When executed correctly, a law firm newsletter can be a great way to stay in front of clients and prospects. When executed poorly, law firm newsletters are a bore and a nuisance, doing more to damage your reputation than enhance it.
There are five key components to a successful law firm newsletter:
- Get Permission
Don’t send your newsletter to anyone unless they have asked to be on your mailing list. Oh sure, it’s tempting to add email addresses from purchased lists or people who you think might be interested, but it’s not a good idea. Keep in mind that old saying: “Never try to teach a pig to sing. It wastes your time and it annoys the pig.” Adding people to your newsletter list without their permission simply annoys them and is a waste of your time and resources.
- Be Relevant
I’m sorry to break it to you, but no one cares about the award you received unless they are related to you. Your law firm newsletter is NOT about your law firm! It’s about your readers — the problems they are facing and what they need to know to make their lives/businesses function better. Unless your content is relevant to the person receiving it, it will be ignored. If you have a blog, look at your analytics and see what topics are resonating with readers. Then use that information to create content that will interest your newsletter readers.
- Keep it Brief
As attorneys we like to talk, but no one is going to read your 6-page newsletter. It’s just too much. Keep it to one or two articles with a snappy headline for each, a couple of sentences to let your readers know what it’s about, and then a link that takes them to your website or blog.
- Have it Customized
If you have more than one practice area, you absolutely must segment your list and customize newsletters for each practice area. I know it’s tempting to try to cross-sell services, but resist the temptation for the good of your readership.
- Stay Focused
Don’t send something just to send something. Your content must focus on your practice area and reflect what you do. Don’t add superfluous content like recipes or crazy cat pictures in an attempt to entertain. Your readers can always find plenty of that stuff on social media.
Creating a newsletter people actually want to read
Your newsletter won’t do you one bit of good if no one is reading it. Here are some tips for creating a monthly missive your readers won’t want to miss:
Clean design. Design can make or break your newsletter. You want a clean design that is easily readable on any device — laptop, desktop, mobile or tablet. Using an email service like Constant Contact or MailChimp makes this a no-brainer — it’s done automatically so you can be sure your readers are able to enjoy your content however they choose to access it.
Minimal copy. Readers who are hit by a wall of content are much more likely to hit “Trash” rather than read it. As I mentioned earlier, draw your readers in with an enticing headline and a few sentences that reflect what your article is about, then let them click to the full content on your blog or website.
Sexy subject line. OK, maybe not sexy in its usual connotation, but rather sexy in terms of seducing that reader into opening your email.
Educational. You always want to be providing value to your readers, which means giving them maximum useful information and minimum promotional information. Don’t know what they want? Think about the most pressing issues your clients face as a group and write about that.
Singular call to action. Don’t clutter your newsletter with multiple offers — choose just one call-to-action (free e-book, etc.) and make it easy for your readers to heed that call.
Easy to unsubscribe. Some people will want to unsubscribe from your email list. Maybe they moved. Maybe they retired. Maybe they just don’t want what you have to give. So make it easy for them to go. Every email you send should have a clear, easily found Unsubscribe link at the bottom of the email. Don’t make the mistake of thinking a large email list is the mark of good email marketing. You want people who want to hear what you have to say. Otherwise, your message is falling on deaf ears.
Monitoring your e-newsletter performance
How do you know your e-newsletter is a success? You need to monitor its performance carefully. Email marketing service provider MailerMailer updates the following benchmarks for legal newsletters every year; here are the 2016 benchmarks:
- Open rate (percentage of your recipients that opened your email): 16.5%
- Click rate (percentage of your recipients that clicked on a link in your email): 1.3%
- Click-to-open rate (of the recipients that opened your email, the percentage that clicked on a link): 7.9%
- Bounce rate (the percentage of emails that cannot be delivered): 2.7%
If your newsletter campaign is delivering below these benchmarks, you need to take a hard look at what isn’t working and fix it.