All Posts by Crystal Lee Butler

Is It Time to Rebrand Your Financial Advisor Website?

As a financial advisor, your website is often your first chance to make a great impression. So don’t miss out on the opportunity to impress your prospects. Whether your prospects find your site by searching online or researching you after being referred by a friend, failing to make the most out of this initial encounter could mean the difference between signing an ideal new client or missing out on potential business, again and again. 

In the not-so-distant past, financial advisors could get away with a basic website. As long as your firm had a site of any kind, you were doing better than the competition. However, the landscape has changed and continues to evolve at a rapid pace. The way you show up in the digital space matters, and it can mean the difference between achieving your goals and missing the mark.

If your website is more than a few years old, it’s time for an update.

If you’ve invested in a website and it’s not bringing in new business, you are due for a refresh. Your site could need a minor update or a complete rebrand. 

Here’s how to tell if your financial advisor website stuck in the past and, if it is, how to position it for success. 

Why Update Your Website

Updating your website is about more than just replacing the old with the new. Having an updated website shows potential clients that you care about your business, are actively engaged and paying attention, and are putting in the effort to share your knowledge and insights. 

Having an out-of-date website makes you appear out of touch, like you don’t care enough to keep pace with technological changes, and are too busy to be bothered. And if prospects suspect you aren’t on top of your game, they will be less likely to trust their financial future to you. 

Fair or not, this is the way impressions work. 

It’s like driving by a restaurant that looks shabby with peeling paint and 1980s signage; it might have the most delicious food, but you’re less likely to give it a try. 

Updating your website lets you implement an effective digital marketing strategy. Whereas websites from a decade ago were little more than digital brochures, now you have the opportunity to do content marketing, search engine optimization, email marketing, Facebook advertising, and more. Your website and branding need to be updated in order to get results.

Updating your website shows the world who you are now, rather than who you were several years ago. Change is the only constant, you are not the same advisor and your firm is not the same company. As you evolve over time, your presence online should evolve too.   

How to Know If Your Website Needs Updating

As I mentioned above, if your website is more than a few years old, it probably needs to be updated. And in some cases, it could be time for a full overhaul of your brand. But whether you’re too close to the brand to be objective or you don’t spend enough time online to be familiar with what consumers have come to expect from company websites, here is some guidance and the indicators signaling an outdated website. 

Ask yourself the following seven questions:

1. Is my message still relevant?

Your brand message should speak directly to your ideal client and convey that you can help them solve a particular problem or fulfill a desire they have. 

Did you start off focusing on helping young professionals begin planning for retirement, and now your firm focuses on working with pre-retirees? Did you previously work exclusively with high-net-worth families only to realize you’re more passionate about advising your upper-income middle-class American neighbors? Then the brand message on your website needs to be revised accordingly.

2. Are my images outdated?

Imagery conveys powerful meaning. When a prospective client lands on your site, they should recognize they are in the right place by seeing relatable images. Old stock photos that look like they were taken decades ago need to be replaced with fresh new pictures with an updated aesthetic. 

If a prospect would have trouble recognizing you from your headshot, it’s time for a new one—yes, even if you’ve put on some weight, gained a few laugh lines, or lost hair since your last one. An updated, friendly headshot that looks like you is a must. (See my article Tips for Taking Your Own Headshots for more information.)

3. Does my website stand out?

Back in the days when having a website—any website at all—helped you stand out, you could get away with a cookie-cutter template site. Today, you have less than 15 seconds to capture a website visitor’s attention to give them a reason to stick around and learn more about you. 

They are looking for an advisor they can trust to help them meet their goals. Having a website that paints you no differently from the advisor across town isn’t doing you any favors. If your website is a beige, boring, run-of-the-mill site, it’s time to update your brand. 

4. Has my business changed?

The answer to this question is likely yes, but is this change reflected online? If not, it’s time for a change to your website. 

Maybe you started as a one-person shop, and now you have multiple advisors or you’ve hired operations support that plays a critical role in your success. Maybe your firm started with one office, and you’ve expanded to a second location. Maybe you’ve shifted from selling products to a fee-only model. Maybe you’ve developed a signature process that you walk each client through. If there’s no sign of these changes on your website, it is time to refresh or rebrand.

5. Am I sharing content regularly?

A static brochure-like website is no longer enough. Most consumers are doing research online before making even small purchasing decisions. Hiring a financial advisor is a serious commitment, and your prospects want to know that you’re knowledgeable. They want to know your approach and perspective. Therefore you need to incorporate regular sharing and updates into your website. 

The content you share can be in the form of a blog, new articles you’ve written, a podcast, YouTube videos, or new free resources such as guides or whitepapers. The point is, you’ll want to keep people on your site and keep them coming back for more, so it’s important to incorporate a way to share content regularly and easily into your website.

6. Is my brand engaging?

This is a challenge for many financial advisors and other conservative industries. Consumers tend to be turned off by overly formal, stuffy brands, and even wealthy audiences want you to loosen your tie a bit. This doesn’t mean your website needs to be edgy or provocative; it should be engaging, friendly, and approachable.

Look over your website. Is the language formal and dry or more conversational? Will it bore readers or pique their interest? Does it sound like you or someone else? Are you speaking at people like an expert on high or telling relatable stories and asking questions? 

