In Email Marketing for Lawyers-Part 1 we looked at the definition of email marketing and discussed its value for lawyers.
In this article, we’ll look at getting your email campaign up and running.
1. First things first. Putting your email marketing toolbox together.
Do these things first, before sending a single email or newsletter. The work involved in crafting a good email campaign is heavily front loaded, and then it becomes easy, almost routine actually.
By the way, we use the terms email and newsletters interchangeably here, because a newsletter is just a fancy email, with a bit more design and attention to elements like font size, color, logos, etc.
Define your target audience.
This audience should be the people you want to serve, rather than people who select you. Too many service professionals think in terms of how they can get people to hire them; the “we take whatever walks in the door” approach. But why not turn it around, and decide in advance to choose your clients, rather than the other way around? Permission based email marketing allows you to do this.
Create a persona of your ideal client.
This is closely related to finding the target audience, of course, but taking the additional step of creating the persona of the ideal client will help you resist the temptation to broadcast to a wide audience, fearing you’ll otherwise “miss someone.” Going too broad won’t attract anyone. Your copy will be just another vanilla message, instead of focused, personal and genuine.
… And find out what they’re interested in.
What issues do they have that you could solve? Go to online forums, or local events, and listen. If your ideal client is a small business startup, ask your existing, established business clients what their top two or three problems were as they started out.
Create content your ideal client would be interested in, because it solves a problem, educates on issues they might be concerned about surrounding their chief concerns, is entertaining, or all of the above. Plan for each newsletter to be 500-700 words.
Start a list of topic ideas. You’d be amazed at how many ideas you can come up with just by reflecting on your practice. Keep a running list and add to it whenever you think of something that might be useful. Then go to the list when you’re ready to write.
Two things need to be in place to have a successful email campaign. First, a list of people ready to hear a particular message, and second, a message tailored to that list, offering clear, compelling and useful information to the reader.
The campaign will suffer, perhaps fatally, if either is missing or out of sync. It has been said that even brilliantly crafted content cannot overcome the wrong list. That is, a message the list doesn’t care about.
And conversely, the right content, even if poorly drafted, delivered to the right list, is highly likely to succeed.
Keep that in mind as you look at your target audience and the content you intend to offer to them.
Also keep the 80/20 rule in mind. That is, 80% of your content should be useful and informative, and 20% promotional, such as an “About Us” or “What We’ve Been Up To Lately” section.
Finally, be genuine. Write in your own voice. Resist the temptation to be formalistic. You are a professional and want to portray that, but it is possible to be genuine and somewhat casual without dropping into the locker room. Write as you would talk to your prospect in the hallway of a business convention.
Over time, you’ll add to your list of new subscribers who opt into your offer and by your readers forwarding your useful email to others. The possibility of forwarding is why you see that curious statement in an email or newsletter service you’ve subscribed to, offering a free subscription. It is curious because, after all, you’re already a subscriber. Well, the offer isn’t intended for you. It’s meant for the people you forward the email to.
Decide how often to publish.
Somewhere between long intervals, where the client might forget you, and so frequent that you become a pest, or risk pushing out “content” for the sake of publishing something, rather than informing with useful material. Once per month is probably a minimum. Every few days is likely to be too much. Trust your instincts.
Create an editorial calendar, scheduling out publication over the next twelve months, and select an email vendor.
Pretty self-explanatory here. Take your calendar out or sit down with your writer if you decide to outsource, and schedule topics and releases. And select an email vendor to automatically respond to subscription and download requests, and to schedule your future publication dates. There are several excellent free or low-cost providers, including Mail Chimp, Constant Contact, and Buffer.
Create a lead magnet.
Create something useful to the prospective client you can give away in exchange for agreeing to be on your mailing list. Some ideas, following again on the small business or start-up target: a checklist for things to consider before starting a business. Other ideas are an ebook, a podcast or video of useful information that can be downloaded.
Create a stand alone landing page or dedicated landing page on your website.
Use either vehicle, just don’t have the landing page be the Home Page of your site. Most readers will be disappointed when they click on the link which was supposed to take them to the download/subscription page, only to find they are on a website, which will require further navigation on their part to get to the destination you promised in the offer. Web visitors are very prone to moving on (clicking out) when even the least amount of resistance is present.
2. Build an email list
Now it’s time to figure out how to get your newsletter subscription offer to your target audience. That is, building a list of email subscribers.
There are many possibilities. Again, the most important thing is to be sure your offerings will go to prospects likely to be interested in your information, and who you choose to work with.
Start local, with existing clients and people you know personally or professionally who might be interested in your newsletter. Then, work out from there.
Strategies to get more people on your email list include:
- Look for others publishing to your list and ask if they use guest articles. Many do because it gives their readers more value. If appropriate, you can offer to reciprocate;
- Send out a press release, announcing your upcoming free newsletter;
- Speak to local groups in your target’s space and provide an email sign up sheet;
- You can also use paid online ads, such as Google Adwords or Facebook, targeted to your audience, to gain subscribers.
3. Publish to your list
Now you have your email list, your content, and your editorial calendar to tell you how often to publish.
Use Mail Chimp, Constant Contact, Buffer or other online applications to pre schedule responses and releases. They are self-explanatory and extremely easy to use.
4. Do-It-For-You professionals
If this seems like too much work, or you’re simply not interested in doing this yourself, there are copywriting professionals who have dedicated their businesses to creating newsletters for professional services firms. And some focus exclusively on law firms. You can order a la carte from them, or turn the entire project over, at a cost most firms would find reasonable compared to the potential return on investment
Now you have a basic understanding of email marketing, and what it can do for your law firm. Take this basic outline and expand your knowledge with online learning, some free and some fee-based.
And then give it a try yourself. You may find the process enjoyable.
But if not, or you’d simply rather spend more of your time practicing law, there are professionals who would be happy to help.
Thanks for reading.