If your firm is starting to explore online marketing, you may be reading up on the different marketing channels available to you.
You might read articles talking about the volume from SEO, the predictability of PPC, the ROI of email, and the cost-effectiveness of social media.
But there’s a lot of fluff.
And, broad articles about different marketing channels do not necessarily apply to the legal industry or specific practice areas.
So, we’re diving into the different marketing channels to give you some ideas for marketing your firm online.
Today, we’re breaking down email marketing. In the future, we will tackle other marketing channels.
Email Marketing for Lawyers
So let’s get into it.
Email marketing is probably the easiest for you to start doing today and overall it has a very high return on investment. Many law firms swear by email marketing.
But aren’t emails spammy, tacky, and unprofessional?
Not when done right.
When done right, email marketing can provide helpful content to your recipients that can also ultimately provide your firm with new business.
What Does Email Marketing Do?
Email marketing help you stay top-of-mind with your colleagues and referral sources.
Ideally, after reading your newsletter that shows off the amazing work you do in your practice area, the reader is compelled to refer a client your way.
For a lot of practices, email marketing is not necessarily going to be key for generating new clients directly, but rather get new clients via referrals from your email audience.
A lot of law firms have lists of clients and contacts they can send emails to, but chances are the people on the list will not need the firm’s services any time soon.
For bankruptcy lawyers, hopefully your clients are not going to be repeat customers. But maybe your clients and colleagues can refer you to associates of theirs who could benefit from your services.
Now, on to the nuts and bolts.
What Does Email Marketing Entail?
At a minimum, email marketing consists of a newsletter. Preferably sent out monthly. If not monthly, quarterly. No less frequent than quarterly, though.
Aside from that, email marketing consists of any type of email communication for business development purposes. You can do email marketing with a large list of people, or a narrow segment.
For more adventurous email marketers, you can do things like drip campaigns.
Drip campaigns are sequences of emails to a specific audience.
As an example, if your firm has giveaways like downloadable content on your website, you might want a drip campaign sequence of emails to further educate your audience and ultimately get them to reach out to you. Over at Lawyerist, there’s an in-depth series on email marketing that gives some recommendations on everything from segmentation to automation, software, and more.
Sending mass emails from your Gmail doesn’t really count as email marketing.
First of all – you should never send mass emails from your work email account as compared to email marketing software.
Why? Because if enough people mark your email address as spam, your email address will be blacklisted. Then, any email you send will automatically go into most people’s junk email filters. Clients will stop seeing your emails, and you will find it hard to be a good lawyer when people are not getting your emails.
Emails sent through a platform like Mailchimp, Aweber, or Constant Contact are sent using the platforms’ email addresses to prevent you getting blacklisted.
So there’s that.
What Do I Need for an Email Marketing Campaign?
You need a few things for a successful email marketing campaign.
First, you need email software.
Email Marketing Software for Lawyers
Most every application out there will be sufficient. Every major email marketing platform can create lists, segment your audience, connect to your website forms to import new subscribers, and send emails that will reach your recipients’ inboxes.
You probably won’t go wrong with whatever software you choose.
While there are a lot of options, I have a few favorites that I recommend to people.
The first is Mailchimp.
I like Mailchimp because it is very easy to set up and use.
It does everything email marketing software should.
It has a very user-friendly email editor – probably the most user-friendly one that I have seen.
And, it even has a free tier.
The second recommendation is Active Campaign.
This is a more advanced platform. Feature-wise it has everything Mailchimp has and more.
Its real differentiator is how it handles automations / drip campaigns.
While Mailchimp does do automated email sequences, Active Campaign allows for more complex logic and sequences for firms that have a lot of downloadable content, drip campaign sequences, and audience segments.
Next – you will need a list.
Starting and Building an Email List
Who are you going to send these emails to? Good question. Let’s build a list of quality people to send our emails to.
The first people you will add to this list are the people in your address book, who would give you permission to add them to your list.
