Email marketing can be a powerful means of bringing in new and repeating business. Compared to other marketing channels, email marketing is low-cost and typically has a high return on investment.
To take full advantage of this article, you’ll need email marketing software.
Email is much more effective at reaching your intended audience than social media channels. While the reach of Facebook posts has drastically decreased over the past few years, email messages reach their destination inbox 90% of the time, with comparatively little effort.
In order to use email successfully, you should first segment your contacts, so you are sending email that is relevant to the interests of the people who receive them.
Building Your Email List
Before you start sending emails, you’ll need a list of people to send them to.
You can start with your clients. Add your clients’ first names, last names, and email addresses to a spreadsheet, in separate columns. Next, export your contacts from Gmail or Outlook. These should include referral sources and potential clients (see the next section for more on creating segments for each). Remove any contacts you don’t want to include on your marketing list, and then add these contacts to your spreadsheet.
Now you’ve got a starting point. Next, you’ll want to work on adding people to your email list. Here are some ideas for doing that:
- In-person networking. When you meet people at networking events, ask them to subscribe to your email list when you follow up with them.
- Presentations. When you present at a CLE or other seminar, pass around a sign-up sheet.
- Lead magnets. Offer a free download on your website in exchange for an email address.
It’s not very effective to just ask people to sign up for your email list. Give them a good reason, like a free download or presentation that shows the value you have to offer, and then make sure you make it worth their while.
Speaking of, for more about email marketing, get our free Email Marketing Checklist.
Segmenting Your Email List
Segmenting means creating specifically targeted lists of email recipients who all share identified characteristics. The goal of segmenting is to ensure the people who receive your emails actually want to open them.
While you could send one generic email to your entire email list, it will come across as, well, generic. On the other hand, you could segment your list and send one email to people who expressed interest in divorce, but another to people who expressed interest in child custody. Or you might want to send a promotional email to everyone who is not a current client.
When creating segments, make sure each segment has a purpose. It can be easy to get carried away and create a pile of segments, but unless you have a specific goal (“persuade potential clients to contact us”) for a segment, it is worthless.
In order to create a segment, you must have data to work with. To get that data, you should plan for the segments you will want from the beginning.
By default, you will be able to add names and email addresses to your email marketing software. You can and should also add custom fields. To start with, identify the type of contact. For example, at a minimum you will probably want to create a Contact Type field and add the following options:
- Current Clients
- Potential Clients
- Referral Sources
Your email marketing software may capture additional information you can use to create segments, such as the web page where the contact signed up for your emails. Or you may want to add that information yourself.
After you start sending emails to your contact list, you can also use the behavior of your contacts to create segments. For example, your email marketing software will capture information about which emails have been opened by each contact and which links they clicked. It will know where your contacts’ computers are located, whether they opened your emails on a phone or tablet, and more. Any of these data points can be used as the basis for creating a segment. You can use most of this information to create segments any time you need to.
Now that you have segments, you’ll need to send them some emails. There are two types of email campaigns to consider: newsletters and automated campaigns.
A newsletter can be a good way to deliver valuable information relevant to your practice area to clients, potential clients, and referral sources. You might want to educate them about changes in the law, alert them to news that might affect them, or let them know about events your firm is hosting. Email newsletters are an opportunity to remind people of your expertise without an overt sales pitch.
But consider that your subscribers are probably already inundated with email every day. To avoid being just another unread email in your subscribers’ inboxes, it is critical to understand how to aim your newsletter at the specific needs and interests of your audience.
- Customize your newsletter for your list segments—especially if you have different practice areas. There isn’t any strategic value in showing small business information to your personal injury clients (unless they happen to exist in both segments, of course).
- Build each newsletter around the links you want readers to visit. Give readers a summary, then give them a clear link to learn more, download a resource, etc. Put important links at the beginning; mobile readers, in particular, are less likely to click links that are further down.
- Use images that enhance the content of your emails, but don’t rely on images to convey key information, because some email clients may block images entirely. Keep your message in the body of your email.
- Get right to the point. Realize that on average, people spend 51 seconds with an email newsletter. Even then, most skip any introductory content and skim the rest.
- Design for mobile. Depending on who you are emailing, you can probably expect somewhere between 25–75% will read your email on their phone. If your newsletter isn’t optimized for mobile screens, they won’t be able to read it. Use a responsive email template so it is readable on any display.
In short, get right to the point, keep it short, and make sure your emails are mobile-friendly.
Automate Your Email Marketing with Drip Campaigns
Drip campaigns are a form of email marketing automation. Automation sounds impersonal, but if done well it can help you improve the quality of your engagement with potential clients and increase the number who eventually hire you.
An automated campaign requires a trigger. For example, you might offer “bait” like a free ebook download, webinar, or something else that your potential clients would find valuable. With more advanced email marketing software, you can trigger drip campaigns for actions like visiting a page on your website or clicking a link in an email. But for now, let’s focus on ebooks and webinars, which are popular and effective.
To get your ebook or sign up for your webinar, a visitor to your website fills out a form with their name and email address. Then you can automatically add them to the relevant segment of your list (“Ebook Downloaders” or “Webinar Signups,” for example). Your email marketing software will verify their email address, and then you can start your followup sequence by sending them the thing they requested.
After that, you should continue to follow up. (This type of automated follow-up is commonly referred to as a “drip campaign” by online marketers.)
