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Over the last few months, email marketing giant Mailchimp has introduced a fuller and more robust set of marketing automation tools.

Law firms can use these features to automatically and precisely target leads based on information including their history with a business, their demographics, how they have interacted with past content and when they subscribed.

Email distribution remains one of the most effective online marketing tools, even as SEO and social media have become mainstays alongside it. While firm websites and social media sites require the client to seek out a firm, email marketing allows lawyers to proactively reach out to clients and leads. Email contact makes it possible to maintain awareness even during periods where a client is not actively utilizing services, or when a lead is not yet ready to convert.

At the same time, email marketing requires careful strategy to be effective. Clients and leads who receive emails that do not seem interesting or relevant can quickly click away, send the email to the spam folder or unsubscribe. As such, email content should be carefully developed and distributed to specific clients at specific times.

One of the biggest advantages of email marketing is its ability to hone in on different segments of one’s clientele through marketing automation. Automation simplifies actions which would be prohibitively lengthy and complicated to perform manually.

In addition to facilitating the complete use of developed content, marketing automation makes it possible to plan out and design campaigns far in advance, allowing users to plan their email marketing around their other obligations (rather than moving obligations around to deal with email marketing later on).

In this vein, Mailchimp’s new automation workflows allow users to plan out campaigns over a period of time.

The applications of automation are significant. At a firm with multiple practice areas, estate planning clients can receive emails focusing on estate planning, while business clients receive information on business law. Past clients can receive content different from what potential clients get. New subscribers may receive an email immediately upon subscribing, which can vary based on which landing page they came from.

In addition, email marketing helps firms get the most value out of their carefully constructed content. The same automated workflows can be used repeatedly as new people subscribe. Emails can also be used to reach clients with “evergreen” content, or content which was created months or years ago but is still relevant today. As a result, firms need less content overall for their marketing campaigns. At the same time, automation leaves plenty of room to send out time-sensitive content.

Mailchimp’s automation tools help by allowing businesses to target specific people with specific content at specific times -- all automatically controlled by its workflows. In recent months, Mailchimp has made the switch to autoresponders to automation workflows, and its email marketing automation tools have become easier to use and more abundant.

Automation Triggers

Automation triggers cause a client to receive emails based on previous actions. Mailchimp’s new automation triggers allow users to signal which emails should be sent to them based on what they have clicked on or enjoyed in previous email campaigns. Clients get content they are already interested in, which makes them more likely to keep reading and stay engaged.

For example, if a client clicked through on special offers and information about business litigation in a past campaign, but passed over company updates and information about personal injury litigation, automation triggers can send prepared emails covering subjects that are likely to be of interest to that client.

Automation triggers can also respond to subscribers' website activity. If a subscriber has recently viewed certain website pages, for example, that information can trigger automated emails encouraging the subscriber to sign up for related services.

Automation Workflows

In the past, Mailchimp offered autoresponder campaigns, which automatically sent emails based on specific actions or conditions. Autoresponders could be linked to one another and triggered by a variety of actions. This summer, the website introduced automation workflows, which allow users to control how a series of emails is handled over time. Automation workflows allow users to perform actions like setting up an automatic welcome email or an annually recurring sequence of emails.

Users can also create custom workflows through the website, providing significant flexibility for firms who would like to create workflows beyond the templates offered by Mailchimp. Automation workflows can be customized to meet almost any email marketing goal.

Mailchimp is accommodating the switch from autoresponders to automated workflows, so users who have worked to develop effective autoresponders can switch to the more effective and comprehensive workflows without giving up valued email content. Users can simply import their autoresponders into the desired workflow, then add any desired workflow specifications. From the subscribers’ side, the transition will be seamless.

Users can import autoresponders by using a bulk option, which makes it possible to import a large amount of legacy email content quickly. Users can also import just one autoresponder email by using “Replicate to Automation,” which creates an automation email identical to the autoresponder, including the same settings.

Timing

Many email marketing messages are time-sensitive. A release on a current event should go out promptly, establishing the firm as an authority on the subject. Information about an event the company is participating in should be administered numerous times near the event to drum up awareness. A tax attorney, for example, might use email to reach current and potential clients with key information as tax season approaches or as the quarter ends.

The precise timing of emails can impact both their response and how the firm is able to meet that response. Marketing automation can be tailored to send out emails based on a trigger immediately, regardless of the time and date. Alternatively, emails might be sent out only during weekdays or business hours. It is often prudent to restrict emails so that those which urge clients to contact the firm directly only go out during business hours. Over time, automation reporting can be used to determine which method produces the most engagement and conversion.

Mailchimp’s automation tools allow firms to precisely time when emails should go out. Emails for upcoming events can be prepared and scheduled in advance, allowing the automation to take care of the rest.

Followup

Mailchimp allows users to draw on data from past clients. That data can be useful in targeting clients with information relevant to their previous experiences with the firm. A client who has utilized services extensively in the past should be targeted with different automation workflows than a client who has used different services or who has used services more conservatively. Law firms especially value the ability to separate clients by the type of services they have utilized, although there is often some overlap over the years.

In addition, marketing automation can be used to automatically seek feedback from clients after meeting for a consultation, concluding a case or hosting an event. Client reviews can allow the firm to identify strengths and weaknesses.

Call to Action

The ultimate goal of email marketing is to convert leads and gain clients. What conversion looks like can vary depending on one’s field, which means that the call to action will vary as well. Litigation attorneys are typically focused on capturing the business of a potential client who is in the midst of a litigation-worthy crisis. In contrast, business attorneys or estate planning attorneys may focus on bringing back past clients for regular maintenance just as much as they focus on seeking new clients.

Marketing automation allows firms to pair email workflows with calls to action. A past client may be urged to use the firm’s web portal to make an annual appointment, while a potential client may be asked to sign up for SMS updates about an upcoming event. The call to action can and should be specifically tailored to the automation workflow.

Reporting

Mailchimp’s reporting has always been one of its strengths. With the latest update, users can sign up for daily automation reports, which provide highlights of the previous day’s activities. This allows for continual and prompt performance monitoring.

The reporting tool allows users to view reports for entire workflows or for individual emails, so that users can look at the broader picture of how a campaign performed and break down how individual portions of the campaign succeeded or still require alterations.

Reporting is one of the most indispensable features for any automation campaign. Reporting allows users to examine how subscribers respond to workflows and emails, and how that response translates into conversions. Reports allow firms to focus on developing more content and workflows that get results, while abandoning or altering ineffective methods. Firms can use the information to make alterations to the workflow mid-campaign, or they may wait until a campaign’s conclusion to tweak it.

Mailchimp’s new automation tools add value to email marketing campaigns. With automated email marketing, law firms can target clients with carefully chosen information at specific times, using that content to eventually convert clients. Automation also makes it easy to measure how effective an email campaign is.

About Author

Alisha Corbitt is a former Bigger Law Magazine staff contributor.

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