E-alerts: strategic powerhouse or missed opportunity?

Electronic alerts are the workhorses of a strong marketing program. They’re cost-effective, quick to prepare and provide numerous ways to keep your firm top-of-mind.

E-alerts can also help you meet key strategic goals:

  • Forge or support relationships with targeted clients and prospects
  • Remind former clients of your skills
  • Establish your firm as thought leaders in a chosen area
  • Drive traffic to your website

Unfortunately, although they are your most frequent touchpoint with clients and prospects, e-alerts are often rushed out the door. So many are ignored because recipients don’t expect information that will make their lives easier. Follow these best-practice tips to create e-alerts with strategic impact.

Target your audience
E-alerts are welcome when they cover issues that either pose a real risk or present an unusual opportunity. Send a mass mailing of low value and you risk having future e-alerts ignored or discarded. Always ask yourself, does this alert really add value? Online resources like MailChimp and Constant Contact can help you segment your content by industry, issue, news or company. When you send valuable, targeted information, you also send the message that you understand your readers’ interests and respect their time—a strong foundation for a professional relationship.

Also consider expanding your mailing list beyond clients and prospects. Instead of a pitch or hard sell, use e-alerts to establish a rapport with media and influencers, or to keep in touch with alumni.

Be timely
Readers like their news the way they like their coffee—fresh and hot. If you take too long to send your e-alert out, someone has probably gotten there before you and it won’t be read. (A longer “think piece” may also be welcome if the topic is important.) Be consistent—let your audience know they can count on you to stay on top of key issues.

Grab and keep your reader’s attention
Your subject line often determines whether your e-alert will be opened or discarded. Your goal is to briefly and engagingly state what your topic is and why it matters to the reader. A provocative headline can also prompt the reader to look at that all-important first paragraph.

Your goal is to briefly and engagingly state what your topic is and why it matters to the reader.

Once the reader clicks through, the e-alert should have a clear point of view and not simply reiterate information available from other sources. The best e-alerts provide actionable steps the reader can take. Most important, your e-alert should be concise. The public’s appetite for long blocks of text diminishes each year; anything longer than 1,000-2,000 words won’t hold their interest. 

Design responsively
More and more, e-alerts are being read on mobile devices—and your design should respond. Smaller screens need simpler layouts. While using images, videos and icons can draw readers in and help them scan for content, be selective about how many you include. In addition, we recommend avoiding sidebars and other elements that can clutter the page. You can keep your design minimalist and drive traffic to your website by starting with a short amount of copy and then inviting the viewer to “read more.” 

Track your data
An oft-overlooked benefit of e-alerts is the strategic insight they provide. Use Google Analytics, Mailchimp, Constant Contact or your preferred service to help you track and compare what content gets the best response. By measuring open, click-through and forward rates, you can see what’s most compelling to clients and prospects. Use that intelligence to plan future e-alerts, webinars or more substantial events.

By keeping your strategic goals in mind, you can prepare e-alerts that punch far above their weight. Make them relevant, helpful and timely, and they’ll enhance your reputation and strengthen your relationships.

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