Whether your financial institution has an existing publication that needs updating or you’re starting the whole thing from scratch, a truly compelling newsletter can result in better leads and more loyal customers.
But you can’t just cut and paste a few articles and pictures and expect great things to happen.
In order to launch a truly successful newsletter, you’ve got to put some thought (and resources) behind it. Hopefully, you’ve already converted your financial institution’s print newsletter into an electronic one. If not, that’s definitely a process I recommend starting immediately. You can convey information to your customers more quickly and increase conversions by linking call to action buttons directly to the relevant web pages
Once you’re ready to go with the e-newsletter format, you need to figure out a few basics before you even begin developing your content. First, decide on your target audience. Is it retail or commercial clients? Is there a sub-group of prospects you’re particularly interested in? This information can help drive your content later on.
Next, develop a goal for your newsletter, whether it’s simple relationship building, cross-selling additional products, or acquiring new customers. You’ll also want to set expectations for your goals and measures of success. The business and finance industry has an average email open rate of 20.97%. If you’re already in that ballpark, you’re doing great. If not, pay close attention to learn how you can use quality newsletter content to engage your customer base.
Before we dive in, I briefly want to mention the importance of ensuring compliance with the federal CAN-SPAM Act. Violations can result in hefty fines, so make sure someone in your financial institution is well-versed in the specifics.
Now let’s get into the nitty gritty with seven things you should definitely include to create a winning newsletter for your financial institution.
#1: Personalized Sender Address
Before you even think about the information you want to include in your newsletter, create an effective procedure for actually sending it out to your customers. Your recipients are much more likely to open an email if they’re familiar with the “From” name — that’s the name that actually shows up in their inbox. It builds trust and recognition so that your audience knows exactly who the email is coming from.
Pick a specific email address that directly corresponds to the “From” name. It could be something as simple as an email address like “[email protected]” and a “From” name like My Community Financial Institution Newsletter.
Another option is to have some of your team members send out the newsletter directly from their email address, particularly if you’re targeting commercial customers or high net worth retail customers who know a specific representative. Not only can the individual use their own email address, they can also include a customized note at the beginning, which can lead to much higher open and click-through rates.
You can also allow for some personalization at the branch level. While keeping the corporate branding consistent, local flavor can show through via the sender’s information. Segment your audience by preferred branch location and create a separate email address for each one. As we’ve seen time and time again, customers are becoming increasingly attuned to personalization at all levels.
#2: Compelling Subject Lines
It may sound surprising, but your subject line is the true bellwether for how likely your recipient is to open your financial institution’s e-newsletter. In fact, 35% of people use the subject line alone to determine whether or not they’re going to open an email.
The bottom line?
You can spend countless hours pulling together your newsletter content, but it’s the subject line that sets the stage for success. So the question is, how can you create a compelling subject line? Well, there are generally a few guidelines you can adhere to.
First, keep it short. Since most people are reading their email on a smartphone, they’ll only see the first 50 or so characters. Keep that character limit in mind when crafting your subject and do a test run to view how it actually appears on a phone screen.
You can also add another level of personalization by using either the customer’s name or specific location within the subject line. Time sensitive information can also be effective in encouraging people to click open your email, such as the approaching end of a contest or an expiring deal.
Once you’ve come up with some subject line ideas, you can narrow down your best option by conducting an A/B test. This method compares two options within a small sample pool to determine which one performs better.
You can use the same technique to optimize the delivery day and time to discover when your constituents are most likely to ready your emails. This is actually useful information to have on hand for any communication, not just newsletters.
#3: Expert Advice
Another effective idea for your financial institution’s newsletter is to include an advice column. This is also a great way to outsource some of the content creation. Reach out to some of your commercial clients to serve as a local expert. They get free advertising, and you not only get free content for your newsletter, you also get to deepen your relationship with that commercial client.
Here are some ideas to get you started:
- Have a local real estate agent talk about the homebuying process
- Get an interior designer to discuss top home design trends
- Ask a retailer to compile a local gift guide for the holidays
The options are truly limitless and it makes for really fun content that people actually want to read. If you want to make the process even more interactive, ask your customers for questions, then find an expert from your commercial client pool to answer it. Reach out to your customers on social media and even turn it into a competition to see whose question will get picked for each month’s column.
