Strong relationships are the backbone of a thriving financial practice. Email is an efficient, powerful tool to connect with people and build relationships. To that end, it’s good to have email marketing as part of your advisor marketing mix.
You can use email to quickly reach your prospects, build trust, nurture leads, and ultimately convert new client relationships. But what if your email marketing isn’t bringing in the results that your business needs? Rather than your contacts engaging with your emails, what if your emails are turning them off or putting up barriers to them wanting to work with you?
There is also the new challenge of standing out in increasingly crowded email inboxes. Here are 35 simple tips that you and other financial advisors can apply and use to close more business. These practical marketing tips can be a great starting point for employing smart strategies in your email and other marketing efforts.
Crafting Compelling Content
Tip #1: Have a Defined Purpose for Your Email
Every email that you send out needs a single, clear call to action. Do you want your email reader to download your guide on retirement planning? To schedule an appointment? To give feedback on your services?
The email should have one defined call to action. Too many calls to action for one email can overwhelm your readers in the number of choices that you are giving them to the point of inaction. To put this simply, an email should have one clear objective and one set call to action so that your readers know clearly what to do.
Tip #2: Segment Your Audience
Not all of your contacts are the same in their customer journey or how they even came to know you. Some people can be referrals from your clients. Others may have met you at a seminar, a workshop, or other event marketing.
The ways in how your prospects see you will differ depending on their interactions with you and how they came to know you. In other cases, people may have bought a financial product or plan from you, or they may still be in the throes of early meeting with you. Their needs will also vary based on their personal situation, their level of readiness for retirement, goals, and more.
Start by dividing your email list into segments. As a focal point, those segments could be things like age, income, financial preferences, retirement status (ex: within 5 years of retiring), and risk tolerance.
Also, think about their relationship to you: Are they a client? Have they met with you in a few appointments and not yet committed to anything? How did they come to know you? Further segmentation based on their interactions with your firm will also help in the kind of content that you send them.
Doing this segmentation allows you to send highly relevant content to each group.
Tip #3: Personalize Your Emails
People respond to communication with a human touch, not corporate-speak. One way to garner your prospects’ attention is by personalizing the email to your prospects. Use your contacts’ names and tailor your content to their specific financial interests and needs. If you can, personalize the subject line. According to CampaignMonitor, emails with personalized subject lines get 29% higher open rates.
What about content interests? Here is one practical way to figure those out. If you have an automated email sequence for signups on your email updates, one email in the sequence can ask which areas of financial planning that they are interested in, and you give them options to indicate those interests. From there, the email content that you send is tailored to their preferences.
If you have a well-thought-out consumer profile of your target client, you can also curate and select content that speaks to that audience. For example, some advisors or agencies work with those in public education or with federal government employees. Many people in the education are strapped for time, don’t know much about their benefits, and are hungry for more detail on what their benefits options are.
We have seen massive engagement on content about these readers’ 403(b) plans and their options for leaving a survivor benefit to family. For federal employees, specific benefits information and coordinating all of the benefits together have drawn huge engagement and outreach from prospects in that market.
Personalization shows that you care about your readers and their deeply-held goals. And as the old saying goes, people don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.
Tip #4: Inform, Don’t Sell or Over-Promote
Instead of focusing solely on promoting yourself or your financial services, provide educational content. Share articles and resources on issues and pain-points that are unique to your readers. Are you giving them some ‘food for thought’ with inflation, taxes in retirement, and how to offset those risks, for example?
You can also share information on financial strategies and planning tips that help establish yourself as a trusted expert. But in the same token, don’t over-educate. Your clients want enough information to know what their challenges are, and you don’t want to overwhelm them with too much. Show them where common financial problems can arise, how you can help solve them, and encourage them to meet with you.
Tip #5: Solve Problems
Identify common financial pain-points and address them in your emails. Offer high-level solutions and demonstrate how your services can help. The goal is to emphasize the “financial itch” that your prospects have as a challenge, give them information to show that you can help them, and help them feel the urgency (when they are ready) to meet with you.