If you have been practicing a long time, you probably have a lot of email addresses in your rolodex.
So this is a starting point.
For getting more emails, you could do it organically as you make new contacts in the real world. Each business card you get from a networking event could be another email to add. Each new client could be a new subscribe.
You could do some active list-building.
List-building can be done as simply as having a “subscribe to our newsletter” box on your website.
But, in practice you probably will not see too much list growth from that.
Having done a lot of list-building myself, I’ve seen that the subscription box is probably the weakest of the different list-building methods.
Instead, I recommend getting emails by giving something away in exchange for a visitor’s email.
On your website, have a downloadable guide, ebook, or calculator that visitors can access by giving their email address.
This giveaway will tie in with your email marketing software. When someone fills out their information on your website to download your giveaway, your email software will ask them to confirm their email, and once they do, they will automatically get an email with the downloadable content.
Overall it can take about 15 minutes to set up a downloadable guide email capture setup, and it pays dividends in the long-term.
Other methods of getting email addresses can be things like pop-up opt-in forms. These can be somewhat intrusive, but they are also effective. An example of an opt-in pop-up is Sumo.
With opt-ins and downloadable content you can grow your email list much quicker than you would with any other methods.
Once you have your list growth set up, you need to figure out what you’re going to send! The hard part…
Content You Should Send
Email content should be relevant and interesting to your audience. Keep in mind though that your main goal with email marketing is to get more clients via referrals. So, your email should be crafted in reverse, working backward from that goal.
Ask yourself, does this email content help reach that goal?
Here are some recommendations for content for your email newsletters:
- Blog article snippets with links to your posts
- Upcoming or recent changes in the law that will affect your clients, with your brilliant analysis
- Highlights of your firm’s great pro bono or community service work
- Recent hires or firm growth news
- Details of a big case you won
- Awards and accolades the firm received
- Press clippings, if your firm has gotten any press coverage
- A testimonial from a satisfied client (ethics permitting in your jurisdiction)
If you do not have a lot of news to share, writing original content to educate your audience about the types of cases you handle and your experience can be very effective.
Give an analysis of recently enacted laws and your opinion. Show that you’re a master of your practice area, such that your readers are being very helpful for their colleagues by referring them to you.
One thing to note: you may have the best content in the world, but if the subject line does not resonate with your audience and they do not open your email, your brilliant content is irrelevant.
A lot of email marketing platforms allow for A/B testing email subject lines where you send a small segment of your email list (10-20%) the same email with two different subject lines. Whichever version gets a higher open rate is the one that is sent to the remainder of your email list.
A/B testing helps ensure your subscribers open your emails.
With that in mind, here are some best practices for email subject lines:
- Know your audience and what interests them – write for that
- Be concise – 50 characters or less
- Use a question in subject line if you are looking to get a direct response
When is the Best Time to Send an Email?
This is something else I find fun. Data, A/B testing, all of that.
There’s a science to building the right email, with the right subject line, sent at the right time, that maximizez the likelihood your recipient opens, reads, and takes action after reading.
As mentioned before, you can A/B test subject lines. Well, you can also A/B test send dates and times.
Some days and times are more likely for your emails to get opened.
The best day and time can differ by industry though.
Several studies have shown generally that weekends tend to perform the worst for email opens, with Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday being the best-performing days for email opens.
As for time, 10am is the winner (again, generally). Though, 12pm, 2pm, and 8pm also have performed well in different studies.
Ultimately, optimal day/time is stuff you should be testing out.
Try sending an email on a Tuesday at 2pm or Thursday at 8pm or Wednesday at 12.
Try every combination of popular days and times and see what ends up working for your audience.
With these tools and tips, you are destined for online marketing glory.
Knowing the right software to use, how to build an email list, what content to send and when will help your firm grow much faster than it would otherwise.
Email marketing has an incredible return on investment compared to other marketing channels, and should be considered in your firm’s marketing mix to generate new business.
As always, if you have any questions or thoughts about marketing, feel free to share a comment below.