If your brand isn’t drawing interest and your messaging doesn’t feel like part of an ongoing conversation with clients and prospects, it needs some work.

7. Is my technology antiquated? 

If you have an old website that you haven’t kept updated, your technology needs an overhaul. While the tech side of your website is happening behind the scenes, it is a critical part of the client experience. If the site runs slowly, has broken links, or glitches, it will send the wrong message. People will click away or feel frustrated.

If you are planning to use digital marketing, you need a website that’s blog enabled, allows you to embed social media and social sharing elements, includes an email opt-in form, let’s you add or update content without relying on a webmaster, enables you to add pixels for Facebook advertising, gives you the opportunity to optimize for search engines, and more. 

Old website technology limits your reach and puts your brand at a disadvantage.

How to Rebrand Your Website

If it’s time for a new website, you’ve been in business long enough to turn to a professional. Maybe your first site was a do-it-yourself job, or your teenage daughter took care of it. But for the next round, it’s best to hire someone who knows exactly what you need to bring your brand up to today’s standards.

When looking for support in rebranding your website, select a professional or agency that understands marketing for financial advisors, rather than a web designer who only wants to make your website look nice. The point of updating your website is to enhance the performance of your marketing and get better results. 

In addition to presenting your firm in a better light, your goals should be to attract traffic, generate leads, and convert more business. Keep in mind that as a financial advisor, you should always follow compliance guidelines when creating any content for your website, so it’s best to work with someone who understands this.

It will take your time and attention. You’ll need to get clear on exactly what you want and stay involved in the process. But an experienced professional or agency will make the website rebranding process painless and set your mind at ease, ensuring you come out of the other end of it with a website you’re confident about that helps you reach your goals.

Realigning your brand is similar to rebalancing a portfolio. Over time you can drift, but think about this like a retirement plan and adjust as needed to stay true to your goals.

I hope you found this overview about website rebranding helpful. If you already have a website, and you think it might need a refresh, investigate rebranding, so you can better connect with the people you want to serve. 

Whether you’re too close to the brand to be objective or you don’t spend enough time online to be familiar with what consumers expect from websites, you may need some guidance in determining what indicators would signal an outdated website. That is where Crystal Marketing Solutions comes in! Get in touch with us to see how we can help.

How to Gather Client Feedback

Your clients are the cornerstone of your success. How they feel about your business and the services you provide matters to your bottom line and personal sense of fulfillment. Happy clients are good for business all around, so it’s important to understand your clients’ needs, expectations, desires, and sense of satisfaction with your financial services firm. This is why making an effort to elicit client feedback consistently is so important. 

Never let too much time pass before checking in with your clients to learn how they are doing, feeling, and what they want from you. 

Benefits of Client Feedback

Getting regular feedback from clients comes with many benefits. While you might not always be happy about what you learn, it’s critical to gather this information to ensure your business is on the right track so you can progress in a positive direction. 

Identify Problems Early

If your clients are not satisfied, they won’t stick around. There are plenty of other financial professionals they can choose to work with instead. All too often, advisors are blindsided to discover that a client wants to part ways. In some cases, they may assume no news is good news. Other times, they may mistake politeness or congenial interactions for client satisfaction. You need to ask and find out how the client really feels about you and your services. You may be surprised—hopefully, pleasantly so—by what you discover.

Make Improvements

It’s easy to get caught up in the day-to-day of running your business without stopping to make sure you’re doing it in a manner that best meets your clients’ needs. It could be that you are not providing the right services or delivering them in the most effective way. It might be that the clients you are choosing to serve are not an ideal fit for your firm; perhaps you could make a greater impact with a different demographic. Or it may be that your team is falling short of providing an excellent customer experience. If your clients don’t feel taken care of or if a particular team member is not upholding your standards, this is something you need to know.

Making incremental improvements to your business based on client feedback can save you a lot of frustration and increase your firm’s success over time.

Fine-Tune Your Marketing

Marketing includes any activity or communications you have with clients or potential clients that involves creating value and delivering offerings in exchange for value. So every time you engage with a client, you’re marketing your business. 

Effective marketing speaks to exactly what your clients need, want, and expect from you. And the best way to find this information out is through client feedback. Why guess or wonder when you can just ask and get the facts?

Client feedback can help you understand how your clients want to be reached. Are they finding value in your blog articles, social media posts, newsletters, podcasts, or videos? If so, how can you use this information to enhance what you are already doing? If not, how can you make improvements to reach them better?

Are your clients resonating with your brand personality, such as the tone and voice of the content you’re sharing? If you get positive feedback, lean into your brand and leverage it more strategically. If something about your voice or tone seems disconnected or ‘off,’ client feedback can point you in the right direction. 

For example, if you have a fun, laid back style in one-on-one conversations but your marketing style is highly polished and formal, it’s likely to fall flat. On the other hand, if you are naturally more buttoned-up, but you’re trying to be fun and edgy in your marketing, it may not ring true. It’s best to be authentic while also keeping your communications professional, so be sure to get a gauge on how your messaging is being received.

We often work with clients who tell us they don’t know what to blog about or share in their marketing content. Of course there are standard topics we can recommend, but your clients are a goldmine of information. When it comes to producing relevant content, answering their actual questions and concerns is key to providing value to existing clients and attracting more clients like them.

