Email marketing should be a core part of everyone’s marketing strategy.

Email marketing is still the most effective marketing channel surpassing social media and SEO. It is simply because people use email more than other platforms.

I find so many B2B businesses aren’t sending emails as often to communicate with their clients and prospects and are instead relying on social media to distribute their content and other information– and this is a big mistake.

There is no better and direct way to reach clients and prospects (if your contact list is updated and segmented) than email. It is particularly important for boutique, small- and mid-size firms to utilize email to stay top of mind with their referrals and clients.

Why? Because it helps you stay top of mind. It also puts the content directly into their inboxes, your name appears front and center in their inbox – whereas on LinkedIn or any other social platform, they may or may not see your post due to whether they are on that social platform at that moment, whether that piece of content gets buried in their news feed due to their settings and LinkedIn’s tricky algorithm.

As I mentioned above, you simply don’t know if or when someone is on social media at any given moment on any given day. And that means they may or may not see your content. But we know business professionals are on their email all day long. That’s why sometimes good old email is the most effective and direct way to reach your target audience.

So, if you write a substantive blog post or article (which you should be doing) or are hosting a virtual event and want to make sure your clients and prospects know about it, make sure to send it directly to your mailing list so you increase the likelihood that they will see it.

You should use email to build upon existing relationships with your clients and prospects by providing relevant, valuable information.

Remember, your clients, prospects, referrals, alumni, media and others who are on your lists actually prefer to communicate with your company through email because it is permission based. The people on your list actually signed up because they want to get updates from you.

A great benefit of email marketing is that it’s incredibly easy to track your ROI. Everything is trackable with the use of email marketing software so you can determine who is opening your emails, who is clicking onto your site through your emails and more.

Why should you use email marketing?

  • It helps to build relationships with your prospects, referrals and clients.
  • It helps to boost brand awareness. By sending periodic emails to a targeted audience, your company and your services remain top-of-mind for when your prospects need someone with your expertise.
  • It enables you to promote your content. Email is an effective and direct way to share thought leadership content.
  • It facilitates lead generation. You can encourage individuals to provide their personal information in exchange for signing up for your e-newsletters.
  • It enables you to promote your products and services (just always remember to show versus tell and use case studies and thought leadership to sell your services).
  • It helps you build your brand. By providing others with content that can help them succeed in their goals, you become a trusted resource and expert.

How do you create an email marketing strategy?

Here are some steps to take when planning out your email marketing strategy. Note that some of these may be done simultaneously.

  • Set your goals
  • Start building a targeted email list
  • Research and choose the right email marketing platform
  • Know your audience and understand their pain points
  • Craft compelling email content
  • Create an email marketing content calendar and plan out what you will say and when you will distribute the content

To whom should you send emails?

  • Clients
  • Former clients
  • VIP contacts
  • Alumni
  • Recruits
  • Laterals in the pipeline
  • Referral sources
  • Prospects
  • Reporters with whom you have relationships

What types of emails should you send?

  • Content, including blog posts, client alerts, published articles and other thought leadership pieces
  • Event and CLE announcements
  • Announcements, including lateral arrivals, lawyer promotions, the launch of a new practice/service area
  • Holiday greeting
  • Periodic firm news (but write these in a client-centric tone)

What is email marketing software?

Many companies and individuals send unformatted mass emails by bcc and use attachments. This is a huge mistake as these emails likely won’t reach your target audience and if they do, they will go unnoticed.

Email marketing software make sending and monitoring email campaigns easier. Your email marketing software will help you create templates so your emails are aesthetically pleasing, send out emails on your behalf and monitor how your subscribers interact with your emails.

You can also use email marketing software to track analytics like clickthrough rates, open rates, bouncebacks and conversions.

What should your email say/include?

  • Include a high-resolution image, a headline in bold font and body copy in short paragraphs to make it easy for the reader to skim the email.
  • Get to the point quickly – within the first paragraph of the text – or the reader will lose interest and move on.
  • Always include links to the bios of any professionals mentioned in the email as well as the practices/industries noted in the email.
  • Provide the contact information of the professionals mentioned in the email so someone who is interested in learning more can easily contact them.

