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December 10, 2009

Update on Email and Newsletter Marketing

Eight months ago, I described the benefits of email and newsletter marketing here.  And even though since that time, the the benefits of social media for SEO have become more widely recognized, marketing via newsletters still remain a powerful tool.  For starters, bear in mind that many of your prospects may not participate in social media, so sending an email newsletter enables you to target a population that you might otherwise miss on social media alone.  As for existing clients, newsletters help you stay in touch long after the attorney-client relationship ends, thus laying the foundation for future referrals or other work.  The Law Gazette offers a couple of examples of how firms in the UK are using newsletters for everything from promoting seminars to simply keeping clients up to date on news.

Newsletters also carry SEO value, as discussed here.  The newsletter can drive readers to a law firm website, thus increasing traffic and online visibility.  And, you can repurpose that newsletter content too.  Many law firms upload newsletters to article archiving sites which can further bolster online visibility.

So if you're thinking about starting an email newsletter or improving the one you have, check out Small Business Trends which provides 30 email marketing applications, ranging from free to fee. 

June 22, 2009

Legal Marketing Blawg Update Post: Email Marketing

A few months back, I posted on the importance of client newsletters as a marketing tool and offered some tips on how to create newsletters to make them appeal to existing and prospective clients.  Not surprisingly, many businesses recognize the benefits of e-newsletters -- so much so that Forrester Research predicts that email marketing campaigns will reach $2 billion by 2014, reports Lisa Barone at Small Business Trends

Barone believes that email marketing is one of the most effective low-cost ways for small businesses to inform and retain existing clients.  She writes: 

Email marketing is all about customer retention. It's about building stronger relationships with customers who already know you and decided that, yes, they want to keep hearing from you. They want to stay up to date on what you're doing, they want to hear about new products, they want to hear about hot deals, etc. The messages that land in their inbox help keep your company name in their top of mind and force them to constantly be thinking about you.
Barone offers some advice about email marketing campaigns.  Though I don't recommend that law firms bombard clients with promotional activities (and indeed, doing so might not even be ethical), many of the tips are readily transferable to e-newsletter campaigns.

In addition to the advice from my earlier post, Barone recommends that you develop content with your existing and prospective clients in mind.  For example, do your clients want educational articles to help with a specific task?  Are they interested in short case studies or quick updates on new legal developments?  Once you understand why clients have subscribed to your newsletter, you can generate content that suits their needs.  If you serve a diverse clientele -- for example, families who need estate planning and individuals with employment matters -- you may want to consider two separate newsletters.     

It's also important to "brand" your newsletter, using the logo or colors that are consistent with your website.  That way, the template will help reinforce your brand to clients.

One final, interesting point -- the day that you send emails matters.  According to Barone, emails sent Tuesday to Thursday receive the highest open and clickthrough rate.  By contrast, those sent on Monday are most likely to be lost, while those sent on Friday are most likely to be ignored.  If your schedule doesn't permit you to personally send newsletters on those days, then consider delegating e-newsletter prep to an assistant.
February 8, 2009

A New Look At Newsletters for Lawyer Marketing

These days, blogs and social media are all the rage for lawyer marketing -- and I plan to discuss the pros and cons of these 21st century marketing activities in future columns.  But for today, l'm going to step back and take a new look at a more traditional form of lawyer marketing: the client newsletter.

So with Web 2.0 tools like blogs or Facebook or Twitter available to keep your clients up-to-date on the law or your firm's accomplishments, why should lawyers resort to something as old-fashioned or static as a client newsletter?  Well, believe it or not, newsletters offer several advantages that these other tools don't.  First, newsletters give you a chance to connect with existing clients and retain contact with former clients.  Since most lawyers report that client referrals account for their largest source of business, keeping in touch with clients ensures that they'll keep you in mind when a family member or friend asks for a referral.  Second, newsletters are a great way to build a mailing list for prospective clients -- for instance, you can have them sign up to subscribe at your blog or website. 

Newsletters also offer more flexibility over content than blogs or Twitter.  Twitter confines users to 140 characters per update -- barely enough to link to a news article or post of interest.  Blogs also tend to focus on a single topic and don't allow for digressions.  But many lawyers use newsletters to convey a variety of information to readers -- from articles on legal issues to profiles of clients to jokes or recipes.  Another drawback of blogs is that readers expect frequent updates, which leaves little time for busy lawyer-bloggers to really digest the news.  By contrast, because newsletters go out bi-weekly, there's time to develop more substantive or analytical pieces.

If I've convinced you to take a new look at client newsletters, below are the top five questions and answers on the nuts and bolts of getting started and equally, if not more challenging, keeping a newsletter going:

1.  How do I set up a newsletter?  There are many options for creating professional-looking client newsletters for minimal cost.  Desktop publishing packages such as those included in Word or Word Perfect are one option if you're comfortable with the software or have staff who can do it for you.  If you decide to send out your newsletter in hard copy, these packages work best.  Alternatively, you can also outsource newsletter production and printing to a virtual assistant or online company (just type terms like "client newsletter" and "newsletter preparation" into Google or your favorite search engine).

If you prefer an e-mail newsletter, consider services like Aweber or Constant Contact, among others, to automate newsletter preparation.  These services, which cost anywhere from $15 to $100 each month provide professional, customizable templates for e-mail newsletters and auto-response features that allow clients to register for the newsletter at your website.  Both services are simple to use; you can set up templates yourself or outsource the work to a virtual assistant.  The other benefit of an e-newsletter (as opposed to print) is that you can include URLs to sites or online articles of interest that readers can simply click through to access.

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