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E-mail revamp helps law firm boost open rates, engagement

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Proskauer Rose is a New York-based international law firm with practice areas in corporate law, healthcare, labor and employment, and real estate, among others. Getting the message out to so many different customer segments would be difficult if it wasn't for the company's e-mail program, which generates about 15 different weekly communications for a combined total of about 300,000 e-mails per month. “For the most part it's what you need to know about the latest developments in the law,” said D. Greg Polk, the firm's creative services supervisor.

The company sends out newsletters as well as client alerts—one-topic communications that focus on, for example, a Supreme Court decision or a new law. Other e-mailed content includes event announcements and press releases about the firm. Previously, attorneys wrote their own copy and turned it over to the marketing department to handle the logistics. The stories were then e-mailed, posted on the company's website and blasted out via its RSS feed.

The program has historically been well-received, garnering an open rate of about 11%. However, Polk and the marketing team thought metrics could be even better. To improve the program, they turned to e-mail service provider Concep, which revamped the firm's e-mail strategy and took the changes live in June.

The biggest change, Polk said, is the firm's expanded use of metrics. Now, instead of measuring just opens, Proskauer Rose can track clicks and forwards, which makes it possible to see which topics are the most popular. One of the things Polk and his team discovered was that the headlines the lawyers were writing were too long and complex, he said. “We saw that if something was very dry and long—three sentences—it didn't get opened,” he said. “We started focusing more on creating good headlines and intro paragraphs; and as soon as we did that, our response levels started getting better.”

Polk and his team began using search engine optimization strategies when writing headlines. “We learned that we needed to make sure that certain keywords are in the headlines,” he said. “We realized that putting keywords and better headlines [into e-mails] got us increased traffic.”

Combined, those small changes added up to a big jump in Proskauer Rose's open rates. Today, the firm's e-mail marketing messages are getting a 15%-to-17% open rate, about a 50% jump. But more important, the e-mail program is helping the firm better communicate with clients. “It's giving us a better foundation in the conversation that's going on,” Polk said.

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