In a mobile, online world, email is a powerful marketing tool for financial advisors and fintech companies serving advisors. The problem is most are probably wasting its potential.

“The humble little email, which is probably the lowest cost marketing tool you can use today, actually has the highest return on investment," says Jeremiah Desmarais, financial marketing consultant and author. "But sadly in the financial services world, it is the least used,” he says, pointing to “boring” emailed newsletters from advisors as an ineffective example because of their low open rates.

Desmarais discussed how to unleash the potential of email and other low cost digital marketing tools and tips as part of a lunch at InVest 2018.

For email, Desmarais points to a McKinsey & Company report for proof of its impact.

“If you’re wondering why marketers seem intent on emailing you more and more, there’s a simple explanation: it works. Email remains a significantly more effective way to acquire customers than social media — nearly 40 times that of Facebook and Twitter combined,” reads the report.

Mobile phone text message or e-mail
You've got email, but is it being used effectively? Brian Jackson


Desmarais first recommends advisors not to approach email the same way when people type out a formal letter in Word, explaining it’s not effective anymore.

Instead, he thinks advisors should use the SAC method for writing effective emails that will most likely get replies, with the letters standing for “Short, Ask One Question, Conversational.”

An example of this would be a short follow up email where an advisor would raise the “radio silence” from a prospective client and ask if there is anything the advisor could do to answer any questions. Another example is a short email that simply asks if a prospective client needs any help on the particular subject at hand. And be sure to type the subject in lowercase, he adds. Use this particular method for clients who have dropped off in communicating but are in the pipeline for a sales or meeting pitch.

“The psychology of close family communications and friend communications is rooted in being efficient and quick,” he says. “When your friends email you, they don’t usually write a fancy subject headline. So if you want to get on the radar of a decision maker, someone who has 200 emails sitting right there, make it memorable.”

Desmarais says emojis can be used in the subject line and are FINRA compliant. Oddly enough, one of the most effective emojis in getting responses is the shrug, he says.

“Try it out on your newsletter. Send it to your advisors,” he says.

The next tip that Desmarais recommends after email is “social selling,” which means using social media to make sales effectively, especially LinkedIn. With Microsoft buying the business network, LinkedIn will become even more important than ever in the future and will possibly be embedded in a wide variety of Microsoft products, such as Outlook, he says.

An effective approach for using LinkedIn is to add value to the network — a tactic to get on the radar of prospective clients. Advisors add value by linking or writing articles for the platform and then they can follow up a few weeks later with a prospective client and ask if they would be interested in a particular product, service, or setting up a meeting, he says. This goes beyond using LinkedIn as simple resume platform.

“You lead with value,” Desmarais says.

The last tip Desmarais gives is the importance of advisors and companies holding educational seminars that are targeted towards specific demographics, using smart digital marketing to gather an audience, and not rely on the staid method of sending a direct mailer that lures people with a free steak dinner. He called that the old “pay and pray method,” where advisors hope someone will show up for these events.

“They are simple, very tactical,” says Desmarais about the tips he presented. “But if you implement them inside your broader strategies, you should be able to see some growth occur.”

Sharon Adarlo

Sharon Adarlo is a Financial Planning contributing writer in Newark, New Jersey. She has also written for The Wall Street Journal and about science and engineering for Princeton University. Follow her on Twitter at @sharonadarlo1.