Generate Goodwill

Asking for feedback generates goodwill with your clients. While goodwill is intangible and difficult to measure, it is a powerful asset for your firm, often playing a major role in client retention and client referrals. 

Everyone wants to be seen, heard, and respected, and this includes your clients. By showing clients you value their opinion and input, it gives them a sense of involvement in your business. 

Asking and thanking them for feedback shows that you are sincere, have their best interests at heart, and demonstrates that you are continuously evolving and open to growth. 

Getting client feedback deepens and strengthens relationships, nurturing greater loyalty and client satisfaction, potentially developing brand ambassadors that are eager to spread the word about you. 

How to Collect Client Feedback

Collecting client feedback doesn’t have to be a complex process. Oftentimes when business owners decide it’s important to collect client feedback, they tend to overcomplicate it, mistakenly believing they need to conduct an intricate market research study. In fact, it’s better to keep it simple because consistency is key. 

Email Replies

This is often the simplest but one of the most effective ways to gather client feedback, especially if it’s regarding something in particular. 

Are you thinking about adding a service but you’re not sure if it would be a good fit? Shoot an email out to your list asking for their input. Are you stumped about what content to cover in an upcoming round of blog posts, videos, or podcasts? Ask your list. Are you wondering which workshop topic will be the biggest hit? Ask. 

Send an email and prompt them to answer you.

Client Surveys

To gather more detailed, specific, or nuanced client feedback, conduct a survey by sending out a questionnaire. 

Surveys are a good way to gather qualitative and emotional feedback. By making surveys anonymous, it offers an opportunity for clients to tell you how they really feel, allowing you to gather the most candid, honest, and accurate information possible. 

While sending out surveys can become an annoyance for clients, you should still build this data collection into your client services model. For example, you may find it helpful to send out a survey immediately following your onboarding process or after a major milestone has been reached. You may also consider conducting an annual client survey. 

Client Calls 

The most effective way to gather client feedback is by picking up the phone and having a conversation. While your regular client calls should focus on helping them reach their goals, you can always use some time during the call to briefly get a sense of their level of satisfaction. Outside of your regular client calls, checking in with clients offers an opportunity for them to let you know how they’re feeling or what they need from you.

Of course, some clients may feel uncomfortable sharing customer service gripes or dissatisfaction with you directly, but asking direct questions and expressing your sincere concern for learning what they need and how they feel will go a long way towards getting them to open up.

Conclusion

Client feedback allows you to feel the pulse of your business, deliver what your clients desire, and stay one step ahead of the market, avoiding potential problems you might not have otherwise seen coming. 

With client feedback, you can measure client satisfaction, improve your services, make necessary changes, enhance your marketing efforts, and strengthen your client relationships. The biggest advantage is that it helps you make better business decisions across the board and grow your business with confidence. 

Sometimes it can be difficult to know where to begin to get useful client feedback.  Crystal Marketing Solutions can help you set up a process to make sure that you know exactly what your clients need, want, and expect from you. Reach out to us to see how we can help!

Why Financial Advisors Should Offer Niche Services

One of the best moves you can make when growing your financial advisor business is to offer niche services. A niche service is an offering that focuses on one specialization within a broader market that your business can serve. It could mean that you focus on serving one particular type of client, offering a particular type of service, or offer a combination of a specific client type and service.

For example, at Crystal Marketing Solutions I focus on serving financial advisors, a niche within the professional services industry – not attorneys, architects, or IT consultants. And we offer full-service marketing and marketing consulting, not business operations or accounting. 

Although many of the same marketing principles and best practices apply to a broader range of professional services, I choose to stick with financial professionals because we are experts in that industry. We could expand our services outside of marketing to become a one-stop-shop for financial advisory firms. But by focusing our service offerings on what we do best, clients are more likely to trust our experience and expertise.

Because we have niched our services, we don’t have to ramp up our knowledge about the financial industry or undergo extensive training every time we begin working with a new client. Instead, we can begin an engagement with confidence, steps ahead of a more generalist marketing agency.

Niching works for all kinds of businesses, including financial advisory firms. Many of our clients have found success by niching down to serve a particular market or offer specialized services. Here’s why this works.  

How niche services help advisors grow their businesses

The power of niching is that it can help you differentiate yourself from the competition. You can be the best financial advisor in your area, but unless potential clients can identify the factor that makes you a better choice than your competitor, you tend to blend in and get overlooked. 

Choosing a niche helps you create a memorable brand by allowing you to hone your expertise, which is a win-win for both you and your clients. You are able to offer higher value by giving consistent service to clients with similar needs, continuously learning, and sharpening your skill set through immersion in the trenches. 

Niching also makes it easier to grow your network and generate referrals. You are able to identify centers of influence in your market and build solid relationships without spreading yourself too thin. Before long, you become known in relevant circles for working with a certain kind of client or addressing a certain kind of problem. If your friend complains of tennis elbow, you’ll immediately think to refer them to your orthopedist, not your dermatologist; that’s how niching can help your business.  

The key is the ability to create consistent, clear, unmistakable messaging. Having a niche enables you to speak to the exact challenges, needs, and desires of the people you serve. Prospects will recognize right away that your financial advisory firm is one that works with clients like them. Every blog topic, social media post, workshop, webinar, video, graphic, or email series can be crafted with the niche audience in mind. You won’t waste your time muddying the waters with distracting marketing that doesn’t apply.

