Frequently Asked Questions about Email Marketing
Below are some questions many clients have when they first contact Foster Web Marketing about the online marketing world.
The questions below may address many initial concerns you may have. If you don't find your answers here, you should contact us for answers to any questions specific to your firm.
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How often should I send an email newsletter?
There is no one rule for newsletter frequency that will work for every business that wants to send one. Instead, if you want it to be truly effective, the answer is going to be totally unique to your business and your newsletter subscribers.
That’s because the best email newsletter schedule for you is going to be highly dependent on a lot of factors, including:
- How fast you and your team can realistically produce a compelling newsletter
- The type of business you run
- Your subscribers’ preferences
- The type of content your newsletter contains
- Your goals for your newsletter
The real trick is finding out what works best for you, without losing consistency or the interest of your readers.
Need some guidelines to get your head around it? Here are our best tips and methods for finding the “sweet spot” for email newsletter frequency.
Consistency Is More Important Than Frequency
For law firms (and similar businesses, like medical practices), we typically recommend that you start with a monthly or quarterly newsletter and commit to sticking to that schedule consistently for 6 months or a year. That gives you enough time to orient your readers, polish any rough edges in the production process, and see the initial performance trends. After that, you can adjust the frequency, if needed.
It’s okay to start small! In the end, it’s far more important to send your newsletter consistently than it is to send it frequently. For example, sending a quarterly newsletter that’s delivered on time will be more beneficial to your business than attempting to send a monthly newsletter that gets delivered sporadically—or not at all. You can always increase the frequency later if your readers are engaged and wanting more.
Test and Analyze the Frequency of Your Email Newsletter
We recommend that you start with a monthly or quarterly newsletter, but we’ve seen businesses and individual thought leaders succeed with newsletters that are sent out anywhere from once a year to twice a week. That’s why we so strongly recommend that you analyze your performance over time to figure out what’s “just right” for you and your readers.
If you’ve been sending a newsletter for a while, you should already have enough data to get an idea of how it is performing for you—and don’t just look at open rates! Click-throughs and opt-outs are often what really tell the story of the success of a campaign.
An increasingly high number of opt-outs after a change in newsletter frequency can be a sign that you’re contacting your list too often (or that you need to work on managing your email contact list), and an increasingly low number of click-throughs might be a sign that you’re overwhelming your readers. Again, this isn’t a set-in-stone rule—there are lots of reasons you might see changes in your email data. However, watching those kinds of trends can tip you off that something isn’t working as well as it could after a change.
Ask Your Subscribers How Often They Want to Hear From You
Sometimes, it’s easiest to get answers right from the source. You can guess how often your subscribers want to hear from you, and you can look at the data after the fact. However, nothing is going to give you answers about how often your subscribers want to get your newsletter like just asking them!
Send out a quick survey that lets the people on your list tick off the newsletter frequency that they would prefer (monthly, quarterly, etc.), and see what your audience thinks is the right amount of contact. You could also use this as an opportunity to ask for feedback on the type of content they enjoy the most or would like to see in the future.
Partner With Us for No-Stress Email Newsletters That Rock
Email newsletters are a great way to start reaching out to your contact list, but not every attorney has the time and resources to prepare one every month. If you’ve been struggling to keep up with your newsletter, or if you just don’t have time to get one started, let us do it for you.
Check out our completely done-for-you newsletter packages, or give us a call at 888.886.0939 with your questions.
What is the best length of time for an email campaign?
Email campaigns are a powerful way to reach out to your perfect clients, whether you are breaking the ice, following up, or letting them know about something new. The problem is that, if you send email too often, you end up seeming pushy. If you don’t send email often enough, then you risk your contacts forgetting who you are and what you do.
So, what is the right length of time for an email campaign? It all depends on who you are reaching out to and what you want to accomplish.
1. It Depends on Your Goals for Your Email Campaign
What are you trying to do with your email campaign? Your goals have a lot to do with how many emails you should send and for how long.
If you are just trying to introduce yourself or a new service, a handful of emails over a few weeks might be just right. If you want to educate clients who have already signed up for your services, it might be more appropriate to break up the information over many emails that are sent out over 6 months or a year.
Here are some “ballpark” ideas for 2 common goals to get you started:
- For following up after a book download, we usually recommend starting with weekly emails over 8 to 12 weeks.
- For a “blast” campaign about an upcoming event or special offer, we might recommend sending a few emails on an increasingly smaller time scale as the event date approaches.
Feeling lost? If you are a Foster Web Marketing client and need help figuring out the right length for your email campaign based on your goals, just reach out to our team at 888.886.0939 for guidance.
2. It Depends on Who You Are Reaching Out To
People who don’t know you probably don’t want to get stuck hearing from you for the next year or two. People you do have a relationship with will be happier to hear from you more often.
If you are managing your email contact list with appropriate tags, then you should know exactly who you are reaching out to with a particular email campaign—and that will help guide the length and frequency of contact.
