Get the Lead Out

Get the Lead Out

Creating content, organizing contacts, tracking delivery, avoiding opt outs and spam filters; email newsletters are far from simple. Luckily, there are a plethora of options.

Still sending email newsletters with a BCC field? You’re one click away from accidentally exposing clients’ email addresses and revealing yourself as a technological rube or, even worse, a disorganized rep. who has compromised client privacy. Neither is ideal.

Newsletters can be an effective touchpoint with clients and there are several programs available that make sending them easier than ordering lunch, and with almost as many options. They range from simple services that send them for free to those that will populate them with content and track their engagement with recipients. Many work with your customer relationship management (CRM) program.

“Email newsletters are not going away anytime soon,” says Bart Wisniowski, CEO of Advisor Websites in Vancouver, British Columbia, whose firm has used both email newsletter management platforms MailChimp and Constant Contact to manage their own monthly newsletters to clients. “An email newsletter, even one you mail out, is a great reminder that you still exist.”

Both Constant Contact and MailChimp have strong consumer appeal for their low-cost options and ability to manage content on social networks. But a more industry-specific service is MarketingLibrary which offers more comprehensive marketing campaigns for both small and larger-sized reps.

Like the name suggests, MarketingLibrary has compliance-approved stories and articles for advisors who need to fill their digital pages, plus an upgraded service called MarketingPro that sends direct mail and even birthday cards. Pricing varies, but starts at about $385 a year for those not affiliated with a broker/dealer.

Campaign Monitor is another option, starting at $9 for a single newsletter going out to 500 clients, rising to $699 for those who want to send an unlimited number at any time. The firm helps reps build a template, gives guidance on how to start an online mailing program, and will even give tips on what works, and hasn’t, in previous email campaigns.

Sendy, a downloadable app and another option for time-strapped reps, works a bit differently. It’s purchased for a one-time price of $59 and then self-hosted. Users are charged about $1 for every 10,000 emails sent — not a bad price point, one the developers push in its tag line: “Send Newsletters 100x cheaper.” The service piggybacks on Amazon SES, an email service in beta that can manage lists, report whether an email bounced or was delivered, and even notes if there were complaints to service providers on the mailing.

For those who want something a bit more tried and true Constant Contact is still a well-honed option offering templates, social stats and a spam monitor where reps can see how a spam filter might view their email before it gets sent – sometimes simply tweaking a subject line will lessen the chance of being snared by filters. Users can try the service for 60 days for free, with monthly pricing after that starting at $15 for up to 500 emails.

Of course nothing beats completely free, a big reason many flock to MailChimp which allows up to 12,000 emails a month to 2,000 subscribers without costing a dime. The interface is very user-friendly, but note its “Abuse Desk” policy, found through a small link at the bottom of the home page, which notes that if there are too many subscribers who opt out of receiving future emails from you the service will suspend an account.

“So if you’re buying a list and blasting it for marketing, you have to be careful,” says Brian McLaughlin, founder of Redtail Technology that integrates several email management systems in its own CRM platform. That’s unlikely to apply to most reps, however. “If you’re emailing just clients they probably want the information. If they’re opting out they’re opting out of your whole business anyway.”

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