For example, if someone downloads your “How to Start a Business” ebook, you should send a series of educational emails related to starting a business. After all, you know they are at least interested in starting a business, so they will probably be interested in more information about that. And, most importantly, they might be looking for help. You might even ask them if they want to talk to you, and give them a link to schedule an appointment with you.
If you don’t send follow-up emails, they may just download your ebook and never come back to your website or think to contact you. But with a targeted drip campaign, you can increase the chance that a one-time website visitor eventually becomes a client.
To help you get started, here are some templates for common emails you might send or include in your automated campaigns.
Keep in mind that it isn’t necessarily wise to automate everything. People are usually pretty good at distinguishing between “real” emails and automated ones. It may work better to put someone at your firm in charge of sending customized emails to potential clients.
Contact Form Confirmation Email
After someone contacts you from your website, you should send a confirmation email immediately. Ideally, this should be automated.
The confirmation email lets potential clients know that you got their submission and makes it more likely that they will wait to hear from you instead of “wandering off” and contacting another lawyer because they haven’t heard from you.
A confirmation email should communicate (not necessarily in so many words):
- Thank you for contacting us.
- We will get back to you as soon as we can.
- Don’t worry. We can handle this. You can stop worrying about this and until we get in touch, and you definitely don’t need to contact other lawyers.
Your confirmation email can be as simple as this:
Hi [First Name],
Thank you for getting in touch. A member of our team will give you a call shortly. We look forward to speaking with you.
But you can make your confirmation email more valuable and “sticky.” Use it as an opportunity to increase their confidence in you. You don’t need to attach your resume, but you can point them to other resources. Depending on your email marketing software, you can even send different confirmation emails depending on the type of potential client (i.e., someone interested in a trademark versus someone interested in a patent).
Here is an example of more targeted confirmation email:
Hello [First Name],
Thank you for getting in touch regarding your auto accident. We will get in touch with you shortly.
We know this is a very difficult time for you. You probably have a lot of questions and are trying to figure out how to get back on track after your injury. We will work you to help get the compensation you deserve, but in the meantime, here are a few resources you might find helpful:
- Check out our lawyers’ profiles.
- Download our guide to the auto accident lawsuit process.
- See the awards our firm has received.
“After my accident, I did not know who to turn to. There were a lot of attorneys I could have hire, but the [Your Law Firm] made me most comfortable. They helped me along the way, and got me a settlement that was more money than I dared hoped for.”
We look forward to speaking with you soon.
[Your Law Firm]
A confirmation email like that should make it far less likely that your client will wander off before you can get back to them.
“Win The Client” Email
If you are able to contact the potential client and schedule a consultation right away, you won’t need this email. If the potential client that does not come in right away, they should automatically get a series of follow-up messages designed to get them to change their mind.
Over the next few weeks, send emails that educate, engage, and encourage the potential client to get back in touch with you.
Here is a sample educational email:
Hi [First Name]:
I thought you might find this article interesting. It’s an article our firm recently published about what to do if you are injured and can’t work. [link]
Feel free to let me know if you have any questions.
The email appears casual, but as long as you made sure to put the potential client in your “Potential Client” and “Personal Injury” segments, it should also be welcome information and help keep you on top of the potential client’s mind.
You should probably also send follow-ups geared towards reconnecting, like this:
Hi [First Name]:
I just wanted to reach out and follow up on our last conversation. Do you have a few minutes to talk about your matter? You can call me at [phone number] any time, or we can use email.
Months pass, nothing happens. Now what?
Maybe the potential client hired another lawyer. But maybe the timing just wasn’t quite right.
Assume the latter until you are told otherwise. To reengage with potential clients, consider an automated reengagement campaign to remind potential clients that you are still around and available.
A reengagement campaign should start with a recent piece of great news to share. You can periodically update this email so that it is relatively current. Here’s an example:
Hi [First Name]:
I know it has been a while since we spoke last, but I wanted to share some great news with you. Our firm was recently selected as an Awesome Law Firm in family law for the year. We are honored to receive this award, and wanted to share! Here is the full announcement: [link]
The news item is just an excuse to get back in touch. It does not have to be groundbreaking news, but it should be interesting enough. Consider sharing awards, verdicts, media appearances, committee memberships, articles published in major publications, etc.
Once you reopen the dialogue, you can follow up with a casual email to check in and see if they saw your first email. If they do, great, keep going. If not, try again in a few months.
Referral Activation Campaign
Everyone in your email list is a potential referral source, and you should try to connect with them at least a few times each year.
You can use your reengagement email for your referral activation campaign, although you may want to change the email messaging just a bit. At a minimum, you should also add a prompt to meet to reconnect over coffee, lunch, or drinks.
Here is an example:
Hey [First Name],
We just won an award! Our firm was selected for the Amazing IP Firms list. Here’s the announcement: [link]
How are things with you? I’d love to get coffee, lunch, or drinks soon. Want to put something on the calendar for next week?
Referral activation campaigns can be automated, but you want to be careful not to come across as phony. It is probably better to have a base template that you customize for each recipient.
Use Emails to Drive Engagement
The point of sending emails is not to send more emails. The point of sending emails is to get potential clients to hire you and referral sources to refer potential clients to you. You should make real, personal connections as soon as possible.
Used poorly, email amounts to little more than a nuisance. Used well, email can be an effective way to motivate potential clients and referral sources to schedule a consultation or pick a day to have drinks and move further into your marketing funnel.
Originally published 2017-06-01. Last updated 2018-07-20.