Lawyers spend years in school studying the law. The core work of building a law practice, however, has less to do with legal text and more to do with relationships.
People seek legal help when it’s needed and that relationship usually lasts as long as it takes to resolve the issue at hand. Some individuals and small business owners have a go-to lawyer in their contacts, but many do not. For those that do, it’s still easy to lose touch. Most interactions are prompted by a specific matter the client needs help with.
How do you make sure your law firm stays top-of-mind?
This is where investing in an email newsletter makes sense. Granted, we here at rasa.io are super into email newsletters, and we work hard to make them smarter and better. But, done thoughtfully, newsletters are a great fit for law firms and other industries where keeping touch with clients is a priority despite its challenges. Hear us out.
Why does my law firm need an email newsletter?
The world is increasingly digital and mobile, which means that old-school print advertising, direct mail and signage just doesn’t pack as much of a punch as it used to. These days, most transactions start with a simple online search. Having a digital presence is vital.
Most businesses start with social media because it’s easy to set up, but it’s tough to rise above the noise and connect with people in a direct way on those platforms. At the end of the day, your followers belong to Facebook, Instagram or whatever platform you happen to be using, not your brand.
Email marketing, specifically email newsletters, offers a creative, helpful and affordable alternative. Email newsletters are designed to deliver useful information directly to your audience. Most everyone has an email address these days (just over 4 billion of us worldwide, if you’re counting). You need an email to log into a social media account, not the other way around. Also, your email list belongs to you. You built it. It’s yours.
Another plus: Email is easy to check on-the-go, using a mobile device. As of 2019, mobile devices accounted for nearly half of all website views, according to Statista. If the goal is to maintain a direct conversation with your audience across devices, email marketing remains one of the more effective tools out there.
But why invest in an email newsletter? Isn’t an email newsletter more 2000 than 2020? Despite growing online channels for law firm marketing, surveys show people still want brands to contact them over email. In a 2017 Campaign Monitor survey, 66% of respondents ranked email as their preferred method of communication from retail brands, followed by direct mail at a distant 26%.
Email newsletters, in particular, are evolving. That’s because technology, ranging from simple GIFs to artificial intelligence (like what we do here at rasa.io), is making it easier to build smarter, more personalized email newsletters. More personalized means more meaningful.
How should my law firm start an email newsletter?
If you already have an email list of customers, congrats! You have a built-in audience who wouldn’t mind hearing from you. If you don’t, getting started is as simple as asking. Ask new and existing customers if you could email them a weekly newsletter with useful information to keep them up-to-date on the legal climate in their industry or region. Not sales pitches or promos, but articles, videos and other content that you think they would find useful.
That last part is key. Lawyers work for their clients whether they are litigating, researching, negotiating or performing other services. It’s in your DNA. To that end, it’s important to educate clients on why reliable legal help is valuable. But your law firm newsletter shouldn’t be about landing new clients or touting legal wins.
An email newsletter should be about building a relationship with people, people who may eventually need to hire a lawyer to review documents, help negotiate a sale or represent them in a dispute.
We don’t have to tell you that investing in maintaining relationships, whether in-person or through a newsletter, is the key to unlocking long-term success. That prospective client who needs help reviewing legal documents today? They could be a long-term client. You want your law firm (or perhaps a link to your law firm newsletter) to come up when a client or someone they know is looking for legal advice.
To that end, grow your email list by asking your existing subscribers to share the newsletter with friends and family if they find it useful. Send out surveys asking subscribers and potential clients what topics they want to know more about. Also, add a newsletter signup feature on your website and bring along a tablet and encourage law firm newsletter signups at in-person events.
What should we talk about in our email newsletter?
Don’t underestimate the treasure trove of knowledge you bring to the table as a lawyer. A big part of running a law practice is keeping tabs on legal decisions at the national, state and local levels. Your clients want to know about some of those as well. Make it a point to share the “inside scoop” from a legal viewpoint, without going too far into the weeds.
Take a breath. That doesn’t mean that you need to sit down and start typing out dozens of blog posts that break down complex legal topics. Much of the content you’re looking for is already online, but your audience may not be seeing it. It’s up to you to share it with them, and a law firm newsletter is an effective way to do that.
