Email Marketing for Lawyers: Tips and Best Practices

email marketing for law firms

You’ve built your social media profiles. You’ve started climbing up Google and enticing clients with your periodic blog posts. You’ve made infographics to turn complex legal issues into digestible and visually appealing information. You’ve even looked into podcasting in order to share your insights in a forum-style environment. But what else can you do to keep potential and current clients up to date with the latest legal news and information about your firm? The answer is one of the oldest digital communication methods in the book: email marketing.

However, in a world full of spam and obsessive self-promotion, what can you do to build your email list, avoid spam filters, and convince followers to open and read your email newsletters? The answer isn’t simple, but by implementing an effective plan, you can turn your lists into leads and leads into clients. 

Why Email?

According to Campaign Monitor, an organization is six times more likely to get a click-through from an email campaign than from a tweet; email is forty times more effective at acquiring new customers than Facebook or Twitter; and for every $1 spent, email marketing generates $38 in ROI.

Considering this, here are a few more statistics of note:
- By 2017, there will be an estimated 4.9 billion email accounts.
- According to MailChimp, 22.58% of all emails in the legal industry are opened, and 3.02% of recipients click a link;
- According to QuickSprout, email subscribers are three times more likely to share your content via social media than visitors from other sources; and
- 92% of online adults use email, with 61% using it on an average day.

Needless to say, email is effective in terms of costs and conversions. So how do you get started?

Building Your Email List

The hardest part of the journey—especially for a small firm without much web traffic—is building your email list in the first place. In a recent HubSpot blog, author Ben Jabbawy took a look into what it takes to build an email list in 2016, pointing to the following takeaways:

1. ‘Enter to Win’ campaigns convinced 15% of site viewers/social followers to sign up for email, followed by offer campaigns (whitepapers, eBooks, etc.) converting at 5%, and basic ‘sign up’ campaigns converting at 1%.
2. On your website, the most effective display style is a banner, defined in the blog as “a more subtle interaction that sits at the top or bottom of a site, but starts in a "hidden" state until triggered, and then rolls into sight.” The least effective was a pop-up or lightbox.
3. The ‘tab’ call to action or CTA (a post that appears in the top or bottom corner) saw the highest conversion rate compared to CTAs that were time- or page location-based.

Avoiding Spam Filters

Since the late seventies, there has been a constant chess match between spammers, email services, regulators, and email readers. Techniques have evolved from all parties in order to stay one step ahead of the others, with an average of three quarters of an estimated 215.3 billion emails sent per day being picked up by spam filters. Many companies, legal marketers, and the occasional politician fall into the spam filter trap, not due to nefarious intent, but due to unfortunate wording that triggers filters in one way or another. 

In The Ultimate List of Email Spam Trigger Words, HubSpot authors share words that will increase your chances of being filtered, from obvious phrases like “Nigerian prince,” “Canadian pharmacy,” and “You have been selected” to subtle words and phrases such as “Bankruptcy,” “Avoid,” “Insurance,” and “Cards Accepted,” all of which could land legal marketers in spam jail. Working your titles and content to create an email that will avoid spam filters and drive reader interest is your first step in driving traffic.

Sending the Right Information to the Right People

There are two general types of marketing emails that are sent: newsletters and targeted emails. Practice Panther looked at the rationale and benefits of each:

- Newsletters: Email newsletters, which are sent to everyone you have permission to contact, are designed to keep you in the minds of your clients and prospects. The messages are simply to keep in touch with your general email subscription base, but should be written with the audience in mind. Examples include mentioning some of your lesser-known services, or providing a professional commentary on a relevant news story. The more value provided by the newsletter, the more likely it is that someone will actually open and read it.
- Targeted Emails: The second type of email marketing campaigns are the targeted email. These campaigns are targeted directly at people who have shown an interest in a particular topic or service. The purpose of this specific type of email is to build trust with prospective clients. With this type of email, you want to show that you can provide relevant tips and legal services for their needs.

Email Service Providers

The past decade has created opportunities for small businesses to adopt affordable email marketing practices, ensuring compliance with CAN-SPAM while recommending best practices on generating emails and building your list. Platforms like MailChimp, Constant Contact, MailGet and others are designed with small businesses in mind, offering affordable solutions to send well-designed and effective emails to potential and current clients. For more information, see the FormGet blog: Top 10 Email Marketing Platforms for Lawyers.

Additional Tips, Tactics, and Resources

Email marketing is by no means a new tactic, and one can write novels on how to optimize email marketing practices. With this in mind, take the following best practices to heart:

- Optimize for Mobile
- Test Your Emails
- Proofread Obsessively
- Adjust Your Headlines and Copy based on Open Rates and Click Rates
- Keep Subject Lines and Emails Short
- Personalize Emails by Using First Names in the Opening

Legal Marketing Email Resources

For even more information, see the following resources on improving emails:

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Posted - 07/28/2016