By Nick Parkhouse, Personal Finance Copywriter at Yardstick
During Britain’s Brexit debate – remember that?! – leading Leave campaigner Michael Gove famously retorted that ‘people in this country have had enough of experts’.
Fast forward four years and it would be fair to say that ‘experts’ are suddenly back in vogue. Indeed, in recent weeks, a regular mantra that the government has used to defend their response to the coronavirus pandemic is that they have been ‘guided by the science’.
Of course, we all make decisions on a hunch – what we feel is right or what our own personal experience tells us. Sometimes, though, it’s good to look at cold, hard facts to help us inform our thinking.
So, in recent weeks, I’ve been poring over data relating to hundreds of thousands of emails we’ve sent on behalf of advisers and planners.
Using data such as email open rates and the number of people who click through to read an article on a financial planner’s website, it’s possible to draw some conclusions about the type of content people like to read – and, consequently, what you should be writing about.
People like to read about people
Clients and prospects alike are interested in your business and your people. The evidence strongly suggests that including the occasional article about what your firm has been up to really does work.
Your monthly newsletter doesn’t just need to contain tips for Inheritance Tax planning or a guide to the Tapered Annual Allowance.
In some cases, almost 30% of people who received a planner’s email clicked through to find out what the firm had been up to.
Your update can include:
- Updates on exams and qualifications your team have passed/earned
- Awards you have been nominated for and/or won
- Appearances in the press, for example, inclusion in the NMA Top 100 or an appearance on the VouchedFor Top-Rated list
- Births and marriages
- Charitable efforts and fundraising
- In recent weeks, clients have shared lockdown books, TV and film recommendations.
We’ve seen photos of planners’ ‘home office’ arrangements (yes, that was a bouncy castle in the back garden).
We’ve even had a profile of an employee who trains and socialises police dogs in their spare time (one in six of all people who received that newsletter clicked through to read that article).
If you’re a small team and there isn’t a huge amount going on, just include a quarterly update instead of monthly. But do tell people what you’re up to.
Topical is good, but make it relevant
Evergreen financial services articles are always useful. Guides to tax, pensions, investments, mortgages, risk and behaviour add value to clients and prospects. They also position you as an authority in your field and demonstrate your technical capability.
One way to increase the number of people who read these articles is to link them to something topical.
It probably won’t surprise you to learn that, in the last couple of months, the most popular articles have focused on the coronavirus pandemic. Subjects covered include:
- The long-term performance of stock markets
- Guides to the government support available to businesses and self-employed workers
- How bull and bear markets work
- Guides to mortgage payment holidays, and the pros and cons of taking a payment holiday
- A macroeconomic look at the demand/supply-side shocks the UK has faced
- The impact of reductions in the Base rate
- Behavioural science, including ‘loss aversion’
- Market updates
- Topical, ‘news focused’ articles often perform really well. Whether this is the tax year end, financial New Year’s resolutions, Budget updates, or new surveys concerning personal finance, a planner’s take on the news is typically well-received by clients and prospects alike
Earlier this year, the article ‘3 questions to ask yourself when markets fall’ was read by a staggering 40% of those who received the email. ‘3 pension changes that were made in the Budget’ was read by one in three of all email recipients.
Throw in a lifestyle article every time
We’ve established that people on your mailing list like hearing about you and your firm. They also like hearing your views and opinions on personal finance issues in the news.
To mix things up, and to keep clients interested, we’re increasingly finding that there’s a place for appropriate lifestyle articles.
We’re not talking make-up techniques, or ’10 things we’ve learnt from Too Hot To Handle’, but lifestyle subjects that your clients are interested in. Examples of articles that have been popular include:
- 9 unusual things that affect the value of your home
- 5 lesser-known European capitals that should be on your travel wish list
- Ways to improve your work/life balance
- 5 reasons that breakfast is the most important meal of the day (according to scientists)
- The rise of the Silver Stoner – why over 50s are turning to marijuana
Consider including articles about the best places to eat in your town or city. How to teach children basic financial skills. And which financial podcasts are worth a listen.
In March, a blog recommending Booker Prize winners was read by one in ten people who received the email. And the month before, 28% of people opened an email and clicked through to a financial planner’s site to read a piece on ‘overlooked European cities to visit’.
Including lifestyle articles also plays a part in stopping recipients from unsubscribing to your updates. While they may not always be engaged by the financial planning stories, they may continue to subscribe because they like the variety in your other articles.
Even in something as creative as writing, it’s possible to use cold, hard facts to establish what works and what doesn’t. Hopefully, you have a few new ideas here for your own content!
This article was originally posted on The Yardstick on 27 April 2020.