Guest contributor Allison C. Shields, President of Legal Ease Consulting, Inc., shares her tips for starting a newsletter for your firm.
Email newsletters can be a fun and effective way to stay ‘top of mind’ with clients and strategic alliances, and to create relationships with potential clients.
Here are some tips for what to consider when embarking on an email newsletter campaign:
- The first step is to determine your target audience. This may include not only current clients and potential clients, but business colleagues, strategic alliances and former clients. You may choose to direct your email newsletter to a single audience (such as clients you represent only in a particular practice area), develop separate newsletters for separate audiences, or create separate sections that target different audiences.
- Your target audience will inform all of the other decisions about your email newsletter.
- Will you send out your e-newsletter quarterly, monthly, weekly? Whatever the frequency, be consistent so your audience will come to expect (and look forward to) your newsletter. Send your newsletter regularly to stay ‘top of mind,’ but don’t overload your audience.
- Experiment with sending your newsletter at different times and/or on different days to see what your audience responds to best.
- Make the sign up process easy. Many people are reluctant to put their telephone number into an email newsletter signup because they think that you are going to call them and solicit them for business. Ask only for information you need.
- Do not send your email newsletter by using your regular email account, showing the addresses of everyone on your list, or making it possible to send a ‘reply all’ message to others on the list. (See my post: What NOT to do in an email marketing campaign.)
- Use a reputable email service such as Aweber, InfusionSoft, MailChimp or Constant Contact. These services not only send out your emails, keep track of your statistics and open rates and manage your list, but they will also help you by requiring an “unsubscribe” link at the bottom of your messages and they provide other built in precautions to help keep you from running afoul of the spam rules.
- How long will your newsletter be? Will it contain one long article, multiple news items, short items of information or a combination?
- Use both HTML and plain text in email, as some people prefer plain text (or read on a mobile device and may not be able to view your HTML content or visual elements).
- Make it interesting: include some personality in your newsletter, but don’t get too personal. Include information about your successes to build your credibility and create continued confidence in your expertise. Use case studies and or testimonials (where permitted in your jurisdiction) so clients and referral sources understand what you do and for whom.
- Make it easy to read: use language clients and potential clients can understand. Don’t be boring or use ‘legalese’ or jargon (unless it is the jargon your clients use and relate to).
- Don’t send a canned email, especially if your audience is likely to receive more than one e-newsletter from individuals in your industry. Nothing looks worse than receiving the exact same email newsletter from two completely unrelated sources. (See my post: Do’s and Dont’s of Email Marketing.)
- Include a calendar of events so that your audience can see what you are doing and where. This helps to build your credibility, demonstrate your expertise, and cross-market your other services.
- Your email newsletter can serve several purposes, but the most important is to provide value to your audience. Sometimes that value comes from highlighting the accomplishments or work of others within your firm (or even outside of your firm). Provide links to articles, information and resources. Don’t make it all about you.
- Include photos and other graphics to create visual interest and break up text. Use white space liberally.
Building your list
- Build your list of recipients or subscribers. Don’t add someone to your email marketing list without permission. You want your network to see value in what you have to say and decide that they want to receive your content by signing up for it themselves. They need a reason to want to receive your newsletter. Don’t just invite them to subscribe to (yet another) email newsletter.
- Give prospective subscribers with a preview of your content by directing them to articles, blog posts, etc. that might be of interest to them, and then post links in those places to your newsletter sign up page.
- Provide incentives for people to sign up for your newsletter: offer some content (in the form of a white paper, book, video, checklist, etc.) for free, with the newsletter as the ‘added bonus.’
- Offer your newsletter when you meet people ‘offline’ by putting the information about your newsletter on your business card. Follow up offline meetings by emailing and including a link.
- Allow readers to forward your newsletter to others, and be sure that there is a link in every edition to your newsletter signups for new readers to subscribe.
- Integrate your newsletter with other marketing efforts. Include your contact information and links to your website and other online activities in each edition of your newsletter. Post links to your newsletter content and signup on social media and in your email signature.
Allison C. Shields, Esq. is the President of Legal Ease Consulting, Inc., providing coaching and consulting services for law firms on practice management, marketing and business development issues. Allison helps her clients create efficient, effective systems and operations to maximize productivity, attract their ideal clients and enhance client experience. She is the author of the Legal Ease Blog.