Is Your Client Newsletter Stuck in the 1990s?

Woman wearing orange shirt texting on a smartphone walking in the street in a sunny dayIf you look dated in one area, that perception can spread.

By Sandi Leyva, CPA

One of the leading client newsletter vendors discontinued its product this year, and we at Accelerator Newsletters having been getting a lot of calls from staff at accounting firms asking about our client newsletter offering.

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The calls have been enlightening to me, but also disappointing to find out many firms are stuck in a decades-old way of sending client newsletters. Here’s what I have learned from you and what I’d like to share to get everyone caught up to the way it is today in modern digital marketing.

What’s old: The old PDF newsletter with its two- to three-column format is OUT. It’s not mobile-friendly (the web design term is responsive), which means it can’t easily be read on the phone. More than half of your readers will want this mobile-friendly feature.

What’s new: Blogging has been around for a couple of decades now. Blogs don’t have to replace newsletters, but their content can be duplicated in newsletters to save time and money. This means the newsletter is not PDF, it’s online. It’s not multiple articles, only one. And it’s mobile-friendly with rich graphics for illustrations.

What’s old: Sending your newsletter out using Outlook is OUT. It may also be against the law. The CAN-SPAM Act was signed in 2003. Those who don’t comply hurt the entire profession.

What’s new: Newsletters should be sent using a CRM (customer relationship management) app or email marketing software such as Constant Contact, Infusionsoft or Active Campaign. Prospects should be able to subscribe to your newsletters using an opt-in feature on your website. While it’s not illegal to subscribe clients to your newsletter, you MUST have an opt-out feature in your software to honor requests to unsubscribe.

You can also send your newsletter out in multiple ways beyond email. You can set up push notifications to let readers know when you’ve added something new to your blog or website. You can text clients a link using SMS. You can also leave notices in their private client portal. You can post them in social media groups, and you can use Messenger or another app to send a chat notice to subscribers.

What’s old: Contentwise, the average tax newsletter has an open rate of about 15 percent. That means out of 100 subscribers, 85 don’t even bother to read your email; they just delete it.

What’s new: Content that is broader than accounting and tax topics will keep your readers far more engaged. Think about topics that they care about, such as business profitability, marketing, technology, leadership, hiring tips and customer service. Offering a broader range of topics will double your open rate and deliver more value to your clients.

What’s old: Good old-fashioned text is still useful. But it shouldn’t be used alone.

What’s new: Vary your newsletter content by including videos, infographics, charts, illustrations, lists, facts, quotes, cartoons and other media beyond text.

What’s old: Please don’t tell me if you are still mailing out hard copies of your newsletter.  I just don’t want to know.

Old vs. new

Here are some questions for you to consider when it comes to how your firm is viewed by your clientele:

  1. If your firm is using decades-old marketing techniques, what will clients think of your advisory and business skills? If you are outdated in one area, you’ll have an issue gaining trust in another.
  2. If your firm wants to attract millennials as clients, startups and companies that need to be on the leading edge, how are you going to do that if you look two decades behind?
  3. If your newsletter is out of date, are your other marketing materials and methods just as old? It might be OK if all you need to attract is clients from the greatest generation.

I know we’ve had a lot of change this year, so when you have time to catch your breath and are ready for more changes, check to make sure your marketing methods are up to date and not holding you back.

Is it time your firm embraced the new?

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