Tip #6: Utilize Storytelling
Story appeals to everyone. Share success stories or case studies that highlight how your services have positively impacted clients. Of course, it’s good to double-check with compliance and make sure that any content in this vein is good to go. That being said, it’s a prime opportunity to create rapport with your prospects. Stories create an emotional connection and build trust.
Tip #7: Optimize Your Sender Name
Here at Safe Money, between our business-to-business marketing, financial consumer brands we run, and our advisor-to-consumer marketing, we send out a few million emails per year. Marketing industry studies also look at millions of emails sent and glean insights. One surprising thing that we have seen internally and these studies have captured is the importance of your sender name (what is in your email “from” field).
Some studies suggest that the sender name matters more than the subject line for people trusting an email. Use a credible sender name. If your brand has some recognition, then you could use your company name as the sender name. If your brand isn’t that well-known, you could use your name or, as an alternative, combine your name and your company name in the sender name. Test variants on your sender name every few weeks or months over time. This can help you see what works with how much your readers open your emails.
Tip #8: Use Catchy But Clear Subject Lines
Apart from the sender name, your subject line is crucial. It’s the first thing that recipients see in their inbox, and it has a big say in whether someone opens your email, puts it in the trash, or marks it as spam.
According to a study by Barilliance, 64% of recipients opened an email due to its subject line. Likewise, OptinMonster reported that 33% of users chose to open an email because it had an attractive subject line. As noted, the wrong content can be off-putting – 69% of users tag emails as spam soon after seeing the subject line, according to Invesp.
So, to sum it up, a catchy subject line can grab your readers’ attention, but it shouldn’t be too over the top or too cute. You want to make it compelling and relevant so that it encourages them to open your email.
Just as importantly, your subject line shouldn’t be deceitful. That can lead your email list to stop trusting you and ultimately make your email opens drop like a rock. Avoid using things like “RE:” so that the email appears to be a response and other spammy tactics that undermine confidence in you.
Email Design and Layout
Tip #9: Clean Layout
Keep the email clean and free of clutter. If your email has long paragraphs or you have to scroll a lot to read the email, then it probably won’t resonate well with your audience. A short, clean, well-designed email will appeal to your readers.
We just ran a test ourselves with our consumer newsletter on this. We greatly shortened the content and made it more to the point. As a result, the clicks and lead generation were more pronounced (3x more leads than prior email campaigns). There is no rule for how long or short that emails should be, but generally the shorter, the more that you will have people read through to the end.
Tip #10: Short and Scannable
Most people skim through emails. Use short paragraphs, bullet points, and subheadings to make your content easy to scan. You might start a section in your email with a headline indicating that it’s new content.
When writing for the web or email, our team aims for, at most, 40-53 words per paragraph. That is a good steering guideline for keeping your content short, skimmable, and easy to digest. Break key points up into lists of bullet points to emphasize important parts of your content and also keep your readers’ attention.
Tip #11: Mobile Optimization
How does the email look on the screen of a smartphone, tablet, or other mobile device? It’s crucial to make sure that your emails are mobile-friendly.
According to Adobe, 85% of users use smartphones to access email. A poorly optimized email can be a turn-off for those checking email on mobile. Thankfully, many email platforms have a place where you visualize how your email will look on a mobile device, on desktop, and in other formats before sending.
Tip #12: Eye-Catching Graphics
We are visual individuals. While plain-text emails do perform well, as marketing tests have shown, high-quality imagery in an email is also great for capturing more attention.
Professional, high-quality images and graphics will enhance the visual appeal of your emails. Just as importantly, the images and graphics should relate to your email content so everything is on point.
For instance, say that you have an article for your recipients to read, you include an image to drive clicks, and you have an intro image on the article page that you link to. The image in the email should match the article image so that you maintain consistency.
Tip #13: Readable Fonts
Choose easy-to-read fonts and a clean, uncluttered layout. Font type and size are especially important for financial professionals serving people who are near and in retirement.
