Email marketing basics for law firms
If you’re like me, you probably get an inbox full of marketing emails and newsletters, and you probably only read a few of them. Think about the ones you do read. Why do you read them? Do you get information that you could find elsewhere, or is the content original and informative? Is the information geared to your interests or is it general? What made you sign up in the first place? What keeps you reading?
If you can answer these questions, then you already know what makes an effective marketing campaign, and why, when done right, email is still an effective marketing tool.
Email marketing works great (when you know what you’re doing)
Email marketing can be an important component of an outbound marketing campaign. When used in conjunction with other forms of marketing, like your website, blog, and social networking, email marketing maximizes your digital reach and can increase your potential client base.
However, unlike your website or blog, which are seen by a general audience, your emails and newsletters are seen by a group that has requested the interaction. Engaging with this group can provide a large return for a small amount of time and money, especially when you do it right.
To do it right, you have to know your audience. You have to know what information they need and how they want to receive it. But first, you need to build an audience.
Building a List
There are a few easy ways to begin building your email subscriber list, and they will continue to work for you for the long haul, as long as your emails continue to benefit your readers.
- Having a sign-up form in your office is an effective way to gather contact information. Consider having one of your printed emails/newsletters laying around the waiting area, to encourage clients to sign up.
- Your website and blog should also have sign-up forms, and be sure to have an archive of your emails or newsletters so readers can know what to expect when subscribing.
- Encourage those who follow you in social media to subscribe and post a link to your sign-up form in your profiles.
Understanding what’s important to your clients
Your sign-up forms need to do more than collect a subscribers name and email. They should also collect their areas of interest and demographic information. You’ll use this information to help you define specific target groups so that you can create customized content for each group.
An example of content written for specific target groups is on DMLawyers.com. The attorneys at Danziger & Markhoff LLP create content that is specific to the target group of clients of each of the firm’s practice areas such as pensions, corporate, and trusts and estates. Check out their Fall 2014 newsletter to see what I mean – if I’m interested in pensions, I can easily drill down to the article on cash balance plans.
If you read one of their newsletters, you’ll see customized informative articles that solve problems, discuss changes in the law, and provide the readers with solutions to common problems. Their newsletter and article archive gives readers a glimpse of the knowledge and personality of each contributing attorney. The newsletters and articles, including their design, layout, and content, are excellent examples for any firm just starting email marketing.
As a law firm, your email marketing must comply with the rules of your state bar and the CAN-SPAM Act. An example of some of these rules include:
- The subject line, header, and domain name must be accurate and clear.
- The subject line must say the message is an attorney advertisement.
- The physical address of the firm must be included in the body of the email, as must an opt-out or unsubscribe link, with instructions.
- Any unsubscribe requests must be honored within 10 business days.
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has an easy-to-read guide of the CAN-SPAM Act, which details exactly what you need to do to comply. Your state bar can provide you with the specific rules for your state.
There are numerous email platforms to choose from, and while each offers similar services there are some differences that may make one more suited to your specific needs. The folks over at email-marketing-options.com have a chart of the most popular email marketing platforms that allows for side-by-side comparisons of features, as well as complete reviews of each platform.
Some important considerations when choosing an email marketing platform include:
- Integration with your sign-up form and automatic inclusion of sign-ups to your contact database
- Automatic opt-out management
- Metrics that track your campaigns and how readers respond to your marketing initiatives
- Historical information that includes your marketing emails, who they were sent to, and when they were sent
- Mobile-friendliness for both the marketing emails and the user interface
Due diligence is required when exploring email marketing platforms and I recommend that you test out a few before making your choice.
Stay tuned for Part 2 next week where we will be reviewing email marketing newsletters, courses, and how to make yours stand out from the crowd.
Teresa Shaw is an SEO consultant with 10 years of experience helping attorneys and law firms across the country increase public awareness of their services.