Here are some email marketing best practices:

  • Email marketing is all about expectations, and it’s up to you to set them. Always write great content that educates, informs and helps others.
  • Ensure you use a strong headline so that readers want to open your emails.
  • Within the email itself, use short paragraphs and sub headers to break up block text as most readers skim articles.
  • Personalized emails have 26% higher open rates, and an improved click-through rate of 14% when compared to others according to Hubspot. Many email marketing platforms enables you to set up personalized tokens.
  • Consider sending a personalized note to VIP contacts along with the content letting the recipient know you were thinking of them and why they might find the article of interest.
  • Be sure to comply with advertising, GDPR, CAN-SPAM and professional ethics rules when you email content (so people can easily unsubscribe and you have your address, social media information, disclaimer and copyright information. If you use an email marketing platform – which you should – you will cover your bases on most of these.

Here’s how to ensure that your emails are CAN-SPAM compliant:

  • Include your company name and address in every email.
  • Place visible unsubscribe links within your emails.
  • Use real email addresses in the “From” and “Reply to” fields.
  • Write subject lines that indicate the content of the email.

How do you build your email list?

  • Ask your employees to contribute contacts to your master firm list. Hopefully you have a CRM system to house this information so that the information is automatically fed from their Outlook address books into the contact management system, but if not, you can work around it with some manual upkeep. Designate someone in charge of maintaining the list and working with employees to update contacts.
  • Develop a free ebook or whitepaper and host it on a landing page that asks visitors to provide their email address in order to download it. This is called a “gated offer.”
  • Create free online tools make your users’ lives easier and to access them, they just need to sign up with their email address.
  • Create a blog to which readers can subscribe. Blog posts help you increase your ranking on search engines like Google, and enable you collect blog subscribers that you can then add to email campaigns.
  • Webinars are a great way to collect email addresses. Advertise the webinar on social channels, including LinkedIn and ensure your employees share it to their valuable networks.

Ideas to expand the reach of your content:

  • Encourage subscribers to share and forward your emails. Include social sharing buttons and an “Email” button in your marketing emails. That way, you’ll gain access to their friends, colleagues and networks and expand your contact list. At the bottom of your emails, include a “Subscribe” CTA as a simple text-based link so that those receiving the forwarded emails can easily opt-in too.
  • If you have any underutilized employees right now (if you don’t, you can also outsource it), task them with updating your email lists and reconciling bounceback emails. Take the time to update your email lists so that your next e-mailings will have even greater reach.
  • Pull the statistics from each email campaign (give it one week after distribution for the most complete and accurate info). The four most important statistics are open rates, clickthrough rates, unsubscribes and bouncebacks.
  • With most email marketing platforms, you can see exactly who opened the email and on which links they clicked. This is very useful intelligence. Use this information to your advantage to create more of what did well and less of what did not. Make sure to send these statistics to the authors as well to inform their future blog and thought leadership efforts.
  • In addition, segment your lists so that you are not blanketing your entire contact/client/prospect list with content that is not tailored to their interests. Segmentation is breaking up your large email list into sub categories that pertain to your subscribers’ unique characteristics, interests and preferences. Sending generic email blasts can send the wrong content to the wrong people and losing subscribers. So for example, create mailing lists by industry and practice (intellectual property, litigation, M&A, China, COVID-19, C-suite, etc.).

Remember you’re a guest who is invited into the inboxes of your subscribers. Your emails are always just one click away from losing their interest forever. Your job is to always deliver value and to a create remarkable email content that makes people want to stay subscribed and forward your emails to their own network.

I hope these tips are helpful – I am of course a huge proponent of the power of social media, but don’t underestimate the effectiveness of email marketing to directly reach your prospects, referrals, important contacts, alumni, the media and of course, your clients.