Email marketing for law firms

Is email marketing for law firms all it’s cracked up to be? The problem with cold call email is that, from the recipients’ points of view, it’s instantly disposable. How many unsolicited emails do you receive at work or on your mobile each day? More to the point, how many do you actually bother to read?

Let’s be honest, bulk email returns nothing like the response rates that we used to get from traditional postal mailshots. A traditional mailshot with a 10% response rate was pretty good. For email, you are usually looking at a 2% return if you are lucky.

The difference with email is double barrelled. It costs an awful lot less that postal mail and you can send it to many more recipients. The real problem remains how do you get people to open and read your emails? The following 12 pointers may shed some light on this for you.

1. Content.

It’s all very well, blasting out tens of thousands of emails each month. However, what are you going to say in them to make an impact?  Your content should do one or more of the following:

  1. Promote your firm’s brand.
  2. Show your specialised services as being relevant.
  3. Keep you at the front of your clients’ minds.
  4. Show that you are thinking about your clients’ needs.
  5. Make an offer that clients will find enticing.

That said, don’t try to do all five at once. Your message should be clear and concise. Avoid the temptation to throw in the kitchen sink – or your message will be lost down the plug hole.

2. Target audience.

This is not as obvious as it may seem. You have to take modern GDPR regulations seriously. If you have an extensive list of existing clients who have given you their email addresses and agreed to be contacted, all well and good. If you have a list of prospects who have signed up to your website or social media platforms, even better.

That said, think carefully before you go out and buy a list of contacts. Make sure you trust the list vendor. Check that they are registered with the Direct Marketing Association and check all the contact names they provide are double opt-in.

The bulk of your lists should comprise existing clients. These people trust you, recommend you and come back to you. They are the easiest to sell to.

3. Segmentation.

Think hard before sending generic emails to your entire database of contacts. This may be appropriate to notify them that you are moving office, but probably not for anything else. What you send has to be relevant to the recipients if you wish to avoid them unsubscribing.

To achieve relevance, segment your list into a group of smaller lists based on client and prospect needs and interests or locations. Think about the work you have previously done for groups of existing clients. If you handled 100 personal property transactions in the last six months, all those clients need a will.

There’s another side to segmentation that will help you determine the success of your email content – A/B testing. This is where you send out more than one version of your email to a homogenous group of recipients. If one version yields a better return than the other, you have a greater insight into what style of content works best for future campaigns.

4. Personalisation.

This may sound obvious, but it often goes overlooked. How often do you receive bland, circular emails that are not tailored to you? How often do you bother to read them? Capturing clients’ attention is all about making them feel valued and it’s simple to achieve. Most email software will permit you to personalise names, the subject line and even parts of the body text. The first of these, the “Dear [First Name] is the most powerful.

Personalise yourself too! An email from “email@lawfirm.co.uk” is ten times less likely to be read than one that comes from you.

5. Subject.

Email marketing for law firms

This is the one you have to get right – and you only have one shot at it. If the subject line is not enticing enough, your email will not be opened. So, this single, short line must show readers that your communication is valuable and relevant to them.

Try to use subject lines that either make an offer, save money, provide useful information or demonstrate a new service. Once again, keep it simple and honest. At all costs avoid the temptation to use subject words that are “spam triggers” or “clickbait”. To avoid these, test your email with a free service such as http://www.isnotspam.com to check it will avoid spam filters.

6. Keep it simple.

When it comes to the body of the email, don’t waffle. As a solicitor, you may have received long-winded emails from your counterparts! Your clients are almost certainly not. Most of them suffer from magpie mentality like the rest of us. Your email will be in the trash before you know it.

Keep your body content down to a maximum of 150 words. Use bullet lists to accentuate key points and keep paragraphs short. Your emails should awaken interest, but they should also get straight to the point. If they contain an offer, the offer should go right at the start.

7. Ensure your call to action is clear.

Your call to action should be distinctive, clear and easy to use. The real purpose of your email is to elicit a response, so don’t make it difficult to do so. Text links may be all well and good but a “Contact Us” or “Find Out More” button will have 10 times the response rate. If the button leads to an online form, keep that form short and easy to complete.

8. Make it mobile friendly.

Just like websites, emails have to be mobile friendly too. How many times have you received an email that’s too tiny to read or too large for your mobile screen? Also, when over 60% of emails will be read on a mobile device, commonsense dictates not to putting huge, slowly downloading images in them. Images are great attention grabbers, but their file size must be small.

This goes back to the spam issue. Email filters tend to treat overuse of links as spam. Yet, there are a number of links you have to use:

  • Unsubscribe link – to keep within the bounds of GDPR.
  • Call to action link – to elicit a response.
  • View in browser link – to open the mail in a browser when software such as MS Outlook blocks images.

Other than that, you can use links to your website or social media accounts to encourage sharing and attract new clients. However, don’t go overboard.

10. Follow up immediately.

I know this sounds obvious, but it is amazing how often people overlook it. When you receive a response from a mailshot, your cold call becomes a hot lead. Don’t allow it to go cold again. Aim to get back to your respondents within one hour of receiving contact from them. Any longer than a day, and you will probably not be entertained.

11. Monitor your stats.

Monitoring ties in nicely with A/B testing. At LawWare, we use bulk email software called Sendinblue. It sends emails out effortlessly by the thousand, it is significantly more cost-effective than alternatives such as Mailchimp, there is a free version for smaller businesses and, most importantly, it provides analytics on each campaign.

These statistics include open rates, click through rates, unsubscribes, bounces and an indication of which links have been clicked. The statistics provide important insights into the success of your campaigns and food for thought to help you improve the performance of future ones.

12. Use your Practice Management Software.

Lastly, before you go diving into expensive, online bulk email solutions, take a look at your own practice management software. If it’s anything like LawWare, it will include a built-in Client Relationship Management module that will enable you to send emails directly to clients and contacts.

Mike O’Donnell. January 2020.

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