I recently took an internet and email marketing course in search of ideas for converting more of my website visitors to members. Even though I’ve been using the internet as a tool to build my business for more than 7 years, I don’t always feel like I’m solidly connecting with my advisor prospects. Like you, I understand the value of my work, but this value doesn’t necessarily translate into a steady flow of new business.
You may have noticed some changes I’ve recently made in the emails I send you. These adjustments are a direct result of the course I took.
For example, I’m sending fewer emails to keep from overloading your inbox. After all, you can always check my website for the latest postings or search the Member Library when you’re looking for a specific idea. And when you do get an email from me, you’re more likely to open and read it.
I’m also trying to write in a more conversational style. I want to be more personal and less corporate. Even though sometimes I’m writing to thousands of people, I’d like you to feel as though I’m sending you a personal note. This way, you’re more likely to relate the subject of the email to your business. This is an important step in my making your membership to my website an invaluable business building tool.
The bottom line – I need to keep you engaged in an ongoing electronic “conversation”. By respecting your time and personalizing my messages, I’ll build greater loyalty and we’ll both win!
So, you’re probably wondering, how you can relate these same ideas to your business. At first blush, you might think coaching financial advisors is very different from the work you do on a daily basis. Certainly, managing an information based website is not the same as managing your clients’ finances.
Well, on one hand, you’re right – the subject matter is very different.
But, when you think about the relationships we’re both trying to build with our clients, there are a lot of similarities. These similarities exist in most every business.
Personal Connections Build Trust that Open Up Opportunities
- The more you can personally connect with your clients, the more loyal they will be. I’ve sited numerous studies of financial advisors and their clients that support this point. Email, in particular, can improve this process.
- Once you bring a client into your practice, you want to find opportunities to deepen the financial aspect of your relationship. This may mean adding assets to an existing investment or up-selling to another product or service. As long as you don’t overdo it, your electronic communications give you a chance to introduce new concepts.
- Our recent polls have told us referral marketing is the preferred prospecting method for most advisors. A steady flow of high quality emails allows you to regularly promote referrals. Plus, if your content is truly relevant to your clients needs, some will forward email to people they know who have similar interests.
I’m sure you get the point. The more your clients view you as a trusted and consistent communicator, the more loyal they will be.
Now, how do you apply these ideas to your practice? It may sound complicated, but it doesn’t have to be. Give these 9 steps a try:
1. Start by collecting or organizing your clients’ email addresses. An advisor survey I ran a couple months ago indicated that 70% of advisors actively collect email addresses. My personal conversations with advisors anecdotally indicate that many of the folks who collect these addresses don’t have them organized.
If you’re serious about having an electronic dialogue with your clients, you need to maintain your clients’ email addresses in your contact management system. For those of you who don’t have a contact management system, you could begin with a simple spreadsheet. The client survey and profiling exercises in my Online Library are campaigns that could help you collect email addresses. I’ve also placed a letter in the Article Resources box you could use as a standalone campaign.
2. Ask your clients for permission to send them emails. Aside from industry and email marketing regulations, this strategy is central to proper email etiquette. It’s polite. Even if your intention is to use email to improve client service and communication, make sure it will be okay with each of your clients.
For example, you may require an email address on your new account forms or collect client business cards that contain email addresses. This does NOT mean you have permission to use that address for regular email correspondence. All the campaigns I mentioned in step 1 above help you ask for permission.
3. Make it easy for your clients to “opt-out” of future emails. Now, I know I’ve just started telling you how to collect email addresses, but you also need to give your clients an exit strategy. It will keep them from feeling trapped. Not everyone will appreciate your emails, so you shouldn’t annoy the clients who don’t want them. A simple statement at the end of each of your emails with “removal” instructions is all you need. By the way, the vast majority of your clients will be reluctant to cut-off your communication.
4. Each time you compose an email, try to have one client in mind. This writing technique will make each of your clients feel more comfortable. They may know they’re one of a zillion clients at your broker/dealer, but they still want to have a personal relationship with you and your team.
Once you get used to it, this conversational writing style is quicker than writing a formal letter. Think about it this way. Would you rather write a long letter explaining a recommendation or have a one-on-one call or meeting? Most advisors I know prefer the personal interaction. Your friendly emails are just an extension of these conversations.
5. Measure your promotional content against your informational content. If you’re going to use your emails to recommend additional products or services, don’t be pushy. Resist the temptation to send an over-abundance of promotional material. Remember, you’re trying to strengthen your relationships.
A good rule of thumb is to send no more than one promotional idea for each piece of value-added content you send – preferably less. If your clients are going to get 2 emails per month, only one of them should be promotional. If you send one email per month that contains multiple topics, limit your sales content to one idea.
6. Make sure your clients know its okay to forward your emails to family and friends. This may sound obvious, but sometimes your current clients don’t know you’re looking for new clients. A simple reminder in each of your emails will keep this on their minds. As they come across folks who might benefit from your services, your name will come more quickly to mind. Better yet, when they’re reading your emails they may forward them to others who will now have your contact information.
7. If possible, use an email service to track your results. There are many internet based services that will allow you to manage your emails the way I’m suggesting. Plus, you can track your effectiveness. Once you send an email to your clients, you can see if it went through, if it was opened, which topic they liked, who opted-out and who forwarded to a friend. I’ve been very happy with www.mailchimp.com, but a simple Google search will lead to a large number of alternatives.
8. Educate your compliance officers. In our overly scrutinized industry, compliance officers have a tough job. They don’t necessarily understand that a well orchestrated email communication plan will make their jobs easier. Take time to understand your firm’s email policies, map out your plan and ask for your compliance specialist’s feedback. This way you’ll head off problems before they occur and you’ll have a friend in compliance who’ll benefit from your knowledge.
9. Next, build an email list of your prospects and connections. I’ve intentionally focused on clients. But you can develop a similar process for your prospects and connections.
Okay, that’s enough to get you started.
When you commit to using email and the internet to improve your client communication, you’ll have a system that can be simple, quick, reliable and inexpensive. It can also pay big dividends in the form of greater loyalty, new business opportunities and increased referrals.
You just have to remember you’re having an ongoing “conversation” with your clients!