The Cold Email Guide for Financial Advisors

I got an email the other day about cold emailing for financial advisors.

I thought it was a great question that a lot of people might ask, so I decided to answer it in a blog post.

Josh from Chicago sent it to me. Speaking of Chicago, I was going through my podcast statistics and found out that, out of all the cities in the world, Chicago listens to my podcast the most.

I’m not sure what I did to get all those listeners in Chicago, but apparently they love me there.

And if you haven’t subscribed to The Advisor Coach Podcast, make sure that you go to iTunes or wherever you get your podcasts and do that right now.

Anyway, Josh from Chicago writes:


I enrolled in your Financial Advisor Marketing Mastery course and absolutely love it. I got to the email marketing part and noticed that you talk about building an email list by leveraging your website, providing value to that list, and following up with them as time goes on.

However, you don’t really talk about cold emailing. What are your thoughts on sending someone a cold email? Do you have any tips for financial advisors that might want to start a cold emailing campaign?

When putting together the course, I didn’t forget about cold email. I deliberately left it out because the other techniques I discuss tend to get better results in less time than cold email.

In other words, you can put your time to better use.

Of course, if you’re an advisor who has time to spare after doing other marketing (again, very unlikely) then can cold emailing get you some more clients? Yes, it can.

What’s the difference between cold email and email marketing?

When I talk about email marketing, I’m talking about creating an opt-in where you give some value, and have someone give an email address in exchange. You then continue to provide value to your email list and then ask for an appointment.

On the other hand, cold emailing is exactly what it sounds like. You send an email to someone who has no previous interaction with you.

A lot of people also get cold email confused with spam. Under the CAN-SPAM act, you’re allowed to send emails to people that you don’t know, but you want to make sure that you’re complying with the rules that the FTC has outlined.

While you always want to get advice from a professional first, here are some things you need to incorporate when sending cold emails:

  • Never misrepresent who you are.
  • Don’t use misleading subject lines.
  • Identify if the email is an ad.
  • Include your business address - street address or PO Box is fine.
  • Give a way to unsubscribe or opt-out - and honor them!
  • Cold email outreach is just another form of marketing, no different from cold calling, direct mail, or Facebook ads. Its purpose is to generate leads and start conversations with people who want to do business with you.

    Here are some tips to help you get started on - or improve - your cold email campaign.

    1. Keep it short.

    This is my most important piece of advice for cold emailing. Get to the point, fast. That’s because you have a very short window of time to get your prospect’s attention. You should lead with your most compelling piece of information.

    In fact, don’t even worry about a formal introduction. If someone reads, “I’m Joe Advisor from XYZ Financial”, you make it super easy for the prospect to quickly delete the message. And if that happens, it means the rest of your message isn’t read.

    If you’re on my email list, you’ll notice that some of my emails are really long. Longer emails can be okay for talking with your list, but almost never for cold email. Keep your cold emails between 2-5 sentences and make sure it’s logical.

    Basically, all you need to say is:

  • Why you reached out to them
  • What you’re offering
  • What the next step is
  • Speaking of the next step, my second cold email tip is…

    Related: 7 Fatal Prospecting Mistakes You Might be Making

    2. Don’t ask for too much.

    One of the biggest rookie mistakes is trying to accomplish too much with a single email. This usually leads to a long email (another rookie mistake), trying to get someone to make a large commitment right away.

    Is it possible that someone will do business with you right away? Sure, but asking for small commitments is how you convert a much larger percentage of your list.

    The easiest way for a financial advisor to accomplish this is to ask, “When is a good time next week to speak?”

    The cold email is not supposed to sell. All it does is start a relationship with the prospect, so if your email in any of its parts sounds even a bit salesy, you should revise it.

    Cold email is awesome because you can reach out to hundreds of people in a relatively short period of time, which builds up the top of your funnel. But remember that you’re literally just looking for people who are already interested enough to take the time to speak with you.

    3. Put ALL of your contact information in your signature.

    Make it as easy as possible for someone to get in touch with you. Include links to your website, social profiles, mailing address, and phone number.

    If someone wants to call you, that’s great. But what if someone wants to hop on a mule and come to your office via their own little Pony Express? Don’t lose potential opportunities because you didn’t take the five seconds to beef up your signature.

    Here’s a pretty cool story. As you may or may not know, I test a LOT. I test my web pages, my headlines, my emails, my ads, etc. One time I decided to test a short signature vs. a long signature in my own personal cold emails.

    Here’s what I found: when I included a link to my LinkedIn profile, it dramatically boosted the response rate of my emails. Even when people didn’t even click on it, I got more replies. I guess that’s because people see it and know they have access to see who I am and that I’m the real deal.

    4. Personalized subject lines generate high open rates.

    As a group, personalized subject lines almost always out-perform non-personalized subject lines. Yes, I’ve personally tested that too.

