Despite the growing popularity of social media and texting, email marketing remains a highly effective way to communicate with prospects and clients, which is why most boutique asset managers and fund firms engage in email marketing at some level. For firms that have been doing it for a while, email marketing is fairly straightforward. They set up their workflows and campaigns, add new promotions and fresh content and then send out their regular newsletter. However, if they aren’t paying attention to some of the key elements of effective email marketing, their efforts may be for naught. By avoiding these five common mistakes, your firm could realize significant improvements in return.
Not focusing on content
Many firms approach email marketing simply as a numbers game – a box to check so they know that a large universe of prospects and clients have the possibility of receiving your content through your email send. This is often done without regard for the quality or relevance of the content. There is only one reason your email will get opened and read and that is because your content provides something of value to the recipient. When you can engage your audience with helpful or useful information, they are much more likely to open your emails.
The content also needs to be relevant. Sending out generic, one-size-fits all content to everyone on your list, such as your fund fact sheet, is the quickest path to the trash folder. Once you know who is engaging with what topics, you need to develop content relevant to their needs or interests.
Sending without permission
Email marketing is only effective when it is done with permission. That not only keeps you in compliance with anti-spam regulations, it also ensures you are cultivating a willing audience. Resist purchased lists as you will likely find yourself in the cross hairs of email service providers who frown on them and low open rates. For your email marketing to be effective, more isn’t necessarily better. The people who opt in to your email communications will know why they are receiving your emails and what to expect when they open them. It takes longer to build a quality list, but you will experience improved deliverability and higher open and click rates.
Not segmenting your lists
No one likes to receive a generic email that they know has been sent to thousands of other people. Not all clients or prospects are equal, so don’t treat them as if they are. While it’s not possible to personalize each email, you can ensure your recipients are receiving relevant content based on their interests or their position in your funnel. You don’t want to send the same content to a top prospect you’ve been cultivating for a while that you send to someone who is engaging you for the first time. Institutional consultants shouldn’t be on the same list as an independent financial advisor.
Once you have segmented your lists, and this is an ongoing process, you can use your email marketing software to send relevant content to each group at the appropriate times. That will increase the likelihood your emails will be read.
Focusing only on the analytics of the blast
Focusing purely on “vanity metrics,” such as email open rate, ignores the more valuable information that tells you how the people in your email list and CRM are engaging with your content over time. It’s great to know that your email was opened, but did he click on a link? What is his history in clicking on links? Did an anonymous website visitor download your white paper or subscribe to your email list? How often did she engage with your content since then?
That is the information you need to be able to keep your lead engaged and more quickly turn your lead into a prospect. By shifting your thinking from email blasting to target market nurturing, you can track your leads in an integrated way across all your marketing channels. You can learn specifically who are the most engaged financial advisors with your content across your website, email sends and social media channels, whether they are in your CRM currently or not. This will allow your sales team to focus their time on those who are most engaged with your content.
Not providing sales team with critical email marketing data
Sales teams are typically provided with leads generated from website contacts – someone requesting information or downloading a report; maybe someone who has called the 800 number. Other than how the lead was generated and perhaps some surface information of their assets under management (typically asked when a report is requested), the sales people know very little about the lead. The calls they make to these leads would barely be considered warm. Incidentally, these leads aren’t often valued by sales teams and they stop following up with these leads.
When thinking about lead nurturing, which tracks the engagement and the behavior of a lead through multiple activities (i.e., links clicked, website visits, pages visited, social media engagement, etc, over time) the data can be used to “score” a lead based on his ongoing engagement with your content. These leads may be more primed to be contacted by a salesperson. The reception is likely to be much warmer and the salesperson will know much more about the interests and the motivations of the lead.
Dan Sondhelm is CEO of Sondhelm Partners, a firm that helps asset managers and mutual funds grow. He can be reached at 703-597-3863.