Claiming a niche makes it easier to get in front of audiences that need financial advisor services and reach the people you want to serve. Whether your goal is to be a podcast guest, conference speaker, guest blogger, author, or become a go-to quotable media source, a well-defined niche will make you easier to pitch and more attractive to gatekeepers, conference organizers, hosts, producers, and journalists.

Most importantly, choosing a niche allows you to love what you do. While you will need to ensure you are selecting a viable market, you get to pick one that actually excites you. You can choose to work with the kinds of clients that make you thrilled to show up at work in the morning, rather than the ones that feel like a drag. You can focus on what you find interesting and the areas where you are best equipped to make a difference. It can change the way you view your business and enhance your sense of fulfillment. 

How advisors can choose a niche

If you are a financial advisor who serves a general mix of clients, you may be wondering how you can niche your business. You may even think it would be a mistake. After all, you don’t want to get rid of your existing client base or turn away business while you are trying to grow. The good news is, you don’t have to unless you want to. 

Instead, you can pivot and begin shifting your business in a certain direction, gradually over time. You could also offer a niche program of services that branch off from your general practice, either to test the market or with no intention of making it your only offer. 

Start by thinking through exactly how you want to specialize. Answer the following questions:

  • What gets you fired up or brings out your passion? 

  • What are you most interested in or knowledgeable about? 

  • What kinds of clients do you enjoy working with most?

  • What problems do you like to solve? What problems bore or frustrate you?

  • Where do you see a void in the market? Is there a segment that’s being underserved? 

Again, you are looking to find a niche that is not only viable but also one you would enjoy. The last thing you want to do is pick a market or service that isn’t big enough, isn’t willing or able to pay you, or isn’t a group of people that you truly want to serve.

Next, you will want to determine the type of niche you want to create. You could focus on a specific industry or profession, a particular phase of life, a set of interests, net worth, values alignment, or something else. The sky is the limit and you might be surprised by how creative the niche can be.

For example, you could be a financial advisor who specializes in working with public servants, academics, military families, entrepreneurs, women breadwinners, Christian households, professional athletes, first-generation immigrants, high net worth families, recent retirees, young professionals, medical doctors, married people without children, blue-collar business owners – you name it. If the niche makes sense, chances are there’s a market for it.

Niched services might include applying a framework, formula, blueprint, or roadmap you’ve developed for your target market to solve a particular problem. Maybe you work with recent widows to help them understand their finances, high-earners with big student loan debt, people who come into a sudden windfall or inheritance – whomever – and you walk them through your program to address a challenge they are facing. 

Can you see how much opportunity there is in niching? It allows you to break away from the status quo and make a difference as you grow your financial firm. 

The bottom line

The biggest objection to niching is that people are afraid to turn down business. They don’t want to turn off their current clients or turn away prospects.  But the benefits tend to far outweigh the risks. As long as you are taking good care of your existing clients, they will not care about or even know about your niche offerings. And you still have the power to decide what new clients you will take on; you don’t need to turn anyone away.

Having a niche means having less competition. With consistent, clear, unmistakable messaging, well-honed expertise, and the respect and recognition you will be able to gain, your niche services are more likely to magnetize the clients you do want and repel those you don’t.  

If you want to read more useful tips and insights like this one, sign up for our monthly email newsletter.

Podcast Recommendations for Financial Advisors

Podcasts can be a rich source of information for everything from DIY projects to motivational coaching and discussions of cult favorites to daily world news. There are so many out there, and it can be hard to narrow down which are worth your time. That’s why I’ve curated a list of top-rated podcasts, as well as some of my personal favorites, that can provide financial advisors with insight into running a business, tips on how other advisors navigate the financial advisory space, and advice on approaching clients with technical or hard to understand topics.

The Retirement Answer Man with Roger Whitney

  • Have you ever presented something to a client only to be met with awkward silence and a glazed-over look? The Retirement Answer Man Show was born out of years of experience, a deep need to help people, and creative restlessness. In every episode, Roger takes difficult or hard to communicate financial conversations, concepts, and strategies and makes them more approachable, often with a touch of humor.

Financial Advisor Success with Michael Kitces

  • Michael brings you real success stories and insights from the most successful financial advisors and leading industry consultants about how to take your advisory business to the next level. Get a glimpse of what it’s like behind the scenes building a successful advisory business and how entrepreneurial advisors navigate the inevitable highs and lows of growing a firm. Whether you’re a new financial advisor trying to get started on the right foot or an experienced advisor who’s hit a wall, Michael gives you the insights and inspiration you need to break through and reach the level of success you want to achieve.

The Elite Advisor Blueprint with Brad Johnson 

  • Brad is dedicated to sharing the "blueprint for success" in the independent financial advising world. Based on his decade of experience consulting the top advisors in the US, that could mean doubling your revenue, doubling your vacation, or both! Continuing the successful formula of idea sharing that led Advisors Excel to be the #1 player in its industry, he distills the best advice from top thought leaders and applies it to the world of independent financial advising. He interviews with top thought leaders and industry experts, providing diversity in his content.

