Legal Marketing & Web Design Blog

Thursday, December 6, 2012

The 7 Cardinal Sins of E-Newsletters

You draft a clever email message and send it off to hundreds, or even thousands, of contacts and there you have it – your firm’s monthly e-newsletter. Seems simple but without the right program, these email blasts can do more harm than good. Just yesterday, we received an email blast from a law firm which committed all of the cardinal sins of e-newsletters. While the greeting was a nice one, the delivery and presentation of information was grotesque and potentially unethical on the part of the firm. We thought we’d share these mistakes so you can make sure your firm doesn’t repeat them by using a well-designed e-newsletter program.

E-Newsletter Sin #1: You can see all other recipients listed

If you asked any attorney if he or she would provide you with a list of their clients, they’d be quick to deny your request. But without an email program designed to properly send an individual email to all recipients, you very well may be sharing your client list with ALL of your contacts. Even if you do remember to BCC your contacts, many email accounts will limit how many recipients can be included on the blind carbon copy.

E-Newsletter Sin #2: There is no way to unsubscribe

One quick way to get your email address added to spam lists is to send out newsletters without an unsubscribe feature. Undoubtedly, there will be recipients who no longer wish to receive the mass emails and without the option to opt out from future mailings, it’s likely that they will send your message to their spam folders. A handful of these “spam marks” and you may find your email account on a few blacklists.

E-Newsletter Sin #3: The newsletter is delivered at a time when most are not checking emails

Without the ability to preschedule newsletters, we often find that firms send out their email blasts at times when most people won’t read them. This is prevalent among solo practitioners because they just don’t have time during the course of the day to send out a blast, so they wait until the evening when they have a few hours to devote to non-billable work. Since e-newsletters are a great top of mind marketing tool, we want to make sure that they are actually being read so sending them when folks are actually up and checking email is the best way to maximize your return. As a general rule of thumb, avoid sending out e-blasts very early in the morning (before 10:00am) or late in the evening (after 8:00pm). Most experts agree that lunch time and just before dinner is best because this is when most people check both their professional and personal email accounts.

E-Newsletter Sin #4: The message is promotional and not informational

Every once in a while, you can get away with sending a message to your clients and colleagues promoting your services but as a general rule of thumb, make sure that all of your monthly e-blasts deliver some sort of value to your recipients. This may come in the form of a helpful article that you recently came across in the local paper or an update on a current law that is likely to affect your readers.

E-Newsletter Sin #5: The message does nothing to stand out in that crowded inbox

Your newsletter should not just be a plain email message. Just as with all marketing pieces, it should be visually appealing with your firm’s branding to make sure it is noticed and most importantly recognized as a message from your firm. If you’re just using a standard email client to send out your blast, you’ll likely be limited in terms of graphics you might include.

E-Newsletter Sin #6: Your messages are just rather boring

Although you probably love your area of practice and all related subject matter, it’s likely that all of your recipients may not share your same interest level. Just as with website copy, make sure that you are writing for your audience in a language they can understand. To keep things interesting, you may consider including some general interest articles which are not legal in nature but still interesting. This will ensure that folks continue to read each of your messages.

E-Newsletter Sin #7: You just have one recipient list and one message for all kinds of contacts

If you want to implement a really effective e-newsletter campaign, it’s essential that you create multiple mailing lists which will allow you to draft more targeted messaging. In the case of your firm, you may have one list for current clients, one list for fellow advisors and yet another for referral sources. If you use a basic email client like Outlook or Thunderbird, sending out different messages to multiple mailing lists (ideally using BCC for each), is truly a nightmare.

A more advanced e-newsletter platform can help you avoid all of these common mistakes. Zola Creative provides an integrated Email Management System which allows you to send email blasts to all of your contacts right through the Site Manager. It sports a number of features including optional recipient groups, auto-unsubscribe, integrated branding as well as scheduling capabilities. This service is included as part of our basic monthly hosting package. For firms who also need a bit of assistance creating compelling content, we’re please to offer Insight in Motion™ which features hundreds of legal articles as well as general interest pieces to keep your messages interesting to all recipients.