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Email marketing for law firms: Don’t ignore these 6 essential steps

Written by Leigh Ebrom

Email marketing is underappreciated by most law firms and businesses. However, when email campaigns are thoughtfully built, they are remarkably powerful. Consider these facts:

  • People in the United States spend about 143 minutes every weekday checking their email accounts.
  • For every dollar spent on email marketing, the average return on investment across industries is between $38 and $45, making email one of your most cost-effective marketing options.
  • Four out of five marketers would rather give up social media than email campaigns.

Email is infinitely customizable and can build brand awareness, streamline your office’s client experience, and nurture leads. And unlike PPC and blogging, email directly connects your law firm with engaged, middle-to-bottom of the funnel leads who want to hear from you.

Email newsletters and beyond: The many faces of email marketing

Most law firms immediately think of newsletters when they talk about legal email marketing. While we’re big fans of email newsletters, there are so many more ways you can connect with your leads, clients, and referral sources.

  • Newsletters: Targeted digests of blogs, videos, office news, and other content to segmented audiences
  • Drip campaigns: A series of emails that nurtures a specific audience, sending them valuable information about their needs and your law firm’s value proposition
  • Reengagement campaigns: Eye-catching emails that attract disengaged readers and get them back into your funnel
  • Email blasts: One-time emails that notify readers about breaking news, such as a change in the law or a significant jury award or settlement

You can (and should) use multiple email tactics to reach your audiences.

For example, when someone completes your firm’s contact form, your email automation platform might trigger an “about our firm” or needs-based drip campaign, sign them up for your monthly newsletter, and include their name on a list for future email blasts.

Ready to get started building effective, targeted email campaigns for your law firm? Let’s look at the six steps to email marketing success.

You can (and should) use multiple email tactics to reach your audiences.

Step 1: Choose an email marketing software solution

It would be impractical to manage multiple email campaigns without automated software.

Imagine managing a new client drip campaign manually. Once your client signed their fee agreement, you’d send them a “welcome” email. About a week later, you would need to start sending routine emails that educate them about the litigation process and their legal rights.

Without automation, your team would have to manually track the timing of every email to every client. That’s an absurd and inefficient lift. With email automation, the software will properly trigger your emails on precise intervals, so that no one misses out on information or gets duplicate messaging.

There are many email marketing platforms out there, with varying features and price points. However, most of these platforms have some common elements:

  • Your leads’ and clients’ email addresses are stored in a database
  • You build your emails in templates, which you can customize to reflect your brand
  • You specify events (like a form fill) that will trigger a specific email
  • The marketing automation software helps you track the lead or client’s engagement with your email, website, and other digital assets

All of this is done seamlessly, with limited human involvement once the templates and emails are built and tested. As a company, we’re big fans of SharpSpring and HubSpot, but you’ve probably encountered other companies like Constant Contact and Mailchimp too.

If you’re not sure which platform makes the most sense for your organization, let’s talk. Our email marketing experts can help you assess each software solution’s advantages and disadvantages and tailor a plan to meet your needs.

TIP: It’s a good idea to make sure that your partner is certified in your selected platform. (LaFleur is a SharpSpring Platinum Partner and a HubSpot Solutions Partner.)

Step 2: Frame your email campaign and set your goals

As you start to craft an email campaign, ask yourself a very simple question: what is its purpose? Are you trying to convince a truck accident survivor that you’re the best lawyer for their case? Nurturing relationships with other law firms that refer their bankruptcy leads to you? Convince a newsletter subscriber to sign up for a webinar about estate planning?

To achieve each of these goals, you’ll need to implement slightly different tactics.

As you create your campaign, everything you do should advance that goal. You’ll might need a conversion-driven landing page for the webinar campaign or a compelling video for your truck wreck claimant. Everything you do should encourage your readers to open the emails, engage with your content, and reach out to you if they have more questions.

Reach your law firm’s goals by focusing on your clients’ needs

Your readers are looking for a solution to their specific problems. Your email marketing campaigns must address those needs and offer meaningful solutions. When you do this, you’ll build a relationship with your audience, and they will come to trust you.

Our marketing strategists love client-centered, needs-based email campaigns for good reason. If we sent you an email entitled, “LaFleur uses data to optimize law firm content,” you probably wouldn’t open it, let alone click through to our landing page. It sounds boring and doesn’t reflect your interests or practice management needs.

But, if we offered you a free webinar, video, or guide that shows you how to get your website on Google’s first page, especially for your most coveted keywords, you might bite. The “people love free stuff” adage is true in marketing, too—especially when that free stuff meets one of your most important needs.

Legal consumerism is growing, and people are becoming more adept at researching their legal issues and comparing attorneys. If you offer these consumers targeted advice and information that makes them feel seen and understood, you will build trust and convert more of them into clients.

Once you identify a specific focus area for your email marketing efforts, you will need to consider your audience.

RELATED: Email Marketing Basics: List Building and Growth

Step 3: Carefully consider your email campaign’s targeted audience

You might have noticed that the words “segmented” and “targeted” appear a lot in this article. While some email campaigns, like one announcing that you’re moving to a new address, affect multiple audiences, you usually want to speak to a specific group of recipients. This might be crash victims, parents who need to collect unpaid child support, physicians who send you cases, or current clients.

Most email automation platforms will let you segment your email lists into categories, and it’s worth the time to build more targeted audiences. Each of your reader segments will have different pain points and levels of sophistication that you should take into consideration.

When you break your lists down into smaller, more defined groups, you can tailor your messaging to their precise interests and needs. Not only does this increase the effectiveness of your efforts, but it also increases your open and click-through rates.

