I think back to my first years at Oechsli pretty often. I think about my first projects, my first clients, and the many other “firsts” that stepping into a real job provides. One aspect of my role back then was our financial advisor newsletter.
It was something Matt Oechsli was passionate about. He wanted to see our newsletter list growing and each edition filled with the highest-quality content. Every time he’d fly out for a speech, he’d come back with a pile of business cards for me to enter. I’d watch him spend hours reworking an article to get it just right. It was a big part of our operation then and still today as we’ve grown to over 50,000 subscribers.
Over the years we’ve reworked our financial advisor newsletter more times than I can remember. For reference, here was our template from 2005:
We’ve experimented with everything from all-promotion to no-promotion, from daily to monthly and everything in between. We’ve had some successes and some memorable flops. Through it all, we’ve learned that a good newsletter is an art form. We’ve also learned it can really be helpful in building relationships, especially when you include content that you’ve had a hand in creating.
Many financial advisors would benefit from getting into newsletters, but not the boilerplate, all-financial type. If you’re going to do it, create a more personal newsletter that people will actually enjoy. Here are a few things to keep in mind:
Double Down on Hand-Crafted Content
People can tell when the content is yours. Your articles, podcasts and videos are the stars of your newsletter. Everything else is complementary. Why? Ideal clients aren’t making time to read boilerplate financial newsletters. But if they know you and like you, they’ll make time for content that you had a hand in creating. The more upmarket you focus, the more this holds true.
Highlight the People Closest to Your Brand
The easiest way to personalize is to include photos and mentions of the people closest to your brand. Are you appearing on video or in portraits? Is there a team member you could highlight? Could you showcase a COI or client who is a business owner? Maybe you could snap some photos of a holiday charitable effort. Every little bit of personalization helps.
Send it Once a Month
Especially at first, I think it’s better to send one newsletter a month that’s filled with great content than two newsletters a month that are mediocre. The quality of each newsletter plays a role in whether the next newsletter gets opened. As you become more consistent and more voluminous with content, then it might be time to increase your email frequency.
Your Design Matters
The layout, fonts and graphics used all create a perception. The perception you want is current, professional and in no way “behind-the-times.” Also, if your subscribers are like ours, they’ll often read your newsletter on a mobile device, so be sure to test your newsletter on desktop and mobile before launch.
Your Subject Line Is Very Important
Most people get dozens, if not hundreds, of emails a day and make snap decisions on which they’ll open. Your subject line plays a big role in this. If your email provider has it, use AB testing for best results. This enables you to test two subject lines on two small subsets of your audience. The subject line receiving the highest open rate then gets distributed to the rest of your list.
Become Obsessed With Gaining Subscribers
You probably already have an email list. Let’s crank it up a notch. Encourage your clients, prospects, and COIs to sign up. Have a prominent newsletter signup on your website. Promote your newsletter on your social channels. Run ads to gain subscribers. Create a video telling people why they should sign up (example below). One subscriber at a time, it adds up!
We’re passionate about financial advisor newsletters and hope you are too. Let this year be the year you fully embrace it. We’re confident that as your audience grows, you’ll become more and more excited about what you’ve built. And stay tuned…we miiiiiight be releasing a solution for advisor newsletters in the coming weeks.