In your regular industry reading and research, look out for articles, videos and other content that do a good job at explaining big-picture trends or key decisions that could affect how your clients do business. (This process, by the way, is called curation and it’s a crucial part of content marketing. Check out our content curation guide to help you get started curating quality content the right way.)
Perhaps your law firm has already engaged in email marketing, for example, sending promotional emails highlighting news about your firm, recent hires and cases where you’ve successfully represented clients. Your law firm newsletter is an opportunity to do something a little different. Focus on sharing information about the news and topics people care about, whether or not they tie directly back to your practice and its services.
The topics you choose to focus on should be informed by your clientele and their interests.
If you work mainly with tech startups, share news and information relevant to technology, startup culture and fundraising. Specialize in labor law? Share articles, guides and videos geared toward workplace culture, and best practices in hiring and management.
Attorney Noah Klug’s New York-based firm specializes in helping U.S. companies navigate immigration law and hire foreign workers. Klug started using LinkedIn several years ago to share useful updates with clients, relying on Google alerts to automatically surface articles covering relevant topics like immigration and visas. The firm added an email newsletter to its marketing strategy in May.
The Klug Law Firm email newsletter goes out to subscribers on Wednesday mornings. Its primary audience? Employees in human resources, he said.
“Our target audience tends to be HR folks,” Klug said. “They’re usually the ones in the company that handle immigration.”
Klug said the email newsletter provides articles on a wide range of immigration-related topics, for example, changes to H1B visa regulations that affect clients. The newsletter also includes articles related to employment and labor law, work culture and other topics that appeal to the HR specialists in its audience, he said.
“That’s not our focus, but my hope is that it will grab the audience,” Klug said.
For Klug, sending an email newsletter is important for two big reasons. First, it helps his firm provide important information and context to clients, he said. The newsletter has been especially valuable during the covid-19 health crisis, allowing the firm to keep clients updated on shifting travel restrictions, he noted.
Second, it allows the firm “to stay front of mind” with clients, Klug said.
The hope is that “if they have somebody that asks them for a referral for an immigration law firm, that we’re front of mind for them,” he said.
Full disclosure: Klug uses rasa.io to send his firm’s newsletter, which he said saves him time on gathering content and makes it easy to send a weekly email newsletter. His firm also uses Mailchimp to send one-time alerts with urgent, time-sensitive updates on immigration law. (Curious about how to use MailChimp and rasa.io in tandem? Here’s more information on that.)
Where can I find info for my email newsletter?
The best email newsletters offer a mix of original content and external content. The latter is known as “curated content” in the online marketing world.
A good guideline? For every 10 pieces of content shared (i.e. articles, videos, social media posts, etc.), shoot for five curated pieces, three original pieces and two pieces that share something personal about your law firm.
Where can you find curated content? First, think of the places where your clients are most likely to learn and read about law-related happenings. That can include sources like:
- National news websites;
- Newsletters that target the industries you serve;
- Legal blogs (just make sure they’re approachable for your clients); and
- Social media posts from associations and industry experts.
Next, think about what sources specialize in offering news and information on the non-industry topics you want to cover. Those can include:
- Industry-specific news websites and blogs, like TechCrunch (startups), MarketWatch (business), VentureBeat (tech), buffersocial (marketing), and countless others. Check out this list from The Muse of tech and business resources to help get you started.
- Local news websites
- Industry groups and forums
In Klug’s case, he said he gathers useful content from a mix of sources, including national news outlets, legal publications like the National Law Review, and niche legal blogs like Think Immigration, a blog by the American Immigration Lawyers Association.
The list of sources is always evolving, he said.
“It’s a work in progress, in terms of tweaking the content,” Klug said.
Where can I learn more about crafting email newsletters?
With a thoughtful approach, email newsletters are an effective way to connect with your clients on a regular basis outside the context of a sale. It’s about holding a conversation.
Want to learn more about how to craft successful email newsletters? Our Pushing Send blog has a whole section on email newsletters for you to peruse.
Looking for email inspiration? The Really Good Emails database includes examples of hundreds of examples of well-done emails, including email newsletters.
Last, for a deeper dive into the fundamentals of curating content, check out our guide on content curation.