Cold email marketing can work. When the outreach is genuine, compelling, and professional, prospects will open emails and connect with you.
A good business has diversified lead sources, and in an ideal world, the leads come to you, via referrals or someone contacting you first.
But for most small- to medium-sized advisory firms, lead generation is not that simple. Advisories must engage in marketing and sales strategies to build a consistent pipeline.
But with little brand recognition and without large budgets to advertise effectively across every digital platform, cold outreach is the next best option.
According to a Mailgen survey, 89% of marketers say email is their primary source of lead generation.
What's more, Americans check their work email more than three hours a day. For personal email, it is two-plus hours a day, according to the 2019 Adobe Email Usage Study.
And if other countries were in this study, it's likely the participants would report increased frequency in checking emails too, considering the ever-digital world we live in.
With these numbers, email marketing is alive and well.
Email is a valuable channel, but it's a competitive space.
Just like you, your prospects receive emails every day, and they don't have time to read every one of them.
If your emails are poorly timed, toned, and targeted, those messages will go unread. Or worse, they go to junk mail and are marked as spam.
Below are some recommendations to develop your cold email marketing strategy.
Knowing your audience is important for segmenting, and each segment deserves its own messaging.
If you're contacting prospects in their 50s and 60s, it's not appropriate sending emails about how to start saving for retirement fresh out of college and starting a career.
Those in their 20s and 30s shouldn't be receiving emails about setting up trusts for grandchildren they don't have.
In either case, wrongly targeted emails hurt your image. The message could be marked as spam, and even if not, the prospect will decide not to open future emails.
The prospect, like you, doesn't want their inbox flooded with unwanted emails.
This doesn't mean your emails are "unwanted", but it means your emails should be relevant.
After all, you're contacting someone out of the blue. You are asking them to take time out of their day to learn about your firm.
Be respectful of their time and circumstances, just as you'd expect others to respect yours. Your emails should reflect that understanding.
One way to show understanding is by timing your emails well.
Consider the time of the day, time of the week, and the frequency of which you send emails.
The time and day is important because if you send at inopportune moments, the emails will go unread and unnoticed.
Sending too many in a short period of time can come across as aggressive and off-putting. but if you carefully space your emails apart while sending at appropriate days and times, your emails will be better received.
HubSpot has some interesting information available on the best times to send emails.
When emailing the prospect, do not make it "all about you". Do not "sell", not yet at least.
Instead, help them first.
Share useful content with them, whether it's produced by you or someone else. This can be a blog article, a video, a new study/report.
What you send should be informative and objective. As a trusted source of information, you are planting the seeds of goodwill, and they will feel comfortable connecting with you at a later time.
When it comes to cold emails, people are increasingly cautious of phishing scams. They are hesitant to click on links when they can't see if it's from a trusted domain.
If you're sending a link, show the full URL.
If it's a shortened link, the reader can't quickly verify the trustworthiness of the source.
Sure, they can hover the mouse over (in desktop) or press down the text (in mobile) to see the exact link, but most don't have that patience for a cold email.
If they clearly see the link is to your domain or another credible site, they will feel more comfortable to click it. To enhance your credibility, see our tip on signatures, below.
Even if your attachment is perfectly safe to open, cold email recipients are skeptical about opening attachments from unknown sources.
A lot of data breaches take place through downloading attachments, ultimately containing malicious software.
Even though your attachments are fine for download, the mere presence of an attachment in a cold email sends the wrong message.
According to digital marketing firm Convince & Convert, 35% of email recipients open based on the subject line alone.
Have succinct subject lines. Think of subjects that get to the point and deliver value to the target segment:
If you think these are good subject lines, have at it. Of course, as the advisor, you are the subject expert. You know the target market segments' goals and current pain points. At a minimum, you have an idea of what kind of subject line formats to use.
Produce lines that address the audience. Avoid lengthy and fluff-filled subjects. Do not ask for a meeting in the subject line. The prospect doesn't even know you or what you're offering. If a random person came up and asked you for a meeting without telling you what for, you'd be less willing.
Avoid CAPITAL LETTERS. Avoid exclamation points. Avoid special characters, as they may fail to appear properly on someone's desktop or mobile device.
If you make these kinds of mistakes, the email service providers will automatically filter them into the spam folder.
If you start your email with "Hey", "Hi" or "Good Morning", consider dropping it.