For example, if you are sending email “cold” to new contacts, we might recommend that you keep it short and sweet, with prominent options to either “unsubscribe” or officially sign up for more information. If you are reaching out to past clients, then we might recommend that you reach out less often (for example, monthly instead of weekly), but over a longer period of time.
This is also the time to think about how many of your other campaigns your contacts are subscribed to. If a big portion of your audience is already receiving your newsletter and your book’s drip campaign, they may not be as open to getting yet another intensive, long-term series of emails from you.
It’s all about thinking through what your contacts and perfect clients want to see from you and tailoring the length of your campaigns to meet their needs and expectations.
3. It Depends on How Long it Takes to Convert Your Perfect Clients
How long does it take to convert the contacts that are most important to your business? We can give you “ballpark” ideas based on who you’re reaching out to and why, but nothing will give you concrete answers about what works like testing the campaigns you try.
Ultimately, everyone’s perfect clients and contact lists are different, and what they are selling is unique. You can start with an informed guess, but the real answers will lie in the numbers you get from what you’ve tried. For example, you might start a drip campaign for your book offer with a length of 8 weeks. If you see a lot of engagement fall off after week 6, then you might want to test a 6-week campaign. If there is still a ton of engagement at week 8, you might want to test a 12-week campaign. This is a simple example, but the cool thing about email is that you can get very granular in your testing and analysis.
Track your emails. Look at how well they have performed for your goals. Look at the emails that performed the best, and adjust your future campaigns to replicate that success. The data you analyze from your email campaigns is really just your perfect clients telling you exactly what they want.
All the Tools and Expertise You Need to Do Email Right for Your Law Firm
Email is one of the oldest and most effective digital marketing tools out there. It’s easy to get started, but there’s a steep learning curve to true mastery.
Do you need help building email campaigns that convert or figuring out the “sweet spot” for frequency of contact? We have you covered. Find out how we help attorneys get on top of their email marketing, or sign up for a demonstration of the email tools available in DSS.
What is the difference between email clicks and opens?
Tracking and analyzing performance is crucial to the success of your email campaigns, but it isn’t easy to make sense of the numbers you see when you’re first getting started.
One of the most frequent sources of confusion is the difference between the similar-sounding email “opens” and email “clicks.” While they represent very different actions from your recipients, both are key numbers to look for in your analysis and to aim to improve as you move forward.
Any email marketing solution worth using will give you reporting about these metrics, but for the purpose of answering this FAQ, here is what a version of this data would look like in our DSS CRM software email marketing dashboard:
The first step, though, is understanding what you’re looking at. Is “opening” an email really different from “clicking” on it? The answer is yes—and here’s why.
What Do Email “Opens” Mean for My Email Campaign?
“Opens” or “open rates” measure how many people opened up your email and looked at it. Hopefully, they read it, but there’s no guarantee they did any more than glance at it, and there is no way to track how long they looked at the email.
While that may seem really straightforward, there is a hitch. The number of “opens” you see may not represent everyone who viewed your email.
To collect data on the “open,” the recipient must allow HTML and images in their emails. Some people do not, especially on mobile, so you have no way to know if those recipients opened the email you sent. Instead, you’ll see a separate section of your CRM email reporting data that shows those emails were “delivered, not tracked.” This is something to keep in mind as you review an email campaign’s performance, especially if it was targeted for mobile-heavy audiences.
It also worth noting that, since “opens” happen before the recipient has read the content of the email, open rates often have more to do with how your compelling your subject line is and the relationship your law firm has with the recipient.
If your open rates are struggling, you can work on improving your numbers by improving the subject lines you write for your emails.
What Do Email “Clicks” Mean for My Email Campaign?
“Clicks,” “click-throughs,” “click rates,” or “click-through rates” measure how many people clicked on a link within your email.
While “opens” only measures how many people look at your email, your “clicks” represent how many people read the content of your email and were compelled to click through to your target page. For example, the “clicks” for an email about your new book might represent how many people clicked on the link to the offer page from the email you sent.
This is an important number because it helps you measure how effective your emails are at driving traffic to your website and convincing readers to take action.
If you’re getting lots of “opens,” but your “clicks” are suffering, you need to look at the “meat” of your email campaign:
- Do your emails look good? Find out how to build eye-catching emails with the DSS Advanced Email Editor.
- Does your email content speak directly to your audience? Does it make sense and explain how your message or offer is relevant to their lives?
- Did you include a call to action that asks readers to click on the link or button? Do they understand why they’re clicking and what they’ll find when they get there?
Your “click rates” have everything to do with what people see (and how they feel) after they’ve opened your email and started to read, and everyone’s “perfect clients” are different. As you improve and adjust your email content, keep testing your ideas and measuring the results. Good tracking and analysis are the only ways to make sure you’re hitting the mark with the people who matter most to your business.
Do you know how well your emails are performing? Are you happy with the numbers you see when you look at your campaigns? If you need help tracking, analyzing, or improving the emails your law firm sends, reach out to our team at 888.886.0939. You can also learn more about how to do it yourself in DSS.
