • Week 2 - Frequently accessed websites for work to be performed
  • Wee 3 - Schedule a meeting or lunch with agency owner (include calendly or scheduler link)
  • Week 4 - expense reports, supplies, 
  • Week 5 - 30 day check in - what are we doing well, what do you need help with

I’ve listed 5 weeks worth of emails - 5 in one week and then one a week for 4 weeks, but you could do this as long as you need to. My list only includes a few topics but think about what you cover in your initial onboarding meeting. Take some of those topics and drip them out into an email.

One of the things you could also do in each email is to have some sort of call to action in each email. I mentioned that for the employee handbook, 

An automated series for things you give away

Before I dive into this idea, when it comes to attracting new clients, you often need to get them to know like and trust you before they will do business with you. 

While a lot of what we do in the insurance business is offer quotes, and we are always hoping to get someone to allow us to give them a quote, it’s very possible that they aren’t actually ready to make a switch to you yet. 

They don’t know you well enough, they don’t like you or trust you enough to make the leap. 

So your job is to stay in touch with them. You could add them to your regular email campaigns, or you could set up an automated system to keep them engaged, to show a little bit more about who you are and the value you bring to your clients and maybe through that series of automated emails, you’ll win them over sooner.

There are many ways for doing this, but today we are talking about email marketing automation so I’m going to focus on email examples 

In the last episode we talked about building your list and one of the ways to do it was to give something away. 

Once you’ve come up with something to give away (also known as a lead magnet), then you want to drip some emails to them with additional valuable information in hopes of getting that person to trust you enough to do business with you. You can drip emails to a lot of people without having to talk to them and get business when you least expect it.

Let’s say you are targeting business owners and you create a booklet about hiring best practices. When the business owner downloads the book, they are then sent to a list that is set up for your automation series and you can send them several emails as a way to stay connected.

  • For example, the first email would be the booklet that you sent them
  • The second email might be talking about contracts for new hires and why working with an employment law attorney is beneficial
  • The third email might talk about  one or two coverages employers need for protecting their employees like WC and covering their equipment while working remotely or on travel
  • The fourth email might have some digital security issues
  • The fifth and final email might be about an event that you have, let’s say a monthly webinar that they could sign up for.

The idea around having the monthly webinar series is that if someone downloads your booklet and also signs up for your webinar, they are interested on some level about what you are offering. 

The webinar could also be an invitation for a meeting to introduce yourself and learn about their business. From there, you can implement your regular sales practices, but the first few steps, gaining interest have been automated for you.  

Your work is creating the booklet which can be done in powerpoint and saved as a pdf, then you write out the emails, set them up in your automation platform and boom, you are done.

Well, you’ll need to put the booklet on the website and create the sign up box for downloading the booklet, promote the booklet on social media and set up monthly webinars, but that’s it. You have the opportunity to attract a lot of new clients because of your hiring booklet. And once created, it can be a long term client attraction tool for you.

If your company has a marketing department or uses a marketing firm for the website, reach out for ideas on how to get this on the website and automate the process. If you need someone to help you with this, let me know and I’ll introduce you to some of my connections.

If you are focused on personal lines, you could create a booklet on safe driving - send a series of emails around this and end with a monthly safe driving session with local police or a local driving school. 

I mentioned I’ve done a lot of speaking over the years. This is a tactic I used a lot as a speaker to get the email addresses of the attendees when I had no other way to get to know them. They always want the slides or some sort of handbook. I would then set up a series of emails that took the topic I was discussing further (usually marketing) with calls to action throughout the email series to get the person to contact me and see if it made sense for us to work together. 

The beauty is that once you write this up, the work is done for you. I would recommend not creating the wheel every time. For example, if you are speaking to groups about insurance, you could give away your slides or a handbook. You could create a series of follow up emails that they receive after they download your giveaway. You are marketing to them even if you are doing 10 presentations a month and you only had to set up the automation series once!

The thing to really think about here is what could you give away that would be worthwhile to the audience you are trying to attract. It’s going to differ for many of you listening, so I encourage you to think outside of the box! Be creative in what you give away.

Another use of automation is for onboarding new customers. Once people say yes, and purchase from you, set them up in a series of emails that are sent automatically. This email series would be different from your marketing emails. How many you send, how frequently is up to you but at least 3 within a 3 week period. 

So email number one might just be a welcome - thank you for your business and a list of contact people in your agency.

Your second email might be an overview of how you work, and other services you provide 

Your third email might be a reminder of how to handle claims

Your fourth email might be about the monthly email newsletters you’ll be sending to your clients, maybe about a podcast you have created, a youtube channel or even to like your social media pages. It’s ok to have a little self promotion. 

Your last email might be to ask them to leave you a review and include the links for the review. 

By the way, if you aren’t asking for reviews, you must incorporate that into your marketing plan. I’d almost say get that up and running before you begin any type of email automation!

So we’ve talked about creating an automated marketing email series for birthdays, new employees, new customers, and prospects that are interested in a giveaway that you are offering. 

I want to reiterate that if you aren’t already doing regular email campaigns, hold off on the automation until you have that process up and running, then add the automated series. 

Look at it this way, by creating regular email campaigns, you are taking care of your current clients and prospects. You are touching them with some consistency so they don’t forget you and you are adding value because of the content you are creating. It costs a lot more to bring on a new customer than it does to keep a current one happy so let that be motivation to set up the email campaigns before you start the automation series. 

The birthday emails would be the exception and you might also delegate the new employee series to the HR department, but that would be a management function, not necessarily a sales function!

I hope you found this series on email marketing beneficial. We’ll be getting back to interviewing professionals in the industry and talking about why it is such a great profession with our next episode. 

If you are new to the podcast, please be sure to subscribe on your favorite podcast player. Also, if there is a topic you want me to explore, please, reach out to me and let me know!

I’m grateful to each of you that listens and to each of you that have sent me messages.  I love helping and I hope this series has helped you get through the crazy times we are dealing with.



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This episode of the Business of Insurance podcast is produced and hosted by Debbie DeChambeau, CIC, AAI, CPIA - an entrepreneurer, business advisor, insurance professional  and content creator. Her goal is to inspire you to think differently and explore ideas that disrupt the status quo. 

Debbie has an extensive business and marketing background with a focus of helping insurance professionals be more successful. 

She is the co-author of Renewable Referrals and produces three other podcasts, Business In Real Life and Divorce Exposed and Seniors We Love. 

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