If you’re a financial firm already running a monthly newsletter, then there’s a good chance that you’re using a PDF attachment within the message. Those who are considering starting a newsletter are also often attracted to this idea.
Yet there is another approach which some argue works better. Here, rather than sending a large PDF attachment, you could send a well-designed newsletter with “snippets” of your articles in the template. You can then link to the rest of the article on your website, which allows the user to pick and choose the content they are most interested in.
Although this latter approach is gaining ground amongst financial firms, the PDF-attachment route is still highly popular in the IFA world. Below, we outline some of the pros and cons of each approach to help you decide which format might be best for your company.
PDF financial newsletters
Why they can work well
A PDF format offers the opportunity to create a really beautiful “magazine-style” newsletter for your clients. This can create a perception of great quality and prestige – building trust with your readers and encouraging them to consume the majority of the content within.
Another great advantage of a PDF financial newsletter is that you can re-purpose it as a lead magnet (i.e. for new prospects). For instance, perhaps you could dress up your latest edition as a downloadable guide which you can offer for free on your website and social media channels. Your users can then “carry your brand around with them” after they download the PDF to their smartphone device, so they can refer to it and even share it later.
Finally, if you design your PDF newsletter correctly then it does not need to be restricted to a digital format. You can also enable a professional printer to produce physical copies for you, to then distribute by post to clients.
Why they can fall short
One of the biggest weaknesses of a PDF newsletter is that it is hard to monitor reader engagement. Of course, you can measure how many of your subscribers received your email and opened it. Yet it is not possible at this time to detect which articles attracted the most attention and dwelling time. This makes it very difficult to ascertain which content is working for your recipients so that you can refine the next round of content to their tastes/interests.
Another drawback of a PDF newsletter is that it does not lead people to your website (i.e. by clicking on links to articles within the newsletter template). This might not sound like a big deal, but consider that every visit to your website represents another possibility for a client referral, brand exposure and loyalty reinforcement, a cross-sell or an up-sell. Instead, the PDF attachment leads people to simply stay within their inbox and then move on to their next message.
Email-style financial newsletters
Why they can work well
As described above, an email-style financial newsletter does not include a PDF attachment. Instead, the articles are “previewed” to the reader within the template. Underneath each sippet is a link to the full article on your website. One of the big strengths of this approach is that it is highly trackable. Using a tool like Google Analytics and UTM tracking you can monitor what people are clicking on, how long they read the article for and whether they take further action (e.g. downloading another resource).
Since each article is hosted on your website, moreover, this makes it possible to also improve your SEO (search engine optimisation) by adding fresh, original content to your blog. If you target the right user intent with this content it may be possible to use your newsletter content to improve your website’s exposure in Google search. This, in turn, could lead to more organic traffic and enquiries from these users. As such, it becomes possible to turn your financial newsletter into a lead generation tool!
Another good benefit of this newsletter approach is that the content is much easier for the user to read on a mobile device. A PDF newsletter, for instance, requires the user to “pinch” their screen repeatedly to “zoom in” on each article and read the content. An email-style financial newsletter, however, can be designed for mobiles and tablet so that the content responds appropriately to each screen size.
Why they can fall short
Email-based newsletters cannot usually be professionally printed. They’re limited to a digital format, which may not suit some of your audience if they would prefer to receive communications by post.
This approach also requires quite a lot of careful planning, since there are many “moving parts” to each newsletter that need to work well together for the campaign to be successful. It’s all-too-easy, for instance, to put the wrong URL-link to your article(s) into the newsletter template and then receive negative feedback from subscribers because the links don’t work (e.g. perhaps because you published the articles as “private posts” on WordPress). To mitigate this, it’s important to have a robust system and process in place to ensure that the newsletter is tested properly before each send-out.
Email-based newsletters also require the articles to be hosted somewhere online. Usually, this will be the financial firm’s website. Yet if the website is poorly-designed, old or has a bad user experience then this will likely not result in positive engagement from your readers. Until you have a better online presence, therefore, it might be better to point them towards a well-designed PDF newsletter instead.
Finally, it’s important to note that hosting your articles on your website is not a guaranteed way to improve your SEO. If the articles are not unique, for instance, then Google is unlikely to see it as original content which is deserving of a higher position in search engine results (since the same or similar content is already available elsewhere).