Again, this is all about creating an interactive community through your newsletter, integrating multiple online channels, and building deeper relationships with all of your client segments.
#4: Curated and Localized Content
Next let’s take a look at curated content. This could be something written by your financial institution’s marketing team or something pulled from an external source. It’s really about you finding (or creating) quality content picked for your specific audience.
And it doesn’t necessarily have to be related to banking or even finances. You can include some
lifestyle and entertainment pieces as well as community happenings. Maybe there’s an internationally-renowned jazz festival coming to town. You could highlight the event and even interview one of the organizers for an insider’s sneak peek.
Take a look at what else is happening in the community that could provide value to your customers. You could tap into your local chamber of commerce or young professionals association to feature upcoming business networking events. If your financial institution sponsors a non-profit organization, you could connect with them to feature volunteer opportunities.
Although we live in a digital world, a quick personal touch can make all the difference — especially when coming from a community financial institution.
#5: Service-Focused Content
Alternatively, consider writing about a financial service you’d like to promote. Segment out a few audiences and slightly alter the content accordingly. For example, you could do a retirement planning series and create a different article for each decade of life: “How to Plan for Retirement in Your 20s and 30s” versus ““How to Plan for Retirement in Your 40s and 50s.” Send the appropriate newsletter to the right demographic. You can also use this differentiator as part of your subject line. Remember — the more you can personalize anything in your newsletter, the better.
As with all mentions of a product or service offered by your financial institution, provide a direct link to the signup page on your website. If someone in your organization is sending the newsletter to his or her specific clients, then your team member can also include a quick note on how he or she can be reached to talk about the product or service in greater detail.
People also love to hear about other customers’ experiences. Select someone to be featured in a customer success story. For example, maybe your financial institution’s business loan helped them launch their lifelong dream job. A solid testimonial can give other customers ideas on how they could use a specific product or service.
Even if you don’t have a success story to use with a certain promotion, pick out some industry trends, then pair that with advice from a financial advisor from your organization. It paints a much more effective picture of why a particular product is useful, rather than listing out bland terms and conditions.
#6: Letter from the President
It’s always nice for a customer to be able to put a face to the name of your financial institution. A brief letter from the financial institution's president can humanize the company while giving readers a behind-the-scenes look.
Encourage your president to keep things personal and light hearted. A family anecdote or recent experience can go a long way in creating an authentic connection with your audience. If someone on your marketing team is ghostwriting the letter, see if it’s possible to schedule a 10-minute interview with your president to gain timely insights and perspectives from him or her.
The letter can include a quick update on your organization and any noteworthy news he or she would like to share. Keep it short and relevant, making sure you don’t repeat anything that’s mentioned elsewhere in your newsletter.
Additionally, consider including a fresh picture in each newsletter. Your president may be tempted to use the same stock professional photo every time, but those can quickly come across as stiff and overly formal. Instead, show pictures of your president out in the community, meeting with customers, or volunteering at local events.
#7: Financial Institution News and Updates
Your newsletter is also a great way to drum up interest in any current contest or promotion you’re running. And just as I mentioned about subject lines, it’s also effective to lead with a deadline. So if there are only three days left to enter a contest, let them know right away — then tell them how to do it.
Customers also want to hear about any awards or accolades your financial institution has received. It instills trust and pride and lets them know that you’re doing good things.
Here’s an example pulled from a recent newsletter from The Milford Bank:
Their blog received a place on Feedspot.com’s list of the world’s best financial blogs. Not only does it show that the bank has been recognized as an industry leader, it also serves as a plug for the blog itself. Clearly, this financial institution offers quality content, so customers are motivated to start reading it as a free and useful resource about their own finances.
If you’re ready to take your financial institution’s newsletter to the next level, we can help. Achieve Marketing has a team of experts to support your initiative and we’re fully versed in best practices for the industry as well as compliance guidelines.
Email me to find out more about our services for financial institution newsletters.