Here is a list of fonts that are good to use in email marketing, according to CampaignMonitor and other sources. Small pro tip — here at Safe Money, we use Calibri, Helvetica, and Arial in our emails.
- Times New Roman
- Sans Serif
- Courier New
While these fonts are quite effective in email marketing, you might also think about what big companies driving the digital space are already doing.
For example, if you have a Gmail account, you may have seen that the default fonts in Gmail are Serif and Sans Serif. Google and other big companies have spent lots of time and money on testing this. That might be something to consider for your email marketing as well.
Tip #14: Include Your Link in the Email a Few Times
We talked about having one clear call to action for each email. Whether it’s for registering for a webinar, downloading a guide, or scheduling an appointment, you have a link for your reader to take action.
Include that same link in a few spots throughout your email: in your company logo at the top of your email (if you put the logo there), in the text body of your email, and in a button at the end of the email. In the text body, consider making the text where you embed the link stand out a little. In our testing, that text being a light-mid blue color, bolded, and underlined helps catch people’s attention and click through to the page link.
Don’t put too many links in your email, though. Otherwise that can turn off your readers and make it seem like you are over-asking for them to take action.
Tip #15: Consistent Branding
People remember powerful stories and engaging content. But that won’t mean as much as it could if your brand isn’t always consistent in your email marketing.
Maintaining a consistent brand identity across all emails is key. The company logo should use consistent dimensions. The tone, voice, and writing style of your emails should match up with other prior communication. That helps people remember you, recognize who you are, and come to trust your business.
Tip #16: Include Social Proof
Happy clients are an indicator to prospects of what sort of value they might get from working with you. When your clients are satisfied with the solutions and service that you have given them, you can put that satisfaction to work for you.
The idea behind social proof is that some people are happy with something, then others are likely to follow them and do the same thing. If compliant, include some social proof in your emails in the form of client reviews, business reviews, or quick client sum-ups. That will give your email readers more confidence and can be enough to encourage them to do whatever your main goal is for that email.
Timing and Frequency
Tip #17: Schedule Strategically
Send emails at times when your audience is most likely to check their inboxes. This might vary depending on your target demographic.
Once you have sent multiple emails to your list, you will have data from the email blasts of when people are opening your emails. You can aggregate the data and see what times and days that most people are opening your emails.
Now, what times do marketing companies say? According to a variety of sources, the optimal days to send email are on Tuesday and Wednesday, from 10:00am to 11:45am or from 1:00pm to 2:30pm. Our team also has our own take on this, which we will share a bit later.
The bottom-line? Do your own testing, data-sleuthing, and then you are off to the races.
Tip #18: Determine Your Email Marketing Frequency
Email is a great way to reach a lot of people in a hurry, but you don’t want to over-email your contacts. Nor do you want to under-email them. It’s a matter of finding that sweet spot.
First of all, each day is definitely too much. So is weekly (arguably so). Don’t overwhelm subscribers with too frequent of emails. On the other hand, waiting to send your contacts an email per each quarter is too infrequent. Monthly to every few weeks is a better balance of not being too intrusive, but also staying top of mind with your email list.
Building and Managing Your List
Tip #19: Permission-Based Lists
This could easily be one of the most important points in this article. Make sure that you have explicit permission to email your recipients. This keeps your emails compliant with regulations like CAN-SPAM.
When people are signing up for a guide or another resource on your website or in a digital campaign, give them a checkbox offer to sign up for your newsletter or for email updates. Apart from building up your list, that also gives you a documented case of them opting in for your communications.
Tip #20: Opt-In Forms
Make it easy for website visitors to subscribe to your emails with prominent, user-friendly opt-in forms. You may also not want to ask for too much from website visitors so that you up your opportunities for signups.
Name and email address fields will let you have enough information to personalize your emails to your signups. However, it isn’t asking too much to the point where visitors will be turned off and not sign up.
Tip #21: Clean Your List
Regularly remove inactive subscribers to maintain a healthy email list. This improves email delivery and engagement rates.
