When it comes to connecting with your clients, engagement is the language you need to know and use. One way to connect is through a newsletter – printed or digital – sent to your client base and prospective clients.
The client newsletter is a staple of any financial advisor’s business and an effective way to engage your customer. “Newsletters feel personal because they arrive in users’ inboxes or mailboxes and users have an ongoing relationship with them. The positive aspect of this emotional relationship is that newsletters can create much more of a bond between users and a company than a website can,” said Nielsen Norman Group.
Whether you use a newsletter content service, purchase ready-to-use content, write it yourself, or hire a ghostwriter, you can’t help but wonder if your clients read your newsletter or throw it away.
Done “right,” a newsletter can help you increase visibility, build top-of-mind brand awareness, and develop more profitable client and referral relationships. In other words, a well-designed and well-written newsletter can become a powerful marketing tool for your practice.
So, what goes into an effective newsletter and how do you ensure you remain connected to your clients? First, the newsletter you produce should be customized and fully branded. It should provide valuable information on a variety of timely and interesting financial issues.
“In today’s world, we are bombarded with facts, figures, and all sorts of information. Many consumers complain of information overload,” wrote John Anderson, creator and lead author of Practically Speaking blog and managing director of Practice Management Solutions for the SEI Advisor Network. “As I look at some advisor communications, I am struggling to see how their content doesn’t add to the noise. Think about it – if I wanted to know what the Dow or S&P did for the week, I probably would have looked it up over the weekend, instead of waiting for a boilerplate email on Tuesday morning. Even more important: no matter what the market does, aren’t we sending the wrong message by focusing on it?”
“If clients value advice and planning, isn’t that missing from the updates? Does sending out a weekly market update desensitize clients from looking at your truly important messages?”
The point of the newsletter isn’t to make a sale. It’s to build a relationship with your audience by informing and educating them. Think of the newsletter as a magazine stripped to its essence. The average person spends 51 seconds reading a newsletter, so most articles are under 180 words. It has a consistent voice and theme and caters to a specific audience. Content should be scannable with content blocks, brief blurbs, snapshots, takeaways and/or bullet points, and include call-to-action buttons. Remember to lead readers back to your website, blog, and social media networks [Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc.] for more information.
It’s not just about efficiency – it’s personal. “When someone subscribes, they invite you into their inbox on a regular basis,” Ben Lerer, founder of Thrillist Media Group, told INC.com. “Make the content relevant and informative to pay off.
Take HungryGirl.com, for example. Lisa Lillien, founder of Hungry Girl has an engaging daily newsletter that is emailed to more than 1 million subscribers. If you love food, but you’re watching your weight, she’s got the know-how on just about everything, including newly released low-fat/cal sweets, eats, and recipes. Starting with just an email newsletter in 2004, Hungry Girl has exploded into book deals, a TV show on the Cooking Channel, and guest spots on The Rachel Ray Show, Good Morning America, Doctor Oz, and more. An informative newsletter pays off in a lot of ways!
Need some ideas of what to include in your newsletter? Think blog posts; tips, tactics, how-tos; industry news; fun facts; resources; webinars/videos; testimonials.
Like any other business model, the most successful newsletters are those which are planned. Consistency is key in your communication plan. Create a schedule for your newsletter and then create an editorial calendar. The editorial calendar encourages you to plan your content far in advance, so you will be more likely to maintain a routine of creating and posting fresh material.
“The quality of your content will increase, as your anxiety about producing it decreases,” offered Richard Heft, communications director at Toronto-based Ext. Marketing Inc., a financial services marketing and communications company.
Don’t think you’re a writer? There are options. You can hire a ghostwriter or freelancer, or you can utilize a newsletter content service which does the writing for you. Using outside sources can free up your time and may be easier to get through compliance.
“If you want to communicate to your clients (and maybe some prospects), it is worth doing right. Do you want your emails and/or newsletters to be immediately trashed, or do you want them to add value to your client relationships? If you make it personal, they will want to hear from you,” said Anderson.
Print or electronic? By delivering newsletters to clients in the format they prefer, you better satisfy your clients and take advantage of the zero-cost e-mail distribution option, where appropriate. An e-newsletter has relatively low costs, where a printed newsletter comes with printing and mailing costs. If you opt for electronic distribution, invest in technology to build email distribution lists, so you can efficiently send out messages and track who is reading it (as well as what content is generating the most interest).
Scheduling is also important. For e-newsletters, you may want to go weekly or monthly. For print, you may want to mail monthly. Remember, success is about consistency. According to Nielsen Norman Group, 69 percent of users said they look forward to receiving at least one newsletter and most users said a newsletter had become part of their routine. Very few other promotional efforts can claim this degree of customer buy-in.
No matter what format you go with for your newsletter, do it right. Follow these guidelines and your clients will be waiting to read your newsletter each month.
*Advisors – please check with your firms’ Compliance Department before sending a client newsletter.
Summit Brokerage Services is a member of Cetera Financial Group, RCS Capital Corporation’s (NYSE: RCAP) retail investment advice platform.
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