There is a straightforward and massively overlooked way to improve the effectiveness of your e-newsletter and other electronic communications: sending messages to relevant sub-sections of your recipient list. Just as you wouldn’t send holiday cards that say “Merry Christmas” to folks who don’t celebrate Christmas, you shouldn’t always send a single message to your entire email database. This seems like common-sense advice, but as consultants to law firms, we know that many attorneys violate this rule and few fully appreciate the potential benefits of segmenting their databases.
Let’s use the example of an estate and tax planning law firm to show you a more effective way to maintain your database. At a minimum, keep track of the city, state, and zip code of every potential recipient. You may be attending a conference in a particular city and want to notify only people who live or work nearby. And you may not want to send information about a change in California law to people who live in other states.
Next, identify specific categories of referral sources. In our example (the estate and tax planning firm), this typically includes CPAs and financial advisors, so you should segment your database accordingly. This will, for example, allow you to avoid sending messages to CPAs during the height of tax season.
Most law firms receive many of their referrals from other lawyers, so you should generally segment your database to include at least two sub-categories of attorneys. One category should consist of lawyers who broadly do what you do. The other should contain every other kind of lawyer. Segmenting your database in this way will allow you to write content that is specifically targeted to each audience. You will also be able to send some messages that you don’t want your competitors reading.
Larger law firms need to decide whether to segment their lists by originating attorney or by practice area. It is often most effective for lawyers to contribute their individual email lists to the creation of a larger database. But this is hard to accomplish at firms where lawyers view clients as their clients as opposed to firm clients. This lack of cooperation among partners is more likely to happen at firms with “eat-what-you-kill” compensation plans.
Marketing professionals and advertisers know the power of segmenting your database into finer and more specific segments. Readers respond better and more frequently when they feel that a message is specifically directed to them. And modern e-newsletter services make it easy to identify which segments of your database will receive certain messages.
Market segmentation is a powerful tool for reaching your intended audiences. The first step is to collect and input the data.