Email Marketing for Attorneys 101
If a client doesn’t know who you are or trust what you have to say, they will pick a competing law firm over you. With email marketing, you may not be able to solicit business directly, but you can build relationships and trust that will eventually put your firm at the top of a potential clients’ selection or referral list when an opportunity develops. Getting to the top of this list is pivotal for success - especially in today’s digital world - and one of the most cost-efficient ways to stay top-of-mind is content rich email campaigns.
“Old School” lawyers think email marketing is like casting a rod and hoping one fish in a million takes a bite. Modern marketing best practices show that “blasting” a list of contacts with irrelevant emails will actually do more harm than good. Instead of trying to close one person in a million with an email, law firms need to think of emails as conversations about interesting and relevant topics. With emails, we are continuously building relationships ... compounding on those relationships and eventually forming trust without ever meeting the individual on the other side face-to-face.
Firms often ignore the power of emailing the *right* way. Email marketing carries a great deal of overlooked power. It has evolved with the digital era and has continuously revealed more capabilities that can ultimately drive more awareness, conversion, and retention through valuable and timely content that showcases a firm’s expertise. Despite this power, law firms diminish the importance of email marketing because of the perceived time investment vs. expected return. How can emailing continue to provide a return on a law firm’s investments?
For attorneys, email marketing can make its boldest and most significant impact when it delivers intelligent, customized, and relevant information to potential clients or referral partners. We’re overburdened with work and have little time to read up on current events in our industry and, more importantly, search and find information that can help us be more informed about events, news, and advancements in our line of work. As marketers, we must build our emails to be this trustworthy source by consistently relaying relevant information to a specific audience. Emails, like snippets of conversation with an old friend, are rarely quick wins. The value is in the relationship your firm builds with prospects and referral partners.
Sure, a small number of the potential clients you email may have an immediate need for your services. But if a relationship is built with contacts who don’t have an immediate need, and they value your firm for your expertise, you can be sure that they will reach out when they have a need for your service … or know someone who does.
Nobody is begging for a full inbox. The legal industry has developed this negative idea about email marketing: your message, no matter how relevant, will just get lost in someone's inbox. We say we receive too many emails a day, but most of us will also say that we prefer emailing over receiving phone calls and paper mail. People are deleting the junk in their emails, but people still keep relevant, targeted content and favorite newsletters because they still want to be informed and in touch. This is a critical distinction, and the difference between “email is a waste of time” and “email is my most efficient source of clients.” Law firms have stopped sending newsletters because of the herd mentality that all email is junk, but that just provides the opportunity to be noticed within the open field of someone’s inbox. In other words, email, outside of dealing with personal friends, family members, and colleagues, is still the primary and most direct line of communication to reach new clients and associates. Those individuals we do not personally know will more often than not, hang up on you, overlook your social media message, or shred your letter. Email is still an acceptable way to reach people periodically with targeted content, and therefore email marketing has pivotal value.
If you have a smartphone, your inbox is linked to it, and while you are commuting to work, waiting for a call, or transitioning from a task, you can scroll through everything you need. To throw some numbers in for perspective, two-thirds of emails are read on either smartphones or tablets. What does this mean? For one, emails must be optimized for mobile. Your prospective clients will appreciate concise snippets of emails that act as portals to more information on your website or a different source. You have a few seconds to grab someone’s attention on their smartphone, so make sure the most important message of the email stands out.
Email is the key to building and fostering key relationships with your audience. It is a great way to stay connected with firms and clients, and the more relevant content you can send, the more loyal a subscriber or client can become. Emailing becomes even more powerful when used in conjunction with other digital and social marketing efforts. Forwarding blogs, events, and other information where a client can have a revelation moment and remember seeing that somewhere else is pivotal for building a relationship.
Here are some ideas for your future email campaigns
Email campaigns will change depending on your practice area and ideal client persona. For example, if you're an estate planning attorney, you could:
Send out a monthly newsletter about events in the local community
Offer a checklist to start building a will for those considering it
Provide breakdowns of recent studies or research that could affect your prospective client’s estate planning
Provide comments on recent court rulings that could affect clients and offer case studies
Position yourself as an expert in your practice area
All of these options are exactly what people are looking for: concise, valuable, and targeted information from an industry expert. The general trend here is that you want to be a resource for clients to receive information that could help them address their needs.
Email has the power to foster strong relationships with prospective clients. It’s a longer term investment, but with properly crafted content and a consistent cadence, emails can be your firm’s most efficient channel to build client relationships. Email marketing has another understated power that most law firms don’t really comprehend. With each email, the sender has control, as opposed to social media platforms where you must rely on random algorithms to deliver your message to the right individual’s feed. Email is a direct form of communication going from one inbox to another, which allows for the highest chance for your message to reach its intended audience. If you have a new blog that discusses information specifically tailored to clients in the intellectual property sphere, you have the power to direct that new blog directly into your audience’s inbox. Most law firms overlook email marketing, but that's exactly why it's so powerful for building relationships with potential clients and why email marketing deserves to be a part of a law firm’s marketing strategy.