Because so much of the legal industry operates on referrals, the size of your network is often strongly correlated with the size of your business. As any good online marketer knows, starting a monthly newsletter is an excellent way to build your network, promote your services, and grow your brand. In this post, we provide step-by-step instructions for how to start a law firm newsletter, including what email marketing software you should use, how to build an email list, and what kind of content you should write about.
Why to Start a Law Firm Newsletter
Before we get into the details of how to start a law firm newsletter, let’s first establish why you would want to. There are several good reasons.
Most importantly, email marketing is a proven method for promoting products and services online. It just works, no matter what industry you’re in.
Also, email is still one of the best communication channels to reach your customers. Social media is too noisy and crowded to get your word across. Snail mail is too slow and expensive. Phone calls or text messages are too invasive. But email is the right mix of all of them – personal and private, but not overly annoying or intrusive.
Consistently sending out newsletters is one of the most effective ways of communicating a message to your target audience, which is the first step to building your law firm brand. The more frequently people hear your name and interact with you, the more likely they will be to remember you when they are ready to hire a lawyer or refer one to a friend.
What Email Marketing Software to Use
You will need to set up a few things before you can start your law firm newsletter – most notably your email list. This step will require the help of email marketing software.
Many beginners make the mistake of thinking they can just BCC a few hundred contacts on an email newsletter sent through their normal email account. This is a surefire way to get your domain blacklisted for sending spam, hence why email marketing software exists in the first place.
There are many options to choose from for email marketing software, but we typically recommend MailChimp. Not only is it free up to 2000 email contacts, it is also easy to use, and they offer nicely designed email templates which are great for beginners. It isn’t the #1 email marketing software in the world for no reason. (Not to mention that we have also integrated MailChimp with the Lexicata CRM…)
Other options would be Constant Contact, Aweber, Autopilot, MadMimi, etc. Each one has something unique to offer, so do your research upfront to determine which one will meet your specific goals the best. If your goal is simply to send a newsletter each month, MailChimp is a great way to go.
How to Build Your Law Firm Email List
The core asset of any email marketing strategy is the email list itself. The more subscribers you have, the more people you can reach. And the more people you reach, the larger your potential network for new clients and referrals will be.
But you shouldn’t just throw everybody onto one all-encompassing email list. This is a common mistake made by email marketing novices.
It is much more effective if you target your email newsletters based on people’s specific interests, or their relationship to you. The more your message resonates with the reader, the more engaged they will become with your firm, and the less likely they will be to unsubscribe.
For example, if you are a transactional attorney and you provide estate planning, business, and real estate services, you would be wise to split your email list based on those three segments of your practice so that you aren’t sending out irrelevant estate planning content to your business or real estate contacts, and vice versa.
Once you have created your lists in your email marketing software, there are a couple ways to start adding people to the lists. Here are the two main ways:
Adding People to Your List Manually
All email marketing software should offer the ability to upload contacts in bulk from a spreadsheet. Also, you can subscribe people one-by-one each time you meet someone new.
Keep in mind that there are a few things to be aware of when manually adding people to your email list. If you are adding them yourself, you are expected to have their permission first. So be careful about who you are adding to avoid spam complaints.
Also, because it can become cumbersome to keep your email lists up to date when you do it manually, you may want to consider using automation to do it for you.
For example, Lexicata’s MailChimp integration enables you to tag and categorize your contacts and send them to a corresponding email list automatically when they are entered in your CRM database. This eliminates the annoyance of double data entry. You could also use a tool like Zapier to streamline this process.
Getting Email Subscribers from Your Website
True marketers build their email lists organically from blogs and websites. This requires a lot of work, but it is also highly effective as a marketing strategy because you don’t have to do anything to manage your lists, and your network will begin growing on its own.
There are two basic steps required to start getting email subscribers from your blog or website:
- Embed signup forms to capture people’s contact information (name and email)
- Produce a steady stream of helpful content to generate web traffic and subscribers
MailChimp and most other email marketing software will give you the option to embed a signup form on your website. You can just copy/paste the embed code into various pages of your website or blog, and this will enable people to easily opt-in to your mailing list.
If you use WordPress, there is also a free MailChimp plugin you can install.
Embedding the form is the easy part, but getting people to actually subscribe will take a bit more work. The best strategy to get email subscribers is to start a law blog, and publish content frequently.
If you come across as helpful and demonstrate that you are an authority on a certain topic, people will be inclined to subscribe to receive future updates from you. For example, you can subscribe to the Lexicata MailChimp list from the bottom of this page (hint hint) and we will send you an awesome article about how to run a successful law practice every week.
You can also offer downloads in exchange for email addresses. This can be an excellent strategy for law firms due to the inherent value in your knowledge. Offering free downloadable templates or how-to guides in exchange for an email address is a great way to encourage people to opt-in to your mailing list.
How to Create Your First Newsletter
Now that you’ve got your email marketing software set up, created your email lists, and started adding subscribers, the hardest part is over. All you have to do now is start sending out newsletters!
Here’s how to create and send out your first newsletter:
Customize Your Template
If you use MailChimp or something similar, creating a template is incredibly easy. They handle all the hard aspects of design, layout, and spacing by providing pre-configured templates to choose from. This gives you the ability to create a professional looking email newsletter without having to be a designer.
The email templates are also easy to customize. You can add your logo, change color schemes, and add text boxes, videos, images, buttons, and other types of content. It’s a good idea to include your logo and some images to make your newsletters more interesting, and get impressions of your brand.
Write Your Content
With your basic template set up, the next step is to input the actual content. This should include some text (but not too much), as well as images, links to your website, your social media accounts, and more.
The best kind of content to put into your newsletter is something that will be useful for your readers. For example, we send out an update once per week about our latest blog post. You might do the same (it’s a great way to incentivize yourself to produce content for your blog). Or you might send updates about legal issues in the news, new laws that would affect your readers, etc.
Preview and Test
It’s always a good idea to preview your newsletter and do a test run on yourself to make sure you didn’t make any mistakes. MailChimp has a built in feature to preview what your newsletter will look like on different types of devices, which is handy. You can also just send a “test” to your own email address and open it up.
Send It Out
Finally, when your template and content has been finalized, and you double checked to make sure you didn’t make any mistakes, you are ready to send out the newsletter to your email list!
But don’t plan to stop there. A newsletter is only effective if you send out updates consistently. You should get in the habit of sending them quarterly or monthly, and continue to provide fresh, interesting content for your readers. Consistency is the key to establishing brand recognition for your law firm, which is ultimately what you’re going for by starting a newsletter for your firm.