Effective email prospecting is a result of clear communication and good timing.

Missing the mark on either factor will significantly decrease your batting average. It’s a natural tendency to blast prospects with statistics, overexplain, gain no traction, then give up. To ensure that you do not miss the mark, you should set up a repeatable process. We have compiled some advice to help you create your first 401(k) prospecting email or improve your current practices.

Key Takeaways

  • Segment your prospects into groups. Tailor your email content around each group.
  • Send sequences of 5 emails to prospects at different hours and days of the week.
  • Keep subject lines short and direct. We like simply using the prospect’s name and your firm name separated by a vertical bar.
  • Personalize email intro with the prospect’s first name.
  • Include a clear call to action in each email (e.g., a meeting).
  • Use a calendar app (such as Calendly) to make it as easy as possible for a prospect to set-up a meeting with you.
  • Minimize hyperlinks within your emails to 1–2. Too many confuse prospects and increase your probability of being flagged as spam.
  • Send from your email addresses (e.g., not sales@company.com or info@company.com).
  • Leverage automation tools to minimize tedious emailing tasks.
  • Send emails to bitesize groups of 50–70 prospects. This gives you time to hone your process and avoid being overwhelmed.

Setting up Your Sequence

One of the most effective email strategies is sending a series of brief educational emails over a number of days. Sending a sequence, as opposed to a single email, increases your probability of catching prospects at the right time. To further increase your chances, be sure to send emails at a variety of hours and days of the week (e.g. do not always send emails on Mondays at 1 PM). 

We recommend a sequence of five emails. You may send these manually or use an automated email sequence software like Yesware or Hubspot. These tools have two key features: (1) templates — allowing you to easily save and load personalized emails with a single click and (2) sequencing — allowing you to enroll a prospect to receive a series of personalized emails, also with a single click. In short, these tools automate work that can otherwise be extremely time-consuming. They can even integrate directly with Outlook or Gmail, allowing you to never leave your inbox.

Writing Your Email Content

With your process in place, the question remains: What should you say? 

Here is an example of a five email sequence you can quickly customize. We believe that each advisor has a unique value they bring to clients. Additionally, realities like industry, geography, market, and much more affect what will resonate with prospects. As such, we recommend customizing your email sequence while leveraging this outline. A little work up front will pay off quickly:

Email 1: High-level Introduction

This first email is the most important, it is your first impression. Be clear in your message — quickly and concisely communicate value, have a call to action, and above all, be brief! You’ll be explaining more of your message over a series of emails, so start small. Always remember to write your email through the eyes of your prospect. Ask yourself, “Would I read this?”


Hi {First Name},

I'm reaching out to introduce you to {Your Firm Name} — we help employers manage successful 401(k) plans.

[Include a single sentence as an example of how you are helping clients today. This is an opportunity to humanize your outreach and stand out. (What are you doing that other advisors aren’t? What problem are you trying to solve? How you’re helping similar companies?)]

I'd love to set up a brief call to share how we're helping companies like yours and offer a complimentary plan review.

{Your Name}

Note: We recommend adding a hyperlink to an appointment scheduling software, such as Calendly, in your brief call request. This makes it easy to set-up time with you.


Hi {First Name},

I’m a local advisor {Your Region} that works in {Your Industry/Market Niche}. I frequently research plans in {Your Industry/Market Niche/Geography} and came across a couple of interesting points about your plan.

[Include a couple of red flags or talking points (e.g. from the plan insights section of a profile in PlanPro). It is important to include just enough information to entice them.]

I’d love to talk more about your 401(k) plan and opportunities you have.

Do you have time to connect {Specific Date/Time}?

{Your Name}

Email 2: Expand on Your Value & Differentiate

Your second email should go deeper to show how you are helping clients. How you are different/better is the greatest reason people will be open to speaking with you — focus on this. Be mindful of not giving too many stats here to fill up the email and lose their attention.


Hey {First Name}!

I kept my last email brief, but I wanted to share a little more with you.

In my work as an advisor, I specialize in [list 1–2 differentiators here. Be specific and concise.]

I recently [give an example of a “win” you recently achieved for a client].

Would you like to connect to learn more? Drop me a note back or you can find a time that works for you here [link to your calendar].

{Your Name}

Email 3: “The Bump”

The bump is a short message to jog a prospect’s memory on your email in case the timing was off; it is simple and direct. This simple email often has a high response rate.


Hi {First Name},

I know you’re pretty busy. Just making sure this email didn’t get buried.

{Your Name}

Email 4: Sharing Success Stories

This email communicates a success story where you’ve made a very tangible impact on a client. Telling your prospect a story grabs their attention and humanizes the email. Think of this email as a mini case study. To come up with your story, think of the work you have done that has been most appreciated by clients today. Is there a theme? Distill this into three sentences for your prospect.


Hi {First Name},

Small tweaks can make a big difference in your 401(k) plan. We recently helped one of our clients [fill in your story here].

Are you interested in a brief conversation about your plan? 

{Your Name}

Email 5: Last Outreach/Reintroduction

This email extends a final invitation to connect with your prospect. You want to acknowledge that they’re busy, quickly restate your value, and offer an opportunity to learn more.


Hey there {First Name}, I know you're busy.

I wanted to make one more effort to introduce you to {Your Firm Name} and share why companies love the passion I bring to preparing their employees for a successful retirement.

Can we connect for 20 minutes? [link to your calendar]

Best regards,
{Your Name}

Slow and Steady

Take some time to create your five email sequence. Do not worry about perfection. Your main goal should be getting your first email sequence sent. Over time, you will hone your message. To give yourself time to learn, begin by sending emails to small groups of prospects — whatever is manageable for you. It is better to set a realistic goal for yourself than a number that causes you to become overwhelmed or lose hope and give up. After you send your first group of emails, commit to continuing this at a regular cadence (e.g. 1–2 times per week). Your prospecting will get easier quickly if you set up this simple process. 

Scale Your Process

Once your process is in place, it is simply a matter of enrolling new prospects. You will be able to reach a larger audience with minimal efforts. As you get more comfortable, you can send out customized sequences on specific topics relevant to segments of your prospects. You can use PlanPro to identify and group appropriate prospects for different sequences — for example, those with compliance issues, fiduciary liability, no advisor, in need of employee education, high fees, or certain service providers among many more.

Last, do not forget that you can re-engage prospects for a period of time after you have emailed them if you don’t get a response. The timing could have been an issue and it’s an opportunity to try a new message.

Illustrations by Freepik Stories.