Lawyers can use email marketing to connect with current clients and referral partners. But it may not be the strongest strategy for converting readers into new clients. Despite the limitations, email is still the third most popular marketing channel for law firms.
If you want to use email marketing as part of your digital marketing strategy, following a few best practices will help you get the most out of it.
Does Email Marketing Work for Lawyers?
Email marketing doesn't always work for lawyers because most legal clients don't want or need to sign up for a firm's newsletter.
Email marketing is popular in other industries because those industries' clients need a long nurturing time. Their prospective customers are not ready to buy right away. They're content to explore their options instead.
Outside of the legal industry, only 3% of people actively buy products or services when they find a company. Businesses use email marketing to nurture their leads through an email sequence funnel or series of regular email blasts.
As they receive that content, those leads build more trust with the company sending them further down the marketing funnel. Over time, the company hopes to convert that person into a paying customer.
But for most lawyers, it's the opposite.
Email marketing is a struggle for lawyers for the same reason it works so well in other industries. Email marketing is not the best channel for lawyers because of the nature of their target market.
Most people hiring a lawyer do so at the exact moment they need help with a legal matter in their life. Most potential clients looking for an injury lawyer are already in the middle of a traditional marketing funnel.
Prospective clients looking for a lawyer don't need to be warmed up or nurtured. They tend to search for a lawyer when they already intend to hire one.
For example, a car accident victim searching for can I sue for soft tissue injuries? needs to hire someone right now for their injury claim.
The truth is that most people don't want to sign up for a lawyer's email list. That new client doesn't want to sign up for a newsletter and wait to hire an attorney while emails drip out.
A second issue that email marketing poses for lawyers is sourcing content for each email. It's hard to create content in a vacuum for your email newsletters.
If you don't have an active content marketing campaign, you have to come up with the content for each email on the spot.
If you're actively blogging, you may have some fodder for a newsletter. But, in that case, there may be better channels to share that material, like social media.
Email Marketing Could Work for Specific Practice Areas
There are some rare instances when lawyers may be able to get new clients through email marketing, depending on their practice area.
For example, an estate planning lawyer might use an email marketing campaign to explain what estate planning is, dispel some myths about the process, and offer clear next steps for drafting a will.
For someone who is thinking about creating an estate plan, an email campaign may nudge them in the right direction.
Personal injury, criminal, immigration, and family lawyers don't have the same luxury. It's usually the case that the prospective client wants to hire an attorney right now. Those clients typically look at other factors like your blog, online reviews, and testimonials. Then they make their quick decision to contact a lawyer.
Law Firm Email Marketing May be Helpful for Existing and Former Clients
One other way to leverage email marketing for law firms is by keeping in touch with your existing and former clients.
One of the biggest complaints reported by legal clients is a lack of communication. Email can and should still be used to stay in touch with your current clients. Sending newsletters to current clients helps increase the number of touchpoints with them.
With previous clients, it's good to make sure they remember you, and an email newsletter is an easy way to do that. Email marketing can help if they need your services again or if you want to keep your name top of mind for a referral.
If you're convinced email marketing is the right approach for your law firm, leverage key steps to follow through with your strategy.
1. Start with a Plan
To launch an email marketing campaign, always begin with a clear plan. Your plan should include the goals of your strategy and the key performance indicators you'll use to measure your success.
There are a few critical questions to answer when thinking about the why and how of email marketing for lawyers, including:
- What software will you use to capture email addresses?
- Will you leverage any automation in sending out messages to new subscribers?
- How will you grow the subscriber list?
- What materials will you share with your email list?
- How often will you send out newsletters?
As you start sending, you'll want to track the following KPIs:
- Number of new subscribers per month
- Number of unsubscribes (people who leave the list) per month
- Average open rate
- Average click-through rate for any links shared
2. Choose Your Tools
The good news is that email marketing is more accessible than ever thanks to plenty of software options that make it easy. You'll need a software program to send and deliver emails, such as:
- Active Campaign
You might think it's okay to copy and paste email addresses into the "to" column from your law firm's email, but that's illegal. Tools like these can help you get people to opt in legally.
You need permission to market to someone, which usually requires the reader to proactively opt in to your marketing campaign. Most readers will sign up for your email list from your website by clicking a button and then confirming their subscription. This allows you to market to their email address
Choose an email marketing platform with affordability and ease of use in mind. If you don't need one with bells and whistles, don't sign up for that. You'll just end up frustrated and put off sending any emails.
