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New Rules for Growing Your Book of Business: Reach Clients and Prospects Through Their In-Boxes

June 23, 2009

by Dan Sommer

Define success

As with all other marketing efforts, define your objectives in advance and be realistic - building an effective e-mail marketing program takes time. Here are some of the metrics you can monitor using most e-mail solutions:

Open Rates: How many recipients actually open your e-mails?

Click-Through Rates: Which specific links do your clients and prospects click on? If you can provide a few links to different places within your e-mail, you’ll be able to determine quickly what content they find most valuable.

Referrals/Forwards: How many of your e-mails are forwarded to others? This helps you to determine whether your content is engaging enough to motivate your client or prospect to pass it along to others as an online referral.

Other key considerations

Frequency: To avoid “list fatigue,” don’t send e-mails out more than once per week, unless you are sending an important service update to one of your clients.

Compliance: As with all other marketing communications, work with your legal and compliance departments to determine what you can and cannot send to prospects and clients. It’s highly likely that your e-mail communications will require the same disclosure language as a publicly facing advertisement.

E-mail marketing is part art and part science. Be creative and test different approaches until you develop a program that works for you and your firm. Finally, consider applying the best practices below as you explore e-mail marketing.

E-mail Best Practices

  • Apply the “three-second rule”: Assume that you only have three seconds to get a recipient’s attention:

    • Less is more
    • Engage your audience
    • Place a clear call-to-action above “the fold”
    • Make all graphics clickable
  • Two little lines make a big difference (From and Subject)

    • Always send your messages from a recognizable source (Your name or your firm’s name)
    • Make your subject line highly relevant and personalize it if possible (e.g., Important Service Update for My Clients). Here are a few additional tips:

      • Don’t tell the whole story – intrigue recipients into opening the e-mail
      • Don’t mislead or trick people into opening your e-mail
      • Keep subject lines under 45 characters
      • Beware of spam practices (e.g., Don’t use all CAPS!)
      • Personalize whenever possible
      • Test different subject lines on prospect mailings. Run with the winner!
  • Relevancy rules!

    • Make sure your from address is recognizable
    • Use a short, inviting subject line
    • Write in a credible, conversational tone
    • Use multiple, strategically placed links (to learn which content is most relevant to your clients and prospects)
  • When in doubt, test it out

    • One of the advantages of e-mail is that almost every element is testable. Consider testing the following:

      • Target audiences (e.g., physicians, attorneys, etc.)
      • Subject Line
      • Time of day
      • Day of week
      • Frequency
      • Creative
      • Calls to action
      • Short vs. long messaging
      • Levels of personalization

Dan Sommer is CEO of Caridan Marketing Labs, an interactive and social media marketing firm headquartered in New York City. Jefferson National and Caridan are working together to create a suite of ‘New Rules’ practical marketing guides to help financial advisors capture the power of blogs, social networks and other new media to grow their business.