Using newsletters for drip marketing has long been a cornerstone of marketing for financial planners. However, the newsletter process itself is relatively inefficient—costs of production can be high if it’s printed, the process of building a distribution list is slow, the content often cannot be effectively shared, and there is no means for someone to find and access the content if they aren’t already on the mailing list.
By contrast, operating a digital blog has no printing cost, has content that can be distributed on multiple digital channels, can easily be shared by readers and prospects with others, and can even be found by search engines without any further effort from the planner.
The challenge, of course, is that a blog requires content—yet the reality is that for firms already producing a newsletter, the content is already being created. In which case, the blog is simply a more efficient way to get the content out there and drip market to a growing a list of prospective clients.
The inspiration for today’s blog post was a recent conversation I had with another financial planner, who was struggling with the decision about whether or not to begin blogging and adopting social media. “I’m just not sure I have the time to add another channel to our marketing,” he said, “on top of the newsletter we already produce and mail out each quarter.”
“But if you’re already sending out a newsletter,” I replied, “then blogging and social media are just an alternative means for what you’re already doing, but taking it to the next level.”
At the core, producing a newsletter or a blog are simply different ways to accomplish the same thing—distribute content and information to a target audience. With a newsletter, articles are produced (either written internally or obtained from external sources) and distributed out to a list of readers. With a blog, articles are produced (again written internally or obtained—”curated” —from external sources) and made available to readers.
The difference, however, is that a newsletter is only as effective as the list of names and addresses you have gathered. Building a mailing list can be a very slow process for most financial planning firms that tend to see relatively few new prospective clients and potential affiliated professional referrers each year.
In addition, it’s almost impossible for good content distributed by a newsletter to be shared. Unless someone literally has the physical document with them at the exact moment it’s relevant to refer, it’s a near certainty that the content will never be seen by anyone except the exact list of people to whom it is mailed—which makes the process of growing a list of prospects even slower. Even worse, someone who is searching for information about a subject will never find your newsletter, as Google and other search engines cannot index and provide search results for documents that don’t exist in the electronic world. By contrast, when the content of a newsletter is published via a blog, the content has the potential for a far broader reach. Current and ongoing readers can still be notified when new content is available via e-mail, just as a newsletter is mailed out. However, far more channels for distribution are available in a virtual world; the new content isn’t just sent out to a mailing list, but also published on an RSS feed for blog reading software, tweeted on Twitter, shared on Facebook, and added to your profile on LinkedIn.
In addition, readers who enjoy the content also have the opportunity to share it instantaneously with others they believe might be interested, using their own social media channels; for instance, a current or prospective client might share the article with his/her own network on Twitter, Facebook, or LinkedIn… instantly expanding the reach of your content, with no action necessary on your part.
Furthermore, people who are searching for answers to their own problems and challenges have the potential to find your content through search engines like Google. Thus, for example, your content about how to make the right decision about exercising stock options might show up at the top of a search query for an executive who wants to know what to do with a current set of stock options, leading the executive directly to you at the exact time your advice is needed! And those who enjoy the blog content can then sign up to receive your updates in the future by any number of channels.
The end result—your financial planning firm has an inbound marketing process where your list of prospective clients who read your content grows not just through your own efforts to gather names, but also from those who share your content with others, and those who find your content by searching for the answers to their own problems. And of course, every additional reader has a marginal cost of $0, because there’s no printing cost for a digital blog.
In the second part of the post, we’ll explain the “blog cycle” and how to go about transitioning from a newsletter to a blog.