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As much as social media is the talk of the town, the reality is people overwhelmingly use email to communicate effectively and get business done. In a highly people-driven industry such as law, email marketing is one of the most personal and direct methods for reaching past, current and prospective clients.
In fact Salesforce Marketing Cloud’s State of Marketing Report from 2015, which surveyed over 5,000 marketers in realms such as social, email and mobile, feedback and statistics about the power of email were overwhelmingly positive.
A majority of participants—73%—said marketing is core to their business, and nearly the same number—74%—believe that email efforts already produce ROI or will create real returns in the future. In its 2014 State of Marketing report, Exact Target found an even higher number: 88% of marketers said email marketing was bringing them positive ROI.
Likewise, the Direct Marketing Association’s research concluded that email marketing for businesses in the U.S. yields a dramatic 4,300% average return on investment. EmailExpert’s numbers showed that for every $1 spent on email marketing, there was an average $44.25 ROI. And in a recent ranking by Gigaom Research, marketers consistently rated email as the most effective tactic for four key business-development areas: awareness, acquisition, conversion and retention.
These findings may be surprising, as this more “traditional” form of digital marketing is increasingly overshadowed by sexier social platforms. However it’s clear that email is not only alive and well, finding a new niche among emerging social and mobile communication platforms, but can thrive as a healthy slice of any integrated legal marketing mix.
That said, strategies around attorney email marketing have changed dramatically since we heard those first iconic words, “You’ve got mail!” Today law firms need to take into account:
- Staffing or outsourcing professionals to write engaging email content
- Quality control through third-party email dissemination and management tools, such as Constant Contact or MailChimp
- Analyses on KPIs such as open and conversion rates that measure the success of email campaigns
- Accurate optimization and responsive design to allow for effective viewing of email on mobile devices
- Best practices for email and database marketing, including personalization, segmentation and content series strategies
Email optimization for mobile
One of the most important trends in content consumption is the pervasive daily use of mobile devices. Put simply, more people are accessing more content on more handheld devices than ever before. In fact, in the first quarter of 2014, more email was opened on iPhones than all desktops combined.
With this kind of mobile demand, comes an absolute requirement that each segment of your law firm’s content—especially custom email messages—render immediately and properly on a smaller screen. One survey from email channel expert BlueHornet revealed the real problem: Over 70% of people will simply delete an email if it doesn’t open properly. Users now look at email applications as scanning tools screening for good content, and they can swipe lawyers and brands away in an instant.
Fixing readability issues should be a serious directive for attorney email marketing in 2016, because you can’t tie ROI to content that’s never been viewed. Law firms that haven’t shifted to a digital platform (both web and email) with responsive design—coding that makes content render properly on every device—should consider making adaptable content a priority.
Effective email open-rate strategies
Just as we know users won’t open an email that doesn’t display or load easily, increasingly distracted Americans who are already inundated with content will also ignore emails that don’t catch their attention in approximately three to four seconds. Yes, attention spans are disturbingly short. So even if your email template is super slick and responsive, if the subject line or headline doesn’t compel viewers to read, learn or act more, your legal email is as dead as a delete.
There are plenty of online resources available to help you write better attention-grabbing headlines to encourage a higher email open rate, but in general delivering an intentional variety of short messages (about 50 characters or five to seven words) is most effective. Using non-spamy/salesy phrases, compelling questions, deadline-driven words, calls to action and commands, lists and tips, and multimedia links are also successful open-rate strategies.
Personalization and localization are also becoming very important for boosting email open rates. Stats from Experian showed promotional emails that were personalized, for example with someone’s name, had a 29% higher unique open rate and 41% higher unique click rates than generic email messages. Picture those well-timed emails you get from a favorite clothing brand, for example, offering a discount on your birthday or with a personalized welcome note after joining a loyalty program. This kind of email personalization can be adapted appropriately for the lifecycle of legal client.
Likewise localizing your email campaigns by adding a city name in your recipients’ subject line is also increasingly effective. Leverage your database information to segment and market to specific clients in specific areas. Tangentially, this could also help prospective clients associate your law firm as a local or regional expert in a particular area of law.
Acting on email metrics
Possibly the most important strategy of all in attorney email marketing in 2016 is regularly monitoring and mining the data you’re capture through your email efforts—and making adjustments as needed. Tracking and learning from key indicators including the big three in email—click-through, click-to-open and conversion rates—will help you hone your e-campaign to precision. Nearly every third-party email tool and template comes with analytics baked right in. You just need someone to help you read the recipe and possibly tweak the ingredients of your emails.
The beauty of digital marketing initiatives like email is they can be easily modified when they aren’t working. This allows law firms to test-market different messages and approaches in both content and design, without spending much money. That said, too much experimenting could turn off clients, so once you settle on some solid strategies use them as a baseline to maintain brand consistency going forward.
Need more insight on how to improve your database-driven email marketing? Currently representing over 90 law firms around the country, Network Affiliates has the answers attorneys are looking for. We are here to provide a free and confidential evaluation of your current legal advertising and marketing strategies: (888) 461-1016