Step 4: Create unique content that informs your readers and expresses your value proposition

Once you have a clear goal and have carefully considered your audience, it’s time to start determining the topics of your emails. From that pool of ideas, you will want to add supplemental topics that will put your firm in the forefront of people’s minds, establish your credibility, and build trust with your audience. Then, you can work on creating and deploying your email campaigns.

Personalize your content and speak directly to your audience’s needs

A segmented list is just the beginning of your personalization. You can also use custom fields in your software platform, ensuring that the reader’s name and other personalized data appears in the subject line and other high visibility areas.

But you can also create personalized content that addresses your marketing personas’ concerns and considers their unique perspectives.

Suppose you were writing a series of email blasts about a significant change to your state’s punitive damage caps. In an email to referring attorneys, you might focus on the following:

  • An analysis of recent developments in your state’s jurisprudence or legislation
  • Practice pointers that help readers identify referral opportunities
  • Your track record, highlighting recent success stories

The over-arching purpose of this email would be to emphasize your expertise and get your referral base to send you their personal injury cases. You could even use all your favorite Latin terminology in this email, if it aligns with your brand and builds credibility.

However, that email would not speak to your current clients and leads. At all. In your client-facing email, you would likely take a different approach:

  • Explaining how punitive damages work, even adding a related video or infographic
  • Breaking down how your state’s approach has changed in plain English (ideally at an 8th to 9th grade reading level).
  • Suggesting ways that readers can protect their legal claims

At the end, you would likely offer a free consultation for the reader, including a “Schedule Now” button that links to your office’s phone number or contact form.

Boost your office’s efficiency with automated legal education campaigns

You can also use email campaigns to reduce the volume of routine questions that your staff handles. You can create email content that answers your clients’ most common questions in great detail, proactively responding to their concerns.

Imagine you were just in a car wreck. You have a lot of questions and concerns, so you decide to schedule a free consultation with a local attorney. In addition to getting an email confirming your appointment, your lawyer also sends you an email outlining what you should bring to your meeting. You also receive practical advice about how to avoid common mistakes, like letting the insurance company record your statements.

You never get more than an email or two a week, but each time it’s timely, informative, and easy to read. By the time you sit down with your potential attorney, you’re starting to feel like you trust them—and you can’t imagine working with anyone else.

And, you didn’t have to call the law firm repeatedly, asking routine questions. This gave the lawyer’s office staff more time to devote to more thought-intensive, strategic work, without sacrificing their client experience.

RELATED: Increasing conversions and understanding the digital marketing funnel

Step 5: Launch your email marketing campaign

Without a large team dedicated solely to your email marketing campaign, it’s difficult (if not impossible) to execute your email marketing in real time. Instead, you should have all your emails complete and ready before you decide to go live with a campaign. This will provide you with a buffer to tweak your content or the order of emails as well as to accommodate for any work that gets delayed—since you never know when you and your team will get totally swamped with your next big case.

If you’re doing a drip campaign, you also want to carefully consider the order and volume of emails you’ll be sending. If you flood your readers’ inboxes with content, they’ll eventually ignore you and become disengaged. However, if you send them content too infrequently, your firm won’t be at the top of mind either. Your marketing partner can help you get the cadence just right, based on demographic data and their past experience.

There’s a lot of data about the best day of week and time of day to send emails as well as the optimal email frequency, but keep in mind that what works best for B2C retail is likely not what will work best for your law firm.

Don’t ignore your emails’ mobile experience

Most people are reading their emails on handheld, mobile devices. However, many lawyers aren’t taking their user experience into account. When you’re designing your emails, make sure they are mobile friendly.

This means keeping your subject lines short, making sure your content loads quickly, making sure your text is readable on a small screen, and that your calls to action are easily clickable. (Our team ensures that all our clients’ email and newsletter campaigns are mobile friendly.)

Step 6: Monitor your campaign’s performance

Like any marketing tool, email campaigns have a shelf life—and not every email will be as successful as you hope. That’s why you should continually monitor your campaigns’ performance, using KPIs (key performance indicators):

  • Open rate: Sometimes called, the click to open rate, this shows how many people open your emails. The average click-through rate for legal emails in 2021 was 16.22%.
  • Click-through rate: How frequently readers click on a link in your email, continuing their journey down your marketing funnel. The average click-through rate for legal emails in 2021 was 7.01%.
  • Unsubscribe rate: The rate at which people actively unsubscribe from your email list, suggesting that they are no longer interested in your services or your content does not meet their needs.

If your campaigns are consistently underperforming, you should make incremental adjustments, which might pinpoint their flaws.

The LaFleur team are big believers in the power of data. We implement a “AAA” process when we’re running email or other marketing campaigns for our clients, which continually assesses their effectiveness and informs our strategies.

Most importantly, we see results with this process. For example, one of our clients, Gray Institute®, experienced a 43.15% open rate and a 9.73% click-through rate for a recent email campaign—more than double the average open rate and more than triple the average click-through rate for their industry.

LaFleur: Your email marketing partner

While email marketing has an excellent return on investment, you still need to put your time, thought, and effort into developing and implementing a successful email marketing strategy for your law firm.

We know your time is incredibly valuable. If you’d rather leave your email marketing in the hands of trusted, experienced professionals who have achieved outstanding successes for law firms across the United States, call us today at 888-222-1512. You can also fill out our easy-to-use contact form. We always love to talk about legal marketing and our email marketing services!

References

Average industry rates for email as of August 2021. (2021, September 9). Constant Contact. Retrieved from https://knowledgebase.constantcontact.com/articles/KnowledgeBase/5409-average-industry-rates?lang=en_US

Kirsch, Katrina (n.d.) The ultimate list of email marketing statistics for 2021. HubSpot. Retrieved from https://blog.hubspot.com/marketing/email-marketing-stats