Monthly Archives: June 2020

Email Marketing: Basic Framework Guidelines

When you are getting started with email marketing for your financial advisory business, it can feel intimidating because you don’t know what you don’t know. You’ve been getting marketing emails for years, so you have a basic idea of what to include. But when you sit down to plan on your own, it helps to know the basic framework guidelines of what goes into an effective newsletter or marketing campaign email.

My series The Financial Advisor’s Guide to Email Marketing helps financial advisors understand how email marketing works so they can properly use financial email marketing strategies to connect with prospects and gain more clients. 

Previously, we covered the ins and outs of email list building, and we talked about the tools you will need to execute your email marketing strategies.

Now it is time to dive into the different components of a marketing email.

Becoming familiar with each of the components of an effective marketing email will help you structure your emails for the best possible results. 

Effective Email Subject Lines

Subject lines determine whether or not your email will get opened. So the job of a subject line is to stand out in the inbox, grab the reader’s attention, and get them to open. 

Examples of the types of subject lines that consistently perform well include:

  • Numbers (3 Ways to…)

  • How to….

  • Appeal to positive or negative emotions (pain, pleasure, fear, excitement)

  • What’s in it for them? (incentive, benefit)

Be clever, but not too clever. Avoid dull subject lines like “November Newsletter” and instead use a subject line that causes your subscriber to pause and think that they don’t want to miss what’s inside. It should always be relevant; there’s no point in tricking people to open with a subject line that’s unrelated to the content, which will negatively impact trust and lead to unsubscribes.

Be careful. You want to stand out in the inbox, but not at the cost of landing in the spam folder. Avoid spam triggers like USING ALL CAPS or common spam words such as “free,” “cash,” or “earn.” 

Be concise. The subject line should pack a punch and also be short enough to be read on a smartphone’s email client (40-60 characters).

Most email service providers (ESPs) will allow you to try two different subject lines for your emails and A/B test them to see which one is most effective. To determine which subject line performs best, your ESP will send your email out in small batches over a few hours, tracking which one gets the most opens. Then it will send the remaining emails using the subject line that got the best results. This can help boost your open rates and provide you with information about the subject lines that work best with your subscribers. 

Email Preheader

An email preheader is the text that follows the subject line when you view an email in your inbox. It’s what many email clients (Gmail, Yahoo, etc.) show recipients to give them an idea of what’s inside the email before they open it. 

After the subject line, the preheader is the next most important determining factor in whether or not someone opens your email. So the preheader is a powerful line of text that should be as impactful as the subject line. 

Many people skip the preheader or put little thought into it. But because at least 40% of all emails are opened and read on a mobile device preheader text is more important than before as it has become more prominent. 

You can use your email preheader to provide a short summary of what’s in the email but do so in a way that’s interesting and compelling. You may want to consider asking a question, including an emoji, or personalizing the preheader with the subscriber’s name. 

Email Content

Your email content should be relevant, engaging, short, and to the point. Nobody has the time or attention to read anything that isn’t helpful, and they certainly won’t read long emails that do not have a clear purpose. 

Each section should lead to the next and the text should be scannable so readers can easily search for what’s most pertinent. To share longer-form content, such as articles and blog posts, it’s best to include a few sentences or short paragraphs and then link out to the rest. This gives the reader the choice to engage with the content and still take in the whole email at a glance. 

Your email marketing message content should let the reader know you value and respect their time, and you are only showing up in their inbox to be useful.

Branding and Images

Your marketing emails can be mostly text, but newsletters are most effective when they include your company branding, graphics, and images.

As a marketing piece, your financial advisor newsletter is a chance to raise awareness of your brand and you. Your email newsletter template should include your brand colors, logo, and the appropriate fonts and style. In other words, when people open the email, they should recognize it as yours and it should reinforce a feeling of familiarity with you.

Many financial advisors also include a headshot or personal photo in the header or signature of their newsletter. Because you’re in a personal, one-on-one business, you’ll benefit from continuously showing up and helping your readers put a face with your name to strengthen the connection.

Include images that are relevant to the content you’re sharing or the updates you’re providing. Make the newsletter visually appealing and pique your readers’ interest to get them to engage and click. However, be careful not to use too many or large photos, because large files can interfere with deliverability. 

Finally, continue your branding into the footer, including links to your website and social media accounts. 

Legal and Technical Requirements

Ensure your email is CAN-SPAM compliant. This means every email needs to include an unsubscribe link, physical street address, link to your privacy policy, and information about why they received the email (e.g., “You are receiving this email because you requested updates from us.”)

To ensure your email is accessible for visually impaired subscribers, include alt text with your images so they can use a screen reader to get a description of images in the email. This is also a best practice because it provides information about what each image is for people that have images blocked or turned off by default. 

Conclusion

While there is no one winning formula for the perfectly performing email, know the basic framework of an effective marketing email. Now that you are familiar with each of the components, you can start experimenting and craft emails designed to produce results. 

In my next article I will go into more detail about the importance of creating a monthly newsletter to engage with your audience and build trust.

Download a free copy of the Email Marketing Checklist & Template here.

Sometimes email marketing can seem like an overwhelming task to undertake on your own. This is exactly what we do for our clients! We help craft opt-ins to build their email lists and create captivating email marketing campaigns to engage with their audience in the most effective way possible. Let us help you get a handle on the whole process by scheduling an introductory meeting today.

2 What is an Email Service Provider (ESP) and Why Do You Need One?

An email service provider (ESP) is a company that provides email marketing services. More specifically, it is a software company that offers an email marketing platform or tool that enables you to create and send bulk emails to a list of subscribers.

