Law Firm Internet Marketing Question: Are E-Newsletters Effective?

A law firm client recently asked us whether E-newsletters are worth the time and effort they take to create. Do they truly reach clients? Or just end up in email trash bins?

Not As Effective As You Think

Our short answer: E-Newsletters are a cost-effective way to connect with clients.
The long answer:  Thanks to tracking technology, you don’t have to take our word for it.

Most email marketing services now automatically generate statistical reports that allow you to track the effectiveness of your newsletter campaign. Our favorite, MailChimp, shows you:

  • How many clients opened your newsletter and the names of those specific clients;
  • Of those who opened the newsletter, how many people clicked on a specific article;
  • What articles were the most popular;
  • How many people unsubscribed to your newsletter;
  • How many complaints you received, and more.

Services like MailChimp will send out your newsletter for free, so the only cost to you is the time or money it takes to write the content. If you already write copy for your website in the form of blog posts and news releases, then all you need to do is repurpose this content, drop it into a pre-created newsletter template and, voila!, you are done.

Analyzing Results

So let’s say your law firm or business commits to doing a newsletter for several months. The next step is to use these statistical reports to determine where and how you should improve your efforts, or, if in fact, E-Newsletters aren’t for you.

I’m going to use PaperStreet’s E-Newsletter as an example:

STEP 1: Look at Your Open Rate vs. Industry

For our past three newsletters, we’ve had an average of 37% of clients open our newsletter. The industry average for our field is 25%, according to MailChimp, so already we know we are doing something right.  (The average open rate for the legal industry is roughly 17%).

If your average is much lower, one possible problem may be that your newsletter does not immediately explain to your audience what it is about and how the information can help.  Work on improving the title of your newsletter, which appears in the email subject field. Swap out a vague title like  “March Newsletter for Tax Attorney, LLC” with something compelling: “Tax Update:  How New Regulations Affect Your Business & Family.”

STEP 2: Compare Open Rates of Your Newsletters Over Time/By Subject

Let’s say your open rates are decent. Now it’s time to compare newsletters over time to see what topics clients are most interested in.

When I look at the past three PaperStreet newsletters, I see the most popular one by far was about law firm website redesigns (the other two were about Lawyer SEO and Law Firm Internet Marketing). This is actually a surprise. I would have assumed SEO (Search Engine Optimization, the process of boosting your website’s rankings on search engines like Google) would have been the hottest topic.

This is important info to give our team members in sales. We may be underestimating our clients’ need for a website facelift.  It also tells me that this is a topic we should write about again in the near future.

STEP 3: Look at Click Rate

Your open rate is the percentage of people who open your newsletter. Your click rate is the percentage of those people who actually click on a particular article.

Looking at your click rate can be helpful in seeing even further detail on what info your clients want. Maybe they like legal news but ignore the article on your firm’s new attorneys. For future newsletters, you want to give clients more of what they want, and keep other info as concise as possible (or improve the presentation so that they see more clearly how this info can benefit them.)

In the case of PaperStreet, click rates have taught us the importance of a catchy headline.  In general, we’ve found short, info-packed lists (“Top Ten Best Practices”  “Seven Things to Avoid, ”etc) do well, as well as articles that include graphics, photos or other visuals.  Headlines with personality and humor, where appropriate, also work well. The most clicked on headline we’ve had to date is “Awful Lawyer Ad and Website Clichés – Funny if They Weren’t Costing You Money and Clients.”

STEP 4:  Look at Complaint Rate/Unsubscribe Rate

If you find a lot your newsletter recipients are complaining and/or un-subscribing (the legal industry average is only 0.02 % and 0.12 % respectively), you should scrutinize whom you are sending your newsletter to and how you obtained their emails.

Did these people knowingly sign up for this kind of information? The correct answer should be “yes.” It is better to have a small, quality list that builds over time than run their risk of being labeled a spammer.

To read more on how to avoid this pitfall, read this blog post on why law firms should “Stop Using Purchased Email Lists!”

Need E-Newsletter Help?

If you want help setting up a E-Newsletter, PaperStreet can:

  • Create an account for your law firm on your preferred email marketing service;
  • Design a custom newsletter template that matches your website and branding;
  • Consult with you to ensure you are using a proper email list;
  • Train you on how to send out the newsletter yourself; and/or
  • Write custom content.

For more information, and to see examples of our newsletter portfolio, visit our website page on Law Firm E-Newsletters.


One Response to Law Firm Internet Marketing Question: Are E-Newsletters Effective?

  1. Attorneys Blog Writers Boston
    4:48 am on May 19th, 2012

    Very well are the steps explained! Thank you sharing all your efforts.

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