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Tools to Manage Your E-Mail Newsletter

Popular email newsletter tools allow advisors to focus on their message, not their email software.

Bill Winterberg, 08/11/2011

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Michael Pompian's column last month, How Often Do Clients Prefer Regular Communication, made me think about ways financial advisors manage client communication, specifically newsletters delivered to clients by email. Pompian recommended advisors send weekly emails to clients as a best practice and send email communication once a month at the very least, adding, "Email is an easy way to keep in touch."

Although simple in theory, in practice, delivering newsletters via email can often lead to frustration and wasted time. With hundreds, or possibly thousands, of potential newsletter recipients, how can advisors efficiently manage their email communication to keep in touch with clients and prospects? Attempting to use manual processes to deliver email newsletters is a recipe for disaster. I spoke with several advisors regarding the tools they use to avoid delivery headaches and simplify their bulk email correspondence with clients.

The Problem With Regular Email
One of the most common techniques advisors may employ to send email newsletters is by using the blind carbon copy, or Bcc:, field of an email. This requires any number of email addresses to first be exported from a contact database. For many advisors, email addresses are exported from Microsoft Outlook's Contacts record, but more are leveraging CRM software as the source of these addresses. Once exported, email addresses are added to the Bcc: field of an email with a quick copy-and-paste operation.

There are several problems with the Bcc: technique. Most troublesome is the risk of exposing all recipient email addresses if the data is inadvertently added to the To: or carbon copy, or Cc:, field rather than the Bcc: field. This can trigger privacy and compliance concerns, as clients' personal information, their name and email address, is exposed to others.

"Client emails often include their full name, so while the combination of full name and email [address] does not equal a breach of privacy itself, it could be an issue. Clients will generally not want others contacting them," said Chris Winn, managing principal of Pembroke, Mass.-based AdvisorAssist, a management and compliance consulting firm to investment advisors.

"It might make a client wonder, 'Where else is my information being shared?'" added Winn.

Also, managing the list of active newsletter recipients is cumbersome using the Bcc: technique. Certain clients might ask to be removed from periodic newsletter updates, so advisors must devise some system in Outlook or their CRM to identify such requests and prevent future mailings. As the next email newsletter is prepared, advisors must take care to not export email addresses of those clients who asked to opt out of receiving such correspondence.

Bill Winterberg, CFP, is a technology and operations consultant to independent financial advisors. His comments on technology have been featured in a variety of financial industry publications. You can view more information about Bill and see his schedule of upcoming speaking engagements at his Web site, FPPad.com. The author is a freelance contributor to MorningstarAdvisor.com. The views expressed in this article may or may not reflect the views of Morningstar.

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