Why Digital Newsletters?
The simple reason for offering e-newsletters is a quote from one of our clients – ‘Our firm takes at least £2,000 worth of instructions from everyone within 48 hours’. E-newsletters have 2 very specific roles. The first is to remind clients you are still there and still thinking about them and the problems they face. This is FAR more important than firms think, because law firms are routinely abysmal at keeping relationships with clients strong once they close the file. E-newsletters are one way to help preserve them and the easiest and cheapest by far. The second role of e-newsletters is to bring to the attention of clients and contacts something important to them which is in the future or breaking news. The former is great because it shows you are proactive (and if there’s a better differentiator for law firms than being genuinely proactive – which almost all firms claim to be but vanishingly small numbers are – I have yet to see it). The latter shows you are bang up to date, which is also a must – there’s just no point at all in being the 5th firm to tell someone about something.
The above paragraph addresses part of the ‘when’ question: tell them when something that affects them happens. Now this has a downside: it creates the imperative for you to have access to consumer-friendly reports FAST. One of the worst wastes of time I ever see is highly competent B2C content about cases etc a couple of weeks after the item was hot news. Firms that produce in house will typically have an elongated creation/editing/approval process, which really needs to be severely concatenated for the material to have impact.
The second ‘when’ is about how often you think is appropriate for the market base. Fast-changing/case-rich areas such as construction or employment may well demand daily bulletins or monthly round-ups. Less rapidly changing ones (which are also less risky for producing guides…) generally work well as quarterly issues. Industry-specific ones (why don’t more law firms segment better along industries rather than work types…surely a group of hauliers have more in common than a group of home buyers?) also work well as quarterlies or semi-annuals.
There are multiple quality e-newsletter engines in the market. The key isn’t to find something which gives you the nth degree of ‘brand symmetry’, but to get a system that is both very fast to use and give you good data analytics. We use (and love) Campaign Monitor and integrated it into our LegalRSS system, but there are a lot of good ones. What does NOT look good is using a freebie which then plants its brand across the bottom (MailChimp does this. If you use it, use the pro version). I just don’t get why people will ask people for £300 an hour and then send them a newsletter which cries out that you are cheapo. Awful PR.
The key to successful e-newsletters (other than content imperatives, I’ll discuss later) is segmentation. Put content that interests people in front of them. Your commercial landlords probably don’t care a fig about IP law. Send them stuff about what doesn’t interest them and they won’t read it. So…make the up-front investment in segmentation and use a system with segmentation automation built in at the subscriptions level. You CAN run multiple e-mail campaign in almost zero time if you put the effort in at the beginning.
Next time up I am going to finish by talking about some data to collect, why sharing your brand works and how to generate content that works.
Joe Reevy, LegalRSS