A few months back I wrote an article for the legal tabloid Above the Law entitled Email Marketing and the Power of Permission. The article resulted in a backlash from lawyer bloggers, which I didn't understand at the time. Upon reflection, I now have a clear understanding of the problem. First, many lawyer bloggers publish for fun as a hobby. Second, they don't understand the power of email marketing. Since you receive BigLaw, you have a better appreciation for email's strengths, but even you may underestimate its potential to help your firm achieve its marketing goals.
The Marketing Funnel
Lets start with the easy part first. Is your law blog just a hobby? If so, that's fine, but don't have any illusions about its ability to help you build a book of business. It may bring you occasional exposure, but it requires a true publishing strategy to build a meaningful blog that will help you attract clients, speaking invitations, press, etc. The biggest weakness of a law blog is that it is often the first exposure for a potential client, but it doesn't provide the follow-up that is essential to what marketers call "conversion."
Let's think about the classic marketing funnel. At the top of the cone you have first exposure, at the bottom you have general counsel that are hiring you. New blog posts can get new prospects into your funnel, but it requires a strategy to keep them there and eventually contact you.
Now some of you may be thinking: What if they come back to the blog multiple times? What if they add the RSS feed to Google Reader and read my blog until they are convinced I'm awesome and hire me? That could happen, but it would require that your readers use blogs and social media like you do. They don't. Most general counsel and even associate counsel are Baby Boomers and Gen Xers who spend most of their day staring at email.
The Bottom Line: Email Is Still Essential
Now before you get upset and start shouting, "we get way too much email" and "how dare you encourage us to flood prospective clients with more email" please pause for a moment and think about the email newsletters that you receive.
Could you live without most newsletters? I can. If I notice a newsletter that I don't open for a couple of months in a row, I unsubscribe.
But can you live without all newsletters? I can't. I read several email newsletters faithfully (including this one) because they provide helpful content unavailable elsewhere.
The cure for boring and unhelpful email and newsletters is not NO EMAIL, but instead better, more targeted email. In fact, because you're sending content to people, an email newsletter has an even higher bar for quality than your law blog. Think concise, well-edited material that is extremely specific, timely, and relevant.
It isn't easy to create this type of content, but once you have people on your email list you have moved them further down the funnel en route to becoming clients. If they unsubscribe from your list, that's okay. Those who remain — and remain engaged, which you can measure in various ways — are finding value in what you have to share.
Pay Attention to Your Analytics
As intimated above, you need to measure engagement. Marketing geeks like me use the term "analytics."
Who is opening your email newsletters? Who is forwarding them? Who is clicking on links in your newsletters? Email is an extremely valuable communications tool, but only when you optimize based on the data you obtain. You don't know who is reading your blog (unless they contact you or comment), but you can tell exactly who is reading your email.
If you want to get started using email marketing in a large firm environment, there are some great tools out there. The best I have come across is a program called Campaigner. A product called Tikit eMarketing is also popular.
Those of you in smaller firms who happen to subscribe to BigLaw can use very inexpensive products like AWeber (which I personally used to get my lists started) and Constant Contact (which also works well).
Press Send Now
If email marketing is not currently part of your marketing program, its time to fix that. It's not a lolly-pop solution though. It requires a new process and execution. It will be worth your time and effort. You don't need to take my word for it though. The analytics will tell the story. You will see who is and who isn't reading what you send out. Email will keep your prospects engaged until they die (opt-out) or buy.
Written by Adrian Dayton of Marketing Strategy and the Law.
How to Receive BigLaw
Many large firms have good reputations for their work and bad reputations as places to work. Why? Answering this question requires digging up some dirt, but we do with the best of intentions. Published first via email newsletter and later here on our blog, BigLaw analyzes the business practices, marketing strategies, and technologies used by the country's biggest law firms in an effort to unearth best and worst practices. The BigLaw newsletter is free so don't miss the next issue. Please subscribe now.