June 21, 2009

eNewsletters Part 1/4: Why You Need an eNewsletter Now

Familiarity breeds business. But how do you maintain ongoing contact with your clients, prospects and centres of influences?

You can meet in person and talk over the phone (and should) but that contact requires your personal time and is not scalable.

You need to email a branded monthly newsletter (an eNewsletter) to
  • serve your current clients
  • attract new clients
  • establish your credibility with centres of influence
In short, you need an eNewsletter to grow your business.

You see the benefits but you're busy. You find the details daunting. In this four part series, we'll explore:
  1. why you need an eNewsletter (this post)
  2. the three big practical objections
  3. the experiment
  4. the results
To help you, I'll create a brand-new monthly eNewsletter for this blog. I'll describe the progress as we go along. I haven't run an email campaign in years. I don't know what will happen but am optimistic about the results.

Remember SaveTax?
From 2001-2005, I headed up the SaveTax project at National Life to help insurance advisors with online marketing. Advisors got a self-branded consumer-oriented website with extensive education about insurance products, the ability to run illustrations online (including universal life), and the option to buy online. This initiative was years ahead of its time and got scrapped. Such capabilities would help independent advisors now that banks can sell insurance online.

Email marketing was an essential part of SaveTax. Each week, thousands of brief WealthWorthy Minute emails were sent out on behalf of advisors. The addresses came from the advisors and the branding matched the advisor's website. Each Tuesday, website traffic peaked when the emails went out, a sign of effectiveness. Traffic grew week by week, month by month.

Although effortless for advisors, sending personalized, trackable emails was difficult in those days. We used dedicated email servers to send the messages out and tracking codes to monitor the results. You would have had difficulty doing this yourself.

Online Marketing in 2009
Online marketing is very accessible to you these days.
  • websites: easy to build without programmers or designers using wikis (e.g., look at riscario.com for education and sparkinsight.com for quotable quotes)
  • blogs: replacing the WealthWorthy Minute emails, which were also posted on the advisor's SaveTax website (e.g., look at blog.riscario.com for consumers and this site for you; both hosted for free on Google Blogger)
  • distribution: blog content gets sent out free by email and RSS with Google Feedburner
  • analysis: free with Google Analytics
You can do so much yourself or with your support staff. All you need are basic skills and the willingness to learn.

The Fundamental Change
Nowadays, you need permission to phone or email others. In the days of SaveTax, emails were sent out without requiring the consent of the recipient. Some advisors even rented lists of strangers. Recipients could easily unsubscribe.

That's gone. In today's permission-based world, you want to attract people to you. You want them to stay in contact.

Everything I do online requires a voluntary subscription. I can't even signup someone who asks: they must subscribe by themselves and then respond to an email confirming they want to opt in. That's a hassle that reduces readership.

If you asked your clients to opt-in to receive email or eNewsletters from you, how many would?

The eNewsletter Solution
You can "push" an eNewsletter to your clients because they previously gave you explicit or implicit permission to contact them. They could certainly opt-out but they would not be forced to opt-in.

With a suitable eNewsletter, you can set yourself apart from most advisors and look as professional as your larger competitors. The cost? A modest $20-$30 US, depending on how many subscribers you have and how often you email.

Next time, we'll look at the three big practical objections advisors have to email marketing. During this series, I'll create an eNewsletter that you can mimick. In the meantime, start getting your client email addresses ready.


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