How do you identify who an inactive subscriber is? By using a defined timespan for when a subscriber doesn’t engage with your email. You can figure this out with your marketing team, but a common benchmark is 3 months/90 days.
Some email platforms have a built-in feature that takes care of this for you and updates contacts based on non-engagement over time. On other platforms, you have to apply such updates manually. You may also wish to use a longer benchmark than 3 months (which we do internally).
Subject Matter Expertise
Tip #22: Stay Informed
Keep yourself updated on the latest financial trends, regulations, and other developments affecting your clients. Then share your knowledge and continuing development in the content you share with your readers.
Have you studied up on SECURE Act 2.0? Are you up-to-date on the latest from the IRS in dealing with inherited IRA distributions within a 10-yr window and managing those annually? How is inflation adding up, and how can people be ready for it over time?
How about important tax strategies, such as non-qualified money and maximizing opportunities for it with insurance products that offer generous long-term care benefits? What makes for a sustainable withdrawal rate from retirement assets, given today’s fast-changing equity markets and the Fed’s surging rate hikes?
Your readers feel these financial pressure in different ways every day. They want to hear more about them and how they can have a secure lifestyle in retirement. Your sharing of your knowledge is a great opportunity to capture their attention and their trust.
Tip #23: Offer Complimentary Resources
Provide valuable resources that can drive appointments and business in your practice. Content assets like e-books, webinars, or whitepapers will showcase your expertise and encourage readers to sign up. For example, on our sister company’s consumer brand, SafeMoney.com, we offer three retirement reports, a retirement planning report, and more for retirees and savers to take advantage of.
Think about the seasons of your business and offer compelling information that your readers are thirsty for. With the upcoming presidential election in 2024, your prospects may wonder about looming tax hikes, changes in Social Security and Medicare, and other hotbutton issues affecting their retirement quality of life. A guide that addresses these issues can resonate strongly with your readers and spurn them to meet with you.
Tip #24: Work with Guest Experts
Collaborate with other experts in related fields to co-create content. This can expand your marketing reach, draw in new leads from those on your list forwarding your emails to friends, and bring fresh perspectives to your audience.
For example, say that you primarily serve small business owners that have companies of 50 employees or less in your practice. You may have a podcast, interview series, or another platform in which you have notable business owners from your community as guests. You may even feature clients in your practice as guests.
On our SafeMoney.com platform, we launched a “Spotlight Expert Interview Series” to bring in experts from all corners of the retirement and insurance spaces. You can check out our first interview here.
Tip #25: Experiment with Subject Lines
We kind of touched on this earlier. Test different subject lines to see which ones resonate best with your audience. A standard best practice for subject lines is to use 60 characters or less, with some marketers reporting that 30-character subject lines or fewer perform best.
However, some of our best-performing subject lines have exceeded this character limit (ex: one subject line in 2023 with 72 characters got an open rate that was 5% higher than the average overall open rate). If you have some content or an announcement that will speak strongly to your audience, a subject line that “breaks the rules” can sometimes perform better, but not overdoing it is just as important, as we covered earlier.
Tip #26: Test Content Formats
Diversification is a well-known principle in finance, and it applies to email marketing just as much. Diversify the content that you are giving to your audience! Try various content formats such as newsletters, video emails, or infographics. Mix it up with textual, visual, and video content. See what your readers prefer and respond to.
Tip #27: Optimize Send Times
A/B test your email send times to discover the most effective schedule for your audience. It’s worthwhile to run one set time for a certain timespan, then test new times and see what performs better. You may even be surprised at what the data tells you.
What have we seen for optimal send days internally? The answer may surprise you! Here are some best-send-days data from our analysis of internal emails from January to May 2023.
Much of our email marketing is automated, and send-outs are timed based on when people sign up for various reports/offers. So, keep that in mind and how these days have also adjusted post-COVID in 2023:
- Sunday (38.1% avg open rate)
- Saturday (33.1% avg open rate)
- Tuesday (21.7% avg open rate)
- Wednesday (20.9% avg open rate)
Monday, Thursday, and Friday are lower-activity days. Mondays are when people are catching up at work or starting the new week off, so attention to email is lowered. Friday is getting toward the weekend, so it makes sense that people’s attention is reduced.