    The goal of a subject line is to get the email opened - that’s it. Personalized subject lines generate high open rates because they feel relevant. I’m talking about subject lines like:

  • “Your recent blog post on”
  • “Your YouTube video about ABC”
  • “Saw you mentioned in the XYZ yesterday”
  • “FIRST NAME - quick question…”
  • If you use generic subject lines, you will likely experience lower open rates. I get generic emails all the time. These are the emails with subject lines like, “Opportunity”, or “Website help”. I’m so numb to these by now that if I see anything remotely similar I just delete them.

    Your prospect needs to feel that you sent the email exclusively to him or her because you had a relevant reason to do it in the first place. So give them a reason!

    Which subject line do you think works better?

  • “Check out this video on why people run out of money in retirement”
  • “Joe, you gotta watch this”
  • If you said B, congratulations! You just correctly answered the easiest question in the universe. Of course option B works better. Remember - the ONLY goal of a subject line is to get the email opened, and the personalized subject lines scream “Open me!”

    5. Don’t include any attachments.

    On the surface, sending an attachment almost seems like a good idea. You want to keep the actual email short and ask for a small commitment, so you think that attaching more information will allow the interested recipient to download and consume at his or her leisure.

    But let’s try to answer these questions. If YOU received a cold email with an attachment, would you:

  • Have enough time to download the file and look at it?
  • Feel comfortable enough to open an attachment from a complete strange?
  • Be worried that someone may have sent you a virus that will corrupt your computer?
  • Actually open the attachment at all?
  • Answering these questions should show you that attachments are a no-no. Besides, spammers used to send very short emails with attachments, and sometimes those attachments did contain viruses. If you behave even slightly like a spammer, you won’t be trusted, no matter how good your intentions are.

    Plus, attachments could negatively impact your delivery rate. That’s because some email providers’ anti-spam filters are quick to filter out any messages with attachments. So even if your prospects would respond favorably to attachments, chances are that they wouldn’t even get the email in the first place.

    Related: Advisors: Why Your Dream Prospects Just Won't Find You

    6. Always follow up.

    Sometimes you may feel as if follow-up emails will make your prospects angry. I certainly felt that way when I started sending follow-up emails. However, this is rarely the case. Usually the prospects appreciate your interest in them and admire how persistent you are.

    One of the most important things to remember about following up is that your follow-up email should be somehow linked to your first email. It should be a continuation of whatever you sent before, preferably within the same email thread.

    All a follow up should do is gently point out that they haven’t responded to you and that you’re still waiting for some reaction. Keep it short and simple.

    I always recommend following up at least five times and then making a judgment call on whether or not you’d still like to pursue the prospect. Perhaps the prospect isn’t worth any more of your time or resources, and that’s okay.

    7. Spend some time on your list.

    Nothing beats personalization when it comes to cold email. A personalized subject line combined with a short, personalized email has been proven again and again to generate the most sales.

    So spend some time working on your list. Make sure that you know a few things about them first. It will show that you’re not spamming… are you noticing a theme here?

    As a financial advisor, the fastest way to do this is to pick a niche and tailor your emails around that niche. This works so well because you don’t have to change a lot of things from prospect to prospect, plus you can become intimately familiar with how the niche works with you and the problems you can solve for them.

    I would much rather have a list of 500 people with a 40% reply rate (200 replies) than a list of 1,000 people with a 10% reply rate (100 replies). I’m sure you feel the same way.

    8. Avoid some common cold email cliches.

    I get a lot of cold emails. I’ve seen everything from top of the line to bottom of the barrel.

    Here are some of the worst cold email cliches that I see on a regular basis:

    “Hope this email finds you well!”

    Gee, thanks. I would hope so.

    “I know you’re busy so I’ll keep this short.”

    Great! You’ve already wasted a sentence. You could’ve kept it even shorter.

    “If you are the appropriate person…”

    This just shows me that you didn’t do your research. Usually this email comes with “appropriate person” as the subject line, so I know to delete it right away.

    9. Be prepared to act when prospects reply.

    I know that one of the biggest benefits of email is that you can open, read, and respond to messages when it’s most convenient for you. However, a marketing campaign isn’t about you - it’s about your prospect, from start to finish.

    When your prospect sends an interested reply, you should take action quickly. You will have spent time and effort capturing this person’s attention, so don’t let it go to waste. I have found that the less time you take to get back to a prospect after a response, the better chance you have of developing a lasting business relationship.

    Pro tip: In addition to being a wonderful blessing for the way we communicate and stay in touch, email is also a dreadful curse as a distraction. Sometimes when I say “be ready to respond to an email”, people interpret it as “check your email 17,403 times per day” and then they get distracted with all their other messages.

    Instead, set up a dedicated email address that you use just for cold email campaigns. You should be doing this anyway, so you don’t risk your personal domain, but the added benefit is that no other messages will hit that inbox except messages from prospects