E-newsletters are one of the most effective strategies we have seen for driving traffic to, and keeping visitors on your website. When I review our Essentials clients' website statistics, I notice a few things specific to their e-newsletter distribution:
- A spike in total visits to the website on the day the e-newsletter goes out;
- That spike usually lasts for about three more days, showing a nice bump in website visits for about a week, directly from the enewsletter distribution;
- The animated newsletter on the website is consistently one of the most popular pages in the website, in terms of visits; and
- Past issues of the animated newsletter, indexed and archived on the website, are also among the most popular pages -- both for website entry and for total visits.
Overall -- if I had to choose one strategy to the exclusion of all others to drive traffic to your website, I would have to choose a properly deployed e-newsletter. Properly executed, the e-newsletter is even more important than blogging. Why? Because both your website and your blog are passive marketing channels -- which means they reside on the web and must wait for visitors to find them. Your e-newsletter, on the other hand, is an active marketing channel. You actively send it out to your target audience, and if it is designed properly, it will bring those people back to your website (and your blog) ... not just once, but over and over.
So -- what do I mean by a "properly deployed" e-newsletter? Here are the key components that will make an e-newsletter a vital aspect of your practice development plan. Without them, you risk wasting your time at best, and irritating your best clients, prospects and referral sources at worst. By all means, you do not want your e-newsletter to be perceived as annoying spam!
- A carefully developed e-mail distribution list, large enough to make an impact.
Include professional advisors, clients, networking contacts, prospects from your other marketing efforts (such as workshop attendees), and those who have opted-in from visiting your website.
- An Integrated Three-Part Package
Your e-newsletter should not be a stand-alone tool. It should be seamlessly integrated into your marketing, an adjunct to your website, a promotion for your workshops, and a feeder to your blog. The three parts of your integrated e-newsletter should be:
- The email -
A well-designed email that is consistently rendered across email clients. Don't get too fancy, and forego the graphics. Keep it simple, but include valuable, relevant content; "teasers" of your articles with links to read the entire newsletter on your website (not just online, but on your website); links to contact you directly; navigation links to your website; and unsubscribe information.
Your email distribution also should go through a dedicated server that is maintained for this purpose and NOT through your law firm's email. By using a dedicated server, you tap into the professional expertise that keeps your enewsletter (and your law firm's email) from being black-listed.
- The Website Version
Do not email your entire newsletter. Your email should be short, enticing people to click-through to read the rest of the story on your website. Thus, the newsletter should reside ON YOUR WEBSITE.
The website version should include social media share links so viewers can easily share your articles on social media, or forward them by email to a friend. There should be a print-friendly version for your viewers who like to print things out (yes, some people still do this!). Also, by publishing your newsletter directly to your website -- not as pdf -- you are adding valuable, relevant, keyword-rich content to your website every month. A new site map submission will get your website re-indexed, and boost your SEO.
- The Index and Archive
Your newsletters should be archived and indexed right on your website -- and NOT as pdf files! By adding engaging, relevant content to your website every month, you are increasing the number of indexed pages for your website -- and boosting your site's SEO. You also are providing more engaging content for your website visitors, keeping them on your site longer. When website visitors click around through your website, you have a better chance of converting them into clients.
Also, Google "knows" when visitors "bounce off" your website. When visitors do not linger, Google says your website is not valuable, and they punish you in their rankings.
Finally -- it is much easier to gain new subscribers if visitors can read back issues, and see the value you are providing.
Our Essentials clients use a unique e-newsletter system that includes an animated newsletter on their website. This animated document really adds punch to the website, consistently ranks as among the most popular of their entire website, and includes powerful social media sharing features. Additionally, every Essential e-newsletter is distributed through our dedicated server, keeping our clients CAN-SPAM compliant and providing a robust statistical tracking system for their marketing efforts.
You can see a sample on Kyle's website. Visit his enewsletter archive, then click on any of the links to review the animated newsletter. Also, Kyle has recorded a short video for website visitors, explaining more about his e-newsletter. Be sure to click the play button and watch that video, too. (Or you could watch just the video here.)