Becoming Referable with Stephen Wershing

  • Becoming Referable is a bi-weekly podcast that will help you increase referrals. Each episode focuses on actionable ideas that you can use in your business right away. Your hosts are referral and client engagement experts, Stephen Wershing and Julie Littlechild, and, along with their guests, they’ll share current research, evidence-based strategies, and insights from experts from within financial services and beyond.

The Human Advisor with Various Hosts

  • This podcast goes beyond what it takes to run a business and brings a more client-centered conversation to the table. By hosting advisors with various backgrounds, the show revolves around changing the conversation from how big a financial advisor’s book of business is to how well do they take care of their clients and actually help people. 

The Experiments in Advisor Marketing with Taylor Schulte

  • Taylor Schulte explores the world of marketing in the financial planning industry.  He experiments with different ideas, shares his successes and failures, and interviews outside-the-box experts. He covers everything from spending tens of thousands of dollars on print ads to hiring a Harvard data nerd to run Facebook campaigns, and he admits that most of his marketing experiments have failed and he shares so you can learn from his mistakes on what works and what doesn’t.

I hope you get a chance to check out some of these recommendations. I always enjoy listening to other people's perspectives on a variety of topics.  If you want to read more of my useful tips and insights, sign up for our monthly email newsletter.

The Know, Like, Trust Factor in Your Marketing

You’ve probably heard of the “know, like, trust” factor when it comes to building your business as a financial advisor, but you might wonder if there is a need to put it to work for you at scale. After all, as a financial advisor, chances are you are a generally likable person, and your personality has played a part in your success.

You are in the business of helping people on a personal level. The “know, like, trust” factor probably isn’t a struggle for you because if you weren’t a people person, you would have chosen a different career path. You may have the foundation covered, but growing a business is different from making friends or being well-known. Getting someone to trust you with their financial decisions goes beyond just being friendly; they have to really trust you.

To scale your business, you can’t rely on your personality alone to carry you through; instead, you need to take the necessary steps to intentionally and systematically make sure more of your ideal prospects have the opportunity to get to know, like, and trust you every day.

What Is the “Know, Like, Trust” Factor?

The concept is basic, but there is a lot more to “know, like, trust” than you might have considered. Essentially, it represents the journey that your potential client makes when they are getting to know you and your professional brand. 

They have to know who you are, which means they need to know you exist, what services you offer, and why you are qualified to deliver those services. Then they need to determine whether they like what they discover – that you seem like someone they can connect with, and you appear to be qualified and capable of meeting their needs satisfactorily. And finally, once they know and like you, trust can begin to develop as they decide whether or not you seem to be an honest, dependable person or company upon whom they can rely. 

Only when you’ve overcome the “know, like, trust” hurdle, can you expect to secure them as a client and grow your relationship. At times, the journey from meeting you to signing on the dotted line is a quick one, depending on how they are introduced to you, what their circumstances are, and how discerning they are. 

But most often, you will need to take action to move the process along.

How to Boost the “Know, Like, Trust” Factor in Your Marketing

Marketing encompasses every activity you do to increase your sales and enhance your growth. Whether interacting with a prospective client one-on-one, at a seminar or speaking engagement, or through your promotional materials, both online and off, the “know, like, trust” factor should be incorporated into everything you do.

Know

The first step is to help people get to know who you are and what you stand for in your firm. If you think of the marketing journey as a funnel, “know” is the top of the funnel or the widest point. 

Share compelling biographies of yourself and your team with relevant background information. When people see that you have something in common, they are more likely to pay attention, connect with you, and want to get to know you better. Professional, friendly headshots and photographs can go a long way in making a connection, too; people are visual, and images matter more than ever.

In all of your communications, you need to be intentional and clear about exactly who your firm serves and who you are not. Every presentation you give, every piece of marketing collateral you produce, and every bit of content you publish should either attract your ideal client or repel those who are not a good fit for your firm. 

You will also need to make it crystal clear what services you provide, what benefits they can expect to gain from working with you, exactly how you work with clients, how you structure your fees, and other critical information. People are curious and skeptical; the more precise the information you can give them upfront, the better. 

Lack of clarity leads to assumptions and objections that may work against you. Providing the information they need to begin making a decision is more likely to work in your favor. When you help potential clients get to know you better, they can self-select to keep learning more or move on without wasting further time.

One of the best ways for people to get to know you more quickly and boost your credibility is to be generous about sharing your knowledge and helpful information.

Like

Knowing you does not mean liking you. The way you present your brand and demonstrate your expertise and professionalism makes a difference. In order for a prospective client to get to like you, you have to give them material to help them along the marketing journey. If you think of the marketing funnel, you are still near the widest, top part, but you are beginning to narrow your pool toward the middle.

One of the most effective ways to get people to like you more is to be authentic. Nobody connects with a stuffed suit or wants to work with a robot. Yes, a financial advisor needs to show up in a more formal manner than some professions, but you would be well served to let your personality shine through and drop the overly polished veneer. 

People connect with genuine people.

A great method for enhancing your likability is to share stories. People connect with stories when they are relatable and inspirational, so consider sharing stories whenever possible. Clients would be interested to hear or read about why you became a financial advisor, obstacles you’ve faced along the road in your life or career, and how you overcame them. Stories about you or your client’s experiences and what you or your clients learned through them can also register these same feelings.

