Email Marketing Review: Justin Knickerbocker, Financial Services

by Bob Ruffolo on August 17, 2012

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email marketing reviewMy friend, Justin Knickerbocker, sent out a marketing email the other day, and with his permission, I’d like to share it here on our blog. Justin is a financial services professional at New York Life; he helps businesses and young families plan for retirement and understand their risks.  Although he is very good at what he does (feel free to connect with him on LinkedIn), his email marketing skills could use a few touch-ups.


Here is the email he sent to me:


email marketing review


Shortly after I received the marketing email from him, he asked for my opinion. I’m always happy to provide an email marketing review, and this was the advice I offered:


Successful Elements:



  • CAN-SPAM: You include your address, as well as an “unsubscribe” link, which makes the message CAN-SPAM compliant. This is great!

  • Name in “From” Field: The message comes from you, rather than from your company or email address, providing a personalized touch.

  • Short Subject: The subject is short enough to fully display in the subject line, which allows recipients to quickly determine the email’s content.  While the length is ideal, I do have some suggestions on how to improve the subject itself (see below).

  • Clear Call-to-Action: “Access Here for Your Information” is a very clear call-to-action.

  • Mobile Friendly: The message reads nicely on a mobile phone, which is critically important now-a-days.


Areas for Improvement:



  • Brand Credibility: Along with your name, consider adding your company to the “From” field. For example: "Justin Knickerbocker, New York Life." By linking yourself to a prestigious company, you gain brand credibility.

  • Personal Subject: Add the recipient’s name to the subject line to let them know that the email is specifically for him or her. Say something like: “Bob, check out today’s financial spotlight!”

  • Email Value: Provide quantifiable value in the email, like tips or stats. Then, in the subject line, you can create more of an incentive for recipients to open it. People get SO MUCH junk email that you need to make your message really stand out. "Today's Financial Spotlight" won't do it. If you provide tips, put that in the subject - "Bob, here are 3 simple retirement planning tips just for you."

  • Landing Page: I’m not a big fan of the flash click-through link. I'm busy and I just don't have the time to flip through this presentation. I never got to the message; I just hit the back button. Most users will do that if they don't understand what they are looking at within the first 5 seconds. Perhaps provide something that's more valuable to the recipient. Instead of a presentation, include a call-to-action: "Download Our Retirement Planning Self Assessment." If you put that on a landing page with a form, you'll start generating some leads!

  • Direct Close: Your close needs to be more personal and direct. "It's always good hearing from clients and friends" really makes the message look like a mass email, which it is. I would recommend something like, "Bob, let me provide you with a complementary review of your retirement plans. Is next week a good time to set up a call?"

  • Company Logo & Bio Picture in Signature: Consider including your picture and company logo in your signature to really drive home your brand creditability. People may not always remember your name, but they may recognize your face and will certainly recognize the brand.

  • Linkedin in Signature: Think about adding a link to your LinkedIn profile to your signature. People like building their connections. Maybe they’re not ready for your services now, but if you stay connected with them on LinkedIn, it's certainly an avenue for them to stay in contact.

  • Share Links: Add links that allow recipients to share the email via social media networks or their own email accounts. You can even directly request that they forward the message to their friends and colleagues if they found it useful.


Questions to Consider:



  • List Segmentation: Was this sent to all of your contacts, or just to a segmented list of your contacts? Before sending an email, create a smaller segmented list so that you can really hone in on the recipient's needs. If this is an opt-in list, then use the reason why the user opted in as a reason why they are receiving this email. For example: "Bob, you've recently expressed that you're ready to start planning for your retirement."

  • Best Time for Delivery: Did you research the best time of day to send the email? This can make a huge difference in your open-rate: sending your message at the optimal time will lead to more views. However, remember that all industries are different, so make sure you research for your specific business.

  • Analytics: Does your email marketing software (EMS) allow you to track opens, click-throughs, and conversions? If so, you should monitor how many recipients clicked through to the landing page, and how many people completed the form. This will give you a true conversion rate so you can make improvements over time.


Again, I want to thank Justin for allowing me to share this email marketing review on our blog. If anyone else has any tips for him, please feel free to share a comment below.


If you want me to review any part of your marketing efforts, please feel free to set up a free consultation. With your permission, I’d be happy to share it on our blog, as well!

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