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Five steps to better newsletters

Newsletters provide the platform for advisers to showcase their expertise to prospective clients while reaffirming an ongoing commitment to existing customers, according to Phillip Bray.

A good newsletter provides clients with relevant, useful and actionable information about their personal finances, according to the network development manager at whole-of-market adviser network Sense.

Mr Bray has outlined five steps that advisers can take to improve the effectiveness of their communication.

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First, Mr Bray recommends opting for electronic over printed newsletters on the grounds of costs, especially postage costs.

The added advantage of electronic mail is that marketing software enables users to track the effectiveness of their communication as well as to gauge the popularity of each posting, thus allowing for a more effective follow up.

Step two is to build a database of people. “Of course you need people to send your newsletter to. I’m not a huge fan of buying data, I much prefer to build a data base organically. Start with your clients and then add prospects and other contacts from there,” he said.

“I’d also spend some time on data segmentation. This will allow you to send more targeted newsletters, which will undoubtedly increase their relevance and therefore readership.”

The third step is to ensure that the featured articles are relevant to the reader and written in an appropriate style. Ideally, this would ideally involve copy produced by advisers, but can be purchased on occasion, according to Mr Bray.

He added: “If you are producing the articles yourself remember that writing for the online reader is different to writing for a printed publication. We tend to read more quickly online and scan articles so it’s vital you bear this in mind – include plenty of sub-headings, bullet points and lists. I’d also avoid long reads too, 500 to 1,000 words work best in my experience.”

The next step is to experiment. This may involve changing the time when a newsletter is sent, a reorganisation of the layout and look of the mail – always look to find a formula that best works for existing and prospective clients, Mr Bray said.

The final step involves consistency.

Mr Bray said: “I often get asked: what is the appropriate frequency? Ideally I would recommend monthly, with a special edition to coincide with the Budget and Autumn Statement. Of course this might be unrealistic, and with consistency in mind, start small and build up.

“While I’m a big fan of experimenting I’d also recommend, once you have established the most effective combination, be consistent with the date and time you send the newsletter.”

Adviser view

Richard Ross, director of Norwich-based Chadwicks, said: “Our clients are usually well informed about all of the latest financial happenings, so although our newsletter does have an informative element, we also include a story about our experiences to make it more personable. When a client picks up our newsletters and reads about the things that we have been up to, I think it makes them think that they have been in to see us more often than they actually have.”