by Courtney Eckerle
, Managing Editor
"We call ourselves a financial life management company," said Christina Martin, Vice President, Digital Marketing, United Capital. "We set out on a mission to create a new discipline within financial services."
Through extensive primary consumer research, she added, the company knows that their "prospects and clients think about their overall financial life more in terms of four areas, not just saving and investing, which is what traditionally people in the wealth management space talk about. But they also think about working and spending."
United Capital targets customers are in the United States, who have about $500,000 worth of investible assets and who have dependents.
These customers are looking for planning services "not just for their retirement, but shorter use terms of money all the way through their life, and then also managing their money through our guided services," she said.
The company has an enterprise marketing team, catering to both B2B and B2C, and Martin's team is digital, supporting the enterprise and the segment marketers.
Martin and her digital team send out a weekly email newsletter to both prospects and clients labelled FinLife Digest, which previously used a third-party content curation service.
In March 2015, the digital team decided to take advantage of the original content that was being created on the blog, and merge it with the curated content.
"We expanded the scope of [the newsletter] to include not just curated content but [also] the original content that United Capital writes as part of our content marketing strategy," she said. "So it's a mix of both original and curated content, which is something a little bit different than what most people are doing for their customer or prospect email."
The newsletter also supports and fuels the inbound marketing strategy, Martin said. The team offers prospects numerous pieces of "value-added content" in both gated and free settings.
"We support that offer through performance advertising, organic and paid social media, and then supporting blog content as well," she said.
Integrating original content into the weekly newsletter was part of a customer-centric approach to expand the narrative with prospects and clients.
Because the team had found through primary research that people have "different concerns on their minds — or different things they want to hear about — beyond what the industry was speaking about, in terms of savings and investing," she said.
Martin added, "This [approach] allowed us to — within the relevance of our brand — expand the conversation through both curated and original content to expand into concepts like working, earning, spending. It was a very important vehicle to help us launch the new category of financial life management."
Step #1. Rebrand newsletter
The team creates the content mostly for the blogs, Martin said, as well as for the inbound channel. The latter can include ebooks, guides, white papers or checklists, and they usually get supporting materials, she added, in blogs and social media posts.
The digital team made it a priority to be able to adequately track how the blog and email newsletter performed as touchpoints within the prospect journey, and to use engagement of specific activities by prospects to define them as marketing qualified leads.
To further tie the newsletter into financial life management and that prospect journey, it was rebranded as, "FinLife Digest." It goes out weekly to both prospects, clients and what the team called "centers of influence," defined as those people within the sales process who could potentially be influencers with somebody deciding to select a financial advisor.
Along with the rebranding to tie into the prospect journey of financial life management, the newsletter is now sent Fridays at 4:00 p.m. ET.
"It fits with the positioning of what the newsletter is all about … stories to make your financial life not just, you're working, saving, spending and investing better. We talk about articles, tips, tricks, hacks, and it's delivered on Friday, just in time for the weekend," she said.
All of the changes within rebranding "fit with the evolution of the brand and how the tool was moving to a nurturing piece or a prospecting piece. It fit with the marketing strategy first," Martin said.
Prior to the rebranding, the email newsletter's function was as a prospect communication piece, as opposed to the lead nurturing or lead generation piece it has evolved into.
The layout changed in the rebranding effort as well, Martin said, to align better with the brand and overall website.
Instead of just blocks for curated content, the current newsletter
has a space for what is "New This Week in the United Capital Blog."
Click here to see the full version of this creative sample
This space features two original content pieces, usually from the blog, and even includes elements like an infographic.
Step #2. Pull in subject matter experts
To pull together subject matter experts (SME), Martin and her team assembled a cross-functional and content-steering committee of multiple disciplines within the organization.
"Companies like ours have subject matter experts all over the place, but those people aren't necessarily writers and their job isn't necessarily to write content," she said.
The committee meets monthly, reviewing the next two upcoming months of content.
"We talk about the marketing campaigns that are coming up and brainstorm on content that would support the marketing campaigns or the overall editorial charter, and then identify SMEs and have the SMEs work with writers," she said.
This cross-functional committee has been a successful asset in allowing Martin and her team to pull subject matter experts together.
"They have insight into the original content as well as the curated content that we're publishing, and to tap into them as needed for our writers when we want to come up with content [has been] been really successful," she said.
Step #3. Create original content for rebranded newsletter
Through the content committee, the digital team grew into being able to create enough original content to be able to publish blog posts and sustain material for the newsletter.
This evolution enabled the team to fulfill the needs of the email marketing channel as well the inbound marketing channel.
Each weekly email usually contains four curated stories and two original, Martin said. The original stories are longer form and lead to the blog, while the curated pieces link to relevant articles from reputable sources, such as Forbes or Inc.
When it comes to creating original content from subject matter experts, the investment management team will author the majority of investment stories, she said, and the guidance team will author those on financial planning. Whatever discipline an article is focused on, that team is reached out to.
The digital team caters to specific times of year or events when planning out the content calendar and deciding what discipline or focus original content will take, she said. However, marketing campaigns get a priority placement within available content slots and then episodic content – such as monthly investment management content – in order to ensure spots for that high-priority content.
Then, she said, the team will search for any seasonality or events that prospects might be interested at the point in time the newsletter will be sent. For example, a blog post might be written about financial planning during tax season.
"We want to leverage engagement and other things that are going on. We'll take a look at, ‘Are there any holidays that are relevant? Are there any events going on that are relevant?' That might be an area where we might curate content," she said.
Martin said that since this effort, there is definitely more focus put on original content.
"Having the cross-functional steering committee and elevating the process of creating content to the enterprise level has done a lot within the organization, for how to talk about how we're trying to get the brand out there and leveraging those internal subject matter experts," she said.
In 2015 versus 2014, United Capital saw a 145% increase in newsletter engagement through this effort.
The 2014 newsletter had:
- A 21% open rate
- A 10% clickthrough rate
The newly branded 2015 newsletter has seen:
- A 26% open rate
- A 17% clickthrough rate
Overall, the original content from the blogs gets about 24% of the total clicks in the newsletter, and there are two blogs and four curated stories in the weekly newsletter.
Alongside these results, Martin added that content has been elevated by increased transparency in the process and by giving people in different departments within the organization a seat at the table.
With uncovering subject matter experts to tap into, the content committee has "bubbled up where some content was being created but wasn't being shared at the enterprise level. What the content committee did was if there were some disparate activities that were going on, it helped … align those with the overall strategy so the organization, the message was more consistent across the touchpoints," she said.
Creative SampleCurrent weekly newsletter
Sources United CapitalHubSpot
— United Capital's blog and email vendor
Related ResourcesUnited Capital's blogEmail Marketing 2015: The top 8 MarketingSherpa case studies for your email program next yearEmail Marketing: CNET increases engagement by cutting nearly half of newsletter portfolioEmail Marketing: The Kentucky Derby's customer-centric newsletter reduces opt-out rate 64%Email Marketing: Weekly newsletter sees 400% lift in reactivation of inactive subscribers with personalization