Email marketing is one of the most important marketing tools at your disposal. It allows you to connect with your target audience, building relationships with clients and prospects in a personalized way, at an affordable cost. However, before you can begin sharing your marketing messages, you’ll need to start with a subscriber list.
Whether you’re a new attorney starting from scratch or you’re a seasoned vet with a large existing database of contacts, it’s important that you continue to grow your list of subscribers. Doing so can be relatively easy, with the use of email marketing software, such as MailChimp, Constant Contact, or keap, formerly known as Infusionsoft. Pro Tip: Unless you have a large marketing department, keep it simple! MailChimp is extremely user-friendly, has a ton of features, and a very short learning-curve.
Once you establish an account with one of the email marketing platforms, building a list is as easy as deciding on an offer, such as access to a report, video, or e-book, creating a webform in the software, then putting the signup form on your website.
In the United States, the federal CAN-SPAM law requires that marketers get permission from their contacts before they can send promotional emails to them.
When someone fills out a signup form on your website, they are generally giving consent for you to contact them. The permission granted to receive marketing emails can be explicit or implied.
Explicit permission is given when you ask an individual for permission to send them marketing emails and they agree. The recipient has to opt-in to receive your emails, orally, in writing, or via a form on your website.
Implied consent means that you’ve had a prior relationship with a contact but have not obtained express consent to send them emails. Perhaps someone filled out a Contact Us or download form, attended a seminar, or reached out to you via a Live Chat lead. You are permitted to send email marketing messages to anyone who’s given you either explicit or implied consent.
If you’ve been in practice for any length of time, you may already have a database of contacts that you’d like to market to. MailChimp, Constant Contact, and virtually all other email marketing platforms allow you to add existing contacts, however there are some important requirements and best practices to keep in mind:
- Don’t use third-party lists that you’ve purchased or rented. The majority of these emails are often invalid. Additionally, using third-party lists is typically a violation of most platforms’ Terms of Service
- Get and maintain proper permission. Never import contacts that have not given you permission to market to them
- Re-engage or unsubscribe inactive contacts. Periodically re-engage inactive contacts to confirm their interest in your law firm. If your inactive subscribers don’t respond to your re-engagement campaign, it’s best to unsubscribe them
Cleaning Your List
If you’ve been collecting email addresses over the course of many years, chances are your list has gone stale. According to online marketing giant Hubspot, email marketing lists naturally degrade by approximately 22.5% every year. People change jobs, get married and change names, and/or change email providers from time to time and their emails become invalid.
There are some serious consequences if your list is not updated and you keep sending emails to these nonexistent addresses.
- Decreased email deliverability – Deliverability is one of the most important email marketing metrics; a high deliverability rate means that the majority of your messages are being seen by your contacts. As your deliverability rate lowers, so does your reputation with internet service providers (ISPs). A bad reputation will lower your deliverability even further.
- Increased sending costs – Email marketing platforms typically charge based on the number of subscribers on your list. As you grow your list, your fee will increase if you don’t.
- Account suspended – Most importantly, bounce back emails will impact your email marketing account and your ability to send emails. Here at the Academy, there’s unfortunately been a time or two when a law firm imported a large, old email list, without first updating. Their accounts were frozen by MailChimp and it took quite a bit of effort to get the accounts reinstated.
Email List Cleaning Services
Now, if you have a large email list and it’s been a while since you’ve updated it, you’ll likely want to look into a third-party service that provides email verification. The process is very simple: you upload your email list to their platform, then the service runs through a series of verification steps to validate each email and returns a list of invalid email addresses. Some services will remove the addresses for you, while others will simply highlight the bad addresses for you to remove. Most of these services charge on a per record basis, but with pricing as low as $0.0040 / email, it’s an investment worth making.
Here are a few such services:
Once you’ve cleaned your list and imported it into your email marketing platform of choice, be sure to make contact management an ongoing activity. Contacts that go bad should be regularly removed from your list. By continuing to maintain your existing list while adding new subscribers, you’ll quickly grow your contact list as well as your ability to target your emails to the right prospects and clients.
Director, Web and Online Marketing Services
American Academy of Estate Planning Attorneys, Inc.
9444 Balboa Avenue, Suite 300
San Diego, California 92123
Phone: (858) 453-2128
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