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.

About the Author

Crystal Lee Butler, MBA is a creative marketer and results-oriented business consultant with over a decade of experience collaborating with independent advisers. At Crystal Marketing Solutions, she delivers exceptional insights for financial professionals enabling them to create a consistent marketing presence so they can focus on the things that matter most to them.