Those greetings are fine when the recipient knows you or when replying to a prospect who initiated contact with you, but when emailing someone cold, those greetings come across as superficial.
"Who is this person? Why is he/she greeting me?"
Instead, just address the prospect by their first name, then get to the point.
The topic of money is serious, and a "Hey" or "How's it going?" lightens the mood too much, diluting the serious tone and authority you want to establish.
We talk about showing respect in email, but setting the right tone will command respect.
A compelling message doesn't have to be a long explanation of your products and services, but it should explain your value in a concise manner. Keep it short and sweet.
People's attention spans are shrinking, and when it comes to cold emails, it's even more of an uphill battle. However, if your message is interesting, they will pay more attention.
A good strategy is to address a potential pain point or share a snippet of information they find relevant. After that, share your helpful resource.
If the message is worded well, 3 or 4 body sentences should suffice. The message should be interesting enough to where they want to learn more and are willing to reach out at a later time.
Earlier we mentioned to be helpful first and foremost, and not "sell"... not yet at least.
After establishing yourself as a helpful resource, your next emails can gently introduce your services and how you help.
Remember, even as you sell, it's still always "about them".
Address a potential pain point or relevant matter to them. Then, explain how you help others like them solve the problem, and/or what benefits they get by using x product or solution.
When crafting emails, think about what is relevant to the prospect in a given segment.
If you have additional information about a specific prospect, tailor your email to show you really understand them.
For example, if you know a prospect recently started a new business, perhaps send information about how to start a 401k program for their company or ways to legally lower their business taxes.
In one of our earlier posts, 7 Ways Investment Firms Generate Leads Online, we talked about the importance of having a professional email address.
For example, if you are John Smith from ABC123 Wealth Management, the your company domain URL should be part of your email address.
When emailing cold, email@example.com looks more credible than something coming from a Gmail or Yahoo! account.
A proper signature establishes your professionalism and shows you are verifiably human .
Prospects are more likely to trust you when they see clearly the contact information:
Take advantage of the signature. You'll stand out from the bots and companies that struggle with transparency.
See how your emails look before hitting the send button to your prospects.
The last thing you want is an otherwise good email ruined by a careless mistake, like a misspelled name.
When a prospect responds to your email, whether they are interested or not, be prompt in your reply.
You display professionalism when you are quick to address them. Even if they are not interested or ask to unsubscribe, it is good to acknowledge their feedback.
Your reply shows you are human. You don't ignore someone when they are "of no use to you" anymore. You can leave a good impression on a currently uninterested prospect by thoughtfully replying back. In the future, they might be interested. Good communication never hurts.
If someone asks to unsubscribe, politely reply that you acknowledge their request, and then place them in an "opt out" list. CRM systems make it easy to manage the opt-out contacts so they don't receive emails a second time.
As leadership and management expert Peter Drucker once said, "you can't manage what you don't measure."
However you send out your emails, keep track of how they perform.
If you follow a certain format or script for your emails, you want to know what works and what doesn't.
Maybe you find people respond better to a certain subject line than others, or the way you worded your value proposition in one email was better than another.
This will ultimately improve your performance, which means more people open your emails and reply back interested in what you have to offer.
In these cases, considering using a CRM system, if you're not already. In a software like HubSpot, MailChimp, or Salesforce, you can track stats related to opens, replies, clicks, etc.
You probably receive a lot of emails, and you're tempted to delete most if not all of them, assuming they're not relevant or valuable to you.
Don't delete them... yet at least. After all, if you give some of them a chance, you might find a good solution for your business, assuming you're on the market for one.
If you want to improve your own cold email marketing skills, treat the cold emails you currently receive as a chance to learn from them.
Have you ever received a good cold email? See what techniques worked on you, and maybe you find elements you like that you want to use for your own emails.
In other cases, the cold emails you've received are terrible. The subject lines do not pique your interest, the email bodies are too long, and the signatures lack sufficient detail to demonstrate credibility.
Nobody ever said cold email marketing is easy. Cold outreach in general is a challenge, but for most advisories that lack large budgets to market themselves, there are no other options to grow their business.
It requires a good understanding of your audience, what matters most to them, and the ability to demonstrate credibility and craft a message that captures their attention, to the point they reply back with interest to you.
Test your emails, track the performance, and always be willing to learn how to improve your open and reply rates.
If you can master the art of cold email outreach, you will do quite well.