3. Build a Mailing List
There's not much point in going all in on an email marketing strategy if you don't have anyone to send emails to first.
Building your initial law firm email list from scratch can take some time. It's likely that you already have contacts you might reach out to with a newsletter subscription offer, such as:
- Current clients
- Former clients
- Industry connections
- Referral partners
- People who follow you on social media
You can also used top of funnel gated content to entice website visitors to become email subscribers.
When you build your contact list, it's important to remember that readers will not all be interested in the same thing. Even if you send one general monthly or quarterly email newsletter to everyone on your email list, it's best to break readers up.
Use tags and segmentation to help break readers into smaller groups. These smaller groups may prove helpful for future email messages.
For example, you might have a list of readers who signed up for a free PDF download about how to deal with an insurance company after an accident. You might have a separate list of people who filled out a form about workers' comp.
By narrowing down your email list, you can provide more personalized messages to these smaller groups. You can also reduce the chances of annoying a subscriber with content that's irrelevant to them.
4. Create Your Emails
Each email you send should include the same basic formatting and copy elements, even when the messaging is different. Knowing this before you write your email lets you think of your newsletter as one holistic piece with these elements inside.
Each email should include a clear subject line. Create a short sentence or 6-8 words at max for your subject line so it stands out in someone's email list. Avoid generic subject lines like "May 2023 Smith Law Firm Newsletter," as these can be easily overlooked.
Here are some examples of some more intriguing subject lines:
- New estate tax exemption: what does it mean for you?
- Avoid these 5 personal injury claim insurance mistakes
- Preparing your car for winter weather and other accident prevention tips
- End of year business review guidelines inside
Open each law firm newsletter with a greeting. This can be a personal note from the entire firm or someone on the team or perhaps a picture of firm lawyers at a recent event.
Although email is a chance to market yourself and your services, don't forget to humanize yourself and your team. The introductory section of your newsletter is your best chance to pique a reader's attention and keep it.
Content in your email newsletter can include a variety of things, such as:
- Firm news
- Attorney highlights
- Recent blog posts
- Case outcomes or achievements
- Tips and facts related to practice areas
Throughout the newsletter, link to relevant content where applicable. Avoid putting too many links in your email newsletters, though. That can be overwhelming and means most links get ignored. A few links to relevant blog posts and a place for your reader to contact you are sufficient.
For more information read our article on tips for making an effective law firm newsletter.
5. Optimize for Readers
For best results, take some steps to ensure that your subscribers can receive and read your emails. Make sure your email can be viewed clearly in desktop and mobile versions. Most software programs have a way for you to test this and any links before sending them to your full list.
Here are some other ways to optimize your law firm email campaign:
- Use your branding in a header and footer design
- Use easy-to-read fonts (minimum size 14 point for desktop and 16 point for mobile)
- Use subheaders or line breaks throughout
- Add images, but avoid overusing images or videos that can delay load time
- Edit your copy for simplicity and concision
Always craft and proof your email newsletter with your reader in mind. Consider how the newsletter adds value for them.
6. Send Your Emails and Grow Your List
Once you've got everything else in place, it's time to send your first email.
Within your newsletter platform, use templates or create your own and enter the text as a draft. Send a test version to yourself to make sure everything works and you like the final look.
You can then send the message at that moment or at a future scheduled time. If you have a segmented list, you can include or exclude certain groups based on the email subjects.
As you focus on growing your email list, think about new ways that you'll attract readers to get them interested enough to sign up.
Will they receive something free and of value when they subscribe, such as a three-part video series, a PDF report, or a worksheet? Where and how will you share the benefits of being on your firm's email list? These are key questions to answer to make sure that your email list continues to attract new readers.
7. Measure Your Results
Once you're actively sending messages, compare your results with the goals and KPIs you set at the start. This will help you figure out what's working and what isn't.
You might tweak the day and time you send messages, the length or style of the emails, or your subject lines. Most email marketing tools come with dashboards full of helpful data to help you decide what to change.
Make sure to track whether you're seeing an increase in new clients, too, so you can evaluate the overall return on investment for the time put into email marketing.
Focus on Your Content Strategy
In some cases, email marketing can be a viable option for connecting with people. But lawyers who have not yet considered SEO or content marketing may want to start there first.
You use your website to build trust and highlight your firm's knowledge of your practice area just as easily without asking anyone to sign up. When potential clients look for legal help on Google and find your website, you can form that connection with them immediately.
If you need support mapping out your SEO strategy and getting started with improving your law firm website content, contact Rankings.io for further information.