Make an effort to be positive, upbeat, and optimistic in your communications while also being transparent and truthful. As a financial advisor, you will need to work through some tough topics – from market volatility or decline to the struggles your clients face that affect their finances, such as job loss, divorce, and illness. They want to know they will be working with someone who will be real with them and have the fortitude to get them through whatever life throws their way. 

Do the little things well, because early impressions matter. People want to work with an advisor who will be responsive and easy to reach, so be sure to respond to phone calls, emails, and even social media comments in a timely manner. Make sure your support staff understands the role they play in marketing and growing the business through the way they communicate with prospective clients as well. 

Because potential clients are likely to forget you soon after they meet you or land on your website, make sure you have measures in place to stay in touch. They can’t grow to like you if you don’t help them remember you. Create a valuable opt-in, such as a special report or worksheet, to solve a problem for them right off the bat, illustrate your expertise, and make sure they know exactly what you have to offer. If they sign up for this opt-in, they are entering the middle of your marketing funnel – the pool of people who are more likely to consider working with you.

Trust

Some people are easier to win over than others, but many people have their guard up – especially when it comes to money. Whether they’ve worked with a financial advisor who burned them in the past, they’ve never worked with an advisor before, or they simply aren’t sure if you can help them reach their goals, it’s your job at this stage to do what you can to establish your credibility, demonstrate your reliability, and prove that you are capable.

In marketing, one of the most effective ways to build trust is to keep showing up. Simply being there again and again with helpful information and resources, addressing concerns, sharing your insights, and offering your perspective can make quite an impact. It allows you to show that you are, in fact, knowledgeable, and consistency breeds trust.

Marketing online also provides an opportunity to leverage social proof, which helps instill trust. You can share testimonials from happy clients, articles that you’ve written or places you’ve been quoted, media clips, speaking engagements, examples of community service, and case studies – all putting your firm in a positive light. Social proof shows people that other people trust you, and it, in turn, signals that they can trust you too. 

Email is one of the best methods for building trust in marketing. When you offer a valuable opt-in, such as a special report, you will also want to follow that up with regular email communication. Deliver a series of emails, known as a “nurture sequence,” over the next couple of weeks, explicitly designed to amplify the “know, like, trust” factor and acclimate them to how your firm can help them. 

Within those emails, invite them to a free consultation. This is the point at which they’ve neared the bottom of the marketing funnel. These readers will be warmed up and primed to speak with you about potentially working together. 

Whether they take you up on this offer or not, be sure to stay in consistent communication with them through a regular monthly or quarterly newsletter. This will keep you top of mind, so over time, when they are ready to further explore working with a financial advisor, you will be in the running, all because you made the extra effort to establish trust.

The Bottom Line

The “know, like, trust” factor is the foundation for every relationship in business. Without it, you won’t make sales or sign new clients. With it, you are well on your way to cultivating profitable and fulfilling relationships that enable you to grow a business that you love. 

Sometimes creating a nurturing series that develops a “know, like, trust” factor can seem like an overwhelming task to undertake on your own. This is exactly what we do for our clients! We help to craft a nurturing series that is captivating and helps develop a consistent appearance and engaging relationship with your prospects. Reach out to us to see how we can help!

A Primer on Email Marketing Automation

Email marketing has been around for decades, but it’s far from dead. Not only is it still going strong, but it is more effective than ever. As technology continues to advance, email -marketing strategies can become more personalized and effective.

Marketing automation is the key to this progress. 

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. 

I’ve covered all of the essentials of email marketing in previous articles in this series.

Now I’ll show you how to take your email marketing to the next level with automation.

What is email marketing automation?

By using email marketing automation, you can create and send relevant, timely, and personalized emails to the subscribers on your list automatically, based on criteria you set that aligns with your email marketing strategy. 

Rather than being confined to sending out broadcast emails – sometimes referred to as email “blasts” – email marketing automation sends the right messages to the right people at the right time. 

Whereas blasts go out to every subscriber on your list at the same time, automation allows you to choose which subscribers get which messages and when, and that can make your campaigns more effective.

By nurturing prospective clients with highly personalized content, you engage and serve them individually from the start. When marketing automation is done effectively, email campaigns help you book appointments, fill seminars, pre-qualify prospects, or even sign new clients. 

Email marketing automation works by segmenting subscribers into different lists or with tagging, based on the information they submit or their behavior. 

For example, you can trigger specific emails based on the answers subscribers submit in a form, demographic information such as their geographic location, preferences, or behaviors such as opens, clicks, purchases, or visiting a web page. 

What is an email marketing automation strategy?

When someone signs up for your newsletter or opts-in for a free giveaway, the first email they receive is an “autoresponder.” Traditionally, once they receive the thank you message or download, the next time they hear from the company will be the next time the company’s newsletter is sent. 

With automation, you could send a welcome or nurture sequence of follow-up emails to new subscribers, introducing yourself, sharing more information about your firm and providing additional content relevant to the free giveaway they subscribed to get. 

You could also send the follow-up sequence only to the people who opened the thank you email or only to the people who clicked the link to download the free report. 

Another option would be to send a survey asking about their most pressing concerns or interests. If they indicate that they are most interested in improving their personal finances, you can send a follow-up sequence about household budgeting and paying off debt. If they indicate that they are interested in saving for their child’s education, send articles about college savings plans. 

