Once you pick the right email marketing software for your law firm, the next step is to figure out what exactly you are going to send your subscribers.
There are a few different types of campaigns you will want to try out and measure for results. But before you start sending your campaigns, a few words about measuring your campaign’s success.
Email Campaign Metrics
Your email marketing software will be able to provide you with metrics. Each campaign will have a report on items including:
- Open rate. Did people open your email?
- Click rate. Did people click the links in your email?
- Reply rate. Did your email’s call-to-action get people to respond?
- Unsubscribes. Did your recipients get so annoyed by your email or the frequency of your emails they unsubscribed from your list entirely?
- Forwards. Did your recipients like your email so much they shared it with friends?
Those numbers will help you evaluate whether your emails appeal to your subscribers.
The most important metric for your campaign should be open rate, followed by click rate. That being said, your open rate can skyrocket or plummet based on the quality of your subject line, and the time of day or day of the week you sent the email.
To test the open rate of any given campaign, first you need to find the optimal day and time to send your campaign. According to LawyerCasting, the best time to send an email campaign to your clients is 9 AM—though you should test these numbers out, as your cohort of clients may be more receptive at different times.
If you are feeling ambitious, your email software will probably have A/B testing tools. These tools allow you to test different subject lines to see which gets a better open rate using a small segment of your list. The best performing subject line will then be sent to the rest of your subscribers.
Now that you can measure the performance of your campaigns, let’s dive into what kinds of emails you can send to clients.
The newsletter is the default email campaign for law firms. The newsletter is a periodic email—often monthly or quarterly—breaking down everything that has been happening at your law firm. Here are some things your newsletter campaign could include:
- Recent blog posts you want your subscribers to read.
- New hires and team updates.
- Community involvement and charity events.
- Abbreviated discussion of new laws and cases that may affect clients.
While the newsletter is common, there are some pros and cons to sending this campaign.
Pros. A newsletter is easy to put together and does not require a long-term strategy. Many law firms are concerned about being too invasive and bothering their subscribers (many of them clients). To avoid unsubscribes, these lawyers will only send out a few emails per year. This is not the best approach. You want a culled email list of educated and engaged readers rather than a massive list with low open rates and very infrequent emails. But for firms that do not want to bombard their audience or do not have the time to create extensive email campaigns, the newsletter is a solid go-to.
A newsletter is also easily digestible. You can share an array of items in your newsletter that do not quite fit elsewhere. The race report from the 5k your firm sponsored may not warrant an entire email, but it will fit perfectly in a paragraph in your newsletter.
Cons. Used alone, newsletters offer sporadic engagement.
Sending only twelve or so emails per year limits opportunities to interact with potential clients who may hire you or refer other clients.
Try sending emails until you get two emails in a week from subscribers who say, “You’re sending too many emails.”
Newsletters also lack compelling calls to action. A periodic email that covers a lot of material is great, but it does not give readers a clear path on what to do next. If you include a lot of links to blog posts or upcoming events, your click-thru rate may actually go down rather than up.
If you want to educate your audience about your practice area and help them understand your expertise, an educational series can work wonders. The educational series must be planned ahead of time. Before you begin, you should have your outline, each email should be written out, and each should have a compelling subject line. A logical flow to the emails is important to the series.
The series should contain anywhere from 6–12 emails sent sequentially over several weeks to inform your clients. It should end with a call-to-action to either hire you or buy a product (such as your new book). Here are the three steps you should take with an educational series:
- The first email introduces the topic and explains that over the next few weeks you will be sending a few emails on this topic. Importantly, you should explain in the introduction why your audience should care about this series.
- The following emails should be in-depth, with each email covering a very specific angle.
- The last part of the sequence are emails that recap the topic and have a call-to-action (e.g. “Now that you see how important it is to get an estate plan, call us to get your estate plan”). If you have a flat-fee or a promotion to offer for a particular service, you can create urgency by saying something like “Since we’re offering this new service, for the next three days, we will draft your will for $799. After that, it goes back up to $1,199. Just reply to this email to get in on the special rate before it’s gone.”
Pros. The educational series benefits your subscribers. It helps them understand an area of law they should know more about. It teaches them the basics of what they need to know. Most importantly for you, it also teaches potential clients why they should hire a lawyer.
If your email campaign went well, it should get you some new clients.
Cons. The main drawback to the educational series is you may see a bump in unsubscribes for sending out many more emails in a short period of time. But remember, unsubscribes are not a catastrophe since they weed out individuals who are not engaging with your content.
Another concern is the call-to-action part of an educational series can be perceived as too “salesy” for a law firm. Your call to action does not have to be as aggressive as the sample above, but creating a sense of scarcity and urgency in your emails can compel subscribers to become paying clients.
Holiday emails can be an excuse to stay top-of-mind with your audience.
Wish people a Happy New Year, Happy Arbor Day, or whatever it is you celebrate. Like a greeting card around the holidays, it shows your subscribers you are thinking of them.
For New Year’s holiday emails, in particular, you have the opportunity to recap what your firm did in the past year, and your goals for the coming year. It permits you to humbly brag about your accomplishments for the year and impress your readers.
Urgent Update in the Law
SCOTUS smashed its gavel on decades of patent law with its latest ruling. Your clients may be panicked. How will this affect them?
By blasting out an email shortly after a new case or statute, you have the opportunity to help your clients understand what is going on and let them know what they need to do.
This type of email achieves a few things:
- Provides education and value to your subscribers.
- Demonstrates your knowledge of the issue.
- Compels your subscribers to reach out to you.
An IP law firm emails me every time there is an update in its practice area. Should any of the issues they discuss affect me, they are probably going to be the first people I call for help.
Updates and Events
If you want to stay top-of-mind with subscribers who may eventually be able to hire you or refer to you, the occasional newsletter may not be enough. Instead, send an email on every big occasion. Some suggestions:
- A new hire or promotion at the firm.
- An award or recognition in your field.
- A CLE or event where you will present.
- A community event you are sponsoring or participating in.
- If you are a solo or small firm, a recent personal milestone such as the birth of a child or completing your 12th marathon.
Emails that serve as status updates serve a few purposes: it shows your commitment to your field and your local community; you may get more engagement with your subscribers; and it serves as a pretext to send an email and remind your subscribers that, should they have a lawyer to recommend, you are around.
Your firm should experiment with sending different types of emails to your clients, colleagues, and referral sources. There is not going to be one perfect solution for your firm. Eventually, you will find the right serving of emails that help your firm bring in new business.
Read the next post in this series: "How to Win at Email Marketing by Segmenting Your Audience."