Despite the rise of social media and digital ads, email is still the most important channel for your marketing efforts. In fact, a recent McKinsey study found that email is 40 times more effective than Facebook and Twitter combined. Why, you ask? Because over 90% of U.S. consumers check their email every day (even those over age 65).
In my work with advisors, I see roughly 70% of leads come from email compared to only 30% 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 his 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 outlined below, we increased his open rate to around 40% and his click-through rate from 6% to 15%.
For comparison, the average open rate for financial emails is 21% and the average click-through rate is 2.76%, according to Mailchimp. So, our rates are about double the industry standard.
How To Create The Perfect Marketing Email In 10 Steps
The first step to designing and sending great emails is to use an email marketing software like MailChimp or Constant Contact to personalize them with images and branding.
For this article, I used MailChimp to design the perfect marketing email. Here’s how I did it in 10 easy steps:
1. Use 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:
- With no clear action to take, readers are paralyzed by too many options and give up.
- 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. Make Sure The Sender Is Someone The Recipient Knows
Your emails should never be sent from an admin account or “[email protected]” They should come from you—the author of the post. For an added touch, include your headshot and credentials in the email, so it’s clear exactly who you are.
MailChimp makes it easy to upload your headshot, so recipients can see your photo depending on which email client they use.
3. Use Preheader Text To Give Your Email Some Context
“Preheader text” refers to the 35 to 50 characters of text someone sees before they open an email. Here’s an example of what I mean:
You’ll want to customize your email’s preheader text so readers know what type of information they’ll find inside. You could say something as simple 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. Ensure The Logo Header Links To Your Home Page
The header of the email is where your branding goes, which helps identify 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. Create A Captivating Subject And Headline
Your readers likely receive hundreds of emails a day. It’s critical that your subject and headline grab their attention and entice them to open your email.
The most compelling subjects are usually questions that engage your reader, such as:
- Should You Roll Over Your Old 401(k)?
- Do You Know How Much Risk Is In Your Portfolio?
- Does Your Financial Plan Deserve A Second Opinion?
Power words are known for boosting open rates because they elicit emotional responses, so you should aim to include at least one in your subject or headline. 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. Insert A Relevant Graphic
Emails with relevant images get 94% more views than those without, according to Hubspot. Make sure 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 directly relate to the information included inside. For example, if you’re writing an article on “5 Best Financial Tips For Buying A New Home,” you may include a photo of a happy couple standing in front of a home that’s for sale like this:
On the flipside, if you’re writing an article on “What To Do Before Divorce,” you may include a more somber photo like the one below. The clenched fists and wedding rings on the table immediately reveal what the article is about.
7. Use Teaser Text To Entice 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:
The teaser text for this marketing email is:
To say that COVID-19 has challenged our very way of living is an understatement. We’ve had to redefine how we work, how we gather and socialize, and how we spend our free time. Many of us have had to reckon with real fears of serious illness and economic hardship. So it’s unsurprising that most of us are eagerly awaiting the moment 2020 comes to an end. Read more here.
8. Add A Call-To-Action Button
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
Your email will now have three separate links readers can click on to learn more: the graphic, the teaser text, and the button.
9. Have Social Media Buttons
Your email should also 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. These can be listed at the bottom of your email below the call-to-action button.
10. Use A Discrete Footer
Put your disclosures and information required by spam law in the footer of your email. There’s no need to disrupt your reader’s experience by interjecting them within the body of your email. MailChimp automatically includes your physical address and a link to unsubscribe, which are both required by federal spam regulations.
How Often Should You Send Emails?
Now that you’ve designed your perfect marketing email, how often should you send it? The short answer is every one to two weeks. Here’s why:
Data from MailChimp shows that unsubscribe rates stay about the same when you go from sending emails once per month to once per week. However, unsubscribes go up substantially when you email more than once a week, so every one to two weeks is the sweet spot.
Want even more insider marketing tips? Sign up for my weekly marketing newsletter. You can also click here to learn about our Monthly Marketing Package and how we help independent financial advisors attract new leads without adding more work to their plates. If you have specific questions, schedule a phone call with our team and we’ll help you strategize ways to boost your marketing.