Email marketing automation can also be used to supplement your other marketing efforts. If you put on a seminar or workshop, you don’t have to follow up with each attendee individually. Instead, you can set up a sequence in advance to connect with participants and reuse the same sequence each time you present on that topic. 

For example, the next morning, they would get an email thanking them for attending, a link to  the slides and a request for feedback. The following day, send a follow-up email with frequently asked questions that tend to come up during or after the workshop. A few days later, send a guide or worksheet that helps them address a challenge covered in the workshop. Then, if you notice they’ve been opening your emails, send an invitation to book a free consultation or pick up the phone to call them.

How else can you use automation?

In addition to nurturing new subscribers, email marketing automation provides many creative opportunities to connect with your list, colleagues, prospects, and clients. 

Use automation during your new-client onboarding. Right after they’ve signed on to work with you, they are most emotional about their decision. If they are excited, sending them an automated series of relevant content about your firm, their challenges, and each next step can reinforce their enthusiasm and begin to turn them into a brand ambassador. 

If they are second-guessing their decision, providing automated onboarding and follow-up will reassure them that they are in professional and capable hands.   

Another way to use email marketing automation is to power your referrals. Although many financial advisors claim that the majority of their clients come from referrals, few have a process in place to ask for referrals consistently. Automating your requests for referrals from satisfied clients and strong referral partners is an effective way to keep referrals coming in the door. 

Conclusion

From the subscriber’s perspective, the most effective email marketing automation is welcomed and feels like a personal service that is tailored to address their challenges and meet their needs. Even though most people will recognize that the messages are automated, using email automation strategically demonstrates that you are in tune with what they want and you are prepared to serve them well. 

Depending on your needs and the level of sophistication required for the automation strategies you want to deploy, carefully consider which email service provider (ESP) to choose, as each one has slightly different email-automation offerings. 

This is the final article in my series, The Financial Advisor’s Guide to Email Marketing

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. Reach out to us to see how we can help!

Proper Email Etiquette

Email marketing is a powerful tool to grow your business. But before you begin, be aware of email marketing etiquette as well as some common email marketing pitfalls and mistakes that can cost you. 

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 earlier articles, I’ve focused on what you should do for effective email marketing.

Now it is time to dive into a few things you should be careful not to do.

Professional Email Etiquette

Before we cover email marketing campaigns, I’ll start by discussing some tips you might not have considered when it comes to sending individual emails. All of the activities you do to promote your business and gain new clients is considered marketing, so even cold prospecting emails, emails with your referral partners, and emails following up with warm leads are all considered a kind of email marketing, so it’s important to use every opportunity to market effectively.

Email Signature

If you’re only putting your name and basic contact information in your email signature, you’re missing an opportunity to take full advantage of this space to engage with all of the people you’re emailing. 

Use an eye-catching branded email signature that includes relevant information, such as your name, title, company name, phone numbers, website, and social media icons with clickable links to your profiles. 

Include a call to action with a link or button. For example, “Have you signed up for our newsletter? You can do that here.” You may also want to include a calendar link to book a consultation with you.

Your email signature is valuable real estate; don’t waste the opportunity to connect with people. 

Always Use BCC for Group Emails

Do you have a small list of people that you like to keep in the loop about things you find interesting, updates in your business, or upcoming events? Perhaps you’re letting your colleagues know you were featured in the media, that you’ll be speaking at a conference, or you’re sharing a study or interesting article you found. 

A bigt faux pas you can make with email is to CC your list when you should be using the BCC field. Not only are you exposing each person’s email address to the other people on the list, but if anyone hits “reply all” it will go to the whole list. 

This doesn’t seem to happen as often as it used to, but it’s something you want to avoid. People are very protective of their inboxes and this seemingly small mistake can annoy people more than you think. 

Bulk Email Etiquette

An email service provider (ESP) is a tool, such as MailChimp or Constant Contact, that sends bulk emails to a list of subscribers. Because all ESPs are required to be in compliance with email marketing regulations, using an ESP will help you stay in compliance. If you try to get around best practices or violate their terms and conditions, your account can be shut down.    

Follow Email Regulations

The most critical thing about email marketing etiquette when using an ESP is that you need permission to email every contact on your list. If you don’t have permission from subscribers, your email could be considered spam by the recipients, which damages your reputation—both with internet service providers and with the individuals who receive the unwanted emails. 

If your email is marked as “spam” by your recipients in their email client, you may end up on a list of spammers that are automatically blocked by internet providers.

The best email lists require double opt-in. This means that subscribers are required to complete two steps to join the list. For example, they fill out an opt-in form and then open and click a “confirm your subscription” email. This protects people who are not sure what they are joining, prevents spam sign-ups, and keeps people from subscribing others without their consent.  

To be CAN-SPAM compliant, all of your emails need 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.”). Most importantly, make it easy for people to unsubscribe and honor all unsubscribe requests immediately.

Be Consistent

Another big mistake many small businesses make with their email marketing is lack of consistency. Remember, one of the reasons email marketing is effective is that you show up consistently to nurture relationships and build trust. Showing up inconsistently has the opposite effect.

You want people to expect your emails and look forward to them, so it’s to your advantage to show up at the same time or day each week or month—stick to a calendar. It’s okay to email more frequently, but don’t email less frequently or skip issues. This makes you seem unreliable and too busy to keep your commitments. 

