Let’s consider a few examples of good and bad behavior when it comes to market segmentation and automation.
Imagine you are planning a trip to Japan. You have never been there before and want to find out where you should stay, what sites to visit and where you should eat.
If you are like most people, you probably begin your search by going online and conducting a couple of searches. You find a website that seems to have all the information you need. You read a few articles, maybe watch a video and browse through visitor reviews.
The next day, you get an email from that site, it lists the top ten hotels to stay in Tokyo. You find the information very useful and click on a few of the links in that email that take you back to that site.
Upon further examining the site, you decide that you don’t want to stay in Tokyo but instead are interested in staying somewhere near the beach. You browse the site some more and find a blog post listing the top 10 beach resorts in Japan. You browse through photos and find a hotel in Okinawa that seems perfect.
Six days later you receive another email from that site, this time the email contains an offer for a travel package in Okinawa. It includes your flight, five night stay at the hotel you liked and free breakfast every morning. Wow! You think to yourself. This is perfect! You click on the link, book your trip and start planning your trip.
A week later you get another email from that site. This time the email contains a list of restaurants in Okinawa that have been ranked highly by previous tourists. You read through the reviews and decide to make a couple of reservations at two restaurants you want to try.
The time for your trip arrives, you go on your trip and have a fabulous time. Upon your return you have an email waiting for you asking you to rate your stay at the resort and give your feedback on the experience. You gladly do so and make it a point to recommend the website to anyone who is planning a trip to Japan.
This is how market segmentation and automation is supposed to work.
Now imagine it’s a year later. This time you decide to take a trip to Denmark. Once again you do a search on the web, and find a site that seems to have the information you need. A day later you receive an email from this site listing the top ten hotels to stay at in Helsinki.
You are not interested in Helsinki and quickly delete the email. Two weeks pass and then you get an email from the same site listing top restaurants in Vienna. You get annoyed this time and send this email to your spam box. Another two weeks pass and you get yet another email from this site promoting a trip to Madrid.
You’ve had enough and make sure you unsubscribe from the email list from this site. You also go ahead and report this sender as spam.
This is the big difference between a website that has a marketing automation system and one that doesn’t. The first example is a site that knows how to segment its visitors based on who they are and their activities on and off their site. This site is able to deliver the right content, to the right people, at the right time.
The other site, is merely sending out email based upon preferences. They don’t care that you are only interested in traveling to Denmark. They have you on their list and now they are going to send you emails based upon their schedule and their content, regardless of whether or not you are interested in their content. This type of email marketing does not work and often leaves visitors feeling angry and email unopened and deleted.
Unfortunately, most law firms today are not using marketing automation and as a result they are very much behaving like the second example above.
Most law firms don’t do any segmentation at all and merely send out a monthly newsletter that is not targeted or customized to their recipients. Some few firms will do segmentation at a basic level usually by practice area. The basic thinking is that if a client or prospect showed initial interest to a particular area of practice, that prospect will receive emails focused on that practice area.
For example, if I am a prospect and I attend a law firm webinar or event on the new cyber-security regulations in the State of New York, that law firm may add me to their cyber-security list. I may actually open a few of those emails and click on a few links. However, after clicking on those links I come across a blog post on the firm’s website that discusses blockchain technologies and their impact on the financial industry. I visit a few other pages on the firm’s website that describe the issues on blockchain and the firm’s knowledge and experience in this area.
Unfortunately, my activity on the firm’s website is not captured by the firm’s marketing department and when the firm rolls out a new webinar and accompanying newsletter on blockchain, I am not included on that list and never become aware of it. What a missed opportunity!
Marketing automation not only lets a law firm deliver the right type of content to the right person based upon their preferences and activities, but it also enables a law firm to cross sell its services and to deliver value to their clients even after they have hired the firm.
A firm can create multiple drip and nurture campaigns that keep its services top of mind with their clients and prospects. This is an invaluable opportunity to deliver value through your firm’s most marketable asset, its lawyers’ knowledge.
My sense is that law firms are beginning to recognize the value of marketing automation and will be implementing these types of systems over the next couple of years. Those firms that do will reap great rewards from them and will be able to outperform their competition.