Email marketing can be extremely effective, but only if you do it properly. Here is why you should take the time to segment your list, separating each contact and email address into different categories or funnels.
Your Email List
Email is one of the most effective methods of marketing for a firm, both from a cost and a productivity perspective. It’s often very affordable, allowing you to broadcast your message to many different clients, customers and prospects for a low price while also giving you the opportunity to connect, effectively engage with your clients, and share your unique vision and voice.
At the same time, the importance of using email properly can’t be understated, and that begins first and foremost with your email list.
Why Should I Segment My Email List?
While casting a wide net and blasting your message to as many emails as possible can sound like a good idea, it is more harmful than helpful. That’s why it’s important to segment your list, filter your emails and carefully collate your list of recipients for each message.
What is Email List Segmentation?
List segmentation is exactly what it sounds like–breaking up your email list into smaller, more targeted lists so you can create tailored email communications. It is the process of sorting through and segmenting your email list based on specific criteria and qualifications.
If you get your email marketing lists right, your customers will receive relevant emails filled with information that they actually want. Get it wrong and you could be marked as a spammer.
How Do I Segment My Email List?
In terms of how to segment your list, at the very least you should keep your list of prospective clients separate from your list of current clients.
- Prospective Clients
Your prospective client list can be split even further, matching your process. For instance, you may want to segment your prospective client list by 1) people who signed up for your mailing list online, 2) people who attended a specific seminar, 3) people you met with one time but they never made a decision, or 4) people who are getting very close to making a decision about hiring you.
Segmenting your list of prospective clients allows you to tailor messages and create customer “journeys” to lead them gently down the “marketing funnel” to work with you. Remember that some people make decisions very slowly, and it may take dozens of touches before they are ready to take action.
As an example of a customized journey or email marketing funnel, if a prospective client attended a seminar, you may want to send a first email that thanks them for attending your event and informs them that because they clearly like to stay informed about financial issues, you will continue to keep them up to date with financial industry information on a monthly basis, but that they can opt out at any time.
Additionally, you could create emails inviting them to future events with a different topic, personalizing the email again by stating that you are sending this invitation because they have attended your events before.
- Current Clients
Your current clients are golden, and you shouldn’t send them everything. Their time is limited, their inboxes are full and they expect complete personalization. You should know literally everything about them.
Their emails should “live” in their very own special list.
For messaging, you could segment your clients even further if it makes sense—perhaps by the type of service you provide them—for instance, if you handle Medicare for some, AUM for others, or insurance only for another group. This could allow you to cross promote, but only when something truly relevant comes up.
Where Do I Segment My Email List?
Ideally, if you have a CRM (customer relationship management) system, you can keep your lists cleanly segmented there. There are many different CRM platforms to choose from, such as Salesforce, Redtail, Wealthbox, Envestnet, HubSpot, Clixlo…the list goes on. A CRM allows you to keep track of many different aspects of each customer by adding multiple fields—like birthdate, spouse name, children, special interests, type of investments, etc.
You can also segment lists in email marketing service provider platforms like MailChimp or Constant Contact. Although these email platforms are typically not as robust in terms of fields of related data, email marketing platforms keep your lists scrubbed and accurate because they keep track of unsubscribes and remove them automatically from future emails. NOTE: Some CRM platforms—such as Salesforce, Hubspot and others—have email marketing platforms included as part of their system.
Some advisors start out by keeping their email lists in Excel files. That may be okay in the early months when you first start your own firm, but you will quickly need a better solution. Some of our advisors keep their lists up-to-date in their CRM, then export a relevant list each time into an Excel file which can be used by an email program like MailChimp to send a specific email.
NOTE: Remember to keep first names and last names in separate fields. Many email marketing platforms can personalize emails with names, but if you have both the first and last name in one field, or you switch the first name with the last name, your “personalized” email will look worse than a generic “Dear Valued Client” message.
Keep Your Email Lists Clean.
It is important to ensure that any list you send to contains real emails. This increases the odds that your emails are delivered, opened and engaged with.
You should not send an email blast to an old list you’ve had for 20 years containing hundreds or dozens of emails. Also, if you choose to purchase a list of prospects, make sure you work with a reputable list provider, because email marketing is heavily regulated, and getting blacklisted is a very real possibility. Most email marketing experts recommend not buying any email lists at all.
At all times, every single one of your emails should allow people to unsubscribe, and you should remove unsubscribes from your email list completely.
The most commonly used email service providers, like Gmail, Yahoo! and Outlook, have strong spam filters that are able to recognize typical traits of a spam email. While those traits can include factors like emojis, exclamation points and sales buzz words, also strongly considered is engagement rate. If a large portion of your emails go to nonexistent, inactive or disengaged subscribers, your engagement rate will obviously be lower than it would be had those emails gone to clients and prospects who are interested in what you might have to say.
It is very important to remember compliance. Email marketing is regulated by the Federal Trade Commission (CAN-SPAM) as well as newer legislation from Canada (CASL), the European Union (GDPR) and California (CCPA). These laws mean big potentially crippling fines for spammers sending huge email blasts to people they don’t know —or even prison time for spammers running scams. But nuances of the various new privacy laws also require you to remove data and protect private data on your servers.
Why is it Important to Avoid Getting Blacklisted for Spam?
At first, it may not seem like the end of the world if your email is caught by a spam filter and isn’t delivered to a few of the inboxes on your recipient list, but it has the potential to snowball into a greater problem. Your emails come from an email address—usually your web domain—and if you continually send emails to nonexistent or unresponsive parties, or you include language indicative of spam, the likelihood of future emails also being marked as spam goes up.
In fact, your IP address or domain could be blacklisted, so that emails originating from you will consistently land in “spam.” There are several companies, such as Spamhaus and Spamcop, who blacklist email spammers, and if you do get on a blacklist, you will have to contact them individually. Email service providers can do this for you, but it’s better not to have the problem in the first place.
There are publicly available tools like MXToolBox that allow you to check and see if you are on any email blacklists.
The Benefits of Doing Email Right.
Relevant, informative emails can help you establish credibility and grow your firm. As you might expect, a subscriber who is more likely to open your email and visit your website is also more likely to conduct business with you. Email is a fantastic way to communicate with prospects and let them know about different services you offer and problems you solve. Then, when they find themselves needing to discuss various issues, you will have already built that relationship, giving them even more reason to turn to you in their time of need.
One great way to identify those high-priority recipients is to conduct a re-engagement campaign. You can offer your subscribers helpful content, such as a whitepaper, or some kind of inexpensive gift, like a T-shirt with your firm logo on it. Additionally, you can look at email metrics to see which of your recipients have opened emails in the past few months to determine whether or not you want to keep them on your list.
For more tips for making email marketing more effective, you can read our recent blog post.
At Quantum, we help our advisor partners create email and marketing campaigns that work and are specifically tailored to their brands. If you’re interested in learning more, please give us a call today at 800.440.1088.