Most significantly, if you fall off the map and suddenly pop back up months later, chances are people will have forgotten who you are. Your open rates will tank, unsubscribes will soar, and your list will grow cold. 

That said, if you have allowed your list to grow cold, that doesn’t mean you should abandon it altogether. There are ways to reintroduce yourself and warm it back up again. But it’s always best if you can avoid putting yourself in that situation.

Conclusion

By following email marketing best practices, not only should you be striving to be effective and get the best results, but you need to tread lightly to avoid breaking the law or committing a faux pas that make you seem unprofessional and tarnish your reputation.

Now that you are aware of what not to do, in my next article I’ll help you take your email marketing to the next level by showing you how to set up successful automations.

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.  Reach out to us to see how we can help!

Why Your Financial Advisory Firm Needs an Email Newsletter

People want to buy from companies they trust, no matter what they’re purchasing. When it comes to engaging the services of a financial advisor, trust becomes even more important, as your clients are entrusting you with what is most important to them – their family’s security and financial future. So any marketing you do as a financial advisor needs to focus on building trust. 

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. 

So far, we have covered the basic building blocks you need to get started with email marketing.

Now it’s time to dive into a tried-and-true method of building trust with email marketing – sending a monthly email newsletter. 

What makes an email newsletter effective?

There’s something about showing up consistently in your client’s inbox month after month that signals that you are a steady, reliable, and trustworthy professional. Before they’ve even opened your message, seeing your name reminds them that you’re there, available, and ready to help.

Not only is the newsletter positioning you as a reliable go-to resource, but it more specifically positions you as an expert in your field. Yes, your clients want to work with someone they consider a trustworthy professional, but they also want to know you’re sharp, well-informed, and actively staying abreast of trends, patterns, what’s going on in the market, and how it relates to their financial goals. 

The best way to demonstrate your trustworthiness and expertise at scale is with an email newsletter. With the rise of social media and other forms of digital marketing, many businesses abandoned their email newsletters. But year after year, email consistently performs better than every other digital marketing channel. If you aren’t currently sending a newsletter for your financial advisory practice, it’s time to start.

What should be included in a monthly e-newsletter?

Newsletter Introduction

When you send an email newsletter for your financial advisory firm, it’s an opportunity to connect with your readers. Yes, you’re sending updates and helpful content, but you’re in a personal business and should always start with a personal note. 

This doesn’t mean you should use the space to give them a play-by-play rundown of what’s been going on in your life and business over the past month. But reference something you’ve been thinking about or working on or a short relatable story. 

The newsletter should primarily be about the reader and what will be most useful to them, but the introduction is where you get to remind them who you are, what you stand for, and that you care. Write it in a friendly and conversational tone that highlights your personality, as if you’re writing to one specific ideal client. 

Use the introduction to set up the content you’re sharing, encourage them to reply with feedback and questions, and suggest they forward the newsletter to a friend.

Newsletter Content

You might be wondering what kind of content to send. Keep in mind, it doesn’t have to be a long publication packed with content to be valuable. You can and should keep it simple. 

Remember, the newsletter is about the reader. Yes, you will update them on what’s going on with you and your company, but multiple in-depth articles about internal company business will bore readers. However, that doesn’t mean you should skip the personal touch. Introduce new employees and share updates, such as when someone earns a new certification, gets a promotion, or welcomes a new child or grandchild. 

For the primary focus of the newsletter, send your latest blog posts about topics that clients and prospects are likely to find helpful. Include a few paragraphs in the newsletter itself and then ask them to click a link or button to keep reading on your website. 

Happenings and Upcoming Events

Sharing happenings and upcoming events boosts your credibility and keep readers informed about opportunities to learn from and engage with you.

If you’ve been featured in the media or spoken at industry conferences, let your readers know. Include logos and links to places you were featured, such as radio and podcast interviews or magazine and newspaper articles in which you were quoted. 

If you’re hosting or speaking at any upcoming seminars or workshops or participating in any community events, include a section where you can invite your readers to join you. Even if the topic isn’t relevant to them, they can forward it to a friend. 

Chances are, you are already speaking, teaching, appearing in the media, or remaining actively involved in your community. This is a chance to showcase your efforts and elevate your profile. 

Market or Economic Update 

When sending your newsletter as a financial advisor, obviously market trends and the economic news will be on the minds of your readers, so you’ll want to include an update. Don’t take the time or use the space to provide an in-depth market analysis but be sure to share a brief overview, which you can pull from a third-party resource. 

Call to Action

Your email newsletter isn’t just about sharing news; it’s about encouraging your readers to take action. The purpose of an email newsletter is marketing for your financial advisory business. Whether you want your readers to pick up the phone and call you, forward your email, sign up for a seminar, or click a link to schedule an appointment, include a clear call to action that spells out the next step you want them to take.

Conclusion

An email newsletter gives you the opportunity to showcase your expertise and build trust among your clients and prospects and as such is a very effective means to build your business. However, before you launch your monthly email newsletter, read my next article to learn about email marketing etiquette as well as some common email marketing pitfalls and mistakes that can cost you.

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. Reach out to us to see how we can help!

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.  Reach out to us to see how we can help!

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.  Reach out to us to see how we can help!

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