Stephen Fairley 2013-05-03 00:07:49
Despite all the focus these days on social media, email marketing still remains the most effective way to reach prospects, remind clients, and reconnect with referral sources. According to the latest Pew Internet & American Life Project Report, email remains the top use of the Internet across all age groups. Far too few law firms properly utilize email marketing to generate more referrals and develop new business. In this article I’m going to lay out a game plan for your firm so you can implement an email marketing program. He or She Who Has The Biggest List Wins! I have said this to audiences for the last several years, but it bears repeating, he or she who has the biggest list wins! Your list is one of the few tangible assets of your law firm that is of a true lasting value. It’s not the forms you produce, the boilerplate contracts you use, or even the nice office furniture you have that makes your firm valuable; it is your ongoing relationship with your current and former clients, prospects and referral sources— that is to say, your list! As a business owner, you must do everything you can to build, maintain and grow a healthy list of interested prospects, clients and referral sources. Developing a robust email marketing list should be at the core of your law firm’s business development efforts. Here are some proven ways to build a great law firm marketing list: Insert a newsletter sign-up form on each page of your website and on your blog. Include a brief summary of the benefits of receiving your no-cost, monthly legal newsletter as well as a link to a sample they can read. Promote your newsletter on social media. A growing number of law firms are using social media as a low cost method to promote their law firms. Periodically include snippets from your newsletter in your social media. Invite your connections on LinkedIn to join your list. Send out an email invitation to all your connections on LinkedIn asking if they would like to join your newsletter. Use networking events to grow your list. If you’re like most attorneys, you have a stack of business cards somewhere on your desk from people you have met at networking events and surprisingly you haven’t done anything with those names since then. Instead of letting them collect dust, put them on your newsletter list. It is the easiest way to stay connected with them over the long-term. When you have a speaking engagement, provide a sign-up sheet for your complimentary newsletter. This technique has a very high response rate because the audience has already expressed an interest in your practice area by virtue of attending your presentation. Partner with other non-legal professionals who serve a client base similar to yours. For example, if your area of practice is estate planning, financial planners, CPAs, tax attorneys or real estate professionals might have a target client similar to yours. Once you identify these “list partners,” there are several ways you can work with them to build your list: • Quid pro quo: extend an offer to have them write a column or the main article in your newsletter and in return you will write an article for their newsletter • Insert an offer for your free newsletter into their outgoing client communications and they can do the same with yours. • Co-sponsor a presentation or a webinar where each of you promote it to your lists, talk for half the time, and both receive a copy of the contact information from all the attendees. • Have several copies of each other’s newsletter in your lobby areas where clients can easily pick them up, read them while they are waiting, and take them with them when they leave. The overall goal is to continually grow your list and produce top quality content of interest to your list so they start to see you as a thought leader in the field. Creating an Email Marketing Program for Your Law Firm If you do not already have a regular email marketing campaign in place – like a monthly e-newsletter – here are 12 tips to keep in mind as you embark on your list building efforts: 1. Use every opportunity to build your list. Every prospect your office talks to on the phone, every person who fills out a form on your website, every business contact you network with, every visitor to your website or blog, every contact you have on social media, every referral source you meet for lunch, and every new client you sign up—invite them all to join your monthly newsletter. 2. Give away a free report on a topic of interest to your prospects when they sign up for your newsletter. This is a great way to entice reticent people to divulge their contact information. 3. Only send emails to people who have agreed to receive them. One of the services we offer are “done for you” newsletters for law firms and I will occasionally have a new client ask me about buying a list of targeted prospects. In general, I do not recommend purchase of a list of names as they have no existing relationship with you and you will likely receive a lot of spam complaints. I believe there are more effective and more professional ways to build a list. 4. Include an opt-out option in every email you send. Make it easy for people who are no longer interested in your content to unsubscribe. 5. Be sure your content is always relevant to your audience. Know what topics your audience cares about. If you don’t know, ask them via a survey. Write about areas they are interested in. Don’t be afraid to take a specific point of view. As famous business author Robert Kiyosaki, author of “Rich Dad, Poor Dad” put it, I would rather be loved or hated, but not forgotten. 