Email is still the most important channel for our marketing efforts. A recent McKinsey article shows that email is 40 times more effective than Facebook and Twitter combined in generating new clients. Over 90% of U.S. consumers check their email every day. In my work with advisors, I see roughly 70% of leads come from email and about 30% come from social media and organic searches.
But success rates from emails can vary widely, depending on the content and design of your email campaigns. One advisor came to me with poorly designed emails and subpar results. His open rate was hovering around 13% and the click through rate (how many people click through to read the article) was zero.
By creating more relevant content for his audience and using the tips below, over time we increased his open rate to around 40%. The click through rate is now between 6% and 15%. According to data from MailChimp, the average open rate for financial emails is 21% and the average click-through rate is 2.76%, so our rates are about double the industry standard.
The first step to designing and sending great emails is to use an email marketing software like MailChimp or Constant Contact to create and schedule your emails so you can include images and branding. Next week, I’ll review the pros and cons of the top email marketing software options for advisors. For this article, I’ve used MailChimp to design the perfect marketing email. Here’s how to do it in ten easy steps:
1. Only One Topic Per Email
This is probably the most common mistake advisors make. In an effort to send fewer emails or to make their newsletters seem more valuable, advisors pack a hodgepodge of information into a cluttered email design.
Multi-topic newsletters aren’t effective for two reasons. First, with no clear action to take, readers are paralyzed by too many options and give up. Second, even if readers are interested in your content, they’ll put the multi-subject email aside to read when they have time, which is a day that never comes.
With one topic per email, you capture the reader’s attention, give them one (and only one) next step to take, then allow them to fully consume your content so they feel educated and empowered. It leads to a more fulfilling experience, which inspires them to open more of your emails in the future. It’s also easier to forward an email with just one topic since the forwarder doesn’t have to clarify which article they felt was of interest. You’re much better off sending weekly one-topic emails than a monthly newsletter of chaos.
2. The Sender is Someone the Recipient Knows
Your emails should never be sent from your firm name, “Admin,” or “firstname.lastname@example.org.” They should come from you, as the author of the post. MailChimp allows you to upload your headshot, so recipients may see your photo, depending on which email client they use. I like to add credentials and the firm name too, so it’s clear exactly who you are.
3. Preheader Text Gives Context
Depending on your recipient’s email client (Google, Outlook, etc.), the preheader text may be visible in their email inbox. You’ll want to make sure it’s customized to give some context, such as “News and Financial Updates from XYZ Financial.” For bonus points, customize the preheader for each email to make it relevant. Be sure it includes a link to view the email in their browser in case their email security filters do not allow your images to display. MailChimp automatically populates this for you.
4. The Logo Header Links to Your Home Page
The header of the email is your branding, identifying your firm. When clicked, your logo should go to your home page, where visitors can reorient themselves with who you are and what you do.
5. A Captivating Subject and Headline
Your subject and headline should be a question that engages the reader whenever possible:
● Should You Rollover Your Old 401(k)?
● Do You Know How Much Risk is in Your Portfolio?
● Does Your Financial Plan Deserve a Second Opinion?
● How Much Would Financial Freedom Cost You?
You should aim to always include a power word. Power words have been studied by marketers to elicit emotional responses. Here’s a good list of power words for marketing. If your email includes a video, photos, or an infographic, always say so in your subject line with (Video) or (Photos) in parenthesis to get more recipients to open your email.
6. A Relevant Graphic
According to Hubspot, emails with relevant images get 94% more views than those without. Make sure that your image is clickable and links to your article.
My personal pet peeve is emails or blog posts that feature unrelated graphics. On my first day of business school, a notoriously tough professor began teaching his course with his first slide featuring only a thumbs up sign. He said that if we ever include an irrelevant graphic in a presentation, he would immediately fail us. I guess that’s where my pet peeve came from, but I am always amazed to see blog posts and emails with graphics that have no context.
Choose graphics for your emails that fall within a similar theme, for example, all black and white photography, or all featuring the same branded overlay. I use Canva.com to design graphics for each of the advisors I work with to tell a consistent story. The first post below was sent to physicians, so it features a doctor working with their patient. The second post is about retirement planning, so it features a retired couple. They are both in line with the advisor’s overall branding, so they offer a cohesive experience.
7. Teaser Text Inviting Readers to Learn More
Your teaser text appears in the body of your email, below the graphic and above the call to action button. It should be an adapted introduction to your article that piques interest and offers a link for readers to learn more. Here’s one example:
When we face life’s tough decisions, such as a career move or a medical treatment, we usually conduct research and gather information. Sometimes we look to trusted experts or even the Internet to get a second opinion. But what about your financial plan? Does it deserve a second opinion?
8. A Button Call to Action
Always include a clear, clickable button that screams “click me,” linking to your blog post. The text that appears on the button will depend on your specific email:
● Learn More
● Get Started
● See Photos
● Watch Video
● Register Now
Now, your email will have three separate links that readers can click on to learn more: the graphic, the teaser text, and the button.
9. Social Media Buttons
Include buttons for your website and all of your social media profiles so the recipient can connect with you on their preferred platform to stay in touch.
10. A Discrete Footer
There’s no need to disrupt your reader’s experience by interjecting disclosures within the body of your email. Put your disclosures and information required by spam law in the footer of your email. MailChimp automatically includes your physical address and a link to unsubscribe, which are both required by federal spam regulations.
Now that you’ve designed your perfect marketing email, how often should you send it? Data from MailChimp shows that unsubscribe rates don’t significantly increase when you go from sending emails once per month to once per week. However, unsubscribes do go up substantially when you email more than once a week, so I aim for once a week or every two weeks.
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