It’s Time to Rethink The Standard Email Newsletter

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newspaper-glassesMany advisors send out a regular email newsletter.

Whether you send them once a week, once a month, or once a quarter, email newsletters can take a lot of time to pull together. But they don’t get as much attention from clients as you’d like. You see that many people delete the email without even opening it. Sad.

I’ve seen countless newsletters from financial advisors and, unfortunately, many of them end up in my ‘trash’ folder. Their subject lines are boring, the content is dry, and the design is cluttered.

Here are a few of the email newsletter subject lines currently in my inbox:

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Hmm… Even though financial advisors are laser-focused on making clients happy, most write awfully boring subject lines. Who’s going to be excited to open an email like these?

Think about how broadcast news is presented. They keep you waiting through dozens of commercials because of interesting headlines. They keep everything short and succinct, and are able to catch you up on EVERYTHING in a 30-minute segment.  This is how your newsletter should be. Interesting, intriguing, and to the point.

Here’s how:

1) Don’t be a robot.

Just because you send the newsletter at the same time every month does not mean you’ve turned into a robot. The newsletter should feel like it’s coming from a human.

Part of writing like a human is writing a personal and interesting subject line. Most subject lines feel completely templated and impersonal, especially if they’re exactly the same every week. Keep your writing fresh and conversational.

Write like a human.

2) Share the necessary information, but in a creative way.

When writing a subject line, you want to be relevant and succinct. Put a creative spin on what you want to say.

Standard: “This Week in Financial Advising.”

Spin: “Mistakes You’ve Been Making and How To Fix Them – This Week in Financial Advising.”

Make your subject line appear personal and urgent to your reader. Show them that you have new information for them that they NEED to read. Also, remember that the length of your subject line might be cut off by the format of their smartphone’s inbox; You want to put the more interesting points in the beginning.

Other popular formats that result in more clicks include funny subject lines (“Baby Got (Feed)Back”), ‘shocking’ subject lines (“Why even your 5-year-old can understand our new software”), or numbers and lists (similar to the ever-popular Buzzfeed).

3) Keep your readers in mind.

Now let’s get to the content of your newsletter.

Newsletters easily slip into the fatal mistake of featuring stories you care about versus what your client does. This happens, not because you don’t care about them, but because you’re the one writing it. Make sure the newsletter is valuable for the reader. If not, it’s just a waste of time for you to write it, and an annoyance for them to have it clog their inbox.

So, what’s your reader interested in? What questions do they have this time of year? What’s something they’ll enjoy (or dare I say “have fun”) reading? Provide that content.

Also remember your readers aren’t financial experts like you are (this is why they work with you in the first place). When writing your newsletter, be conscious of jargon and subject areas you need to explain more thoroughly.

4) Format your newsletter in the simplest way possible.

Less is more when it comes to your format. You want your newsletter to be simple, at one page maximum with only the top 3-5 stories of the month. The more colors and images you have, the more difficult your newsletter is to look at. Here are a few tips to keep in mind for the design of your newsletter.

  • Provide navigation for your readers. Link to sources you discuss and link back to your site or to your Blueleaf client portal – anything your client might be interested in looking at after reading your newsletter. This will make your reader’s lives a lot easier.
  • Make your newsletter scannable. Choose a standard font and use headings to help your readers navigate the newsletter.
  • If your newsletter is heavy on text, be sure to leave a lot of white space and breaks between sections. It makes the text less intimidating to the reader, and also makes the space seem less cluttered.

Also be aware that many of your clients will be reading your newsletter from their mobile phones. It likely won’t look exactly the same as it will on a desktop.

5) Send your newsletter at the right time.

Your clients are busy people. Since you’re sending this newsletter out for them, you want them to fit into their schedule.

Before pressing “send” consider what time most of them will have the chance to read it.

Is it during their morning train or subway commute, around 8 AM on a weekday? Is it during their 12 PM lunch break? Is it when they relax at home after the long day?

Send your message at a scheduled time, and let them anticipate and even look forward to receiving your newsletter.

Get feedback on your new Email Newsletter

Send it to me! Our marketing team at Blueleaf would be happy to help you.

Subject: My new email newsletter – Feedback request

Corinne is an emerging expert on social media-based communication, with a BA in Public Relations, Advertising, and Applied Communication. Content Manager at Blueleaf, Corinne enjoys organizing content in the cleanest and most elegant way possible. Outside of Blueleaf offices, she can be found performing in comedy, on the elliptical at the gym, or trying to conquer the latest video game. Connect with her on Twitter @CorinneDeCost.
  • Dave Grant, CFP® June 26, 2014, 7:29 pm

    My latest subject line was “What are you doing on Thursday?” which was promoting a webinar I was running. I would agree with you Corinne – you get high click through rates when you do subject lines like this.