Most financial planners are keen to get a great client newsletter going. Yet it raises lots of questions.
How many contacts do you need, and how do you build your email list?
Which software or programmes should you use to create your newsletter and send it out?
What kind of content should your newsletter include?
How do you review your newsletter campaign performance and then improve it for next time?
Let’s take a look at these questions each in turn.
Building a Contacts List
Naturally, lots of financial planners will already have a decent list of email contacts from their existing client base. Yet where do you go from there to build up a solid email marketing database?
One of the most tempting options for financial planners at this stage is to consider buying a bunch of email addresses from a “lead generation company”. It can sound appealing – who wouldn’t want 20,000 people on their database who are supposedly “interested in getting pension advice.”
We’re just going to put our cards on the table at this point and suggest you don’t go down this road. You are not the first financial planner to have this idea for their client newsletter. So lots of other businesses will almost certainly have bought this list already, and bombarded it to oblivion with email marketing.
So you might well have 20,000 email addresses, but it will probably be full of people who do not open their emails or, if they do, will simply be unreceptive to your offers. They will have heard it all already.
At worst, you will damage your brand by emailing these people. After all, who are you to them? They haven’t heard of you before, and despite the email list vendor’s assurances that the email list is “opt-in”, these people have not given you explicit permission to contact them.
Not only does this raise huge data protection issues for financial planners in light of GDPR and also the recent band on cold calling regarding pensions (which includes unsolicited emails). You risk getting your emails put into several spam folders, which could eventually result in you getting banned from your email marketing service or worse, getting your domain blacklisted.
So don’t go down the cheap, quick and easy route. You need to build up your own email list over time, through strategic thinking and hard work. It might take longer and the list might be smaller, but it will be far more engaged with your brand and you should see far more positive results from it.
There are many ways you can do this. Pay per click advertising can be a great way to get your message out, for instance, provided you set up everything correctly and have a well-defined customer journey which this fits into. Contact us if you’d like to discuss some ideas on this front.
Which email marketing software?
There are many options out there when it comes to email marketing software. Many of which are tailored to small businesses like independent financial advisers.
MailChimp, for instance, at the time of writing allows you to use its service if you have fewer than 2,000 email subscribers. There are some other good alternatives to consider too.
The important thing is that you do not try and send out 2,000 emails from your own business email address using Gmail, Outlook or a similar programme. They are not really set up for this!
What kind of content should your newsletter include?
It’s really up to you what kind of content you want to put into your client newsletter. Yet there are some important questions to ask yourself before you commit to a content strategy.
First of all, who is in your email list? This will have a big impact on your topic selection and content types. Naturally, you will want to consider demographic data such as your audience’s typical age, gender, where they live, job title and income.
Yet you should also look at psychographic data as well. What are their common fears? What problems are they trying to solve? What do they value most? What does their typical day look like?
From here, you can move more confidently onto the second point. What type of content do they like?
You might assume that your audience are happy to read long articles about financial planning. However, might they actually prefer a podcast series? What about a video series? Or infographics? Or a mixture?
From there, you should then consider what kind of topics your audience will want to hear about. You could try and determine this by looking at your Google Analytics data, and finding out which blog posts have generated the most interest in the past. You could also look at current media trends. Another idea would be to ask your email subscribers directly, perhaps by sending out a survey.
How do you review & improve your newsletter?
If you’re using an email marketing solution like MailChimp, then it isn’t too hard to find out how your recent newsletter campaign performed. Most solutions include a reporting tool which allows you to determine important metrics such as email delivery rates, open rates, spam reports and click-through-rates (i.e. on the links within your newsletter).
One great way to improve your financial newsletter is to split-test it. Essentially, this involves sending one version of your newsletter to one section of your email list, and a second version to another section.
For instance, you might send the first variation in the morning and the second in the afternoon. Which one got higher delivery and open rates? If there’s a big improvement in performance in the afternoon compared to the morning, then that suggests you should go deliver in the afternoon going forward.