6. Always include a clear call-to-action. Tell them what you want them to do: Do you want them to call your office for a free consultation? Do you want them to visit your blog for more information on a specific topic? Would you like them to attend your upcoming webinar? 7. Use professional email marketing software to send it out. We recommend a program like Constant Contact, Mail Chimp, iContact, or Vertical Response. They are all very easy to use and costs start out around $20 per month. These programs all work about the same and will give you great insight into how many people are looking at your newsletter (open rates), how many people click on a link to “read more” (click through rates), and how many pass it on to a friend (“recommend” rates). Due to spam blockers and concerns over viruses being sent via email, we do not advise you to send it out via Microsoft Outlook® or even worse as a PDF attached to an email. 8. Send your email on a consistent basis. We recommend every 4-6 weeks, but some of you could send it even more frequently. When we went from a monthly newsletter to sending it out two times per month our open rates actually increased! 9. Test to find out when is the best time to send your newsletter. The day of the week and the time of day can make a huge difference in the open rates of your newsletter. Email marketing studies show that in general, the best times for sending B2B emails is Tuesday through Thursday between 9:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. The best times for sending B2C emails is Tuesday through Thursday between 5 p.m. and 8 p.m. or on the weekend, but your audience may be different and the only real way to find out is to test it. 10. Keep the “from” name consistent. You should use your name or the name of your law firm in the “from” line. 11. Use clear, concise and interesting subject lines. Don’t make people guess what your email is about. Studies have shown the two biggest factors in determining if your email gets open is does the recipient recognize who it is from and the subject line. Make your subject lines interesting. Think about it: if you get two emails and you don’t immediately recognize either sender, but one of them has the subject line “10 ways to double your law firm’s revenue this year” and the other one has the subject line “March Newsletter from The Rainmaker Institute,” which one will you be more inclined to open? 12. Keep it short and sweet. You should be able to read your entire newsletter in less than 5 minutes. If you have a great article that is longer simply include several paragraphs in your newsletter then add a link to “click here to read more.” Everyone’s attention span is getting shorter as multiple mediums for messaging continue to grow. Creating a Lead-Generating Law Firm Newsletter There are some e-newsletters I look forward to receiving and some that make me look immediately for the “Unsubscribe” link. So why do some email newsletters fail while others succeed? Here are some hallmarks of effective e-newsletters: Proper list segmentation. The newsletters I like best cater to my interests and feed me the information I really want and need to stay on top of the latest trends and developments. If you have more than one practice area in your law firm, you simply must segment your list. Don’t send out the same information to every email address you have on file. Good design. A properly designed e-newsletter draws the reader in by using powerful eye catching graphics. It should be clean and use images that tell a story. Keep the same template from month to month so it becomes recognizable to your subscribers. Links to pass it on. Make it easy for people to pass on your newsletter to a friend, family member, or colleague either by email or social media. A recent research report showed that emails that include social share buttons have a click-through rate (CTR) that is 158% higher than those that do not. Be sure to include a “Forward to a Friend” link to encourage readers to share your information. Mobile-Friendly. Earlier this year, email marketing services company Litmus took an in-depth look at their aggregated email analytics (1 billion+ emails delivered) and found that mobile has now overtaken desktop and webmail in overall email opens. In an amazingly quick turn of events, Litmus found an 80% increase in just six months for email opens on mobile devices. What that means to you: your email marketing must be optimized for mobile devices. Specifically for the iPhone and iPad, which dominated with 80% of mobile opens performed on these devices. If you need some help in building your list or recognize the need to build ongoing relationships with your list by sending out a monthly newsletter I invite you to call our office to see if we could assist you. Also, I would be remiss if I didn’t invite you to join our free newsletter that goes out to over 12,000 attorneys twice a month. It gives attorneys in small to mid-sized law firms practical tips and specific recommendations on how to increase revenues, improve referrals, and convert more prospects into paying clients. You can sign up at our website: www.TheRainmakerInstitute.com or by emailing me at StephenFairley@TheRainmakerInstitute.com and in the subject line put: sign me up for your newsletter!
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