Disclaimer: this article is directed at building a newsletter in the legal profession, however there is much valuable insight for how to get started in any professional field.
Over the past decade, email is rated time and time again as the best and most cost effective channel out there to reach and engage with clients. Here’s how you can get started in 4 simple steps.
The obvious way to start this process is to determine who you are sending your newsletter to. Perhaps you have a bright and shiny spreadsheet with all of your current, past, and potential clients and it’s something you’ve been meaning to do. The more segmented, the better. You may want to send targeted emails based on different audiences - for example: potential vs. past vs. existing clients, clients with certain demographics or needs. For instance, if you are a firm that specializes in Business, Real Estate, and Family Law, it might be beneficial to segment clients based on those attributes.
Once you have your data compiled into a spreadsheet, you will be ready to upload it into your chosen ESP (Email Service Provider). We’ll help you with that in the next step! Special note: uploading a spreadsheet into your chosen ESP to send an email newsletter is simple and requires minimal technical knowledge. But, it can become inconvenient and cumbersome to do this manually whenever your list needs updating (hopefully every time you send you have new clients to send it to!). If your client list is growing quickly, or you want to reduce the labor of uploading an updated client sheet, you may want to consider an automated tool. Some popular tools include: Zapier, Tray.io, or Automate.io. If you use a CRM tool (Customer Relationship Management), it’s possible this includes an integration with your chosen ESP as well.
You need to get permission from your clients to email them if you have not already. It’s the law.
Save your spreadsheet as a CSV file. This is typically the best format to upload into your chosen ESP (but your ESP will walk you through this too).
Determine your goals with each segmented group before doing the leg work. That way, you have an action plan for each type of messaging to send, and it’s worth all your hard work.
You’re going to want to choose an ESP that fits in with your goals and long term marketing strategy. Do you want an ESP that doubles as a marketing automation platform? Are you wanting to send complex life-cycle emails based on certain actions a client takes on your site? Are you just wanting a simple newsletter to send monthly that keeps clients engaged with your firm? It’s always best to start small, measure how you do, and then make decisions from there.
The most well-known and talked about ESP out there right now is MailChimp. MailChimp is great because not only is it free, but you require minimal design and development experience. You don’t need to be a tech-spert (see what we did there) to create emails in MailChimp. It includes tons of free templates and helpful articles to get you started. Other ESP platforms you may want to explore are:
Adding a way for your potential clients to give you their email from your website is a great way to attract leads. Many ESPs (including MailChimp) will allow you to embed a signup form on your website. That way, you have even more opportunity to attract new clients!
Now comes the fun part. Writing content for your email newsletter is where your firm gets to shine. The best way to start is to consider the goals and audience of your newsletter, and start to brainstorm content related to each audience.
It helps to break these down by topic:
Sharing blogs or articles
Staff highlights or awards
Helping clients understand the legal process in more depth
Books, movies, documentaries, TV series related to law
Organizing your newsletter into main topics allows you to follow a template each month, and helps your audience know what to expect. Each month, you can spice it up with a theme or seasonal message. If you are feeling really ambitious, it’s great to start brainstorming content for the months ahead by building a newsletter calendar into your mix. That way, you can start to plan ahead and stay on top of it!
If you are unsure of what types of content to include in your legal newsletter, or what will be valuable for your clients to read each month, the best thing you can do is simply ask. There are many free survey tools out there, or even including it simply in conversation. Inside your newsletter, you can also make a point to ask for feedback from your clients or ask if there are subjects they would like to see covered in the future.
So long as you are providing useful insights to your audience, you will establish your firm as an authority creating trust and providing value to your clients.
Included in every email newsletter beyond the content should be your firm's logo, contact details, website link, social media handles, and any images that promote your brand. You can easily add this to your newsletter template to use month after month.
If you are unsure about content, or have a few ideas you’d like to try, most ESP’s will allow you to A/B test. Whether it’s a simple subject line, time of day, content inside your newsletter, or calls to action, you can test and measure to fine tune your strategy.
Make sure every newsletter has a clear CTA (Call To Action). This lets your reader know exactly what you want them to do. Whether it’s reading a blog or article, making an appointment with your firm, signing up for a contest, registering for a webinar, following your social media accounts.
Always include an option at the end of your newsletter to unsubscribe. Even though you won’t want your audience to do this, it’s better to have the option than leave them frustrated about how to get off your email list.
Test your newsletter before sending. Make sure that you send a test to yourself and a few others. It’s good to get a few eyes on it to check for any copy edits or mistakes in the design. View it on your desktop and mobile device to make sure it looks the way you like. Your ESP will likely offer a preview before sending too.
It’s important to consider your newsletters impact vs. effort when you start tracking the results. If you notice the numbers are low, you may want to put in some more effort to determine why your audience is not engaging. If your numbers are high, you know your effort is on the right track. How will you know what numbers are “low” and what are “high”? The ESP you choose will provide insights after sending such as the open rate (% of audience that opens your newsletter), click rate (% of audience that clicks on your newsletter to take an action), bounce rate (% of emails that do not deliver), unsubscribe rate (% of audience that unsubscribes from your newsletter), and conversion rate (if you set this up to track whether potential clients become existing clients).
MailChimp places the legal industry email benchmarks at:
22.00% Open Rate
2.81% Click Rate
0.52% Bounce Rate
0.22% Unsubscribe Rate
These metrics become extremely valuable over a longer span of time as you start to better understand your audience and the segments within them. Use your metrics to guide how you create future content.
Email, like any other form of communication, should be concise, delightful to read, and personalized. The right audience wants to hear from you, and it’s up to you to deliver what matters to them.
So go ahead, you’ve got this.