Email marketing strikes many as outdated. More chic platforms like social media and mobile marketing are stealing the limelight, but email marketing is still one of the best investments a law firm can make in their marketing plan. An e-newsletter can spur viral content sharing and position you as a thought-leader, attracting new clients and referral attorneys. However, a bad email newsletter can be an annoyance to your clients and contacts, and even worse, create a negative image among prospective clients and cause email providers to rate you as spam.
The most successful e-newsletters share news the reader can use. Well-read lawyer e-newsletters are concise and focus on useful information in simpler form, not academic reflections only applicable to or consumable by lawyers who specialize in the issue. A newsletter is neither a law review article nor a whitepaper; but, you can use your newsletter to promote items like those, linking to them with your own commentary.
Tip: Take the word ‘e-blast’ out of your vernacular. The term itself implies an impersonal campaign. For a monthly e-mail news piece to work, it must be personal and relevant to your readers. While email marketing is not dead, the days of ‘list-buying’ to ‘blast’ 10,000 messages are dead. Not only are they dead, but using old-school techniques like that can subject you and your law firm to liability for fines under the CAN-SPAM Act and other relevant laws.
When venturing into law firm email marketing, you should carefully consider:
1) Choosing your email marketing provider
2) Creating your list
3) Crafting a design
4) Curating content
5) Tracking success
In this post we’ll cover the first item on our law firm email marketing checklist. We’ll continue this series in future posts.
Email Marketing Solutions
There are several email marketing providers for you to consider. I’ll outline some of the one’s I’ve used. Choosing the right one for your firm will involve a consideration of the size of your firm, your technical expertise, the number of contacts you have, and your current marketing capabilities.
Emma is a great solution for small firms with little-to-no marketing or technical expertise or in-house marketing staff. Not only does it offer over 100 pre-designed templates, it also offers a drag-and-drop editor as well as custom design services for a fee. Emma’s design qualities are far superior to those of most other email service providers. Emma offers mobile-optimized designs and white labeling options as well. Emma integrates with Google Analytics and your firm’s social media sites, allowing you to share your newsletter across your social media properties. It also offers easy to interpret reporting. Prices start at $30/month and Emma offers a free 30-day trial period.
Cons: Emma does not offer a free plan for smaller firms past their 30 day trial and their top paid plan ($125) only offers up to 10,000 subscribers.
Constant Contact offers far more email templates than Emma – over 400 compared to Emma’s 100. Plus, you also have the option to use a blank template or code directly with HTML and CSS, making it suited for mid-size firms with access to graphic designers or that employ at least one in-house IT or marketing staff. It also has a Facebook Fan Page app that gives your law firm’s Facebook fans a way to sign up for emails directly from your Facebook Fan page. Contact Contact’s reporting data is very thorough – you can view bounces, complaints, opt-outs, click-throughs, forwards, and social shares. It is unique in that it offers regular email marketing along with several other services that may help grow your business including social media campaign tools and event management features.
Cons: Constant Contact has no free version for small-scale email marketers beyond their free trial and limits your list to 10,000 subscribers. The website can be hard to navigate if you are just in it for email marketing. The stock templates and fonts look dated.
MailChimp has over 400 templates to choose from, as well as the ability to create custom templates via HTML. Like Constant Contact, it also boasts a Facebook Fan Page app to help you develop your law firm’s fans into e-newsletter subscribers. It also recently implemented a drag and drop editor for quick, simple, and aesthetically pleasing email layouts. If you are looking for responsive email campaigns that look great on both mobile devices and desktop computers, MailChimp and Emma are your safest bets. MailChimp’s reporting shows the number of opens, clicks, unsubscribes, and complaints. It also lends performance advice by comparing your open rate with both the industry average and your list’s average. While it does offer a free version for law firms with less than 2,000 subscribers, the paid platform unlocks some powerful analytics tools. Paid plans start at $10/month.
Cons: No telephone support, best for beginner email marketing but not great for advanced users looking to move into marketing automation or streamline all marketing efforts. It can also prove cumbersome to send the same email campaign to different lists. The top paid plan ($240) still limits you to 50,000 subscribers.
Infusionsoft has been at the forefront of advanced email marketing for years. In fact, for a time it was the only solution for ‘all-in-one’ online marketing automation. It boasts email marketing, e-commerce, an affiliate system and more. InfusionSoft is ideal for law firms with a larger-sized marketing budget, which usually includes medium to large firms with a dedicated marketing team and IT staff. It allows firms to take their client relationships further based upon website behavior with the ‘If-then’ rule system. Law firms can send emails based on user behavior on their website.
Cons: The user interface requires a steep learning curve and the training and support for Infusionsoft is somewhat lackluster for the non-tech savvy user. If you are adept at email marketing and want a program to move beyond the basics, InfusionSoft might be a great next step. I would not recommend this option if you only want to do email marketing. Prices start at $200/month.
My next blog post in the email marketing series will focus on how to build and segment your list and how to design your email. Stay tuned!
If your law firm needs assistance with its email marketing, from a total new setup to a major overhaul of an existing system, we can help. I have run e-marketing campaigns for over a decade, and am proud to lend my e-expertise to law firm marketing. Contact us today to learn more about how we can work together.