Analytics and Optimization
Tip #28: Track Email Marketing Metrics
A financial advisor can have the best content in the world, but they won’t get the best results from it if they aren’t tracking results. Watch out for your email engagement activity, responses to you from prospects, and metrics on your specific email (requests for report, appointments set, etc.). Monitor open rates, click-through rates, conversion rates, and unsubscribe rates. Use this data to refine your email strategy.
Tip #29: Split Testing
Continuously split test different elements of your emails (e.g., images, CTAs, copy) and see how the email performs. You can send variants of your email to different parts of your list.
For example, you may send one variant to 20%, another variant to 20%, and see how both emails do over a 24-hour period. From there, you can send the better-performing email to the remaining 60% of your list. Tests such as these allow you to refine your approach over time.
Tip #30: Use Automation
We have talked about personalization and other factors in this article. One way to save time and send targeted messages to different contacts based on their behaviors and their stage of the customer journey is through automated emails.
For example, do you have automated emails series inviting people to sign up for a webinar? What about follow-up emails to those who have RSVP’d for your workshop and serve as reminders of the value to them for attending?
Your newsletter may have two to three auto-emails talking about how you help clients solve problems, and including an ‘evergreen’ newsletter that new readers receive no matter when they sign up. The language and content that you choose can be tailored to where those prospects are in their customer journey as well (research
Engagement and Interactivity
Tip #31: Encourage Replies
If your emails are already engaging, you may ask questions of your audience or ask about what motivates them to do something. That can encourage your readers to reply to your emails with questions or comments.
For example, on our SafeMoney.com newsletter, the first email encourages readers to hit ‘reply’ and tell us why they signed up for our newsletter. Engaging in this 1-on-1 communication helps your prospects get to know you personally and build relationships with you.
Tip #32: Interactive Content
We have talked about the importance of diversified content. In your emails, you might consider including things like surveys, quizzes, or clickable infographics to boost engagement.
Tip #33: Social Media Integration
Include social media sharing buttons to encourage readers to share your content. Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn are top platforms where prospects of retirement age are active. You can also ask for your readers to forward your emails to friends and other contacts whom they think might benefit from your emails or your retirement financial services.
Tip #34: Drip Campaigns
As part of your overall email marketing plan, you might have automated drip email campaigns that help you stay in front of leads. For example, say that you run a digital marketing campaign and people fill out an interest form so that they can get a copy of a guide on income planning strategies from you.
On top of the digital guide copy, your campaign may include an automated series of emails that builds on key points in the guide. Different emails can expand on how retirees may feel a certain pain-point in their golden years, and different strategies to address them. It’s yet another way to keep top-of-mind with your prospects until they are ready to take action.
Tip #35: Feedback Loop
Email marketing isn’t something where you do the same thing over and over again. Just like with other marketing, it helps to refine over time. Use feedback from email analytics and client interactions to refine and adapt your email marketing strategy continually.
Consider new ways that you can innovate and communicate with your email list. If you need ideas and are ready to connect with us as an advisor-partner, feel free to reach out and get started. We can give you some ideas for testing and refining.
The Bottom Line on Email Marketing for Financial Advisors
Email marketing is a powerful tool for you and other financial advisors to connect with clients and prospects. By using these simple email marketing tips, you can increase conversions, build trust, and establish yourself as a trusted source of financial guidance in your local markets.
In the same token, successful email communications have an ongoing process of learning, optimizing, and adapting to the ever-changing financial landscape. Test, monitor the results, and keep on testing new things. Your prospective clients and others need financial assistance, it’s just a matter of reaching them when they are ready to cross the line and ask for your help.
Need help with your email marketing or want ideas on your email marketing strategy or your marketing plan in general? Our team has helped many advisors break into new markets, expand their business reach, and grow their production. Call us now at (800) 790-7791 to request more information or to get started with next steps. We look forward to serving you however we can!