There’s a lot going on in your clients’ lives, so keeping yourself in front of them can be challenging. Enter the advisor e-newsletter. Informative, newsy, interesting – all are required to pique clients’ interest.

Heather Freed, an independent certified financial planner (CFP) in Toronto, has been sending out monthly e-newsletters for the past six years. Although providing clients with information is her No. 1 priority with the e-newsletter, it also sparks a reminder to clients that she’s there to help. “Every time I send out a newsletter,” Freed says, “I get emails and phone calls on topics from the newsletter and also on unrelated topics.”

Ideas for her e-newsletter come from a variety of sources. There are those subjects that have an obvious timing bent – her November e-newsletter deals with yearend tax planning, for example. And this month, her e-newsletter is about items people tend to overlook on their tax returns.

Although Freed has both the chartered life underwriter and CFP designations, she doesn’t write about insurance or investment tips; rather, she concentrates on more general, “in the news” finance topics. For example, in January, Freed included several stories about out-of-country travel insurance. Although she has clients who do come to her for travel insurance, Freed also has clients who get their insurance through their work benefits, or are a spouse of such an employee. The latter group may think they get the same coverage as their spouses, but may not. “I thought it was important to tell these people,” says Freed, “what is and what isn’t covered.”

She recently used a topic she first saw outlined by the Canadian Life and Health Insurance Association Inc. about a “virtual shoebox,” a document that outlines to an executor where all of a client’s important information is kept in the event of his or her death. “I know a whole bunch of people who had a family member die recently,” Freed says. “And when this happens, there’s stuff nobody can find. It’s important to keep this document up to date. I had more click-throughs to that link than I have had with any other item I have put into my newsletter since I started doing it.”

E-newsletters should have a 250-word maximum, Freed suggests. Otherwise, write an executive summary in the e-newsletter with a hyperlink to your blog. Ensure you’re also on LinkedIn and Twitter.

Also make sure that your e-newsletter reflects you and what you do personally, Freed advises: “When you’re dealing with me as an advisor, you are dealing with me and my personality. And I feel it’s important that my website, my newsletter and my blog all represent me, and not just our profession.”

Decide how often you want to send out an e-newsletter and stick to that plan. If you’ve missed several e-newsletters, don’t send them out once a week until you catch up and then go back to monthly. Says Freed: “People like to know there’s some consistency to them.”

If you intend to use an e-newsletter as a sales tool, be careful. “I do it as a service,” says Freed. “I think if you’re trying to sell something, people don’t read them.”

© 2013 Investment Executive. All rights reserved.