Email Newsletters for Professional Service Firms Is Low-Value Content Inevitable?The motivation behind an email newsletter is a positive thing.
It indicates a firm''s understanding that knowledge transfer is a key factor in selling professional services, newly acquired knowledge needs to be published regularly to continually add value, and that email is an effective tool to deliver this information to existing clients and prospects.
Yet, despite the fact that all of these concepts are correct, we have found that the email newsletter is not the ideal method of execution for the professional service firm. After numerous client observations, patterns have emerged that show the continual production of a newsletter not only inevitably results in low-value content, but receives relatively poor returns in terms of conversion and revenue.
The first step in understanding this phenomenon, is understanding that the professional service firm:
1. Relies on the transfer of valuable knowledge to sell professional services
2. Does not have unlimited access to their professional''s time for non-billable tasks, and
3. Cannot be wasteful with qualified leads that could result in large profitable contracts
The finite resources of a typical professional service firm, compounded with the high-value potential of qualified leads, demand an approach that is efficient and targeted.
So, why does the newsletter typically fall short?
The primary reason lies in the high-frequency production schedule of the average email newsletter. With quarterly, monthly, or even biweekly deadlines, professionals are hard pressed to consistently produce knowledge-rich content. A dichotomy arises that motivates professionals to publish and document "just because it''s October", rather than when valuable insights are discovered.
The newsletter methodology drives the firm to become a virtual newspaper, rather than a thinktank. At the end of the day when a cost/benefit analysis is performed, the considerable drain on resources to maintain a newsletter timetable, are not justified by the cailber of content and intellectual capital produced.
Secondly, the sheer quantity of information within an average email newsletter guarantees the delivery of low-value information.
Your prospect''s professionals and executives are incredibly busy. When their attention needs to be captured, your firm''s message must be direct, clear, and brief. Otherwise, you run the risk of being ignored or passed on to the Junk Email Folder.
Even if your newsletter recipients are highly segmented (which is probably a generous consideration in most cases), you are still bombarding the prospect with lots of information that might not be directly applicable or of direct interest to them. The quality of the content might be extremely high, but if it is not relevant, it can be interpreted by the prospect as a waste of his/her time.
The last thing that you would want to do, is to convey to your prospects is that you don''t value their time.
Why send an entire newsletter filled with information of questionable value that demands a time-intensive review, when you can send a highly focused whitepaper or case study that is both direct and brief?
I would make the analogy that an email newsletter is akin to carpet bombing, while the personalized whitepaper or study, is a surgical strike. Less resources, with greater precision.
If your organization is currently publishing an email newsletter, or if you are a champion trying to introduce email marketing into your organization, consider looking into dynamic, personalized email campaigns instead. I''m sure you will find that they are more effective and resource-conscious.
Grant L. Aldrich is an editor for the Professional Service Marketing blog. Grant has 6 years of internet marketing experience with professional firms. He is Director of Client Services at Leadtank, Inc.