My series, The Financial Advisor’s Guide to Email Marketing, helps financial advisors understand how email marketing works so they can properly use financial email marketing strategies to connect with prospects and gain more clients. In the previous article in this series, I covered email-list building.

Now it is time to dig deep into the tool that allows you to build a list and send email marketing messages effectively.

The purpose of using an ESP, rather than sending from your own email client such as Gmail, Yahoo, or Outlook, is that it helps you create professional designs, manage subscriber lists, evaluate the success of your email marketing campaigns, and stay within legal compliance.

There are hundreds of ESP companies to choose from. For your financial advisory firm, the best option is to select an ESP with a strong reputation for serving small business customers, such as MailChimp or Constant Contact.

Benefits of Using an ESP

Getting started with an ESP can be very inexpensive or even free, so there really aren’t any disadvantages to using one, and there are many benefits, including:

Email Deliverability 

One of the biggest advantages of using an ESP is that it protects your deliverability and more specifically, prevents your domain from being blacklisted. 

If you try to send bulk email from your own email client, the activity is likely to be flagged as suspicious and you will be marked as a spammer. Once you are identified as a spammer, all emails coming from your company’s web domain can be blacklisted and blocked by major internet service providers (ISPs). This means your company’s emails – even the individual messages you send to communicate with clients – can be blocked.

ESPs have servers that send large volumes of email in a way that doesn’t set off spam filters at your subscriber’s ISP. Therefore, you can safely send email marketing campaigns and significantly reduce the likelihood that your emails will get blacklisted. 

Email Regulation Compliance 

Email marketing is regulated through legislation, and it is important that all of your email marketing efforts are in compliance with the CAN-SPAM Act. Your ESP is required to be in compliance with CAN-SPAM and will help you comply as well.

For example, you will need to have proper permission from your subscribers that they have consented to receive email campaigns from you. You’ll need to have proper identifying information such as your company name and street address on every email you send. And you will need to include a way for subscribers to easily opt-out of emails. An ESP makes it easy for you to follow all these rules almost effortlessly.

List Management

Your email marketing list should only consist of people who have consented to receive email marketing messages from you. Ensuring that your list is up-to-date and maintaining list hygiene can be a bigger task than you expect, but most of the heavy lifting is done automatically by an ESP.

An ESP automatically adds subscribers to your list when they sign up through a subscribe form, which itself can be easily added to your website and even your social media profile. Then, if a subscriber wants to be removed from your list, your ESP handles that when they click the “unsubscribe” link in your email. The ESP will also handle “bounced” emails - emails that can’t be delivered because the email address has gone dormant or been closed down. 

Most ESPs offer the ability to segment your list based on subscription source, characteristics or behaviors of subscribers, or campaign activity, such as opens, clicks, or purchases.

Customizable Templates

Effective emails have clean, modern, visually-appealing design. But, as a small business owner with a limited budget, you don’t want to have to hire a graphic designer for each email you send. 

ESPs such as MailChimp and Constant Contact provide built-in professional templates that are easily customizable, allowing you to add your company’s colors, logo, and images with drag-and-drop functionality in a few clicks. Their templates are already mobile responsive, meaning they are just as readable on a subscriber’s phone as they are on a computer monitor. Mobile responsiveness is critical because at least 40% of all emails are opened and read on a mobile device.

Personalization

Even if you are sending a broadcast email to your entire list of subscribers, one of the best ways to connect with your readers is to include elements of personalization. Your ESP will enable you to personalize your emails with the subscriber’s name, which can be included in the greeting, throughout the body of the email, and even in the subject line. 

Some ESPs allow you to include additional personalization beyond the subscriber’s name. For example, if you’ve gathered the information, you can segment your list and personalize the email by mentioning the subscriber’s city, their marital status, age group, or specific financial interests, such as saving for college or saving for a house. 

Automated Email Campaigns & Marketing Funnels

In addition to sending on a broadcast email, your ESP automatically schedule emails to go out at a specific date and time. In many cases, you can even set the ESP to determine when to send an email based on the data it has on the best send times for the highest open rates.

The automation features in your ESP will enable you to set up email sequences to welcome and nurture new subscribers, automatically promote a service or event, and follow up or check in with subscribers automatically. 

An automated email campaign is a coordinated sequence of individual emails that you can send across a set time period with a specific purpose in mind, such as prompting subscribers to sign up for a webinar or schedule a consultation with you. You may also hear this referred to as an email marketing funnel, which refers to using email messages to move web visitors along a journey to become subscribers, prospects, and hopefully clients. 

Tracking & Reporting

Finally, your ESP will provide data about your subscribers and clients that can help you make strategic decisions about your marketing efforts. 

With email tracking and reporting features, you know how many subscribers, and specifically which ones, are opening and clicking on your emails. As I mentioned above, you can even segment the subscribers who click on specific links into various lists that you can then send targeted content related to those specific topics.

The tracking and reporting features in your ESP will let you review your campaign results to determine what’s working and what can be improved. Plus, you’ll be able to determine which subscribers are most likely to be responsive if you reach out to them directly and which subscribers can be removed from your database.

Conclusion

Using an email service provider is essential to any email marketing efforts. The quality of your ESP will affect the email deliverability and its features and functionality will determine which email marketing strategies you are able to use. Some are more feature-rich than others, but the most robust tools can require a steep learning curve while a simpler tool might be best to get the job done. 

Now that you know about ESPs and how they help you be more effective, in my next article I will share some guidelines on building out the basic framework for your emails.

Download a free copy of the Email Marketing Checklist & Template here. 

Sometimes email marketing can seem like an overwhelming task to undertake on your own. This is exactly what we do for our clients! We help craft opt-ins to build their email lists and create captivating email marketing campaigns to engage with their audience in the most effective way possible.