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E-mail newsletters have become a standard—and very popular—form of online marketing. They allow you to distribute value-add information to clients and prospects, while also driving traffic to your Web site by using hyperlinks to your pages in the body of the e-mail. And in this economy, where cost-cutting efforts are especially appreciated, it’s good to know they offer a considerable bang for your buck—but only when they are well executed. Here are best practices to follow.
1. E-mail Subject line. Use the newsletter title and a reference to the strongest headline. There is no need to include the issue date. It just adds clutter in a Subject line. Be sure to check with your state bar to see if additional language is required.
2. Hyperlinks. Place hyperlinks on titled items and avoid the phrase “Click Here.” Also include hyperlinks to other sites and all e-mail addresses.
3. Navigation. Include navigation tools in the layout to point readers to “Visit This Practice Site,” “Contact Us,” “Subscribe” and “Unsubscribe” so readers can quickly get to the right spots on your Web site.
4. Other services. If the newsletter is specific to one practice group or type of service, consider including cross-selling promotions and links to your firm’s other practices.
5. Teasers. On average, readers spend only 15 to 20 seconds on each e-mail that they open. So emails need to be punchy—use teasers to get readers to click on hyperlinks to the full articles on the Web.
6. Length. Reading e-mails is very different from reading print. It’s best to limit news item to three to four paragraphs. Limit paragraphs to two to three sentences. Limit sentences to no more than two lines. Refrain from using footnotes in emails; instead, place them in the online document.
7. Font. Studies have shown that the most legible fonts on the Web are sans serif fonts, with Verdana being the most legible.
8. Timing. Distribute on a Tuesday or Wednesday before 2 p.m. E-mails distributed on Friday afternoons are often overlooked or deleted on the weekend and Monday morning.
9. E-mail method. Do not send mass e-mails by Bcc’ing a blanket group. Instead, use the appropriate technology to create individualized and personalized e-mails. Sending via Bcc could potentially lead to being blacklisted by some companies if their e-mail system detects and blocks this type of contact.
10. ROI measurement. Remember, you are posting the content to the Web, then pushing readers from the e-mail to the Web to generate more Web traffic and interest in your practice. Measuring e-mail open rates is still a dubious science, so use Web traffic measurement tools instead to gauge your success. They are much more reliable.
Lisa Salazar, a non-practicing attorney, is the Internet Marketing Manager at Fulbright & Jaworski in Houston.