2 Ways to Reach (Really Reach) 21st Century 401k Participants

An eye-opening lift in 401(k) plan participant engagement

He's one cool guy who really likes your videos.He's one cool guy who really likes your videos.

Due to the constant evolution of technology, many in the 401(k) industry are slow to adapt and are certain to get left behind. For those interested in staying ahead of the curve with technology, here are two innovative and social media-friendly marketing tools to help your business.

Personalized video emails

My team signed up to send personalized video emails at BombBomb.com/ByrnesConsulting. Since utilizing this video email service, we’ve noticed an eye-opening lift in our 401(k) plan participant engagement.

Participants now open and watch our emails with videos at a significantly higher rate that emails without videos. More importantly, they’re more likely to take action, whether it’s a first time investor in the plan or increased participation for existing participants.

The reason the videos are successful is because the email message itself comes across as if it’s delivered by a person, not a computer. Of course, there is a ‘wow’ factor, as most participants have never received such videos, but we believe human interaction is the key to this email marketing success.

Beirne Wealth Consulting and Byrnes Consulting did a study on the impact of these video emails sent to several small 401k plans (sample size of 300). Of the 300 participants, 135 of them opened the email (45 percent open rate) and of the 135 people that opened the email, 45 of them watched the video (33 percent click through rate).

Not only was the email open rate high, but the video play rate was quite high as well. As part of our study, we discovered that approximately 10 percent of participants that requested a contribution analysis took some kind of an action as a next step. This demonstrates a need out there for 401(k) participant education and communication. These tools could possibly be a way to communicate better to participants.

An example of how these videos work

We fired up my BombBomb software and the Logitech HD1080p camera blinked on. We opened an Excel spreadsheet with a list of participants email addresses, hit the camera button and the 3, 2, 1 countdown begins:

“Hi Jim, this is Chris Englebert with Beirne Wealth Consulting in Allentown. We are the company that handles your 401(k) plan. I wanted to send you a personal video message with three ideas. The first idea is to make sure you are taking advantage of your company’s 401(k) matching program! This is money that your company puts into your 401(k) for you. They will match up to a certain amount that you put in. The second idea is contribution analysis software that we can run. This software demonstrates how increasing your contribution to your 401(k) by as little as 2 percent per year can potentially make a difference of thousands of dollars in your 401(k) balance. The last idea for the day is our market outlook. We are cautious on the markets and encourage you to reach out either by phone or email so we can conduct a review of your 401(k) account and determine if adjustments need to be made based on the market and your current situation.”

After we finished the recorded video message, we hit send and the email ‘whooshed’ off to participants.

The BombBomb software not only keeps a permanent record of each video for compliance purposes, but it also tracks if the email bounced back, was delivered, or was opened and played. It also timestamps when the email is opened and records the number of times the email was opened and played. Many times within minutes of sending the email, we got a notification on my smart phone that the email was opened and played. It is a very interesting exercise to see how many people actually opened and played the email. What surprised us was the number of individuals that opened and played the email video on Friday or Saturday night at 10 pm.

An App to use

To provide even better service to our participants, we introduced another tool to complement the video email called CardTapp, a personalized “app” that we encourage participants to download onto their smartphone. This app has my contact information and provides several ways to contact me via phone, email or even text. Similar to the BombBomb software, it allows us to track downloads, open rate and the path the participant took on the app.

A sample email and letter sent to participants

Dear 401(k) Participant,

I am excited to share with you a new and innovative way that I can be even more connected with my clients! I now have an app that you can install on your smartphone!

If you are interested in this tool and would like to have Chris Englebert at your fingertips, please go to the following link on your computer: https://cenglebert.cardtapp.com/. After clicking on the link, you will be instructed on how you can send the app for Chris Englebert to your iPhone or Android. This app will provide you with access to my contact information, a referral mechanism, a service request button, an overview of our lines of business, my biography, news from Market Watch and my weekly market commentary right at your fingertips.

Once my app is installed on your smartphone, you will be able to contact me via phone, email or even text message! This app is a way for Beirne Wealth Consulting Services, LLC (BWC) to provide even better service to our clients.

If you do take the opportunity to try this new and innovative app, please let me know what you think. We, at BWC, always appreciate feedback from our clients on how we can best serve you! Please tell us when you have suggestions on how we can improve and if there is something that we are doing that you are excited about.

Thank you for giving me and my team the opportunity to serve you as a client.


Christopher P. Englebert

The response to the app has been awesome. I recently did a participant “flyby meeting” where I stop in and do an informal visit to share the participant’s current statements. I happened to catch five employees in the break room and showed them my app. Within minutes, they were on their phones, downloading, sharing and opening my app. It looked like a bunch of grownups playing Pokeman Go.

I am a big believer that technology is going to improve our service delivery, especially with 401(k)s, and I am happy to see that what we are doing is actually driving results. I hope you have the same success I have had with these two new marketing tools.

Chris Englebert is a managing director and institutional consultant in the Allentown, Pennsylvania office of Beirne Wealth Consulting.  He provides investment management consulting to both institutional and high-net-worth clients. In this role, he provides clients with manager due diligence, performance reviews, investment strategy and asset allocation recommendations.

About Beirne Wealth Consulting Services, LLC

Beirne Wealth Consulting Services, LLC (“BWC”) is a growing, privately owned, SEC Registered Investment Advisor with about $2 billion in assets under management and over 25 employees in Connecticut, Pennsylvania and Florida. BWC provides independent, fee-based investment management services and customized financial planning solutions. Our institutional business provides consulting expertise to defined benefit and defined contribution plans, endowments, foundations and non-profit organizations. Our private clients include high net-worth individuals and prominent families, many of whom bring complex wealth management challenges and multigenerational planning needs. For more information, please visit beirnewealth.com or give us a call today at 888-231-6372.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published.