How can you create effective subject lines for email marketing?
It doesn’t matter how relevant and compelling your email content is if people aren’t opening your emails in the first place. Are your subject lines the problem?
The subject line you choose for your email is one of the first things your audience will see as they scan through their inbox:
It’s also one of the first parts of your email you’re prompted to write when creating a new email campaign in DSS:
Ultimately, subject lines are a key part of what captures attention, motivates people to open your email, and makes them want to learn more. They may only consist of five or ten words, but they are a powerful part of email marketing success!
To make the most of it, every email you send out to your contact lists should feature a unique subject line that not only meets some basic functional guidelines, but also gives readers a reason to dig deeper.
Basic Guidelines for Email Subject Lines
Before we get to the fun part, let’s talk about some of the most basic guidelines for crafting an effective subject line:
- Don’t use spammy words or punctuation. At best, anything in a subject line that sounds overly sales-y is likely to make you look untrustworthy. At worst, your email will be filtered out and marked as spam. Stay on the safe side by avoiding excessive punctuation, buzzwords like “free” or “guaranteed,” words in all caps, and anything else that might be read as dubious in your subject lines.
- Keep it short. While opinions vary on exactly how long your subject lines should run, the consensus is that concise is typically better. Shorter email subject lines tend to be easier to scan and understand, so they’re more likely to grab readers’ attention. Plus, shorter subject lines are less likely to be weirdly truncated on mobile devices.
- Experiment and evaluate. Email marketing lets you hone in on narrow target audiences that are highly specific to your goals, so it’s important to track and test different ideas until you hit the “sweet spot” for your perfect clients. You might try a few different subject lines for each email campaign, and then modify your strategy based on how your unique audiences react. Find out more about how to evaluate and optimize your email campaigns.
Get Creative With a Simple Exercise for Compelling Subject Lines
Once the basics are locked down, it’s time to think about what you can say—in just a few words—that will introduce your email content and compel readers to click.
If you’re not sure how to get started, here’s a quick exercise that we recommend:
- Open your favorite magazine, blog, or article site.
- Write down a few headlines that jump out at you. For this example, let’s say you wrote down “The Secret History of the Vikings,” “Nine Disturbing Facts About Milk,” and “How to Choose the Best Running Shoes.”
- Break each headline down into a formula. For example, “The Secret History of [Topic],” “[X] [Adjective] Facts About [Topic],” and “How to Choose the Best [Product or Service].”
- Under each formula, construct a few potential subject lines based on your practice areas. For example, “The Secret History of Estate Planning,” “Five Honest Facts About Auto Accident Claims,” and “How to Choose the Best Treatment for Heel Spurs.”
- Don’t be afraid to change things around or come up with your own formulas. In the end, you should have a great list of potential subject lines for your email campaigns!
This exercise will definitely give you a good idea of current trends and general expectations, but it doesn’t have to be the limit of your creativity. Some other ideas for crafting subject lines might include:
- Using questions. For example, “Do You Know Your Rights After an Accident?”
- Highlighting deadlines. For example, “Last Chance to Sign Up!”
- Offering a results-oriented preview. For example, “We Helped 43 Truckers Collect Unpaid Overtime”
It’s okay to be creative and have a little fun with your subject lines, where appropriate. The most important thing is that you keep your audience in mind while creating them. Think about who you want to reach with your message. Think about what’s important to them and what motivates them. Always write subject lines that are meant to be read by real people.
Do you need help writing stronger subject lines? Do you have questions about how to succeed with your email campaigns? Don’t hesitate to reach out to our marketing experts to talk about how we can help you optimize your email marketing success.
Can I Track My Direct Mail Campaign In Google Analytics?
Using the resources available from Google Analytics, you can pretty much track any of your legal web marketing efforts. In regards to direct mail, you can place a Quick Response (QR) code in your mailings, which is a special barcode that can be scanned with smartphones and other barcode readers. When the recipient scans your QR code, the data can be sent to Google Analytics for your analysis. A good way to get the consumer to scan your QR code is to tie in a promotional offer along with it.
Another method is to create an alternative, promotional web page on your site, and use Google Analytics to embed a tracking code on the page. This will track promotional traffic referred by the direct mailings. Be sure to place the promotional URL in the mailings! Adding both the QR code and promotional URL gives you a good chance of tracking the results. You also want to make sure you are adding parameters to the URLs that you create.
Tracking direct mail and other offline marketing campaigns can save you money and time. And, if you're already using Google Analytics for tracking your online marketing, you can view your offline results with the same account.
If you're not using Google Analytics and you'd like to, or if you want to have a professional look over your web marketing campaign, give us a call today at 888-886-0939. Foster Web Marketing has been incorporated since 1998, and our mission has always been to provide attorneys with all of their web marketing needs. Also, don't forget to download a copy of our book The 5 Biggest Mistakes 99% of Lawyers Make with Their Websites and learn how to avoid these mistakes yourself.
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