Templates come with numerous advantages. If you’re an email marketer they can help you save precious time by eliminating many repetitive design (and cost) aspects, making creating the look and feel of your campaigns a heck of a lot easier. Email templates can also help improve response, as I will explain by contrasting a direct mail equivalent in the banking industry.

Last year, KeyBank, a division of the Cleveland-based financial institution, found itself with a dilemma on its hands. Like many in this sector, the bank utilizes direct mail as a marketing tool to communicate with consumers and small business clients. With help from Purple@Epsilon, its marketing services provider, it was concluded that too much of the budget and precious time was being spent on the creative aspect of its direct mail initiatives. A lot of this apparently had to do with the fact that the bank sends more than 10 million direct mail pieces on a yearly basis.

Apart from losing time and financial resources, Ken Chipman, KeyBank Director of Database Marketing and Analytics, reported that the old method negatively affected the consistency and continuity of its messages. This was all in addition to the steadily declining response rates that have plagued the financial industry as a whole in recent times. KeyBank was in desperate need of a new approach and was able to find the solution to streamlining its direct mail marketing efforts in templates.

Inside a Sound but Outdated Template Marketing Strategy

Through the use of templates, KeyBank discovered a way to effectively standardize its creative process. The bank rounded up six templates, making sure each was designed with the flexibility to support interchangeable messages and offers. From there, they were printed out in advance and complemented with the copy necessary for each individual campaign. The results: savings across the board.KeyBank saved time by pre-printing its templates. Whenever it was time for a new campaign to go out, the only thing needed was a run through the laser printer for the finishing touches. However, the bank was able to cut back on spending as well, reportedly trimming its cost per piece mailed by 17.5 percent. And because the communications were more targeted, the banking division sent out considerably less direct mail pieces in 2010 than it did in 2009. The move to a template-based marketing strategy enabled it to save $100,000 in creative time and over $1 million on both creative and production collectively. All in all KeyBank was able to maintain response rates amid the changes, lower expenses and increase its ROI in the process.

Email Templates Eliminate the Cost and Increase the Response

While I have focused on KeyBank’s usage in direct mail templates, this story serves as an excellent example of why email templates are not only superior but will ultimately trump any form of direct advertising.KeyBank saved time by pre-printing its templates, true, but customized email templates can be endlessly modified for no cost whatsoever. And while the bank trimmed its savings by 17.5 percent, your cost will be determined by the volume of your sending – and that will never rack up greater expense than a printed campaign. Finally, while KeyBank should be commended for its targeted list segmentation, results can be achieved in real time and immediately acted upon when sending with a savvy email service provider: you can track opens, clicks, bounces and a whole lot more. Will you see improvements from year to year? Try month to month (or even week to week depending on your sending frequency and reputation).

KeyBank’s story should serve as inspiration for all marketers who still need a compelling reason to start putting email templates to use. From saving time and money to boosting productivity, they have the power to make life much easier.